Jeff Hollyer

Name ID 1588

See also

Read, David Beating about the Bush
Page Number: 011
Extract Date: 1937

David Read - Arusha School - 1937 -

The sudden intrusion of life at boarding school proved to be a far more unkind world than I had anticipated. I was far behind in the work, at a far lower standard of ability and could barely Read or write.

When I arrived I was initially put in a class suitable for my age but could not cope with the demands being made on my untrained mind and was sent down to a level more in fitting with my qualifications. That was shaming enough, but I was also bullied and called "white nigger" by many of my peers because of my less than cosmopolitan bush childhood, which made life even harder to bear. Most of the children, and especially the girls, could not be bothered with me believing my lack of knowledge to be a mark of stupidity rather than a result of an incomplete education. The majority of them had been reared in Africa but none had lived a life as isolated from European influence as I, which led to their notions that I was some sort of tribal freak. As the days passed and time softened the harsher opinions of my first arrival, some of the others began to realise that I was not quite as uncivilised as I might have first seemed and two boys of my own age took me under their wing. Jeff Hollyer and David How-Brown were to remain friends for the rest of my life, and Fate would conspire to knit together our paths frequently over the coming years. The characteristics that were to define them as adults, were already branded upon their personalities with Jeff to remain the ginger, short and stocky one with David also of the same colouring, blessed with an open outgoing character that was simultaneously honest and truthful.

Extract ID: 4176

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Ian Hamilton
Page Number: 2009 03 24
Extract Date: 1937

Friends of Alan McFarland and David Read

Thank you for putting together such a good web site, worthy ones of East Africa are rare.

I would like to make contact with Alan McFarland, who in your extract ID:5422, says he knew my mother Tinker Holyer when they were at Arusha School.

Furthermore, David Read in extract ID: 4176 says Jeff Hollyer and David How-Brown were to remain friends for the rest of his life, Jeff Hollyer was my mothers eldest brother, he later became a cattle buyer. I am hoping that the gentlemen in question are still alive and willing to correspond.If for any reason they are unable to communicate, say, due to poor health, could you please inform them of the connection and pass on my regards.

I and some of my siblings were born in Kampala, Uganda, we made a memorable safari in 1957 to visit my uncle in Kisumu and then onwards to my grand parents in Morogoro followed by a spell in Dar-es-salaam before coming to the UK in 1958.

Extract ID: 5990

See also

Read, David Beating about the Bush
Page Number: 015
Extract Date: 1937 December

Journeys to and from school

My journeys to and from school always seemed to be such adventures that I remember more of the travelling to school than I do of the term-time. Sometimes it was impossible to return home for Christmas as this holiday was at the height of the short rains and the fairly primitive mud roads would be impassable. After my first full year at school in 1937 the roads were thought to be acceptable and we embarked, as usual, on the school bus for Dodoma, with one of the teachers as escort, to spend Christmas with our families. Although the rains had not been heavy, the roads were a morass of mud and potholes and we got as far as Pienaar Heights, about 135 miles from Arusha, before our troubles started. The bus was too heavy, the road too steep, and the mud too slippery for an easy ascent. The bigger boys had to get out and cut brushwood to lay along the wheel tracks and then they had to push while the older girls had to walk. The mud was thick and slimy and clogged our shoes, which made walking and pushing very difficult whilst the road was too narrow for the bus to turn round. With no options to go back or to reverse down the hill, we had to persevere with this Sisyphean task until we reached the top of the hill, pushing in the dark and driving rain with our clothes soaked before we were even half-way on the first leg of our journey. To me the activities of the day had been fun and rewarding, and while most of the others, and the teachers, complained about their cold and soggy state, David How-Brown, Jeff Hollyer and I felt we had had a most worthwhile time. We hoped eagerly that calamities would continue to occur, so as to relieve the boredom of the long and uncomfortable trip with a little adventure. It was on that day, while we were covered in mud, pushing the big bus with all our strength, shouting instructions to the driver, falling flat on our faces in the wet, trying to avoid the spraying mud of the wheels that spun and failed to grip, that a lasting friendship between the three of us was, if you will excuse the pun, cemented.

It was four in the morning by the time we reached Dodoma, and everyone had missed their connecting trains. Those who were going east, like Jeff and David, were told that they could travel on the early morning goods train going to Morogoro, but would have to sit in the Guards van, which delighted them and those travelling to the Lakes would go on at ten the next morning. Only three rooms had been booked at the Railway Hotel for the teacher and those of us going south, and these were given to the girls and small boys, leaving the rest of us to sleep in the hotel lounge. Our companions for the night were a motley crew of sleeping drunkards who had been unable to get home. Our coming in had disturbed them and, waiting until the teacher had gone to bed, they started their party all over again, plying us youngsters with drink. We thought this was a great adventure until daylight came when we had to face our escort, Miss Read.

Extract ID: 4180

See also

Read, David Beating about the Bush
Page Number: 030
Extract Date: 1938

The annual attempt on Mount Meru

We arrived back at school from this trip a few days before term was to begin, just in time for preparations for the annual attempt on Mount Meru. Mount Meru is a spectacular fifteen thousand foot mountain that would be famous were it anywhere else, but is overshadowed both in height and in reputation by its more famous cousin, Kilimanjaro, across the steppe. It looms over the town ofArusha, nestled in its foothills, and is such an important part of town life, providing the water and climactic conditions that make the town so habitable, that few people who live there have not considered climbing it. This was an annual event and boys over the age of fifteen were, with their parents' consent, allowed to make the attempt. I had taken part in the previous year's climb from the west, but at 13,500 feet many of the boys had dropped back, unable to make it, and the exercise was aborted.

This year there was to be no repetition of that and the mountain would be attempted from the south. It would be heavy going through the bamboo forest, but after that there was a solid rock ridge without the volcanic ash surface which was so tiring and frustrating when approached from the west. The western flank rises in great steps, one step up and then a flat open glade, followed by another climb through thick well-watered forest, then another open glade, with more forest, up to the edge of the volcanic ash at about 12,000 feet. From that height to the top the surface consists entirely of loose ash, making the climb a slippery and exhausting business. On the northern and eastern sides is the huge crater, encircled by 2000 ft high sheer cliff walls and a primeval floor of cedar forest. Strangely-shaped, wizened trees are festooned with Old Man's Beard and the core of the volcano itself rises from the floor of the crater in a grey, grim cone. It makes for an almost primeval atmosphere that is a far cry from the arid steppe to the south.

We found the climb up the steep southern face hard going, with the first part through cedar and loliondo forest. We reached the bamboo belt at about 8,000 feet and it was so thick that the only way to walk through it was to follow the winding game tracks, which were difficult to negotiate and required constant attention to avoid meeting the rhino, elephant and buffalo that also used them. We slept that night at a point just above the bamboo in a well-protected gully near a beautiful spring of clear mountain water, where it became clear that some of the boys had found the climb very demanding and Jeff and I were quite sure that before long the expedition would be turned back. We thought the party far too large, convinced that someone would feel the altitude and become mountain sick, which would necessitate bringing the whole party back. We decided that on the following day, we would make our way to the front of the party and just keep going until we reached the top, even if the rest of them went back. We knew we would get into serious trouble when we arrived back at school, but we were determined to see our names on the "Conquered Meru" Board in the school hall.

On the second morning we left at first light and in about three hours we were well out of sight of the others, so we had a short rest before continuing, until after a breathless two hours, we reached the summit, with sweeping views across to Kilimanjaro and Kenya. We signed the book, had a quick look at this privileged perspective on Africa) before sliding and stumbling back down, catching the rest of the party, already on a return journey, an hour and a half later. Several of the boys were nursing sore stomachs as they had been eating ice for reasons best known to themselves. We thought this state of affairs completely justified our dash to the top, and when Dickie, the master in charge, asked us where we had been, we were quite honest and told him we had reached the summit. He told us he would speak to us when we got back to school, but said that as no one had witnessed our achievement, we could not be listed on the Board until one of the masters had been up and verified the book. We heard no more about it until a week later when our names were called out at Assembly and in a few days the Board shone with its new additions. We felt very pleased and proud of ourselves.

Extract ID: 4188

See also

Read, David Beating about the Bush
Page Number: 026
Extract Date: 1938 Easter

When Easter came around, we were uncertain as to what to do. Two weeks holiday at Easter was far too short a time for the long journey home, so most children from distant parts of the country remained in the area of the school, staying with friends or relatives. Dickie Forehead, my favourite among the masters, invited Jeff Hollyer, David HowBrown and me to go on a camping trip with him. Dickie was one of the most academically gifted, and one of the nicest men I have ever known but unfortunately found it very difficult to discipline a class of unruly children, because he was far too kind. On his own, away from the school or out in the bush one could not find a more interesting person or a better friend. I owe most of my small amount of education to him, and the greater part of that was absorbed outside the classroom. He was a very religious man and later joined the Church Missionary Society but he never forced his beliefs on others nor lost that sensible worldly outlook that differentiates the spiritual from the zealouts.

Dickie had a shotgun and a bird licence for certain game birds in season, which he did not use himself but he did allow certain of the older boys to use it and this was one of my privileges. When we had gathered a small tent, cooking utensils, sleeping bags, fishing tackle, digging and car tools, basic foodstuffs and all the other odds and ends necessary for a ten-day safari, there was not much room left in the old B Model Chevrolet Box Body. Dickie and two others sat in front and the third squeezed himself into the back with all the kit. On the way we shot some yellow-necked spurfowl for our supper and reached Babati, just over a hundred miles away just as it was getting dark.

Extract ID: 4184