N. J. Thomson # 777 – 1934/36

Where the word ‘ting’ came from I do not know but maybe it related to ‘thing’, the ‘thing’ being a cigarette. And then armed with a ting and a match or two and a piece of ‘slatch’, where did that expression come from?. Slatch was a small piece of the side of a match box, perhaps it came from ‘scratch’ which one did with the match. Now matches were in short demand so it was our practice to take the 50 odd matches out of a box and slit them length ways with a razor blade so making roughly 100 matches.

My favourite place for a ting was on the truck of the foremast especially if it was cloudy or a strong South Easter was blowing. This gave time to dispose of the evidence if anyone else started to climb up the mast. The wind would blow the smoke and evidence well out to sea.

The day came for me to leave the Bothie, 23 July 1936, I had to do an extra half year as I had not reached the age of 16.

I was rowed ashore in the dinghy with my two suitcases, these I placed at the Pier Head and gazed at the white hull of the “Bothie” in the bay. The dinghy was on it’s way back to the “Bothie” and as I stood there I could hear the pipes piping and the bugle making it’s call. The cadets rushed about the decks while I stood immobile on the Pier Head.

Leaving my suitcases (which I would not do today) I ambled up the Pier and passed the fisherman’s cottages where they had dried salted snoek on their railings at the price of 2 and half pence each. Getting to the first tea room I bought a packet of commando cigarettes and a box of matches. The commando cigarettes were of an oval shape. Back to the Pier Head, I selected a cigarette and lit it. What enjoyment ! My foot on the lower rail I spent 10 minutes enjoying my smoke and gazing at the “Bothie” where I was no more.

After my cigarette was finished, I picked up my bags and headed for Simon’s Town station.

The train ran down track towards Cape Town and at each headland I glanced back and could see the Bothie growing smaller and smaller in the distance, until the last headland where it looked minute.

Then I never saw it again.