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  • Writer's pictureSherelee Clarke


Updated: Aug 15, 2022

By Eve Hemming

Sometimes a chance meeting can change your life forever...

Little did I know that Saturday 8th March 1969 would be that day!

I was a first year student, fresh out of school and terribly naive. On that Saturday, I was standing on the steps outside the PMB University Women's Residence, chatting to a few friends that I happened to be visiting. I felt sassy in a nifty psychedelic patterned miniskirt I'd sewn, with a Mary Quant orange turtle neck top and big turquoise coloured hoop earrings.

As we chatted away, we looked up to notice a flower power Volkswagen combi parked on the curb with three young guys in it. It was deliciously decorated with giant painted colourful flowers on it. The one guy called out of the window, "Hey, do any of you girls want a date?"

We laughed in unison, replying "No thanks"! (We already had dates arranged with guys for the movies that night.)... However, two of us had the audacity to ask for a lift to a school function that was a few kilometers away, to which they kindly obliged. Giggling away we hopped in, much to the envy of a few spectators. After all, this must have been the 'hippest wheels' in the entire town! And the blokes weren't too bad either!

Our audacity stretched even further by us asking them to kindly collect us again at 5 pm, which much to our surprise they did! By this time we were feeling hugely amused and probably a wee bit flattered, too.

The following week the other girl, Barbara, signed up for drum majorettes at Uni, where Nigel was a coach. They, of course, recognised one another from the Combi runaround a few days earlier.

This led to them asking Nigel's brother, Ant (one of the other guys from the Combi adventure) and me to join them for a picnic in the Nottingham Road area the following weekend.

I have no recollection what the picnic was comprised of: Probably sandwiches and beers laid out on a picnic blanket ... while we basked in the sun on our bathing towels, listening to 60's music. It was a carefree and fun outing, with us all frolicking and splashing in the cascading river.

It certainly didn't feel like the beginning of the rest of my life, though, but Ant and I got on like a house on fire. I remember that he was hilarious and that I laughed a lot. I also liked the combination of him seeming really "grown up", yet unpretentious and quite coy, which attracted 'little straight out of school' me.

He then invited me out for a coffee a few days later.

I don't remember him ever asking me if I would like to "date" him. It just seemed to happen from the moment we met and fell madly in love. At the time I was a student, training to be a teacher and he was a qualified surveyor with a fancy car.

After many rotations around the sun, we've just had our 52nd wedding anniversary. We have our daughter and her family in Auckland and our 2 sons and their families in KZN and the Eastern Cape, respectively. We've shared our lives with them all, with many years in KZN, followed by 13 years in New Zealand and the last year in Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape. In this way we've forged a truly close relationship with all of our children, children in law and our 6 grandchildren.

I am forever grateful that I was serendipitously on the University steps that day and that the flower power Combi arrived at that precise moment with Ant in it!


Ant and Eve Hemming married in July 1970. Nigel and Barbara Hemming married a few years later.

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