Tales at the Brink

Part of the Quipo Life

Some stories from crazy fun-filled days with Adriaan Arthur Brink (RIP) ... click a story name to get there ...

In the Home and Garden

My early memories of Adriaan Arthur Brink will always be doing crazy things at the family house in Westville North, where he had a room out the back, a carport with his various motorbikes and cars as they evolved, and a large garden that went off down the back. 

One of the early memories was when he had the 50cc scooter that made the most awful noise. He decided that it was time to have a workshop where he could work on it, and other things. Adriaan got me around to help him. Down the bottom of the garden there was an old abandoned kaya (a misspelling of “ikhaya,” the Zulu word for “home"), where in past days servants had lived. That was to become the workshop. Before getting to work we immediately ran a long cable down from his bedroom to some speakers in the area so that we would have music while we did our work - I recall it was Eric Clapton playing while we did our work. We had our usual case of Lion Ale beer. We slowly sort of pulled out piles and piles of things, some of which were completely deteriorated, and could be happily thrown further down the garden to rot and become compost. One of the things we did not feel happy happy about throwing down the hill was an old motorcycle. We looked at it, and considered working on some repairs, but realized that there was no chance that we could get it going again. It was very rusted and very deteriorated. We decided that the only way to get rid of it would be to donate it to the neighbor, so the two of us carried it to the fence and threw it over the fence into the neighbor's yard, leaving it there to write into a rust heap. That whole project was a success, but eventually the shed never got much use even though we did clean it up quite well. 

Another series of events in the garden was when Adrian decided that he needed to take advantage of the accumulated intellect of his friends, people like Charlie, Mark, Alan Conway, myself etc. He decided to bring us around to his garden and make us have an idea that would make him a million dollars. Adriaan named this the "Think Tank". We had several think tank meetings, all of which included beer and a lot of conversation. Indeed one good idea did come out of it, called the "Kooler Stick". This would be useful in the same way that a little heater that can be put into a cup to heat up coffee or something. We wanted a stick that we could put down the neck of a beer bottle to chill the beer. So Mark and I investigated this down at the Chemistry and Physics departments at the University of Natal, where I was a I think first or second year student. The best we could come up with was a endothermic reaction in a "snap & dip" stick (like chemical glow sticks), from the Chemistry Department. Sadly we couldn't make enough cold in order to cool down a beer. That idea died a natural death, but we did try. It was one of the first indications that Adriaan was determined to make a million dollars. 

Another night in the Adriaan's room we were sitting around listening to music. I recall Adriaan was chatting up Tubby Hannaford's sister, the blonde girl. Mark, Anne, Bryon, Debbie, myself, and maybe some others were there. At that stage Bryon and I were getting quite weird, and we'd had a long conversation about the difference between being naked and being nude. We had decided that being naked was completely natural, whereas nudeness had some sexual connotation. In order to illustrate our point Bryon and I decided to take off all our clothes - I have an excellent photograph of Brian with his underpants under his head. Anne was sitting behind looking very amused, or at least bemused. We couldn't convince anybody else that this was a completely natural state of affairs to be naked rather than nude, but we decided anyway that Adriaan would be forced to join us. See the evidence below, with Debbie looking over his shoulder down at his johnson. Ms Hannaford was laying in the background looking quite unperturbed by what was going on.

The Red Alpha

Many days and nights of adventure were had when Adriaan acquired his Red Alpha Guilia. It had been his mother's, and she handed it on down to him hoping that he would be able to use it fruitfully; well, she didn't realize that "fruitfully" meant "partyfully". At the get-go the car needed a lot of work, and we (Adriaan, Mark, myself) spent many hours under it or under the bonnet, rather than sitting in it driving around like lords.

One of the Alpha's most impressive features was that the brakes would go on, but then wouldn't come off. So the first move was to avoid braking at all times, and if it was really necessary to brake you then had to wait for the brake pads to wear back before you could move freely again. Mark recalls that one solution to the binding brakes was to stop, and Adriaan would go on hands and knees to make an "adjustment" - maybe a slight bleed of the brake system to release the pads, and off we’d go! 

At some stage Adriaan decided to make the Alpha into a coupe, and used an angle grinder to cut off the roof. But we (he!) hadn't thought it through ... the roof was part of the structural integrity of the car. Now the car was beginning to sag in the middle. We quickly jacked it up and put some bricks under the middle. We decided that the way to solve the problem would be to go and buy some reinforcement. We took my car (or maybe Mark's - I don't recall) down to a hardware store somewhere and bought some long pieces of raw steel bar. The angle grinder came out again to cut them to length, and Adriaan welded them into the inside of the doors of the car to provide structural strength. It definitely did provide structural strength, and you definitely couldn't open the doors anymore. Who cares, we could jump in over the top. We drove off with many people and many beers, many times. 

I recall driving down at the West Street or Smith Street in Durban with Adriaan on a rainy day. We knew that if we were going fast enough we could duck behind the windscreen to avoid getting wet, which we did quite a lot. But every now and again we couldn't run the red light. Planning helped ... we had thought ahead and brought two umbrellas. At each red light we would pop up our umbrellas and sit under them until the lights turned green again. Yes, I'm sure we were drinking beer while doing it.

Another great Alpha story was when it was parallel parked across the alley outside Funky's bar. We were all getting a ride back to Westville with Adriaan, and climbed in ready to go. I remember I was sitting in the back on the road side of the car, with some girl (Flavia? Shannon?) between me and Charlie. Mark was in the front. There was a Yamaha 400 (or was it a thumper?) reverse parked on the other side of the street. While we were getting ourselves organized to go, the motorcyclist popped the clutch a little bit too aggressively. The motorbike landed with the engine on the outside against the back door of the Alpha, and the front wheel inside the car spinning in right in front of my face. That was a good laugh.

Mark remembers when Adriaan was still at school, and getting a frantic call from him for help. Adriaan had driven the Alpha during the day while Mrs Brink was out, and it had broken down in Methven Rd at the end of their drive way (which was a long dirt road). The two of them had to push it all the way up the driveway and back into the carport before Mrs Brink got back. They managed it!

One of the early things Adriaan did with the Alpha was to drive it up onto the hill on the outside of Westville North where Adriaan was living, and started up DFM Club breakfasts - another of Adriaan's great insane ideas. That's another story. But here's the picture (Is that Adriaan ... no, it's Martin Bertwhistle! The legs are Sarah's ... Mark's girlfriend. The Mini was mine.) ...

Pedal Cars

This anthology of stories about Adriaan Arthur Brink would be most incomplete without the tale of him driving his 50cc scooter around the pedal cars track of the University of Natal.

"Pedal Cars" was (is still?) a national series of events held at multiple universities from around South Africa (hence the cries of “Hoe Links” from the Platteland academic brothers). Locally it was organized by the Student Union and I think in cooperation with the engineering department. The pedal cars were handmade and human powered by one person at a time, in a 12 hour LeMans style race. The drivers could swap over every so often, and it went on into the night. We used to go sit on the banks watching. The track went past outside Howard College, round the back down behind the engineering building through a section of the course called "Devil's Dyke", then back around at the other side and back on to the main strip of the University past Howard college.

At some point one year we were all down the back at the Devil's Dyke hairpin corner, watching the cars come fast down the hill trying to maintain stability as they cornered to go past under the back of the engineering building. At some point Adriaan disappeared; it turned out that he had taken it upon himself to ride his 50cc scooter around the track. Next,  there he was in full swing, waving to us all as he went down through Devil's Dyke on the scooter. The amazed crowd of spectators gave him a standing ovation! He was being chased by race marshals, all trying to get him off the track. Somehow he managed to escape them, make it round, and disappeared again to park his scooter. He came back and found us all, and asked quite innocently, "Did you see me?". My goodness, we couldn't have missed it. It was certainly one of Adriaan's great moments at University, a much higher level of success than he achieved in his studies down in the Computer Science Department.

Mark wrote the following, which I didn't remember ... 

On that day Adriaan was wearing his favorite checked winter shirt. On the trip home he left us for dust at 45th Cutting, mainly because he went straight through a red light. On the green we raced after him, only to discover he’d "turned off" the freeway at Essex terrace ... where there was no actual turn off. I found him sprawled in the middle of the road at the bottom of Rockdale Avenue, on the bridge. He was so hammered his only concern was that he’d ripped his favorite shirt. We picked up Mom’s scooter and I took him back to his place, where I recall Mrs Brink said, "Thank you Mark, I’ll take over now!" Oops!

Living in the Lounge

At some point when we (Jade and I) were living in Perth, Western Australia where I was working at the WACAE, Adriaan appeared on our doorstep having just finished a boat delivery. He asked if he could stay in our apartment while he was looking for new work. Of course we agreed, and he moved onto the couch in the lounge room. Slowly he expanded his space in the lounge, not leaving much space left for us to watch TV or anything. 

One evening during dinner the phone rang, and when i answered a French voice asked for Adriaan. Adriaan spoke on the phone, and then came and sat down. We asked him what that was about. He told us told us that it was somebody who wanted him to fly to Newport to deliver a boat to the Mediterranean. Adriaan said he had declined because  "I've done that before". 

As time went by (it was about three months eventually) we started wanting our place back to ourselves, and eventually told Adriaan he had to leave. Adriaan realized that he had to get a job, and applied for one as a computer programmer. You'll recall that he had failed at university in South Africa. I was quite surprised when he came back saying that he had got the job. Clearly he had bullshitted his way into it. He told me that he had to learn how to program that night, so we sat down with my book on Pascal and learned with pen and paper - we didn't have a laptop or computer at home back in those days. He went to work the next day and managed to bullshit his way through another day. When he came home we did some more study the next night. He learned quickly, and did quite well at the job. That was the beginning of Adriaan becoming a computing professional, and the career he went on to. He moved out soon after that. Adriaan ended up in Sydney where he started working for David and Alan at Peoplesoft. That eventually led to his work in online gambling.

Addendum: Mark recalls Adriaan doing the same in London: "... he repeated the doorstep action in London when he stayed with us in East Sheen, SW14 for a very prologued period too.  He eventually got an office job in Twickenham ...". Hmmm, once is an accident, twice is a coincidence ... any takers for a pattern here?


DFM Club

I didn't really remember how DFM Club started, but Charlie checked in ... 

I was doodling in one or other class and came up with the little man with big beer belly passed out on his back. It was around the time just after I had spent a Sunday drinking with Geoff before a Stats test in 1st year. On the Monday test Geoff got 90% plus and I got 20% minus. It was a rude wake up call about my general maths (and dare I say) other intelligence. That started the DFM saying "Don't Fail Maths". Then we sat around making up other TLAs, and the best one stuck, which was "Doesn't Fucking Matter". 

At first Adrian really believed that DFM could become a business. He went full on, having the logo designed by a professional artist, and trying to work out how to make money from it. 

My involvement began with the Easter Sunday parties that Adriaan and I initiated on the hillside, up in Westville North where he lived. We would get up on Easter Sunday morning to go watch the sun rise, while drinking champagne and cooking pancakes in a pan over an open fire. This soon developed with flags t-shirts, and many people joined us. I have a vivid memory of one Easter Sunday when I was  dating "Tiger" Lynn Saville. Charlie was there, and I think his car with DFM painted on the hood. We had the greatest time. When Adriaan was living in Marbella, Spain we decided we decided to have Easter Sunday on the hillside above his house. The brush was very very dry, and in some imaginative effort I decided I could put our BBQ fire for the pancakes in an abandoned porcelain toilet bowl that we had found nearby. That went fine until the toilet bowl cracked under the heat, and boy we were lucky that we didn't start a large bushfire on the hillside of Spain. Happily we didn't, and we just said DFM. When I moved to Australia I ran DFM breakfast on the beach in West Australia with Rob Lee, later in Townsville on Mt Stuart, and on my boat in Miami. One of the rituals of DFM Easter Sunday, and indeed most DFM drinking, was the way Adriaan had taught us to drink when he was on the pass from the army. We'd all be listening to Monty Python in those days, and the two things worked together very well. Adriaan had us all stand to "Attention!", then "Present Arms" (which involved lifting the elbow above your mouth so that you had some extra space for beer if you ran out), and then saying "Ochleyoch" as the toast. I have trained many amateurs this drinking process, so Adriaan's influence lives on in their lives.

DFM extended down to the University. When we'd come out of mathematics classes, particularly Calculus II with Prof "Pa" Swart, and we didn't know what was going on, it was DFM to the rescue. Mark Slade (aka "Sludge"), Warren Roscoe, Richard Hester, Charlie, Alan Conway, and others, would all shoot down to the hotel across the N2 (not the Berea Hotel - the one we went to must be gone now, as is the Berea), order quarts of beer, and try and fathom out the math while we drank. Eventually we would realize it DFM.  

What else did we do with DFM Club? I do remember having stickers; Adriaan had lots of them printed. I still have some in Miami. I went through a phase of putting them under the tables of bars that I visited. I know there's one in Heidelberg, Germany. Back when I lived in Townsville on the Great Varier Reef I used to do a lot of SCUBA diving, and worked as a PADI instructor. I desighed and printed my own dive logbooks that I sold to dive students ... DFM featureed there too. One of the things I do in my academic career is to run the annual CADE ATP System Competition, and one year I used DFM Club as the inspiration for the competition T-shirt. DFM beach day, DFM at Midmar Dam, DFM&Ms, DFM everywhere!

DFM Club will always be part of our memories of Adriaan ...