I had a South African girlfriend once. Not a girlfriend in the way that she was the total focus of my attention in the traditional courting sense. But, never the less, she’s etched ever gentle on my mind. Her name was Reg. Short for Regina. No! Really. Well if you had a name like that, wouldn’t you want to change it?. Stunning girl. She wasn’t really classically beautiful or pretty. She was more statuesque in the Greek sense and she had the most enormous breasts with inverted nipples. Never seen any thing like it since. The nipples became non inverted when she was aroused. How do I know? Come on! it was the sixties! Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Personally I never bothered with the drugs, unless you include alcohol, in which case I did quite a bit of bothering. As for sex, in those days the contraceptive pill was newly available and there was no such thing as HIV aids, so the worst that could happen was some form of STD that could be treated. Make love not war was the motto. Halcyon days! Or quite often daze. Rock and roll, well although of course I was definitely into music of the time, Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Rolling Stones etc., my favourite music was New Orleans Jazz of the traditional variety from the 20s and 30s. On a Friday night my friends and I would journey to a pub called “The Fox & Hounds” in a village outside of my home town of Brighton. We’d drink cider and dance all night long. The dance was called a skip jive. It was like a rock and roll jive except that you skipped at the same time. It was very energetic and I could do it without pause. Mind you I was only nineteen.

Anyway back to Reg.
It was a most unusual and somewhat casual relationship, mainly because she was so incredibly intelligent, far beyond my comprehension. I think she must have regarded me as some sort of ‘toy boy’, although we were the same age.
At the time I had a sports car. It was a Triumph TR3A. It was magnificent. It was British racing green. It was the last of the true old fashioned sports cars with a big souped up tractor engine and a driver’s seat almost over the back wheels. At 70 mph the engine was only doing 3,000 rpm. You could drop the clutch at the traffic lights without touching the accelerator and it would pull away. It was ….. groovy.

I remember taking Reg driving on windy English country roads impressing her with my masculine driving expertise and knowledge. “See that line of telegraph poles” I said, “although I can’t see where the road is I know that it will follow the telegraph poles so I can drive accordingly”. The line of telegraph poles went straight ahead over the brow of the hill. The road, on the other hand, went sharp left and took a completely different route. She said “I’m suitably impressed”. I stated the absolutely flaming obvious. “You can see right through me, can’t you?” A reply was superfluous. Still, she loved going driving because back in South Africa she also had a Triumph TR3A. We talked of philosophy, of sports cars and esoteric concepts and her anger of the lop sided news from South Africa where no one ever heard of the brave white politicians who put themselves in the firing line everyday to oppose apartheid. She was learned, eloquent, an artist and like so many geniuses she was schizophrenic.

I didn’t realise it initially. Then, one night when I met her at a party, she was wild she was ebullient, she was electric and she invited to sleep with her. What was a young hippy to do? I was groovy with shoulder length hair, a beard, wearing platform shoes, flare trousers and a really cool leather jacket. I had just finished playing a set of Bob Dylan and Buddy Holly songs on my guitar. I was hot. So naturally I said “You and me babe”, and relaxed into the night.

She screamed out “Thank you God!” when she came and when we awoke in the morning said to me, “What are you doing here?” Very confusing for a simple young lad.
Anyway, for some reason, she latched onto me in a casual sort of a way, or at least I suppose one of her did. She would come and stay with me sometimes and likened herself to the protagonist in the Chris Christofersson song ‘Forever Gentle On My Mind’.

One day after she had stashed her sleeping bag behind my couch for the night she announced she was going back home to South Africa. Seems that a psychiatrist was trying to tell her she was schizophrenic. There was an awkward pause. Do I say “No of course not, they must have it all wrong”. Or do I tell the truth as I experienced it. It was difficult. I opted for the truth and related the story of the time I woke up in her bed and she didn’t remember inviting me. Well she wouldn’t, she wasn’t the same person I met the night before.

She left shortly after that, full of love and appreciation and I never heard from her again. I often wonder what happened to her. I think of her whenever South Africa is mentioned and whenever I hear “Forever Gentle On My Mind”.
I don’t think she was taking the pill. Maybe I’ve got family in South Africa.