Saturday, March 07, 2009

We Were Men of Men - Rhodesian Roulette

Lake McIlwaine Spillway, Rhodesia, ca 1973.

Extract from a piece I am presently writing. Unfortunately I have no pictures.

It was here on Lake Mac (as it was known), that one of the speedboat petrol-heads invented Rhodesian Roulette. In this version, the player also needed to be intoxicated enough to have a death wish, but unlike the Russian version, the weapon of choice was a speedboat.

Inebriated nerves played a small role, but the player’s life hung on the fine tuning of a couple of powerful outboard motors. The game was simple. Let the speedboat drift, with idling engines, as close as possible to the point where the Lake vomits forcefully out of its bonds and down the spillway.

Then just before the boat and driver joins Davey Crocket, ram the throttle open, and prey to the creator that the recently purchased, sanctions breaking, twin 100 horsepower Mercury engines, don’t decide to cough-up on some dirt in the fuel, and that the immense pulling power promised in the manufacturers manual was true.

If not, one instantly sobered idiot and a couple of hundred thousand dollars of big-boys toys, would be converted into blood, guts, fibreglass and ball bearings. These bits would then be brought just down the road to Warren Hills Cemetery, where his weeping widow would proclaim - ‘He died living the Rhodesian way of life.’

A photo of this stunt appeared on the front page of the Rhodesia Herald. I do not know if any clown ever did land up in the Hunyani river.


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John said...

Bloggers may find these pictures of Rhodes's funeral interesting. I put them on Youtube