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For six years I had struggled with my situation - studying for and then obtaining a civil engineering degree followed by starting work as an engineer in training whilst my heart and soul lay in music.  It took a near disaster for me to finally resolve the matter:  whilst shaping a piece of perspex in the workshop at the Department of Water Affairs hydraulic laboratory I lost concentration and in an instant took off the tips of my index and second fingers on my left hand, injuring the others and some in my right hand.  I was rushed to hospital and thanks to the intervention of my brother, extensive surgery was performed for the sake of not amputating the fingers at the penultimate phalanges.


This was it!  No more agonizing; if I didn't see this as a sign, then I would probably be miserable for rest of my life.  So, even whilst lying in my hospital bed with my hand in plaster and the inside of my elbow burning (they took some soft skin and grafted it onto my fingertips), I was scheming on whether or not to take up the drums or the saxophone, just in case I could never play the piano again.


After six weeks, when the plaster cast was removed things did not look good.  The fingers had gone septic and it was a messy and depressing sight.  Somehow I would not believe that this was the end and having received appropriate medical attention I was back at the piano, albeit with the damaged fingers covered with leather finger stalls.  And, I was back at the jazz clubs, playing with one hand, and sometimes the other (although the pain was excruciating).


It was time to take that trip to Joburg and I met with Lionel and Ricky Keilly of Rising Suns fame, looking for a break.  I did not have to wait very long - they were forming a new band (inviting me to join them) for a residency at the Carlton Hotel and after rushed rehearsals we took off on a brief tour to Durban and Pietermaritzburg as The New Rising Suns before returning as Top Brass.  Thus ended my brief career as an engineer.