Friday, July 16, 2021


 Dear Readers and Bishops' Old Boys,

Richard Brasher

          Richard Brasher, who has just retired from Pick n Pay after eight years as CEO of this 1945 store grocery chain never ceased to amaze me.

          He doesn’t know me from Adam, yet when I sent him an email to his personal email address on a Saturday this year at 02.07 pm he replied less than half an hour later at 02.30.

          I asked him to pass on the following email to Raymond Ackerman as I did not have an email address for him. It went like this:

Dear Raymond,

Congratulations on your 90th. I presume you are going for your century. Thanks again for the attached. It brought back good memories of somebody like you who could fit my little triumph into your busy schedule. Well done for making your 100th – in anticipation.

Raymond Ackerman & his wife Wendy

Yvonne Cummins, who I assume is his PA, replied: “Mr Ackerman sends his sincere thanks for the birthday wishes sent to him via Richard Brasher. He really appreciates you thinking of him and he had a very special 90th


           The attached I referred to was this letter (those were the days when the postal service worked) he sent me in 1974 congratulating me on being the runner up in the Stellenbosch Farmers' Wineries' National Award for Enterprising Journalism for my series in the Business Section of the Sunday Times about crooked business. "This was a first-class effort and I think you can deserve all the congratulations you can get for your forthright reporting," Raymond wrote.

          I would never have thought that he would have been following my career like this. Alright we did go to school together at Bishops in Cape Town where we were borders in School House, but he was three years ahead of me. And that’s a life time at school. I can only assume he read about it in the paper.

          In 2017 in my role as a Consumer Watchdog on my blog I was trying to get a promised refund of R320.50 for our daughter Mandy from Aramex Couriers that has drop boxes in Pick n Pay branches, but all I got was the same run around as she was given. In desperation I sent an email to Richard asking him if he could get somebody to sort this out. The following day on the 25th working day after Mandy had been promised payment within 7-14 days I got the proof from Aramex that she had been paid.

          I then asked Richard: “Was this your magic? Just after my email to you R320.50 was paid into our daughter’s account. Thanks a lot.”

          He replied: “We are always happy to help.”

          My email to him was sent at 07.30 am and he replied at 09.39 from his iPhone the same day. How’s that for top notch service.

          After buying four stores in Cape Town trading as Pick n Pay in 1966 Raymond built them into one of Africa’s largest supermarket chains. He was Chairman until 2010 when he stepped down in favour of his son Gareth.

          I evidently didn’t pay as much attention as Raymond when I was at Bishops or I just didn't have what it takes upstairs.  

           My career was as a journalist on various papers including the Sunday Times where I did investigations and also wrote a hard hitting weekly column Business is Business for two years. My newspaper days ended when I became a self employed private eye specialising in life insurance.

          At a function at my old school to mark the 60th anniversary of my year a former master who was organising it said to me: “I couldn’t find anything about your matric.” He had evidently researched the school records of those who attended.

          On another occasion my wife and I went to a lunch for Old Boys like me at the school and on the wall inside the building where the function took place there was a list of Bishop’s Rhodes Scholars. I had a job finding it and at one stage I said to my wife "Was my Dad making this up?"

But sure enough there it was: the 1921 Bishop's Rhodes Scholar - Cecil Willoughby Abbott, who went up to Oxford I think.

It must have been rather embarrassing for him having his first born at this very expensive school where he had done so brilliantly plug his matric. Putting the shot and throwing the javelin to provincial standards was no compensation. This might explain why I never became a millionaire like Raymond.

Regards to you all and here’s hoping you can keep Virus free,









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