T.I.A. – ever since the movie Blood Diamond, which featured this phrase, I’ve heard people saying “this is Africa” as a response to anything bad happening. And I’ve also heard it as a response when great things happen. Quite frankly, things are rarely in the middle, and that’s the way I like it. As Neil Young once said “travelling in the middle of the road soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.”
The weekend started well*, but it all started to go downhill when Cherif turned up after breakfast with five litres of sweet sweet palm wine. But that’s the kind of crisis I can handle. Then over the course of the day, my car broke down, my solar batteries packed up, the people that sold us roof straw came and aggressively demanded more money (yeah, right) and a few other minor irritations*. Then, we found out a cousin of Khady’s that rides a “Jakarta” that we provided him, had ripped us off and trashed the bike (this is not the guy in the photo above).
*I wrote this post a week or so before this one – this is turning into a bad fortnight.
Jakartas are Chinese motorcycles that local lads rent and provide taxi services around the surrounding area. I bought the bike for Khady to run as a business and make her own money. She in turn let her cousin use it in order to give him an income. He gives her a small amount each day and keeps the profit. Khady was upset and sad, but insisted on going to the police – very unusual here, as people usually don’t bother when it’s family – this is Africa and people do these things. He’s obviously not the brightest of sparks, as his sister is the wife of this guy, so he must have realised we weren’t going to give him a pat on the back and say everything’s fine. After a discussion with the lads uncle, we were reimbursed, given many apologies along with a plea not to involve the police.
So, in the evening, I wearily sat down and started writing this when I heard a hiss – a loud hiss, like a dragon exhaling. I walked out and stood on what I thought was a stick – obviously it wasn’t and the bright green snake whiplashed under my foot, which I’m not ashamed to say made me…no, I am ashamed to say.
The roof builders leapt into action with a garden rake and a block of wood, and now I have a new hat band. It’s time to start taking snakes a little more seriously.
Sticks and stones
I was sat under a tree recently, passing time. A lad came, sat near me and struck up a conversation. “What’s your name?” he asked. I replied and then returned the question.
His reply took me aback, as it’s it was a derogatory term with a couple of G’s, an I, an E, an N and an R. Six harmless letters that when rearranged in the correct order can cause much offense and hurt. And I’m not referring to those pesky Gingers.
He told me his name was the N word, which I’m a little afraid to write down as people have gotten into trouble for using it even when in an innocent manner such as this piece.
Anyway, I’m not sure if he was just trying to get into an argument or whether it was genuinely his name, but I just shrugged, then he got bored and walked off.
Last night I found a spider the side of my hand, nesting lots of eggs. It was beside the bed, which was the wrong place for it to choose. It wasn’t there for long. In the past week, we’ve also had some peculiar creatures – they look like a cross between a spider and a scorpion and run around at very high speeds, attracted by the light at night.
My worst jobs
The other day, I walked around my neighbours land with an old sack, filling it with bull shit. I’m planting melons and needs a lot of fertilizer. It was very hot and as I sweated and peered around for the nuggets of nutrition, I thought to myself this was the culmination of nearly 20 years of education and another 15 years or so of senior management positions. And now, I am far happier, scrabbling around in the dirt trying to grow some melons.
As I continued, I reminisced about some of my worst jobs. Here are a few I dredged up:
After-birth scraper – this was a low. I had to scrape after birth from pig pens, which was fairly trying at 6am with a hangover.
Artificial inseminator of sows: I suppose the best thing about this was that it was artificial. Collection from the boar was fun.
Donut fryer – When I say I don’t like nuts I include donuts – greasy sweet balls of fat. Plus I was doing this for a U2 tour in Australia and spent the entire time hearing the muffled concert whilst sweating in a caravan, serving spotty teenagers.
Stock picker (Tesco’s) – I spent six months doing this, to save some travelling money. I hated it. I lugged big cartons of bacon and palettes of yoghurts around with a bunch of ex-cons. Two years later, having circled the globe and having many adventures, I briefly returned to earn some pennies whilst seeking a proper job. All the same people were there having the same arguments – quite a moment for me that made me think that whatever I did with my life, I wanted it to be extraordinary.
Door to door salesman – selling karate lessons on a sink estate. One day, I remember shouting through the letterbox at a woman so terrified by the neighbourhood that she imprisoned herself behind bars, that she really really needed these lessons.
Pilchard lifter – one week unloading tins of pilchards from trucks in Didcot. Boo.
Pregnancy tester – fiddling about with ladies wee was ok, but having them hug me for joy or collapse in horror was a bit much for a 20 year old lad. I also used to measure vaginal mucus viscosity (professionally I should add).
Apple picker – this would have been quite enjoyable – sunning myself in the Australian countryside, breathing fresh air and chasing kangaroos from the orchards every morning. Sadly, I was paid per ton and to make anything near a decent income, I had to pick one ton an hour – that’s a lot of apples.
Cover up kill joy – I was a lifeguard for seven years. One of the worst tasks was when I was ordered by my manager to go and tell a large group of Scandinavian students that topless bathing was unacceptable in middle England. They took it well and invited me to their barbecue that night. Every cloud…
Cleaning Simon Groom’s shoes- a long story. He’s a Blue Peter (long running British kids tv show) presenter.
Other “fun”jobs I remember include: ray ban factory worker, air conditioning factory line worker, Australian post sorter, old peoples home cleaner, paper round, federal express warehouse operative (don’t send anything fragile with them!), nappy changer for severely mentally handicapped adults, roadie for a Madonna tour, British Gas appliance delivery, supermarket lingerie specialist and assistant to mortician.
I also once spent a fun evening mopping up a homeless alcoholics diarrhea. This is England.
What’s the worse job you’ve had?