Serial problems

I spent Sunday morning on paperwork: emails, redrafting a budget for the IRA group etc., as well as a little binocular work. After an omelette for lunch – with reference to my gastric troubles I think the guys in the white hats have won the day – I settled down to read. (I must thank Ann Ross for recommending Paul Theroux’s book “Dark Star Safari” about the writer’s journey from the Northern tip of Africa to South Africa – an excellent, evocative and depressing read.)

I was reading outside in the hot sun, occasionally turning in my seat so as not to burn. I had just reached a point where the writer was stranded beside a broken down truck in Northern Kenya – a particularly risky part of the world. During his enforced idleness the author managed to find a shop selling beer and I was thinking about how good a cold beer would be when Mousa appeared with exactly that!

This abstemious Muslim had found one bottle in the fridge left over from the previous night’s Nigerian do and thought I might enjoy it. He was right: never – well, rarely – has a beer been more welcome and unexpected. The local brew, sold mainly in the tourist areas, is JulBrew (Banjul Brewery) and not at all bad. This is by no means the first I’ve had, but it went down to a band playing, almost literally, as there was a lot of music from the Stadium accompanying a wrestling match.

On Saturday, I bumped into a cub reporter covering the Nigerian do who started asking me to sponsor him on an IT course. I had been lukewarm, but of course he came back Sunday afternoon to try again, supposedly on his way to the wrestling (pronounced “rastling” here). I had no option but to say “I’m sorry, but I really can’t help you” and eventually he got the message and went sadly away. He was a nice lad, presentable, apparently intelligent, friendly without being creepy and obviously keen to better himself, but what can you do? I mentioned lame dogs and stiles the other day, but there’s only so many you can give a leg up to. I still feel sympathetic to his plight, but I’ve had to harden my heart as Mrs M would say.

It turns out that butterfish when eaten hot  is tender, soft and very good. I stood in the kitchen chatting to Cecilia the Catholic cook as the fish started to cool, she peeled a cucumber, squirted on the obligatory mayonnaise and explained a lot about religion in The Gambia. Scathing about the “born agains”, she is an interesting conversationalist but I left with my still warm fish feeling sorry that God had not shown her a suitable man, as she refused to countenance converting just to marry – “why should I convert if I do not believe?” She was obviously worried about being left on the shelf, but equally unwilling to sacrifice her principles. You just have to admire that.

Today, Monday, has been a bit chaotic and stressed due to some of the Interim Management Committee being told to go home and stay there. I can’t go into details, but currently the PIA is captainless on a stormy sea. I suspect the rudder is broken as well.

My lessons, however, went well. The Year 2 girls did seem to enjoy Amy Macdonald and some of them sort of lah-lah-lahed along to the second or third playing of one or two of the songs. One more play and they’d have been drumming, or at least dancing. Apart from listening to songs we did some “real” work as well, based on a simplified version of her Wikipedia entry. Aunty obviously approved as she wanted to keep my printouts, but I let the girls keep the lyrics of @The Road to Home@ if they wanted, which most did. After break I had the same class for spreadsheets – it’s funny how kids (though at 19 these are young ladies) the world over make the same mistakes.

Well, that’s about it. I’m off to relax by banging my head against a wall for a few minutes, unless Mousa suddenly appears with another beer!

Finally, apologies to Malcolm: it looks as though I typed cereal instead of serial yesterday. I am duly ashamed. Incidentally, Malcolm, as you’re obviously reading this: have a look and see if you can find any “spare” English dictionaries. Even a few would help: my class had to look up “album” in connection with Amy Macdonald and told me that it is a phonographic recording (at least they got phonographic correct). Seriously, the kids bring their own dictionaries and some of them are bordering on antiques with no relevant modern meanings at all. At least this allowed me to give a short lessonette on how language changes. I’m not sure the born-again Aunty, who was sitting in, approved of “gay” as one my examples, though.


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