Dead Parrot Sketch

At the risk of sounding like John Cleese, “I wish to register a complaint”. Today has not been sunny, with long-distance vision hampered by haze. It has been hot, as usual, but the sun has been no more than a yellow ball, seen through a glass darkly.

Nevertheless, after I did some laundry, Rohey arrived and we headed off to the beach. Not the usual Palma Rima but a little further out to Jarma, on the way to the fleshpots of the Senegambia Strip. Jarma has one or two new hotels and we chose to sit outside Maddie’s Beach Club, where we got a large lounger and canopy for free as we were going to eat in the restaurant. “In” is the wrong word, as it’s outside on a large decking area. The whole place is new and looks quite nice. The food was certainly fine (I had barracuda and Rohey calamares, though we shared) and I said to her that I think Sonia would enjoy it: it’s only a five minute drive from the Sunset Beach and would make a pleasant change. Even though the place obviously seemed expensive to her, we had the use of a lounger for 5 hours, three Julbrews, three soft drinks (devout Muslim!) and two lunches, all of which gave change from £20, so not bad.

As ever the sea was great and this time on the ebb, so the walk to swim became almost a marathon, as the beach hardly slopes at all and you feel you could walk out for miles and still not get out of your depth. Nice big waves too, with terns occasionally diving for fish. There was absolutely no hassle from sales-people: the beach was patrolled on and off by a couple of policemen. A few towel and trinket sellers did walk along, parallel with the tideline, but just held up their wares 20 yards away and did no sales patter.

The only touch of drama was when a couple of likely lads drove a 4 by 4 along the hard sand and the two policemen fell out, trying to decide whether to chuck them off the beach. The staff from the bar soon joined in, as did a couple of life-guards etc. Eventually the car was shooed away, but the argument continued for a few more minutes: some of these folk are worse than the Italians!

I had déjà vu again, again: after lunch I dozed on the lounger and was once more woken up by a husky-voiced teenage girl “Hello, Doug”. It was the same lassie as a fortnight ago! I was beginning to think (unlikely as it seems) that I was being stalked, but it turns out the girl, apart from being a student at the PIA, is a family friend of Rohey’s and had arranged by mobile to meet up with us after lunch.

Towards the end of our stay at the beach, Maddie’s Beach Club staff were playing football against another hotel. Maddie’s team had the raucous backing of their female staff, many of who were wearing “Maddie’s Bikini Night” T-shirts (not the actual bikinis). These young women postured, danced, wiggled their bums and constantly chanted, “Hot, hot, hot. Hot like a figh-err” Some of them were, too. I don’t usually pay much attention to football: I suppose, strictly speaking, I didn’t this time either. Eventually I went back into the sea to cool down.

The RPI is almost hotching at the moment: not only are the family I mentioned still here, but we also have 6 Sierra Leonean mature students on a week-long course. After a few digs from various folk, including Abass and me, the RPI manager is making an effort, but I don’t suppose it’ll last: if it doesn’t, neither will he. It turns out he had no idea how to wire a plug, so I did it and showed him: and hey presto! a working kettle. It is made in some dubious part of Asia, but as the design features were written on the box in pidgin-English, he thought it was a pukka kettle. He has also bought a second-hand fridge for the guests’ quarters: currently being used by the Sierra Leoneans, so things are looking up. I do hope the TV in the communal space upstairs is only a temporary aberration: you’ve already been subjected to my views on Gambia TV, so I won’t go over old ground other than to say I saw a “drama” in Mandinka while I was eating my tea tonight. Naturally I couldn’t understand it, but it featured villagers with buckets of water on their heads and atrocious production values. Must be careful: I’m getting snotty again!

Abass is still working on the “trays” and plans to do so into the small hours again, though he let his students off for a couple of hours to watch the InterSchool Sports which are happening in the Stadium. I thought they happened a couple of weeks ago, but maybe it’s different schools or something.

I’m just off to upload this, then add one or two pictures to the gallery, if I can remember how to do it.

No parrots were harmed in the making of this post.


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