You’re never too old…

…to make a silly mistake.

I knew I should be wary of the pasta and shrimp mix for my dinner last night, but I threw discretion to the winds. What I didn’t appreciate was that the meal had been cooked by a student before she finished at 2:00pm, five whole hours before I ate it, five whole hours sitting at Gambian room temperature, five whole hours preparing to poison my system.

Out of consideration for your sensibilities, just let me say I was back and fore to the loo every few minutes from about 4:00am and I can’t remember feeling so grotty for a long time. During a brief lull about 7:00am I went downstairs and passed on the message there’d be no teaching from me today.

I slept until about 12:30, interrupted only by streamof solicitous staff who I could really have seen far enough, though they meant well.

About 1:00pm I risked a little bread and coffee and now I’m slowly perking up, but it may be a long haul.

Cecilia the cook is horrified at what has happened: the trouble is there’s not much understanding of the causes of food poisoning out here, though the Sierra-Leonean Public Health students were tut-tutting when I told them. Cecilia thought a microwave would solve the problem, but I pointed out that hot poison is probably just as bad as warm. Those of you who know Flora Page, retired (very early, she tells me) Doyenne of the IRA Home Ec department, will realise she would be having kittens if she saw the standards out here. That’s an awful sentence, but I can’t be bothered and colons are a touchy subject at the moment.

By two o’clock, I was feeling sufficiently better to sit in the shade and I was touched by the concern my students showed for me as they passed on their way home. Every single one who passed came across and enquired after my health: “How is your body?” was a common question. They are a nice bunch and I flatter myself that they were genuinely surprised yesterday when one asked “What year were you born?” and I replied, truthfully, “1951”.

Edwin Kimani (International Award Scheme Regional Director for Africa) and Cristal de Saldanha Stainbank (Executive Director, London) are visiting today to decide finally whether to expel the PIA from the scheme. Things look good so far and they seem to be impressed with recent progress. I have been invited to have a chat with them as Rep. of Gamscot tomorrow.

I don’t think it’s just my reaction: it seems much hotter than usual here, more like Kerewan normally  is. The original plan had been that Sonia and I would go there for an overnight stop with the IRA group, but think it would be a kindness to scrap that idea. I was there for a few hours a couple of weeks ago and it was bloody hot: I had hoped that this spell might break, but it’s showing no sign of doing so: beach, Monkey Park etc. will be order of the day.


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