Awa’ an’ bile yer heid!

Well I was a little more tactful than that, but I’ve told the Maths teacher I’m not going to go into his Home Science class.

I have agreed still to look in on the mechanics on Thursday as I have prepared something for them but I see no point in doing his work for him if it’s water off a duck’s back. The general opinion, when I ask round, is that he never takes advice even when people – such as Emma and various Gambian colleagues – give him support. Rumour has it he’s someone’s nephew.

Surely Home Science classes should be doing work associated with their chosen main course: weights and measures, scaling up recipes, calculating areas of cloth etc. rather than Lowest Common Factors and so on, unless these are clearly related to their course. You can’t expect vocational students to follow an “academic” maths course. However, you can lead a horse…

The result is a half-day for me, which is quite welcome.

He joined me at my lunch today and I dropped a few heavy hints about course content, relevance, methodology etc., but I suspect they fell on stony ground.

My own attempts at following up on mail merge were reasonably successful: the more able pupils managed it with no great difficulty, the poorer ones struggled: but such is life.

Rohey was worried yesterday about budgeting for the right number of Gambian leaders for the Group next week, but that has been resolved and she seems happier today. She was also one of about half-a-dozen people who have had some sort of stomach upset: it’s quite good to know it’s not just toubabs who get Banjul belly.

Some guys from a local organisation had booked the Hall and food for eight people today as they had a meeting. They poled up this morning and said they wanted to cancel. Mousa was understandably annoyed: he agreed to cancel the Hall booking, but pointed out in an unusually efficient manner that he had bought in food and was not going to let them off that charge-free. There was a bit of argy-bargy but Mousa won the day, with the organisers saying they’d come back at 1:00 to collect the lunch and take it to their new venue.

They did turn up and lunch wasn’t ready. There were more recriminations and eventually they went away saying they’d be back, with Mousa shouting after them: “You’re Gambians, so go and pray”. It’s reminiscent of Fawlty Towers at times: dare I call it a black comedy?

Just to round off the tale, the guys did come to collect their carry-out lunch. They arrived in a vehicle that’s just appearing out here – a sort of tuk-tuk / Robin Reliant / dune buggy thing that’s advertised a lot in the papers. They look rather fun, actually. If there were an electric version with heated driving seat for the Scottish climate I’d be rather tempted!

Incidentally the lunch was chicken bennachin (rice, vegetables and hen) so I accepted some too and that made a pleasant change from the usual frankfurters in tapalapa. And no ketchup or mayonnaise in sight, whoopee!

I spent the afternoon doing some Flash programming. I tried to kid myself it was to introduce the concept of gears and ratios to Thursday’s Maths class, but quite honestly I did it because I enjoy it. Nevertheless I’m quite proud of my efforts and will show it to the class on the digital projector Tosh “found”, which has been a great boon in IT.

It’s been quite windy today but hot as well, though now with a grey sky. Mousa reckons he may be able to get A/C man to come and fix the air conditioning in my room. A bit bloody late, to be honest, but better than nothing and as I’m likely to end up sharing the room (which Gambians insist on calling a house) with one of the IRA staff, that’ll benefit two of us.

Anyway, Mousa’s “apprentice” Amadou tells me my evening meal is ready. I’m limiting myself to a light diet, not because I’m unwell, but due to the heat and because there’s only so much repetition I can take. Now that I’ve finally got them to put fruit on the menu, I get it every single meal: 3 bananas with my breakfast, two ready-peeled(!) oranges with the chicken bennachin and it’s fruit for dinner as well. It’s either a feast or a famine, but at least the diet is healthier than it was.

When I was about 15 I spent two or three days with a mate cycling in the Trossachs. It rained all the time and there were midges. We arrived at some dripping, befogged hostel to find we had hours to wait until it opened, so we sat under the sodden trees beside a grey loch in our yellow cycling capes, cursed the insects and chewed our way through a complete unaccompanied tin of corned beef. I’ve never liked it since and I’m beginning to feel the same about frankfurters, but at least it’s not raining!

Must go, my bananas call.


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