Sorry for the inconvenience

When I met the group at the airport the other night, I was amused by the unintentionally funny notice outside the Ladies toilet, which read “These toilets are closed for remodelling. Sorry for any inconvenience”.

We keep hearing stories of the record temperatures in Inverness which is rather ironic because it’s unusually cool here and, wonder of wonders, it has rained today, with thunder as well. In previous years when I was touting for customers in school for the Gambia trip, I always included the sentence “It will not rain!”: I don’t think Tosh said that this year, which is just as well as the kids would otherwise be asking for their money back! We live in hope that it’s what my grandfather used to call a “clearing-up shower.”

This morning we all got stuck into some more paint scraping and wall sanding then, after a 2:30 lunch of battered butterfish and chips, the group headed out to the local market at Bakau and, after, to the harbour to see the fish market. I stayed back at base and Abass and I, ably watched by Mousa who occasionally drifted off to unblock a drain, put a thinned coat of paint on the newly stripped walls of the restaurant. We thinned down the gloss paint with what they call here “diluant”, but I don’t think it was quite the right stuff and was intended for varnishes etc. Whatever, we worked in a heady mix of gloss paint and cellulose thinners which is certainly cheaper than whisky. My hands are still tangerine coloured. Tomorrow, the room can be painted with non-thinned paint which may not be quite so runny and also a little less intoxicating.

As I think I mentioned before, yesterday was my last day of teaching and today the students who turned up were put to “cleansing” – that is picking up litter, burning leaves, raking and weeding etc. I was approached by Aunty Cole who said my classes wanted to see me: when I went along, both classes were there and a little ceremony took place at which I received a card, an attractive African shirt and a bottle of male perfume. It was rather touching. Aunty made a little speech, Saikou said a few words of thanks and the eldest girl in the class (Maimuna, aged 22) handed over the gifts. I can’t see that happening in Scotland to a visiting teacher.

At our evening meal – just a snack, having had a main meal at lunch – some of us chatted about what we were missing from home. To save any embarrassment, I’ll not name the three girls in question, but “puddings”, “eating between meals” and “my horse” featured as did a certain irritation that folks back home were having such good weather.

As I write this in the computer lab, on my laptop, all around me are finding themselves being disconnected from the web. I hope I can manage to up post this.

Then off to put the world to rights with the rest of the staff.



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