Lest you think I’m being a bit pretentious using a quotation from “Macbeth” as the title for this piece, let me tell you a story. Some years ago, I went to the small police station in Kerewan with a Gambian colleague to report a theft. As normal in police stations all over the world, I had to give my name, age and address. When I said “Inverness”, the middle aged sergeant looked up at me and said, very appropriately “When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightning, or in rain?” It transpired he had been taught the play in school and knew nearly all of it by heart. I wonder how many Scottish pupils – or teachers such as I – could say the same!
But back to the confusion. Ever since they were mentioned to me, I have been trying to avoid needing to go to the school sports. I have been assigned to Mauve “Kunda” (House) and it’s been looking less and less likely that I’d manage to dodge the event. The sports are today and I again asked this morning “When do they finish?” The answer of “around noon” wasn’t promising as the Scottish group don’t touch down until half past two. However, it’s now almost eleven and the sports haven’t even started. A second inquiry suggests they probably won’t get under way until after 12:00, but no-one knows. This is put down to transport issues: as the students have to make their own way to the sports ground, the games won’t kick off until everyone is there and that could be any time. So, I’m off the hook!
I’ve not mentioned this so far, but today is Adrian’s birthday. One of the arriving IRA staff, this will be Adrian’s first visit to The Gambia and Tosh asked me to organise a cake. Now that the group should be at 30000 feet somewhere over Spain, it’s safe to mention this as it’s unlikely to spoil the surprise. Amie Sowe (Home Science) has made a beautifully over-the-top cake with masses of coloured icing and “Happy Birthday Adrian” piped on the top. I’ll need to get a photo. Out here they also sing “Happy Birthday”, but add another verse which I’ve not met elsewhere: “How old are you now?” It’s a nice gesture, thanks to Tosh and Amie, which should help to break the ice.
Talking of ice, I see from the BBC website that there is the usual disruption to traffic after the late spell of winter weather in the UK. I’ve not heard from Tosh, so there can’t have been any major delay in their departure. It’ll be quite a shock for them to arrive out here: the thermometer in both places will read about 35, but here’s it in Celsius, whilst in the UK it’ll be about 35 Fahrenheit!
The ever effervescent Sadibou, the Award Officer currently based in Kerewan, has returned to base for the visit of the IRA group. He’s a real live wire and full of fun. He tells me he has been in touch with a few of the IRA participants from previous years and is looking forward o meeting the cousin of one of the girls who was here a year or two back. He also says it’s very hot in Kerewan. I pooh-poohed this as I’ve been to Basse and am thus made of sterner stuff but it’ll be quite a test of the teenage toubabs, along with living conditions, primitive toilet facilities, washing at the stand pipe and mixing cement all day.
Churchill said something along the lines of: “If you don’t support Labour when you’re young, you’ve no heart. If you don’t vote Conservative when you’re older, you’ve no head”. I find that the older I get, the more Socialist I become. I’m not a card-carrying Communist, nor a committed supporter of any political party as no one has a monopoly on good ideas, but I get more and more angry about the idiocy and short-sightedness of privatisation. We’ve had disasters in hospitals, education, prisons and so on due to this blinkered approach. Highland Council scrapped a reasonably good and cost-effective in-house IT department to hand it over to Fujitsu who make money hand over fist and provide an inferior service. How can any half-intelligent councillor not see that a private company’s loyalty – if that’s the right word – is to its shareholders, not the users? So what’s got me back on this hobbyhorse? The Westminster Government is privatising the Search and Rescue helicopter network. The company naturally talk about value for money, job creation etc., but we all know what’ll actually happen. Thank goodness the SNP are up in arms: yet another reason to vote for Independence in 2014!
The IRA group arrived on time and all OK. They are pretty tired after starting their journey by bus from Inverness at 8pm Tuesday. At least they only had to go to Manchester by bus: coming to Banjul by D&E coaches would be a different matter altogether. A snack meal of bread, beans, salad and frankfurter was provided and there’s an end of term disco we can attend: I suspect we’ll put in a brief appearance as it’s in the Hall on site. Tomorrow I think we’ll be painting the IT suite and possibly going to the beach.
I’ll stop for now, but should be blogging again tomorrow, with any luck.