A Sporting Chance

One of the great things about having a group of about twenty working all over the place is that when you finish your own particular job, you’re suddenly able to see all the progress that’s happened in your absence. I spent an hour or two on Access with Malang and when I stopped I was able to admire the huge amount of painting that had gone on. The newly planted entrance area now looks superb as the whole of the outside of the front perimeter wall has been painted white, with the two “African” figures who form part of the PIA logo around the main gate are highlighted in glorious black. The Gambian and Scottish flags on the Inn wall are almost repainted and look striking. Yet more mahogany has arrived for the Inn doors, so the materials are now more or less in place for what will be a major improvement in security and will allow us to recommend it for inclusion in the guidebooks.

At the time of writing, there is some debate over what to do this afternoon. Today is Sunday, so time is beginning to run out before departure on Wednesday. We have been invited to the closing ceremony of some sports event at the stadium across the road: without wishing to be rude about these things, they are incredibly long-winded and boring, so the beach calls loudly whilst political correctness suggests the sports. Tomorrow, the kids are due to pay home visits to the Gambian counterparts’ homes. There is also Serrekunda market, which is really a “must”, so a bit of juggling work with pleasure will have to take place though to be honest there’s not a lot of work left to complete.

In yesterday’s blog, I said a game or two might be on the cards in the evening. As always, things didn’t turn out the way we expected. When we went down to the Hall for a game of “Mafia” (http://www.topped-with-meat.com/connector/mafia.html for an explanation) we found that Jim Lowe (Gambian youth leader) and the counterparts were going to put on a play for our edification. Drama here is always “educational”, so this one was about inclusion in society: the cast comprised an elderly member of their society, a young pregnant girl, the boy who “pregnanted” her and a young disabled lad. After labouring the point in the drama itself, the cast then addressed us about their roles and Jim then went on to hammer the points home again in a brief (by Gambian standards) final speech. This meant the audience were not in the right frame of mind for Mafia and we played a few more active games before the Scottish staff retired for a nightcap.

Last night was blighted by an intolerably loud noise from the stadium across the road. It started about 9pm and continued to after 4am, when I had occasion to get up. This morning I discovered that it was caused by the “Holy Family” band, who also tour some of the local hotels where they play pianissimo as opposed to fortissimo as last night. They were joined by acts such as “Rappa T” and the like. It was truly horrendous, even from a couple of hundred yards.

Later

It turned out that the sports are not nearby, but a minibus ride away, so the group will find it harder to slip away and come back as the buses will need to be booked for a specific time. Poor Jamila, who has stayed behind, is under the weather and has been sick. Whilst this is a good thing in that whatever is causing her illness is being rejected by her body, it is never pleasant especially when away from home. However, she’s made of stern stuff and will no doubt rally soon. Adrian and I are both around – he’s painting and I’m tutoring Malang – so she’s not alone and we’re keeping an eye on her.

The group came back from the sports in mixed spirits: it had been a football tournament and had appealed to some more than others. Pat says she had had enough, so the group came back most feeling they had stayed long enough.

Later still

Jamila is on the mend: though she had very little to eat at tea time, she joined in our games of Mafia tonight and the sheet she has taken to wrapping round herself looks less like a shroud. The Mafia game went pretty well and after a couple of Scot-only trials, we got the Gambians involved: it’s on the verge of becoming a tradition out here.

Have I mentioned the game we staff play in the evenings? We watch cars pass by and score them out of 5 according to the number of lights they have (2 headlights, 2 rear and a number plate). Some get full marks, but the odd car scores 2. Occasional arguments break out as to whether neon-blue-lit number plates etc. count as bonuses or penalties. They do say that everyone is on the autistic spectrum!

The lights have just gone out.

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