|The one in the middle, the one with the tail dipped in white paint? He's mine and he's called Charlie.|
I have to admit, I am a deeply anti-social bastard, a recluse. I hate invitations to supper and abhor dinner parties. I can just about cope with cocktail gatherings since no-one really cares whether I turn up or not. There is usually plenty of free booze and amongst the crowd there will invariably be someone who lays himself wide open to a bit of acid, and for me, entertaining wit; they’re usually from the United Nations or World Bank by the way, and are keen to point out they fly first class but occasionally, through the incompetence of airline staff, have to endure business class. Their profligate expense accounts though, they confide with a nod and a wink, more than compensates for such occasional inconvenenience.
'So you work for somebody?' usually gets rid of them.
'So you work for somebody?' usually gets rid of them.
I like journalists, or Correspondents as they like to call themselves when they are away from their desks and on an overseas allowance. When they come to Angola they seek out the Old Africa Hand for a bit of gossip so I love pouring myself a generous measure of their scotch and saying things like, ‘Actually, the Party is quite happy with the President, they are just concerned about his bi-sexual proclivity’ and seeing how long it takes to get into the mainstream press. Actually, I don´t do that anymore, ever since I was invited to a Hat On, No Coffee interview with the President's spokesman, Aldemiro de Conceiçao who, apart from being Dominic´s mother´s Godfather, is someone you really don't want to piss off.
I really have no idea how someone like me could end up with a family. Don´t get me wrong, I love my boys and am very proud of them but I cherish my solitude and that is at odds with having a girlfriend half my age and a family now so extended I end up re-introducing myself to bemused relatives leaving them muttering something about us only having been together last week before wandering off convinced I am barking mad.
Doggy has had her pups, ten of them. Since Doggy, the late Dinge and Number Three were strays I had somehow inherited, I never gave them real names and never bothered taking them to a vet in town for injections and documentation. Doggy had her litter in a hole in the bush and I only found them because, out of idle curiosity, I was wondering why she had suddenly disappeared. Having found them, I could hardly leave them there to be devoured by a python so stuffed them all into a pillow case and made up a new safer berth in what will be the bar of the restaurant. Where they did rather well and all ten have survived with little intervention, other than the relocation, on my part.
Left to Nature, the mother would be part of a pack and would hunt prey, eat of the kill as much as she could before returning and regurgitating half digested remains down the throats of her pups. This not exactly being a natural environment and Doggy not being part of a pack, left to nature they would all die so when I realised that her milk was drying up and she was kicking the pups, now with eyes wide open, off her teats, I needed to step in.
I dug out an old cast iron frying pan, it had to be big if I was to get ten of the little beggars around it at the same time, and heated up a pan of milk. They devoured it. Just as Man cannot live on bread alone (a tired old excuse for every womanising philanderer), I realised that these pups could not live on milk alone. So I fried up some really well ground up beef and mixed that into the milk. They scoffed that too. Last night, I boiled up half a dozen chicken legs and shredded the meat into puppy bite sized morsels and they disposed of all that in seconds flat. Doggy and Number Three, whose turn it is now to be pregnant I fear, disposed of the bones.
A few weeks ago, recognising that I might have to be a shade more dedicated to the care of these dogs, an unexpected but not really unwelcome addition to my family, I asked my brother to get those medicinal supplies necessary for canines and send them to me from Germany which of course, with Teutonic efficiency, he did.
While Doggy was lactating, I didn´t think it would be a good idea to de-worm her and while they were all licking each other like mad, dousing them with DDT was perhaps also not such a good idea so I waited. Now that the pups have been weaned, though, this was the time I thought.
I may not be an expert on canine husbandry, I´m a novice, But one thing I do know is that if you want to get medicine down a dog´s throat, starve it for a couple of days first. It´ll wolf the fucking lot down before it realises you've played a dirty trick and the food has been laced with something nasty. So getting the de-wormer down was no problem. If that was the hard bit, surely the administration of a de louser would be easy?
But, you see, I have an extended family. There is no little space, however humble, I can truly call my own. At the old place I had a study. I designed the house so that my study overlooked the pool and it had a door with a lock on it. In it I had my old mahogany desk and bookshelves and I stored there anything of value to me. So it looked like a cluttered junk shop, heaped with papers, old photograph albums, Persian rugs, paintings, books and, most dear to me, tools. Tools of all kinds; hand tools, workshop tools, machine tools, grinders, routers, planers, you get the idea.
I was away a lot, abroad, so when I finally scored the use of a satellite phone while standing next to Lake Albert in Uganda, I wanted to hear how badly I was missed, not that the pump had failed,there was no water and that the man was there but needed a ten millimetre spanner. What can a chap do other than tell the light of his life where he'd hidden the key to his study?
When I got back there was fuck all left except the carpets. The Philistines. I say philistines because I was rather insulted the thieving bastards discriminated against my rugs.
Now I am camping next to a river by the sea and am living in the kitchen of what will be my restaurant. In sixteen square metres we have a double bed, a broken chest of drawers, a sofa, a TV and stand, a coffee table, a bank of shelves for clothes and my old desk. Where once I had three hundred square metres 10 % of which I vainly tried to call my own, I now have six drawers in which to store anything dear to me merely one of which is now sufficient to store all the tools, once so plentiful and now all I have left.
I dug through the box Micky had sent me from
and found the de-louser. I had gone for the ‘One Spot’ I had noticed
received a five star rating on Amazon.
Undoing the cap, I realised that the end of the nozzle, dispenser,
whatever you want to call it, was sealed over.
What I needed was a pair of scissors.
So I opened the top drawer of the right hand side of my desk where I
keep such useful implements (I noticed the other day that my stapler had
disappeared and kept meaning to enquire of Marcia as to its whereabouts so made
a mental note do so) and then realised that the scissors were weren’t in the
Dogs aren’t stupid and knowing that they are normally never allowed to come into my room let alone be locked up in there, they were becoming nervous. The snacks I had used as an inducement were long gone and now they were pacing around and looking at me knowing something was up. They had never savaged me before, or even taken a nip at me but faced with a terrible unknown, there could always be a first time. And my scissors were gone.
I don´t know if you have ever tried to bite open one of these stupid little 5ml plastic containers but it is impossible to hold it with sufficient force to allow you to get your teeth around the top and chew through it without applying pressure to the container itself.
One spot of this shit has a five star rating for clearing a whole dog of ticks, fleas and lice and is guaranteed to last for three months. Imagine how you would feel if you got a couple of year´s worth squirted at high pressure right to the back of your throat?
For want of a pair of scissors, or a universally respected space where I could safely store such paraphernalia and call it my own, I may not have lost a Kingdom but when things started to get hairy, I realised it wasn’t just One Spot I was hacking up, it was my sphincter.