Tuesday 17 January 2012

Home Alone III

I entered 2012 full of optimism. The house is sold, the money is in the bank, the crew who will finish off the restaurant are mobilising and a bit more spanner action will see the truck back on the road again.

I was so confident, I was already recruiting. Flordita is quite a way out of town so some key personnel will have to live on site, especially over the weekends, which is when we expect to be busy. No sweat, I’ve got it all covered. I will poach Natalia from my old employer and she can be the head housekeeper and Roddy will sort me out a driver, again from my old company. There are a couple of secretaries who would rather work for me, even only as waitresses so I’ll have them as well because I know they are all loyal, honest and bloody pissed off in their current posts. Down at the Barra de Kwanza, we’ll all be one happy family and just rake it in.

Naturally, I needed a qualified accountant. One familiar with the ever changing reporting requirements of the Ministry of Finance and MAPESS, a government sponsored organisation any ardent socialist would have been proud of as it has made this country, Angola, officially recognised as the most difficult in the world to discipline or sack an employee. If the person helping me slide by that shit was a family member, so much the better. If that person was also about to qualify as an accountant, only a few months short of finishing a four year university degree, paradise.

Marcia’s nephew knew he would walk straight out of university and into a family business. Marcia was pleased. I knew she liked the guy and I did too. 22 years old, obviously intelligent and very personable. He knew that we are kicking into gear and that next week he and I were going to work on the spreadsheets we would need to control expenditure and receipts and keep MinFin and Mapess off our backs.

Saturday morning he went over to Mussulo, invited by some eighteen year old he was shagging. They call it an island but really it is only a long bar 30 kms in length so everyone nips over the bay by boat rather than face the long drive. Compared to Luanda, it is heaven on earth and all the smart set have their beach houses there. The restaurants are no better than anywhere else but with such a location you could serve tinned dog food and get away with it so the fact they serve lobster and curried fish soup along with ice cold beer and mind numbing Caipirinhas makes the place an absolute hit, especially for young lads keen on scoping girls in string bikinis.

Saturday afternoon they pulled his body out of the bay.

As soon as Marcia received the news, she pushed off to her sister’s place to give her whatever support she could.

I felt bloody awful. I lost my nephew when, aged only two, he drowned in a swimming pool in UK. In South Africa, or in many other countries but still not in UK, legislation recognises the right of a citizen to have a pool or a pond but demands a fence around it to prevent this sort of accident. But this was no pool, it was the Atlantic Ocean and he was a fit young man, not a child. Maybe he had enjoyed one Caipirinha too many and failed to realise as he splashed in the sea, perhaps showing off to some girl clad only in a bootlace, that his prospects for being a father, let alone a grandfather were becoming increasingly bleak until it was too late. It is sad, but it happens.

Marcia and the rest of her family were obviously waiting for the body to be released. The lad died on a Saturday afternoon so his earthly remains stayed in the morgue until today so that a post mortem could be conducted. In the meantime, the family had collected together and rolled around in the dirt wailing and screaming, Marcia among them I guess.

No one should belittle or ridicule the way Africans mourn their dead. When I heard my nephew had drowned, much to the alarm of my employees, I kicked my desk to matchwood before getting a grip of myself, retrieving the phone and booking myself a flight to UK. From that moment on and to this day, I kept it all buried. The grief, the unbearable grief. Africans, they just let it rip.

The autopsy report came out this afternoon. There was no water in the lad’s lungs. Evidently he was dead before he went surfing so we are looking at a murder enquiry.

This is Angola. They do not have sophisticated crime scene investigation, they cannot collect and analyse DNA, who could from a body washed up on the tide? It would be a miracle if they could even establish the real cause of death unless he was riddled with bullet holes which he wasn’t.

All I know is that three days ago some fucker killed my wife’s nephew and he is probably going to get away with it.

It is Marcia’s birthday today. She’ll be 31 but don’t tell her I told you. I’ve been alone, looking after the house which is sold anyway. Talk about a spare prick at a wedding. In the drawer of the desk on which sits the computer I am writing on I have a loaded Cz 83 the magazine of which I would love to empty. If only I could recognise a legitimate target.

Do you know what it is like? You are as mad as hell and want to take them on. Your wife is real miserable so it hurts even more. Your three year old kid is understandably bored with watching his aunts roll themselves on the deck and wants to come home and watch CeeBeebies instead. You may be in your fifties but you know you can still hit a running Gatuno at two hundred paces if only God would give you the bastard chance, the only problem being you don’t know who is ‘them’.

A tough Weekend, I had to do something decisive. Anything to take my mind off boiling frustration.

So I baked Marcia a birthday cake. It is as close as I could get to a Black Forest Gateaux but I had to use strawberries instead of cherries and dipped the strawberries I used to decorate the top in molten chocolate and used a sweet liqueur instead of Kirschwasser to lace the chocolate sponge. It’s in the fridge now.

Sometimes I am less than fond of this place.


  1. Well that sucks, really sorry to hear this

  2. how sad!
    sorry to hear this :-(

  3. you have my best wishes.
    tom...life's wierd like this..isn't it?
    it always throws you a curved ball when you least need it.

    you are sanguine and pragmatic....thank the lord for that

    best, my friend

    ps i will send you a pork chop asap

  4. Sorry to hear this - how awful.

  5. Sorry to hear this Tom - our thoughts are with you all. It's a hard road sometimes.

  6. You insult Ukraine AGAIN!

    First you compare your farm to Ukrainian village. Now you say Goodbye me in RUSSIAN!!!

    Ukraine man, not like Wale man independant!

    My chicken waiting to kill your chicken.

    Da bo chi, anhlíys'kyy slave.

  7. Tom, you said you purchased a ticket to England. It is summer in Australia.......

  8. and the chickens are free range

  9. I'm so sorry, Tom. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

    It is never, never easy when someone dies, but it is one million times worse when it is from violence.

    Baking a cake was the best thing you could do, in my humble opinion. It does nothing for the loss, but it makes a perfect, little joy in a horrible moment.

  10. That's a terrible bit of news. I hope at least you find out who did it. As John says, life throws us some horrible things out of the blue and we somehow have to deal with them.

  11. How do you do it, Captain Gowans?

    What a brilliant way to weave the funny into tragedy.I feel ashamed of myself that, considering the main subject matter, I couldn't help smiling at your running social commentary. No, let's be honest (brutally) which I am: More than once I made a sound; I think they call it "laugh".

    Commiserations to all who are personally affected by death.


  12. With the shit that this place deals out daily, you develop a thick skin and a slightly warped sense of humour. The body was released and has now been buried so I guess that means the end of any investigation.

    The cake was nice.

  13. I would like to thank everyone for their kind comments, obviously the loss was more acute for Marcia but I felt her pain.


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