Friday, 9 November 2012

Simple messages

Subject: Hope you're all right-it's megan from meganblogs

 Dear Tom,

Subject line says it. I can't say why, but you've been on my mind a lot recently, and i just hope everything is okay.


John Gray said...

no blogs for a while
u ok?


I will admit, the shit has hit the fan for me over the landwars.  I don’t want to bore you all with a bitter tirade but I really did want to do something for the community here.  Clean water, a clinic, help with the school.  I have already arranged for all the kids to have four free hours of golf lessons per week to keep them off the street and out of mischief.  Instead the Administradora, the Co-ordinador and the Vice-Coordinador have decided that all my access to the river belongs to them.  This seriously screws my project.

So I am fighting, and will go down fighting but I am depressed.  The single greatest impediment to progress in Africa is corruption.  It does not matter how many bits of notarized bits of paper you have, someone will come along and say, ‘Oh, he did not have the authority to sign that document so you have lost your money’.

Of course I am depressed.

Then there is the petty theft.  Anything that isn’t bolted down WILL be stolen.  I have lost my brand new 45 Kva generator, everything in the shop including the shelves, light fittings and plug sockets, two cameras (so no pics on the blog anymore), a mobile phone, some of my shoes, all of Alex’s shoes and, bizarrely, all my underwear, socks and handkerchiefs. The rough seams of Chinese made cotton shorts really rip into your nuts if they aren’t protected by a decent pair of Y Fronts.

Of course I am depressed.

And yet if I say that Africans are the most disgusting, shortsighted, stupid, venal, vile dishonest creatures on earth I would be accused of racism (as well as a huge generalisation but bear with me, I am stressed so somewhat irrational, after all I am married to an African and she is great). As a foreigner, I can’t even punch them out (everyone else except my wife) which would at least make me feel a little better, until they turned up with the police who would give me the blunt choice of coughing up some serious dough or letting them kick the shit out of me.

Of course I am depressed.

But then we must not forget that I paid an Englishman on the 4th of January this year to complete my project and he promised delivery in six weeks.  Eleven months later I am still living, with my family, in the 16 square metres of what will be the kitchen of my new restaurant.

So of course I am depressed.

Realizing that if he, the Englishman who I trusted, went bust there was absolutely no way I would get my money back I used my industry contacts to get him a half a million dollar contract to sort out his cash flow problem and he still has only five guys allocated to my project.

So I am depressed.

Marcia pointed out that no-one with even the most tenuous grasp of his senses would pay a contractor up front and accused me of doing so only because the guy was English and in spite of tropical temperatures has been icy in bed with me ever since.

Of course she is absolutely correct so I can add shame and sexual frustration to my depression.

A German friend of mine got into difficulty and needed a bung of five grand.  All I had was two and a half.  He promised to pay it back within a week.  That was three months ago.  I have not heard from him since.

This depresses me.

Ten years ago, another friend had problems and needed to pay his kid’s school fees in UK so I coughed 25 grand.  He fucked me over.

That really depressed me.

I have a pistol in my desk drawer.  I was seriously thinking about using it.  Not to slot myself, but all those bastards who have either let me down or screwed me.  I took it apart, cleaned it and oiled it up nicely.  I even serviced the truck so it was guaranteed, as far as you can guarantee anything built in China, to get me into town.  I hadn’t considered getting back.  I was that close.

Then I get a couple of messages through the blogosphere from Megan and John.

The gun needed a good clean anyway so it can now continue to rest comfortably in its drawer.  The truck is breathing easier through its new filters and with fresh oil, there are a few moving parts blessing my effort.  Alex seems to have picked up a bit of a cough so I will now make him some German Brust Tee. Marcia is busy cooking a Portuguese Feijoada with rice which you would have to be an absolute philistine not to enjoy, especially with lashings of ultra spicy local gindungo.

Tomorrow is another day.  So I shall just wake up and face it.

Funny how a couple of simple messages can make all the difference.



  1. Good grief.

    All I can suggest is getting up tomorrow morning, putting it all to one side, working really, really, really hard for five or ten years to build up a dirty great wad of cash and then putting out a contract on (all of) the bastards. Make sure you have an aleebee.

    I don't suppose that Africa would be Africa if it was populated with up-tight über-honest über-efficient clones.

    Take to drink for a week and then get back on the treadmill. You're not allowed to get off it until you curl up your toes and assume room-temperature like the rest of us. I'm English so no cyber-hugs, I'll just cough a lot, shuffle nervously and say things like "erm" and "hmm" and "not cricket, not cricket at all".

    Cheers Musky.

  2. Sir Owl,

    I got to "assume room-temperature like the rest of us" and I was already heading for the door muttering about an essential yet mysteriously overlooked appointment and then you said, "no cyberhugs" so I suddeny relaxed and started looking for your whisky decanter.

  3. What a quagmire!

    I haven't got a whisky decanter but i do have a decent bottle of Scotch that's mostly full.

    It's not going anywhere, so take care of Alex, enjoy Marcia's cooking, and thanks for updating us in Blogland.

  4. Dear Maurice (Hippo)
    Sorry to hear that life has been bowling you some googlies recently and keeping my fingers crossed that you'll get through this and come out laughing on the other side.
    Best wishes,
    Y. Pudding Esq.

  5. Megan, thanks for your timely email. I did, as a result, enjoy Marcia's cooking and Alex is sleeping peacefully. A mostly full bottle of scotch would be perfect for breakfast (I promised the sawbones not to overdo it).

    Sir Pud, this is more bodyline than googlies and just as unexpected. I do not wish to appear akin to a whining Antipodean but I also think it unsporting. Although they are pitching fast and short on a wicket of doubtful quality, I shall not step back, rather forward and even if I lose sight of the ball, I'll get the bowler's head. Then we shall see who is laughing on the 'other side'.

  6. With all the rest, thanks for checking in. Your other choice is getting on with it, so we're expecting to hear.

  7. you are my friend
    why would I not be concerned

    remember that

  8. Damn, that is enough to get anyone down. I'm glad your ok! I hadn't seen a post from you in a while and was wondering what was up. I always assume the worst though and think you are dead from being eaten by fish, then a croc, and then finished off by malaria. I have an over active imagination...

  9. Have you not considered organising a coup and taking charge yourself?

    Or consider this: right now you could be living in a dull semi in the home counties with an ugly fat wife,3 whiny kids, a huge mortgage, an arseclenchingly tedious 9-to-5 clerical job and nothing to look forward to but the next series of "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here". Then Christmas. With the in-laws.

    Another vote here for a few days on the sauce then come out fighting. And please keep checkig in, just so's we know you are OK.


  10. C'mon Hippo, give that rant BOTH barrels.
    Hang in there. At the risk of sounding like a walking clique', these moments of utter bullshit saturation usually happen just before things turn the corner.

  11. Damn Tom. That's a crappy hand you've been dealt recently. Chin up and all that. You need bad times in order to be able to appreciate the good times. I think more people care about how you're doing (including random strangers on the Internet) than you think.

  12. Forgive me, Tom: I know it's only semantics: But you are not 'depressed'. You do have problems. Which get you down. Fine difference.

    You and Marcia need to sort out your marital bed: Surely it's at time of need when a coupling will take your mind off shit for a while. Still, I suppose favours will be withdrawn as a sort of 'stand in the corner and write 100 lines of ....". Backfires. Usually. Badly. However, that'll be Marcia's problem not mine.

    Let me ask you a question, long on my mind: Why do you actually stay in a country which, by all accounts, doesn't make you happy? Or maybe you are happy running a hurdle race.

    Like John and Megan I have thought of you - indeed I go on your website every day in the hope of some other idiotic adventure of yours. Unlike them I decided to keep shtumm. Never discount those who know when to keep their distance.

    Hot tip of the day: You have made yourself into the soap opera of your life. This is not as harsh as it sounds. Some years ago 'friends' made my life into a soap opera. They were spell bound. Till I cut the cord. You know what it's like to keep the masses happy, as the Romans said: Panem et circenses.

    To end on a truly happy note: We all make our own prison. Use a spoon to dig your way out if nothing else comes to hand. But do get yourself out of it.

    Thumbs up.


  13. Joanne, I won’t let the bastards grind me down.

    John G, I know you are and I really will make best effort to get to your neck of the woods one day.

    Robin, nearly twenty years ago the Reuters and BBC correspondents here set up a sweepstake betting that I would be dead within the year. They nearly collected a few times but I am determined to keep them waiting.

    Gus, I haven’t the wit to run a country, all I want is a quiet life now that I have retired. Your picture of life in UK is all I have as an alternative to this and gives me the strength to carry on.

    Sarah, the lovely nature loving Antipodean lady, you are right, I did go off like a bit of a damp squib. Nevertheless, in this environment, one tends to become fearful of exactly what may be just around the next corner.

    Ursula. My dear mad-as-a-hatter Ursula.

    “Let me ask you a question, long on my mind: Why do you actually stay in a country which, by all accounts, doesn't make you happy? Or maybe you are happy running a hurdle race?”

    Simple. I married an Angolan girl, God daughter of the President’s spokesman (and enjoyed a State wedding complete with the Presidential motorcade to carry us and the guests), with whom I had a son and when she ran off with someone else, the ONLY way I could be close to my son and have some say in his upbringing was to give up my career and do odd jobs to remain in Angola to be close to him. In a way it is ironic, isn’t it? I faced the choice so many women face; choose between career aspirations or duty to the family. I stayed single for years and struggled doing odd jobs to earn enough to pay Dominic’s school fees but then I met Marcia and ten years after separating from Dominic’s mother, had a son by her. So I guess I have to accept the conditions within the prison walls surrounding me I inadvertently constructed. And make the best of it. But, as you corrected me, occasionally it does get me down.

    At my age, I should have had a nice house in the Schwarzwald and refurbished my cottage on Heiligensee in Berlin. I don’t like to think about THAT too much because that REALLY does depress me. Heimweh? You have no idea. I dream about sitting in some café next to the Wannsee or on the Ku’damm and asking the waiter for an ash tray and him retorting, ‘Aschenbecher? Aschenbecher? Sie sitzen dort drinne!’ (but, in my heart I know the waiter would now more likely be a Turk instead of a Saupreiss). The really big thing Angola lacks, apart from decent infrastructure, schools and health services, is a sense of humour. I really miss a culture that delights in taking the piss out of others while readily laughing at itself. Berlin humour, you can’t beat it: ‘Und da fand ich mich plötzlich entmannt, er, ich meine entspannt...’ usw.

    Rather than a thumbs up, what I really need is a Hals und Beinbruch...

    As my dear departed Opa used to say: Mensch Ker, Himmel Donnerwetter, so 'ne Sauerei!

    Heimweh. Wie kann mann solche schmertzen tragen?

    Only if you have two wondeful boys as I do.

  14. Ursula, ich war mit Spreewasser getaucht.

  15. Whisky with an 'e'. That means Irish. Well, they always said that Welshmen were merely Irishmen who couldn't swim!

  16. Uisce beatha (of the Bushmills kind). That'll do me fine!

    It has been a while, but I kid you not, I used to bring in a bottle of Bushmills and take it to the Casa dos Padres (the House of the Fathers) who were all Irish Catholic priests so they could hear my confession.

  17. Could be worse mate - you could be facing all of these issues and be living in the city! We sold the house when the local "deros" couldn't help but draw a penis on any surface that would take a marking pen including the kid's swing!

    Now I find myself sitting in a 1950's ramshackle cottage while our very nice, very expensive vacant lot in a highly desirable location remains - well - vacant! Nothing like a bit of bureaucracy to keep put the brakes on progress. Three f****** years later and I'm telling you the same story.

    Still got a rifle in the cupboard? Can you go tap the local Soba on the shoulder and go bush for a couple of days? Bring back some venison and cook the missus something nice. It's keeping me sane... for now...

  18. I was going to commiserate, but

    "Never discount those who know when to keep their distance."

    Has to be the worst piece of advice I've heard in years!

    I'm still reeling from reading it, sheesh
    PS check your email

  19. When I'm depressed I dig up and read this joke.

    A rather attractive woman goes up to the register in an upscale hamburger establishment. She gestures alluringly to a large man who comes over immediately. When he arrives, she seductively signals that he should bring his face close to hers. When he does so, she begins to gently caress his cheek, which is slowly turning a crimson red.

    "Are you the owner?"

    she asks, now softly stroking his face with both hands."No" he replies, "I''m just the manager."

    "Can you get him for me? I need to speak to him."

    She asks, running her hands up beyond his ears and into his hair.

    "I''m afraid I can''t," breathes the manager clearly aroused," he''s in the back doing taxes right now. Is there anything I can do?"

    "Yes, there is. I need you to give him a message."

    She continues huskily, popping a couple of fingers into his mouth and allowing him to suck them gently.

    "Tell him" she says "that there is no toilet paper or hand soap in the ladies room."

    Cheers and it's a great life if you don't weaken.


Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.