Tuesday 5 February 2013

48 Hours

48 hours ago Alex, who had spent a few days in town with his grandmother and all his cousins and nieces, arrived back home at the Barra de Kwanza.  He loves his Grannie and his Aunt (who spoils him rotten) and, of course, adores playing with all his young relatives.  I have long since ceased to feel uncomfortable about the amount of kit they buy him, everything from toys to shoes and clothes.  He has a wardrobe fit for Royalty, assuming that all Their Highnesses want do to is run around in a variety of multi-colored shorts and T-shirts on the beach, play football and build sandcastles with all their plastic buckets and spades.

But like experienced travellers he was as pleased to be home as I was to see him.  This called for lunch at Rico's place and a dip in the pool.

Even Dad was tempted to jump in and fool around...

I am the fat white guy in the middle clutching an apparently healthy Alex
who is giving us all the thumb's up

And the nieces misbehaved with my camera as usual.

Next time they take photographs of themselves like this I shall just have to spank their bottoms

The next day Dr. Abel, Marcia's uncle, and Gina, his wife came for lunch.  Alex attacked his food, jumped off his chair and went back to playing.  No-one paid any attention until Marcia, like all mothers who realise their baby has dropped off the radar suddenly said, 'Where's Alex?'.  We all called out.  We all looked around.  We found him lying in a pile of vomit inside one of the tents.  He was burning with fever, not really with it at all and was struggling to breathe.  His lips were blue and he was twitching.  I hoiked him over my shoulder, gave him a couple of good pats on the back and then placed my mouth over his and sucked all the shit out of his throat and into mine.  He coughed and vomited again.  Dr Abel took over.  'He has to go to hospital, now!' he declared.  The nearest hospital is seventy kilometres distant.

Dr Abel's car is one half of a pair of roller skates.  It is tiny.  Dr Abel's wife is a very big, very friendly girl who would gladly have stayed behind to allow father and mother to travel with their son but she is also a trained nurse.  Clearly Dr Abel and his wife were going in the car with little Alex.  That left just space enough for a child prone on the back seat and one other.  You try separating a mother and child under such circumstances.  The last glimpse I had of my son as they sped off was Marcia cradling him in the recovery position while Gina leant over the front seat tending to him.  I quickly threw on a shirt, dug out my wallet containing my driving licence, tore the drawers of my desk apart to retrieve my passport, locked the shop and leapt for my truck.

That same morning I had lent my truck to Rico so that his lads could go to town and collect a few tonnes of cement building blocks.  The needle on the guage as it coughed into life registered empty.  I drove the four kilometres to the petrol station, dived out and told them to fill the tank.  'I am sorry, Sr, Tomas', said the attendant, 'but we have no diesel.'

'C'mon guys', I begged, 'You know me, there's always a little bit that you can squeeze out, I just need five litres to get to Camiro!'  Camiro is about thirty clicks away and I could fill up there.  He proved they had nothing but air in the tanks by switching everything on and letting me try all the pumps.  Nothing.  It is unusual for a petrol pump attendant to allow a member of public to have such free rein but he knew me and could sense that I was prepared to commit murder for a few litres of urgently needed motion lotion.  I doubted that I had enough fuel to get back home.  I rang Nice Paul.  'I'll drain diesel from our generator,' he said, 'I'll be there as fast as I can'.

He arrived in a V8 Landcruiser.  'Leave the truck and get in,' he said, 'I'll drive you'.  Nice Paul splits his time between Rico's place and the Flamingo Lodge which is on the Angolan coast close to the Namibian border.  Every time he gets back here, he pulls into our place knocking road dust off himself with his hat and Alex shouts out to him, 'Paul!  You are back!'.  I could see Nice Paul was upset.  He likes Alex and Alex likes him.

Just then Marcia phoned.  They were in the Endiama Clinic in Talatona and Alex was OK.  He was on oxygen and Dr. Abel was tending to him personally.  No, there was no need for Paul and I to dash to the city, Alex was stable. 

At seven this morning, Nice Paul came over.  I had just made a pot of tea.  'You heard from Marcia yet?' he asked me.

'I don't want to ring in case I wake her, she can't have had much sleep.  She'll ring when she's ready'. I replied. 

'I never slept a wink', he said, pouring all my tea into the cup of mine he had just commandeered. 'I went to bed at ten and by midnight I was awake again.'  I sloped off and put the kettle on again.

I had not slept at all.  Marcia had rung me twice.  Once at midnight to say that Alex had asked for food and eaten a bowl of soup and then, a few hours later, to say he was off the oxygen and sleeping quietly so she was going to try and get her head down for a bit.  By that stage, staring blankly at the TV I had decided that Richard Hammond was an oily little shit I would have loved to abuse had we been at school together.

'Fuck it, I am going to ring Marcia, I'm dying a thousand deaths here' I said.

'He's fine,' Marcia assured me, 'We'll be on our way home shortly'.

'What was wrong?'  I asked her.  Naturally I wanted to know what could cause a kid to go from leaping off his father's shoulders in a swimming pool to comatose in a matter of hours.

'They think he was bitten by a spider'


This thing is six inches across and very common. 
It is sitting on a twelve inch thick Eucalyptus post supporting the new house.
I am now doing my very best to make it an endangered species.

Still, he is back home, thankfully very alive and really happy.  'I was sick Daddy', he informed me with no little pride.  Then he showed me the present a concerned Aunt had bought him.  It was a Spiderman case full of spidery goodies.

Little shit, he scared the life out of us
Not to be outdone, I nipped out and bought him an electric tennis raquet.  It is basically a Tazer for insects but adapts perfectly as a toaster for Arachnids...

Crackling good fun. 
Go on Son, get yer own back.
Alex is modelling the latest in  fishermen's canvas trousers,
a market bought T-shirt and a weapon of mass revenge.
The tent behind him is where I sleep when I piss Marcia off.
48 hours? I am bloody knackered.


  1. Chuffing 'eck Sir, why do you keep such wildlife? Six inches across isn't a spider, it's two cows dancing a slow dance.

    Glad that the sprogling has bounced back. I'd devote a lot of time now to strapping grenades to spiders, roasting them with giant magnifying glasses & the sun, and parking my car on top of them.

    Tell me one thing, a little thing relating to the English Channel and these spiders of yours. They can't swim, can they? Please tell me they can't.

    1. They are too intelligent to struggle in a cold North Sea, (with so many legs it is awfully easy to get tangled up doing breast stroke and the eight legged front crawl is a nightmare) they just buy a Eurostar ticket, travel first class and con their way past the UK border police and into the arms of the welfare state like the rest of them. Naturally, right now they are in a hurry to beat the Transylvanian Black Widow spiders who are queueing up to enter UK at the end of the year.

      We have already tried Alex's new electric tennis wand on a big spider and I have to confess, even for me it was a trifle gruesome welding, as the first touch of the button did, their feet to the wire mesh and then sparkling them slowly to acrid fumes. Clearly it has had an effect on Alex. He is already on his second set of batteries.

  2. Glad to hear he made a speedy recovery - all's well that ends well. I notice the absence of footwear in the second photo - is it possible he trod on a spider while frolicking bare-footed? I hope whoever took the photo of your nieces paid them for the privilege.

    1. Dear Mr Bananas,

      I am quite relieved too having just paid his non refundable inscription for school.

      Never noticed the lack of footwear, clearly I am an irresponsible parent. How do you chaps cope in the bush without access to a Northamptonshire cobbler?

      The girls delight in presenting me these photographs. I think, knowing I have already had two heart attacks, they have some sort of cruel sweepstake going and are wagering on just how outrageous they should be before I turn up my toes. They are nowhere near my limit, I have plenty of Nitrolingual left. I shall keep you posted.

      Alex has enjoyed a healthy plate of pasta and is now asleep comfortably in bed.

  3. oh mate, terrifying story :-( glad to hear it all went well in the end! kandando

    1. Hiya Marco!

      It was scary the speed with which he deteriorated. Apparently he had some sort of reaction. Today he is his same old self bouncing about with boundless energy. It proves the Angolan medical services have improved enormously that they recognised the symptoms and treated him accordingly.

  4. Gawd my nerves couldn't do Africa....I know I couldn.t
    Fucking eight legged nasties lurking under my bog seat....... I would be running out of triple strength bleach seconds after arriving....
    And then I would be led screaming and frothing at the mouth at the sight of anything crawling that was bigger than a pin head....
    I am so glad Alex is fine.....
    No wonder you drink whiskey

    1. It was women that drove me to whisky mate!

      You would love Africa, trust me. Despite the enormous variety of poisonous snakes, spiders, scorpions, crocodiles in the rivers, sharks in the sea, mosquitos, tsetse flies, Bilharzia, river blindness, ticks, fleas, chiggers burrowing into your toes...

  5. Ps those nieces of yours need bromide

    1. No, it is me that needs the bromide but the thought of Marcia's wrath is also a very effective deterrent...

  6. Ugh! I HATE spiders and these look like champion ones. I always say the only good spider is a DEAD spider. Send for a case of Mortein ( insect killer spray) and get spraying my boy. I would be so nervous living amongst them.
    Sooo glad the dear little chap is OK. What a fright you had.

    1. I'm not particularly keen on spiders either. Dominic, my older boy, loves them. Mind you he likes all kinds of beasties and spends most of his time looking for them:


  7. Jeeeeze; what a nightmare. You need an industrial pack of Anak-u-Hate. Best wishes to Alex.

    1. I am getting very handy with the Sheltox...

  8. I've no idea how far into the ulu you are, so this may be a fruitless endeavour, but can you not obtain the services of a pest control company that exterminates such nasties? We live in a city, and the nasties are not nearly as scary as yours, but we have a monthly pest control service that deals with all manner of unwanted beasties, such as ants, cockroaches, termites etc.

    Your days are never dull old Hipp, but I am relieved that your young lad is recovered.

    1. I am so far out in the bush, not even Attenborough has made a documentary here. Even my son Dominic discovered a beastie so rare, he took the ONLY photographs in existence which are now on the British Natural History Museum's website. Once I open, I intend to buy another piece of land even further in the bush and set it up as a sort of free camp for university students to come and start cataloguing the beasties here because, as a result of the long war, there is very little on Angola.

  9. I am so pleased that little Alex has survived this ordeal but with regard to the despicable, oily, jumped up little twat they call Richard Hammond - we must both remember that he also has parents who presumably love the smelly mollusc though I can't see why. In what way would you have abused him at school? Hopefully not in a Jimmy Savile way but in a manner inspired by Henry Cooper or The Terminator!

  10. Sir Pud, I boxed light middleweight until I was thirty. I never lost a fight. I took plenty of standing counts but was never knocked down. So, all in all, I reckon it would have been the Henry 'Splash it all Over' Cooper approach.

  11. Good news that the lad's okay.

    You, however, need to careful, dashing around at your age!

  12. Lordy, Tom. I'm so sorry for the emotional rollercoaster, and I understand you on the most basic level, having had to rush a child to the ER, myself (he is also well).

    That aunt sounds like just about the best, eh? Perfect gift.

  13. That must have been such a horrible feeling when you found him! I glad everything is alright and alex is good.
    I was wondering if you wanted to buy some DDT?


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