Saturday 23 March 2013


Two nights of torrential rain have driven communications for most here back to the dark ages. Mobile phone networks are down, roads are impassable to all but the most determined and the frogs which have spent months underground in embryonic sacs have emerged and the noise as they all try and croak louder than their competitors in order to make the most of a very short breeding season is deafening.  As I write, thunder rolls in ominously from the Atlantic.

‘Til now, I had been very satisfied with the impermeability of the jango’s thatched roof but even it was overwhelmed by the intensity of such a prolonged down pour and started to leak badly.  I am not much of an engineer but I know enough to appreciate that dry thatch is heavy enough as it is and if it gets soaked through, must weigh another twenty tonnes at least so I was eyeing up the rafters by torchlight in the middle of the night with a degree of concern.

The electricity supply to the jango is still only provisional, a long extension cable from the kitchen that is our accommodation at the moment.  Since the rain has knocked out the cellphone network on which I rely for internet access, I decided to take my laptop into the jango and try and link up to my neighbor Rico’s usually robust satellite wireless system.  I laid the laptop on the table, plugged the power adapter into the back of it and then plugged the adapter into the extension cable.  I was dressed only in shorts, my bare feet sloshing through the water still pooling on the jango floor when I touched the aluminium case of my laptop to open the lid.

I will never be sure how long I lay there on the floor wondering if I had just experienced another heart attack.  My arse was soaked where I had sat heavily in a puddle and the nerves up my arm were tingling.  The last thing I remembered was touching the laptop.  So guess what the Brain of Britain did?  Yes, I touched it again and enjoyed another free trip.  This wasn’t static electricity, this was brutally fast, smash you in the face mains voltage and current.

As I sat there, my shorts soaking up another pint of water, I tried to work it out.  First thing I had to do was disconnect the laptop.  If it wasn’t already toast, there might still be something salvageable on the hard drive I had not backed up for months.  I gave the power lead a tug and instead of it popping out of the back of the laptop, it hung on resolutely and the laptop skidded across the table heading for the certain destruction that crashing onto a tiled floor would occasion.  So I caught it.  Isolated as I am from the rest of the world (although not from the laws of electrical discharge) the laptop is my life even though, as appeared the case now, it was trying to kill me.  Its fall to the floor was cushioned by my bare chest, presumably restarting my heart, as my body had, once again, got to the floor first.

I took hold of the insulated adapter cable and tugged it out of the extension cable socket.  After a couple of tentative finger taps on the laptop, I mentally declared it safe and placed it back on the table.  Relying on its internal battery, I switched it on and was relieved to see it boot up normally.

Must be an earth fault, I thought.

But if that were the case, how come everything else was working?  Sky News was showing on TV and I hadn’t electrocuted myself while fetching milk out of the stainless steel fridge to make my morning cuppa.  I examined the four socket extension I had tried to plug the laptop into.  Now I did not install the cable and four plug socket, a local electrician had.  I could see there were only two wires connected to it, no earth.  Gingerly I picked it up by the cable and as it fell to the vertical, water poured out of it.

Marcia’s hairdryer has one of those two pin plugs that has no earth and has a plastic body.  Doubly reassured, I plugged it in and proceeded to blast the extension sockets with hot air.  If you are reading this post, you will know my laptop is no longer trying to kill me and I have managed to hack into Rico’s satellite internet system.

The corrupt Sheriff and his cohorts have been remarkable for their absence so I was quite surprised to see them all clustered around the shop this morning.  The hard core among them have been boycotting the shop so naturally, I feared the worst.  I wasn’t really in the mood for a rumble.  I had electrocuted myself a number of times, discovered I had no coffee and, with all the rain, had not slept a wink.  As mornings went, this one was becoming memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Marcia had left for town early and with no mobile phone network working, I could not alert her to a brewing situation.

So I did what any normal person would do.  I changed the TV from Sky News to CBeebies and told Alex to stay in the room.  Then I sat in the jango behind my non-lethal laptop and tried to look as nonchalant as hell.  More of them turned up.  I noted that instead of walking along the public road to get to the shop, they were walking along my driveway.  This provides no shortcut whatsoever but does demonstrate the assertion that this is their country and they can walk where they want except, of course, if the land belongs to a rich or well-connected Angolan in which case they would be shot.  All of them paid their respects as they passed and wished me a Good Morning.  This was unnerving.

I risked a squint round the side of the kitchen so I could see the entrance to the shop.  Quite a crowd had gathered, all of them drinking Marcia’s beer.  Oddly enough, I was reassured that the maid was still here.  She comes from the village and every time something bad has gone down, she had always absented herself, presumably to avoid the potentially embarrassing necessity to take sides.  Yet here she was calmly mopping the water from the jango floor.  So I went back to the laptop and ignored them.

Finally, the Corrupt Sheriff and his crew passed by my jango.  I don’t care what etiquette or common sense dictate but I was buggered if I would greet him first.  He was on my land and I wasn’t particularly fond of him.

‘Sr. Tomás,’ he called out, ‘May I come and see you this afternoon, please?’

Nice of him to give me notice, it would certainly provide time for me to clean and load the pistol.

‘Certainly, Sr. Bota’, I replied, ‘What about?’

‘It’s about water for the Community, we would like to discuss the well’.

Well, blow me sideways.  Have the long suffering women of the community finally got to these corrupt bastards?  Have the recent quickly solved thefts, the recent violence and threats and subsequent involvement of Criminal Investigation made them nervous of their tenure?  Has the fact that I have never backed down and even assaulted one of them with an ashtray made a difference?  Or have they something up their sleeves?  Oddly enough, one of them had been round here early this morning asking to borrow my fish scales.  I do have the capacity to bear a grudge, for a long time if necessary but I wasn’t going to be petty so I gave him the scales.

‘Will this do for big fish?’ he asked.

‘I could happily hang you from it’ I replied but he missed the point.

So let’s see if these buggers turn up this afternoon and what they have to say.  In the meantime, I am going to get out of my sodden shorts, get myself cleaned up, clean shave and all that stuff, dress up, polished buckles and all, and be ready to meet them.  I fucking hate waiting, by the way.  I am a Bad News First kind of guy.  Let’s just get it over with.


  1. Sounds like things came down to the wire. I'm glad that you have this outlet to talk about it.

    Here's hoping all goes well with your meeting...

  2. How tantalising! I hope the meeting bears fruit that everyone can enjoy.

    Your electricity story rings a bell here. Not that I suffered electrocution, but when we re-did the renovation that was such a balls up, we discovered that all the points for the important a heavy duty goods in the kitchen, like the hob, the dishwasher, the washing machine and the dryer, (which were all hidden behinf cabinetry) were all hanging out of the wall. The wiring was fine, it was just that they weren't affixed, which obviously could have caused problems with the machinery that uses water.

    It's wise to check and re-check everything here. And now I do, as a matter of routine for any work that I have done.

  3. Calm before the storm? Or storm before the calm? Maybe they've just realised that you're a better person to have as a friend, than an enemy.

  4. Hmmm, I think I'd rather face a forthright snarling dog than a suddenly smiling wolf. Take care, Tom. And congrats for surviving all that free electroshock therapy. That would have set you back a few bucks at a clinic. *heh*

  5. I can't believe you touched it a second time! Sounds like something I would do. I remember my brother going to pee on an electric fence once and Tony, a very dry shepard would was helping us at the time, said "Dave, You piss on that and your never piss the same again."
    As for the meeting just watch your back!

  6. Crazy man!! Your adventures will eventually kill you , you know. I know you like to live an adventurous life but for Heaven's sake you have a little fellow who is probably going to imitate everything you do !!!
    These meetings with the locals scare me.


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