Sunday 24 November 2013

Time for a whole box of Black Magic

Mmm.  Milk and dark chocolate with a soft centre.

‘He’s here’, said Marcia walking into the lounge.

Marcia is from Uige, the Bakongo tribe.  She is to all outward appearances educated and cosmopolitan but she is still African.  She will eat international dishes using cutlery but use the fingers of her right hand if it is a traditional dish and there are no foreigners present.

I was bitten by a snake that even I admit I did not see and two months later I am, if anything, worse.  I am not going to muck about with typically British understatement anymore, I am in agony.  I have not slept in weeks.  Marcia is doing all the work because I can’t walk.  It started with a nip on the toe, now my whole foot is involved.  All the Docs say is to keep swallowing the antibiotics and, most recently, iron tablets as well.  I am sick and dizzy with the pain and all the tablets I am ingesting.  I am sadly all too familiar with the bowl of my toilet as I vomit into it every night as quietly as I can so I do not disturb hard working Marcia’s sleep or that of little Alex.  Saturday afternoon I finally keeled over out of sheer exhaustion and Marcia thought I had suffered another heart attack so squirted a whole bottle of Nitrolingual between my teeth.  I am still recovering from the bloody headache.

‘Who’s here?’ I asked, not interested in the slightest.

‘The N’Ganga’

I averted my gaze from my book and surveyed the N’Ganga.  He must have been right at the back of the queue when God was handing out skin and fat.   Talk about ‘chiseled’, or ‘muscle definition’.  There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him.  All his veins stood out, pulsing in time with his heartbeat.  He was at least a foot taller than I was and had to bend down to come in through the door.  The man was bloody scary.  I had no idea what an N’Ganga was.

‘He has come to look at your foot,’ explained Marcia.

‘Oh, he’s a Doctor?’

‘Sort of,’ said Marcia.

He examined my foot carefully.  ‘It’s Gimbassa,’ he announced.

‘I knew it was Gimbassa,’ Marcia said.

‘What’s Gimbassa?’ I asked.

‘Mina Tradiçional,’ they both chorused.

‘A Traditional Landmine?’ I translated in my head.  I must have come across as a little bit confused so Marcia reminded me of her brother who had, apparently stepped on one last year and in the end had his leg amputated just below the hip.  I remembered the amputation but I hadn’t realized he had stepped on a mine.  The N’Ganga told me, with a gravitas that would make a high court judge summing up before awarding a penalty of death look like a standup comedian, that this was very serious and definitely life threatening.  He told me to take my trousers off.  One look from Marcia silenced the outraged objection about to fly from my lips.  He examined my leg.  ‘It has nearly reached his knee,’ he told Marcia, ‘if it goes above the knee, he will die.  There is no time to lose, I must treat him now.  Has he been circumcised?’ The two of them were now conversing across me; I felt like a laboratory animal under inspection.  What the hell does a foreskin have to do with a snake bite?  I tell you, I was bloody relieved that Marcia could confirm my todger had already been snipped.  The way this conversation was going, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had whipped out a razor blade and told me to drop my keks and behave like a man.

It is terribly easy to insult an African so rather than leap to my feet shouting, ‘Who the Fuck is this guy?’ I merely asked what a traditional landmine was. Marcia translated for the N’Ganga.  They both laughed the sort of laugh people use when they realize they are in the presence of the congenitally stupid.

‘There is someone who wants to kill you,’ Marcia started to explain.  I suppose some people would be quite shocked if their wife casually pointed out to them they were on a hit list but I found it amusing.  Someone?  I thought.  I am sure there are many, I could write a list; ex wives and girlfriends, outraged fathers, people who owe me money, most recently the guy I smacked with the ashtray… ‘so this person has gone to a Quimbandeiro and he has arranged for you to step on a Mina Tradiçional.’ Marcia concluded.

‘Quimbandeiro? A witch doctor?’

So I hadn’t been bitten by a snake after all, I had been Hexed!  Cool.  Imagine having someone who cared enough about you to have you hexed.  I was quite flattered.  Whoever it was hadn’t the guts to square up and try planting one on me.

Sensing I wasn’t taking this at all seriously, Marcia tried again.

‘Andy!’ she always calls me Andy for some reason.  (My last boss was called Andy so maybe I should have him hexed just in case Marcia had liked more than just his name), ‘you are going to die!’

Ooh I was so tempted to be flippant and point out that her prediction was one she could bet on, but I could see she was genuinely upset so bit my tongue.  Being blessed with a wife who loves you so much she is willing to try anything to keep you alive is not something to ridicule so I would play along.  But, no matter how much I cared for Marcia’s feelings, I wasn’t letting this guy anywhere near my dick.

He unpacked a small, genuine Gucci leather Man Bag made in China out of plastic and pulled on a white robe before laying out a cloth and a bottle of Eau de Toilette.

‘Can I get my camera and take pictures of this?’ I asked Marcia.

‘Tómas!’ Marcia shot back, horrified.  She only ever calls me Tómas if I am in the shit.  Pity really.  I would have thought an image of a tall black African dressed like the Pope kneeling at the feet of a fat white bloke clad only in his underpants could have excited a few comments on my blog.

‘I need a plate you no longer require’, the N’Ganga announced.  Marcia hurried off to fetch one.  Have you ever noticed that if you ask your wife for a glass of water she will bring you one in whatever cheap bit of molten and molded silica that’s quickest to hand but if a complete stranger pulls up and asks for the same, she’ll serve him with your best crystal and probably offer him first dibs off the plate of scones you had been patiently waiting to cool down?  I haven’t got much decent bone china left so was quite relieved when Marcia returned with a bit of market bought porcelain.  Obviously she had already decided the value of my life had a limit.

The N’Ganga, clad in his robes, performed a more detailed inspection of my afflicted appendage and announced that there were five points of infection.  Fair do’s I thought.  I still couldn’t see any sign of a razor blade so I was pretty relaxed.  He sprayed his hands with Eau de Toilette again and then started to massage my foot, which wasn’t so relaxing and then unexpectedly clamped his lips on the base of my toe and sucked hard which was pretty alarming.  Before I could jerk my foot away, he leant over the plate and spat out a damn great black thorn.  I was surprised, not least because at over three inches long, I reckon I would have noticed its presence in my toe long before he decided to perform religious fellatio on it.  Four more times he performed the same procedure on my foot, each time resulting in a new object spat onto the plate; a palm seed, a pebble tied with string, a dried berry and, finally, a bit of twisted dried root; a regular Houdini regurgitating the keys to a cure. I was really disappointed when I glanced over towards Marcia.  Instead of seeing her creasing up with mirth, thereby allowing me to explode with laughter and, with my good foot, kick this charlatan out of my house, her face was as inscrutable as a championship Chinese Mahjong player’s.

The N’Ganga went into a fairly convincing catatonic state but I did notice he rolled one eyeball down to see what I was doing.  I was staring at him slack jawed.  No doubt reassured I was paralyzed with awe, he continued doing nothing.

‘It is a woman,’ he announced suddenly.

‘Who is a woman?’ I asked.

‘Ssshh!’ hissed Marcia.

I shushed.  For God’s sake.  I reached over to the coffee table, grabbed my fags and lit up.  ‘You can’t smoke!’ protested Marcia.  I bloody well can, I thought and, as if reading my mind the N’Ganga said it was perfectly in order for me to smoke.  So I poured myself a whisky as well.

‘It is a girl your husband knows very well’, he intoned.

Ah well, that’s Marcia then.  I always knew she would tire of me and kill me in the end.  Jeez, I’m amazed I lasted this long.

‘Does she live in the village?’ asked Marcia.  What a daft question, I thought, of course you do!  Then I went cold.  This was getting dangerous.  If he said this was a jilted lover of mine living in the village, I was in deep shit with a life expectancy less than a First World War pilot.  Marcia has forgiven me for many things but I really did not want to test her tolerance to accusations of me tucking into the local natives.  I was as regularly unfaithful to two previous wives as they were to me, the only difference being they got theirs for free.  Marcia is my last chance and I really did not want to literally and physically fuck it up so in all the years I have been with her, I have never stepped over the traces.  If she can believe that this guy just sucked a thorn out of my foot, what chance did I stand trying to convince her that the guy was a lying con man if he accused me of infidelity?  Grabbing a kitchen knife and stabbing him through the heart before he could utter another word would be construed as a sign of guilt hard to argue against in an Angolan court of law so I held my breath wondering what dramatic turn my life was about to take.

‘She lives’ he pronounced before pausing to great effect (please, I thought, just get on with it, I am sat here only in my flaming underpants with a lot less material available to soak up a bit of unexpected incontinence), ‘in the CITY!’ he finished.  Thank goodness for that!  Even Marcia knows I have only visited the city twice in the past three years.

‘I have only visited the city twice in the past three years!’ I told Marcia, ‘and on each occasion Roddie drove me!’

‘Three times,’ she said, ‘are you forgetting when you drove to town yourself to collect Dominic?’

Oh hell.  I’d forgotten about the time I was so angry when my diver welshed on the agreement to bring Dominic down here for his hols so I jumped in the car and went to fetch him myself.  Normally it would only take about four hours but we just had to keep stopping off to buy delicious snippets at the various markets and a football and a really cool pair of swimming shorts for little Alex on  the way back.  We had a great time.  It took six hours.  Marcia was frantic by the time we got back.

‘Ok’ I said, ‘so I was in Town six months ago.  This happened six weeks ago.’  Wonderful how women can ignore pure logic.  So somehow, during this flash trip to the city, I had stepped on a traditional mine laid by an irate female city dweller hell bent on killing me blessed with the skill to wire in a six month time delay to detonation.  To be brutally honest, I really wasn’t buying it but wanted to avoid an argument at all costs.  Besides which, most of the women I slept with in the past carried stilettos (thin bladed knives, not high heeled shoes) in their handbags and resolved issues with non-paying clients in seconds, not months.  This would have to be someone who had held a grudge, nurturing murderous intent for over seven years, the time I have been with Marcia and then suddenly decided, that’s it, I’m gonna kill him!

‘This is a woman who knew your husband well and is jealous.  She does not want you to have him, she wants to drive you apart’ he told Marcia.  Death would do that I suppose.  Young wives do like to have their husbands stiff, but in a bed, not a coffin.  It was impossible to read Marcia’s expression so the N’Ganga continued. ‘Perhaps, on his last trip to the city, she saw him in his expensive 4x4 and became jealous.’  Expensive 4x4?  It’s a ten year old Jeep with 235,000 kilometers on the clock that cost me $2,000 and a dead truck!  And who, in their right mind, could possibly be jealous of any woman with the courage and fortitude to take me on?  This was, as my old English teacher once told me having read an essay of mine, a load of bollocks but if Marcia became convinced I’d been playing for another team, the razor blade would come out and I’d lose a lot more than a bit of useless skin.

‘I know who it is,’ Marcia announced.  On such scanty evidence, even Poirot would have been impressed at the deductive powers I was witnessing.  ‘It’s obvious, isn’t it?’ Marcia continued, ‘It is your ex-wife!  She wasn’t going to let you have Dominic so you drove all the way into town and fetched him!  Of course she hates you!’ 

Well I am sure there is no love lost between my ex-wife and me but with all the alimony I owe her, I doubt she wants me dead.  At least not until I pay up.  Had the N’Ganga invented a secret concubine, however, Marcia would want me dead so I guess I was pleased with the result.  Just to set the record straight, Dominic’s mother was perfectly happy for me to have Dominic.  I hurtled off solo into town angry as hell not with her, but my driver who had once again let me down deciding that he could only collect Dominic the following day.  Any parent separated from their child would agree that even just one extra day with them was worth burning rubber.  Did you know, a V8 Jeep Cherokee will do an indicated 120 mph and fly over potholes?  I am still impressed with my old Jeep.  So was Alex, strapped in the back shouting ‘faster Daddy!’  As I said, on the way back we meandered, just having to stop at every roadside market.  Chicken gizzards roasted over charcoal, delicious in the company of two boys separated by ten years, yet exuding the love and respect that exists only between siblings.  Sad isn’t it that adults, who should know better, fuck everything up to the detriment of their own offspring?

Apparently, under local lore, anyone stepping on a traditional mine who, before they died a horrible death, had the prescience to engage an N’Ganga could not only be cured, but arrange to return the compliment.  I was now offered the opportunity to occasion the demise of my ex-wife using traditional means.  Dominic is widely regarded as a polite, well behaved and intelligent young man.  I had no hand in that.  The good man he is turning into is all down to his mother and I am very pleased with the result.  The very last thing I wanted to do was curse her.  She and I may have been incompatible but there can be no question, she was a better mother than I was a father so the last thing I wanted to do was anything that would disturb this happy equilibrium. I may not believe in this Hexing shit but I wasn’t about to let people start opening fire just in case traditional stray bullets existed.  Dominic loves his mother and in my book, that makes him a real man.

Marcia always suspected that I still held a candle for my ex-wife ignoring the fact it was me, finally exasperated, who walked out on her.  I didn’t want her dead though, so once again I found myself treading carefully through a mine field.  If I did not leap immediately at the chance to suffer horrible death on the mother of my first born son, could this confirm all Marcia’s suspicions? 

Maria reads the bible every night (I also read every night before going to sleep but I tend to choose a good book).  Just like everyone else around here, she manages to reconcile a belief in traditional magic with Christian religious dogma.

‘I am sorry,’ I said, ‘but Jesus says I should just turn the other cheek.  Thou shalt not kill’

Now that was rich coming from me but they both bought it.

Having agreed I was happy with just a cure and not revenge as well, he sprayed Eau de Toilette directly into suppurating wounds.

‘Ouch!’ I said as my glasses steamed up as a result of the sweat I broke into.

Then he unwrapped a squib of newspaper, about the size of a walnut, exposing a black crystalline powder.  It looked very worryingly like the smokeless powder contained within modern firearms cartridges.  I put my cigarette out and surreptitiously pocketed my lighter.  He rocked back and forth moaning as he waved his hands over the powder before sprinkling some over the sores and rubbing it in.


It was jolly painful.  My eyes watered ever so slightly.  I may even have squirmed a bit.

‘Força!’ encouraged the N’Ganga, telling me to be brave.  Bugger the seventh Commandment; I wanted to strike him dead.  As full blown shock set in, the pain subsided a bit.  Fortunately the loss of circulating body fluids that occasion shock had exited through my pores and not my willie.  The N’Ganga then announced he had to inspect the garden.  I hobbled after the two of them as far as the verandah so I could see what was happening.

The N’Ganga hauled out his Eau de Toilette again and started giving each fence post a bit of a squirt.  Having covered fifty yards he finally realized what I had figured out immediately I saw his strange ritual start; 250 mls was never going to be enough.  To do my place he would have needed a crop sprayer.  Still, it was fun to watch the solemnity with which Marcia, at a respectful distance, accompanied his every move.  Finally the N’Ganga stopped and inspected an otherwise unremarkable patch of sand.  He returned to the house, collected the plate on which rested the surprising contents of my foot and his packet of powder and asked Marcia for an empty rice sack.  He spread out the sack, laid the plate upon it and sprinkled over the last of his powder before igniting it.  There was a bit of a woosh and I was pleased to sense in the breeze the scent of sizzled hair as a brief column of white smoke rose to the heavens around his ears.  Then, using his walking staff, he smashed the plate with an enthusiasm suggesting he was pretty annoyed about the loss of his eyebrows.

We all settled back in the lounge.  I have no difficulty with Portuguese but occasionally like to play the illiterate so Marcia translated giving me confirmation of what I had just heard the N’Ganga tell me.  The evil spirits he had sucked out of my foot had been cremated allowing the wind to scatter them.  I was now cured.  Magic, I thought, why does it still hurt?

I suppose I could be pissed off that I survived being a bomb disposal officer in the British Army.  I survived clearing landmines in Moçambique and Angola.  I survived running diamond shipments through bandit country.  I have been blown up, shot at, stabbed, suffered all sorts of tropical diseases, had my head kicked in more times than I care to remember, have been evacuated by air to South African hospitals twice to be patched up, have had two heart attacks and now, in retirement, I was finally disabled by stepping on a traditional landmine (they’re not covered in the three volumes of Ammunition and Explosive’s Regulations so I was not trained to deal with them let alone recognize them). 

No, what really pisses me off is that after two months of ingesting antibiotics and letting Nature take its course, my foot was about due to start healing anyway.  But, when it does, it won’t be as a result of modern medicine, it will be because of the intervention of a Witch Doctor.

‘So What?’ I hear you all say, ‘So long as you can walk again!’

Yes.  I agree.  But I will never hear the end of it.

Once he'd gone, I got the camera out
The plate may be dead but the sack'll still do for bagging the rubbish

A young priest took over the parish of an old, retired priest.  Every Sunday, as the young priest rode past on his bicycle on his way to Church they would exchange pleasantries.

One Sunday the old priest noticed the younger one pitching up, late, on foot.

‘What happened to your ‘bike?’ asked the old priest.

‘Somebody stole it,’ said the young priest.

‘Ah,’ said the old priest. ‘What you need to do now is give a sermon on the Ten Commandments giving special emphasis on Thou Shalt Not Steal’

The next Sunday the young priest rode up on his bicycle.

‘Told you it would work, didn’t I?’ says the old priest.

‘Well, not exactly, Father.  I got to Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery and I remembered where I had left the ‘bike’



  1. Hippo, I don't know if I want to be the first to comment but what the he'll ~ go back and read this again ~ you said yourself, your foot was not about to heal. And Marcia was obviously worried to the point to bring in the witch doctor. Incredible that he extracted the thorn from your toe ~ I am unsure whether the rest was creative license ~ but it did make for a good read. I hope this does mean your foot will heal now and you become more mobile and less distressed, and life will continue to be good as you know it. Thank you for sharing the experience with us. Incredible, to say the least!

    1. This is an accurate record of what happened. A charlatan appeared and PRETENDED to suck a thorn and other items out of my foot. I did NOT have a three inch thorn in my foot, or a stone tied with string, or beads or seeds. I am not having a dig at you C-in-C, I just want you to know that what the guy put on was a show that cost Marcia $100,

      I was bitten by a snake. It can take months to heal. It will heal, with the aid of the human body's natural systems and doses of western medicine. Yes, Marcia is African and believes in this utter shit so, since I married her, I respect the reasons she brought in a witch doctor and went along with it but if you really want to learn about the evil influence these vile bastards exert on the gullible, and yes, in that respect Marcia is as gullible as most Africans, read this and then wonder how I managed to keep my hands from around his throat:

    2. My apologies Hippo for not understanding the subtleties of what happened. Call me naïve. Always afraid to be the first to comment ~ someone's gotta do it!

    3. No need for apologies, CinC| But you should have seen it, how people can actually believe in that shit!

  2. Whatever works! And I hope it does. Good luck!

    1. Time and antibiotics. And whisky, cigarettes, lots of good food, a bit of rumpy pumpy with Marcia if I am lucky...

      That will work.

  3. When I worked with race horses, if they has an infection in their hoof, we filled a sack with a hot bran mash and made a poultice, tying it to their foot with twine. As it dried, it drew out the infection. You could try that. Better than having a crazy man suck on your toe and spritz the air with foul smelling cologne.

  4. what a fascinating experience! everyone should be lucky enough to go through something like this once in a lifetime. i want a witch doctor to suck on my toe!

  5. Interesting. Poor Marcia, she is obviously very worried that she might become a widow soon. Your suffering with this horrible toe must be very frightening to watch. Is little Alex very fearful of what is happening to you too?

    1. Ah, who will help the Widow's Son?

      Kids are amazingly resilient. So long as I can make him his porridge in the morning and change channels to get his favourite programmes, he has come to terms with the fact his Father is a cripple.

      Joking aside, he became suddenly too frightened to walk alone between the house and the shop. That was easily cured. I stopped stocking the house with choc chip cookies and crisps. Every time he asked, I would say, 'Sorry Son, I can't walk!' Desire overcame fear and he made the trips himself with the added bonus, he now wears his shoes instead of running around barefoot all the time!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Just used Google to find out about mixing alcohol and anti-biotics and this is what the Mayo Clinic says ......

      Alcohol doesn't diminish the effectiveness of most antibiotics. However, antibiotics and alcohol can cause similar side effects, such as stomach upset, dizziness and drowsiness. When you combine antibiotics and alcohol, these side effects may increase.
      A few antibiotics — such as metronidazole (Flagyl), tinidazole (Tindamax) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) — should not be mixed with alcohol because this may result in a more severe reaction. Drinking any amount of alcohol with these medications can result in side effects such as flushing, headache, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath.

      So you see this vomiting may be a direct result of the mixing of the two and not just the effects of the toe/foot/leg infection. Try to lay off the alcohol a bit, you may feel much better !!!

  6. Earl Gray told you. Helen told you and I told you to seek medical attention when your toe was first bitten - but you ignored our common sense advice.You are a bloody idiot Tom! You have so much to lose and if you do get through this awful episode you must not be so cavalier about your health and well-being in the future. A witch doctor! Jesus Christ!

    1. It is getting better and besides, how could I describe what a witch doctor does without going through the experience?

  7. Bloody hell! This reminded me of the witch-doctors of Haiti who would draw rabbit's innards from the stomachs of the sick, claiming that they were devils. Let's hope the toe now heels up.

  8. A hundred bucks? I would have charged a hell of a lot more than that if part of earning it would entail sucking on what's left of your toe. A very fascinating story. I would have loved to watch, the procedure. Those guys are not hard to find around here in the states either, They just call themselves homeopathic doctors. Which brings up a question.....How far towards a reputable medical establishment would that $100.00 have taken you? Surely somewhere in Africa resides an M.D. that could save your toe, foot, leg, life., etc. I think it's time for another picture if as you say, it's healing.

    1. A hundred bucks would have got me in front of a doctor, Everything else would have been extra.

      A picture showing massive improvement will be forthcoming. As soon as it improves massively.

  9. I did chuckle a few times reading this story. I was wondering if the "cure" would have been the same if the snake had bitten you on the willy? He might have earned his $100 then :)

    1. I would have paid extra for him to bring a pretty nurse along...

  10. I was rather hoping by the time I got to the end of this tale, (on the edge of my seat, I might add), that you would announce that you were cured. But really, old boy, methinks you are being a bit silly about not getting this properly sorted. Like you, I too avoid doctors and hospitals like the plague, but there are times when they are necessary, and I think this is one such case.

    As to your priest story, there is of course:
    'I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.'

    Now the next report will be about your visit to the doctor, and a sensible remedial course. P L E A S E !!

    1. Dear Columnist!

      I had the doctor come to see me and subsequently endured two intravenous injections of antibiotics a day for seven days Then I was on three mgs a day orally, a course I have just finished.

      There are definite signs of improvement. I have every confidence I will soon be able to post a picture of me playing barefoot football with little Alex.

      As to your highly amusing observation on Christian ethics, I went through my whole Army career like that! Only once was forgiveness not forthcoming from an irate Commanding Officer which cost me a 500 pound fine and a severe dig (reprimand) but he still awarded me the grade of Outstanding on my Annual Confidential Report although he did qualify his assessment of me by writing; 'Captain Gowans is going to have to learn to control his ego if he is not to limit his future in the Service'. I thought that was quite witty of him, nay, prescient. Arrogance has always been my downfall.

      How are things in your neck of the woods? Are you hunkered down in your apartment with the doors sand bagged up cooking scrambled eggs in your steel helmets to survive?

    2. Ah well, that's a relief, (that you've actually seen a doctor), and you are merely toying with our sympathies with tales of witch doctors; it worked! You elicited many entreaties to get it sorted.

      As to our own little local difficulty, I see it has finally begun to hit the international news, kicking off BBC World's headlines yesterday, following the occupation of the ministry of finance and the ministry of foreign affairs. Not sure where this is all heading yet, but things turn on a dime, and either the government will resign, (they have said they will not), or there will be violence, and the army will intervene; but this time around the army may be split, so we could have recipe for disaster. So far the only major difficulty is a deterioration of the traffic, because so many roads are clogged with marching demonstrators. I don't particularly want to evacuate - it's the nicest time of year, (weather-wise).

  11. Some of your readers appear to be running out of patience with your folly. Don't worry. I am patient. As long as I live I shall follow the saga of your toe. If it kills me.

    Fascinating. The things you and Marcia do for love. I won't join the admonishing crowd. I am no doctor but can't help feeling that if you were to die of your toe it would have happened by now.

    Andy, by way of comfort and so I won't remind you of your mother (again): Remember Long John Silver. His wooden leg stump didn't stop him from hunting treasure, did it? I always thought him rather fetching. All you need now is a parrot; and to complete the picture I am sure you'll find a way of losing an eye. Actually, I wish I hadn't said that: It'll be me running around with a stylish eye patch come 2014. Don't remind me.

    I bet Margaret Mead (the anthropologist) wouldn't be surprised to learn that witch doctors are still around. I might have related this before (advancing years = repeating anecdotes) but old Guggemoos (deepest Bavaria and not African), father of my youngest uncle's wife, was famed for his powers. Whether your cow was ailing or you yourself Joseph would fix it. How? I have no idea. But he did. They came from far and wide. Though do confess that I tried to avoid him when visiting the farm. Child's instinct. I was brought up on a diet of grimmest fairy tales so my imagination working overtime.

    Talking of cows: You are milking your toe for all it's not worth, don't you, Andy? Still, where there is milk there is cheese and mould.

    Roquefort greetings,

    1. Oh be fair, Ursula, it's not every day a chap gets bitten by a snake in Africa. But, if I am boring you all... I shall just sulk.

      I had a parrot once, I fed it peanuts and chunks of apple, let it roam round the house and scare the shit out of the dogs and generally get its confidence. I decided it was time to plonk it on my shoulder, The fucking little bastard bit a great chunk out of my ear. It was my favourite shirt, I never got all the blood out of it.

  12. I know it is rude to laugh, but this was are obviously in the wrong job! I do not like the sound of that toe/foot/leg but hop it gets better soon. As for the toe sucking, I seem to recall David Mellor and (separately) Sarah Ferguson had similar solutions... maybe they had snake bites too!

    1. typo * hope it gets better, but hop is probably more what you are doing!

    2. NO! You SHOULD laugh Addy! Most of the time I am laughing at myself!

      I had forgotten all about the Mellor and Fergie toe sucking incidents. Pity really, I could have worked them into the script somehow. You know, something like, Qualified African Witch Doctor, by appointment to ex-princesses...

  13. I had to check twice to be sure it was my computer screen and not my Kindle that I was reading.

    1. Was I being long and boring again?

    2. No, I couldn't believe it was written by an "amateur."

  14. I had to have a bleeding lie down halfway through this
    I had to Larf at Ursula's comment
    I would love to get drunk with you and her one night
    I suspect it would be an " education"

  15. Did this really happen? Quite the Tale. Somewhere in the midst of it, I think when Marcia called you Andy, I started humming White Rabbit by Grace Slick.

    Andy in Wonderland - Go Ask Andy, I think he'll know. Hallucinations can be associated with drug use (particularly deliriants), sleep deprivation, psychosis, neurological disorders, and delirium tremens.

    Wiki has quite a write up on them.

    Out West we've got Sawbones and Medicine Men.

    1. You did have me measuring my toe, when the 3 inch thorn showed up. Sitting here just shaking my head, in awe.

  16. Are there any recorded cases of death by 'Blackened Toe'?

  17. I think you were rescued by James Bond judging by the picture...

  18. I can hear Mr. Holder laugh... Hell, Thomas, if it works, all the better. You are spot on leaving the religious debate on the back burner, to each his own. What's this about Angola banning Islam? Good step, I say. If folks want to mutilate their own privates, that's fine, just not church- sponsored. Good luck on that, I have a roux recipe if your appetite comes back.

  19. Yoghurt Knitter Here, For the Love of GOD! Did he puke when he sucked your toe? was he still trying to get venom out? The idea of a poultice could be worth it. They draw out poison and pus? You cant lose anything by trying that.

  20. Marcia loves you and wants you to hang around, so little wonder she's trying something she knows works. Even if you don't think it does. If you're puking, there's a good chance a lot of the oral antibiotics you're taking aren't getting into your system, either. Or not enough of the dose for it to be efficacious.

    As for the "this can't work" idea, Himself had similar misgivings when i tried an alternative medical treatment for something. I was amazed at how quickly my issue resolved, as was Himself. A few scoffers tell me it was placebo effect, and i told them i didn't think it was. Even if it were, who cares? I returned to good health, gave thanks, and got on with things.


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.