Monday, 21 March 2005

Sorry, We're Closed


Clearly the parasites went into hiding when I had my malaria slide last week, for it is back.

The jackhammer in the back of my head is matched by the bongo drums in my liver. I am scheduled to go to the UK in a few days anyway, so I shall have to present myself at the Centre for Tropical Whatnots for De-parasiting.

So this blog is now temporarily closed while its owner undergoes a major renovation.

I don't know when it will be open for business again, so don't wait up. There may be intermittent blogging from Europe, but I doubt posting from Rural England or Rural Ireland holds as much interest as Rural Zambia.

Somehow I don't think back there I will have somebody offer me a bag of uncut emeralds for pence over the breakfast table. The day is lightened somewhat by the fact that the most stunning giant chocolate brown and turquoise butterfly has taken up residence in the bougainvillea outside our house.

Friday, 18 March 2005

I Hate Pidgwidgeons

Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo
Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo
Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo
Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo
Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo
Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo
Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo
Hoo Hoo Huh Hoo Huh Hoo etc etc

Somewhere, nearby, a wood pigeon, must die. Because the relentless monotonous repetitive hoo hoo is driving me crazy.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005



Tuesday, 15 March 2005


It's obvious everybody likes the worm stories. But the comment "Oh how you deserve a worm-free trip to Ireland" made me giggle, as it reminded me of a caterpillar story...

Many moons ago before I left Ireland to live in Namibia for a while, my family had a sort of last supper on the eve of my departure. You can tell it was a long time ago, because fresh soup in a carton was a new and exciting thing.

My mother emptied the carton of 'Spring Vegetable' soup into a saucepan. Plop! Right on top was a giant hairy caterpillar.

We had a lengthy conversation about whether it was better or worse to find a whole caterpillar, whether it indicated the vegetables had been pesticide free and therefore better for us, and so on.

But we didn't eat the soup. We stuck Caterpillar on a piece of card and I left my mother to send it off to The Soup Factory with a letter of complaint.

As a family we have a very high success rate of Getting Lots of Stuff for Free - we find a lot of weird things in our foodstuffs.

Anyway, I arrive in Namibia. I am tired after the long flight, but decide to spend my first evening there in a Traditional African Restaurant. The kind of restaurant where they don't rush to put bread on the table upon your arrival. Oh no. Instead you get a large basket of mopane worms. Which are of course, big hairy caterpillars.

Monday, 14 March 2005


So, Claypot, how is your first day back at work?

Oh it's great, really rockin' so far. The internet was down for hours, thus depriving me of any contact with the wide world. But you know, I'm cool with that. I wasn't tearing my hair out in frustration or anything. Oh no, not me.

I decided to go home and make...porridge. Don't ask me why. Well I made the porridge. With a coupla cinammon sticks. I'm trying to fish out the sticks before I put the porridge in the bowl (said Baby Bear).

There's other stuff in there. Stuff that looks like cooked worms. But no, surely not. Perhaps they are the brown husks from the oats.

I decide to make some more porridge. But first I tip the oats on to a plate. Writhing. I'm surprised the plate didn't move off the countertop with the worm-force.

The oats had been in a box inside a plastic bag. Could the worms have come from the porridge factory? Hmmm, I don't think so. And so my 20-minute snack break turns into an hour-long deworming of the dry goods press*. By the end of it I have a bucket full of foodstuffs that is churning away like a washing machine. Still, it will make good compost.

*Press: This is what people in Ireland call a cupboard. I'm going there in three weeks where I shall use words like press to my heart's content and not have people looking at me funny.

Of Interest

Good articles seem to be like buses - nothing at all and then lots in a slap at once. There has been a dearth of linkable material in recent weeks, but maybe the worm is turning (heh!):

There is an excellent pro-secularist article by Salman Rushdie in the Guardian today, and an interesing one by Naomi Klein on the US foreign policy. Sadly, as if the horrific tale of Mukhtaran Bibi is not enough, a new Human Rights Watch report tells of shocking sexual abuse of women in the DRC. Perhaps if Malawi's president hadn't been in such a hurry to turn the parliamentary building into his private mansion, he wouldn't be having this trouble. And finally, this is why I Love Jay Rayner

Sunday, 13 March 2005

That's Negative Ma'am!

We went to town yesterday to check my malaria status again. It was a public holiday, so we weren't even sure the clinic was open. The roads were quiet. On the way in we passed a lone police officer on a California-style mountain bike, complete with go-faster helmet. A solitary watermelon sat on an abandoned roadside stall.

The clinic was open, and as always the staff were pleasant and cheerful. Even the nurse who was telling someone on the other end of the telephone how she thought she would be murdered in her bed any day now.

Thankfully, the test was negative. No horrid quinine. We decided to go out for lunch to celebrate.

Outside in the bright sunshine a small girl in a spiderweb of stiff bright nylon carried a juice bottle on her head. A ribbon-tailed flycatcher trailed across the windscreen as we pulled up at the restaurant. In the tv room, a large comfy chair was positioned directly in front of the screen. Its occupant: a fat hen.

Back home a man on a bicycle was waiting. He addressed The Husband. As a woman I am unseen, unimportant, no need to greet me.

"Evening sir. I am Nkhoma from the Chief's Camp. I am bringing you a rock." I left The Husband to figure it out...

Monday, 7 March 2005

Don't Mess With Malaria

Oh dear. This is rapidly turning into The Little Blog That Wasn't. I have had another bout of malaria these past weeks; not blogged about it because I find other bloggers talking about their illnesses dead boring to be honest.

Anyway, it's still not gone away. I'm now on my fourth different treatment and if this doesn't work it will be the dreaded quinine and possibly hospital, neither of which I fancy very much.

The doctor has ordered bed rest. In the boiling heat with no tv or music this is indeed a punishment.

I am wondering how you can buy malaria treatment for 10p in a government clinic, and the same treatment costs £6 in the pharmacy. Of course the government clinics are usually out of stock.

Oh well, I'm off now with some hideously overpriced Lucozade. I leave you with this snippet from Newsweek magazine. Who knows if it's true, I'm so cynical I don't believe anything, but it does make me chuckle to picture Dubya:

"Let's face it, tolerating an Irish rock star is not a necessity of his office." U2 frontman Bono on an AIDS chat with President George W Bush, during which the president had to bang his fist on a desk to get a word in.


The Beast testily slumps its way across my line of vision as I sit in the restaurant in Lusaka trying to enjoy my lunch. I stare. It is not unlike watching The Penguin.

A woman has disfigured herself beyond redemption. Atop her head is a crow’s nest of bright orange and white spikes, an impressionist installation of an angry tomcat. Two long white strands start above her ears and drift downwards beyond her chin.

The entire area around her eyes has been coloured as though by an angry child let loose on a box of crayons. Purple, teal, black, grey, brown, the hues are endless.

The Beast is sporting a too-tight black and white striped vest, last fashionable in Croydon circa 1982, and never fashionable anywhere else. Her bottom half is encased in white pedal-pushers. They are pulled around the knees by a drawstring, with a thigh-high slit above. Her thighs are not attractive.

The Beast takes a table outside, beyond the glass partition through which I can still see her. As she lights a long thin cigarette her aubergine lips form a rictus and her eyes crease up creating murky kaleidescopes of her lids.

It begins to rain. Muttering to herself, she gathers up her belongings and starts to move inside. Oh my. She is carrying two very large metallic boxes, the kind that makeup artists and hairdressers use. Surely this monstrosity is not a stylist? I am transfixed.

The pedal-pushers wend their way past my table. I wonder if I am in a Tim Burton movie. The Beast advances towards a table next to mine. She is joined by a black woman wearing a revolting curly blond wig, and a deathly white teenage boy. Aubergine lips purse once more.

She begins to give her companions makeup tips. My eyes and ears begin to bleed.

Africa News

Fair Trade not Free Trade.

Mozambique unhappy with Blair's proposals.

Film Drum wins top prize. What a shame this wasn't showing in Luska instead of rot like Hitch and Shall We Dance.

Thursday, 3 March 2005


Away today. For a bit. To town. Steak. Yum. Hopefully there will be something non-pants at the cinema.

Wednesday, 2 March 2005