Monday, 7 March 2005


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.