Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Attack Of The Killer Bees

The office has been taken over by bees!!!

It's highly inconvenient but also quite funny. Well, funny as long as I don't get stung and swell up like a swollen thing. I think about all the offices I've ever worked in and hated, and how I'd like to go back in time and shut them down with a bee invasion. All those places with fluorescent strip lights, no air, hideous co-workers. The smell of dirty carpet and farts in the lift, cracked and dirty cups in the sink and pigeons shitting on the windowsill, freer in their filth than the pigeon-toed nutters inside. Immutable desks, back-breaking chairs, all possessed by the African Killer Bee. That tickles.

Water is heavy. I stumble carrying a full bucket into the wash-house. I catch myself before I fall, but still I project a possible future, of smashing my knee open on the step, a magic bandage to stick it closed, no hospitals open, bad stitching when it comes, a wonky leg. A scar on the front of my knee to match the one on the back – flesh gouged out to remove a poisonous spider bite. I should be afraid of spiders but I'm not. I fear rabies and snakes. And, sometimes, bees. It seems to be the time of year for the Camel Spider to breed, they are everywhere. The Husband thinks he has been told by someone that they are vicious, with a poisonous bite. They are funny, in any event. The kind of spider you would see on acid. They streak across the floor like Road Runner, and when we see one we shriek and raise our legs in the air. They are big. Like stretched out tarantulas, toffee-coloured furballs. When I Google the Camel Spider though, I find these creatures are not in fact poisonous or dangerous to humans; this is a myth perpetrated by US soldiers serving in Iraq. That figures.

It feels like a day to day existence right now, a wait-and-see life. Bobbing in a boat of normality in a sea of anarchy. When will we capsize? The first five service stations we try in town have no fuel. The sixth says they might have a delivery at midday. That means physical fights to get in the queue, and a wait of up to six hours. These days the temperature is hitting 40 degrees C. We pull off. Miraculously the seventh station has petrol and allows us to fill our jerrycan. The seventh station. Like the Stations of the Cross. The ATM is working. It often takes the money from my account without spewing the physical cash out of the wall. Sometimes you don't get all the cash, the flimsy paper chewed in the jaws of the mechanical monster. Money is worth so little I take out a million kwacha at a time. You don’t need a wallet, you need a backpack. Often the ATM doesn't work at all; it's a gamble, sticking in that piece of plastic.

They have Doritos and Heat magazine in the supermarket. I am made. They also have a bottle of wine I used to drink on the beach back home. We don’t usually buy wine, the 250% Random Tax on it makes even the cheapest vinegar beyond our means. For some reason this bottle is not so many kwacha. I drink it later; it is waves, pebbles, illicit barbeques and much-missed friends.

I have a secret. I am a fan of conspiracy theories. Hell, why not? But it's quite whacked to be privy to one for real. I know something about this fuel crisis, information which has come from the top. I bet the papers would love it, but I'm not telling. I have a secret.