wetwool

because you never forget that funny smell

Category: travel (page 3 of 4)

Lucky Passengers

I just love November and I think it is a lucky month. I saw a report moments ago in the news about a passenger plane from New Jersey that had to make an emergency landing in Poland after its landing gear failed to deploy.

The reports said that none of the 220 passengers and 11 crew on the aircraft were injured


.

Don’t look now but I think we’re being followed

cycle king

The picture was taken soon after that lunch with Wangari and the CEO

A chance encounter……..


Wow! July is upon us already and whilst I welcome a new month with the thrill and excitement that comes with knowing Chriso can’t be too far away, there is a sad weight upon my heart. You see I failed to put in my June posting. A post that I’m sure would have been a masterpiece – the mother of all posts. Due to bad weather, overwork, facebook and one excuse after another, I kept putting it off for tomorrow and now, alas, it will never see the light of day.

Every cloud has a silver lining and on the very first day of July I got an urgent call to pick up a passenger from a fashionable part of the city. Work is a bit thin on the ground at this time of the year so I dashed to the location in my 2004 Tuk which my enemies call Rusty. I had been informed that the passenger would be waiting at the front of the office.

Would you like a description? I bet you would. She was the most gracious and elegant person that I had ever met. Calm, sweet and soft spoken. She carried herself like nobility. Was she an angel? I could barely hide my sense of wonder as I asked the beautiful passenger for her destination.

“Take me to the Lemon Tree please, be as quick as you can and I will pay you handsomely.” She said, in her smooth agreeable voice.

cruising
image from travelpod.co.uk
As we sped along the highway in the busy day-time traffic I stole glances of her in my mirror. One moment she was sitting looking out of the window and the next she had taken out a notebook and was writing stuff into it. We arrived at her destination where she paid the fare, got out of the taxi, bid me good day and walked quickly into the building. She had tipped me quite well. I picked up a page of classy note-paper that she had left behind on the rear seat. It smelled of sweet perfume. I read the neat, posh writing:

Rules

 

Thank and link back to the person who posted you the award.

Share seven things about yourself

Spread the Love and honour

Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

It was at that very moment that it it dawned on me that my passenger was none other than the funniest blogger.

 

Seven Things:

I like the number seven.

    There are few things in life that I fear more than the mosquito. Mankind has brought about the extinction of so many species and still we have mosquitoes. We need to try harder.

I never lend stuff to people. It is not that I am mean – if I can spare it I will give it – but I stopped lending long ago.

I find that there is never enough time to complete the job at hand so I never undertake difficult tasks.

I am proud of the fact that I am consistently able to wake up before lunch-time.

I love wool; The look, the feel and the smell of it, especially when wet.

I am a habitual gambler.

 

Was that seven or eight? Never mind. Right now I am pointing at Mama Shujaa, Raunau, and OtienoHongo

and hoping.


A tragic accident and a murder

So much has been written and said about the Samuel Wanjiru tragedy that the time has now come for the public to do the decent thing and allow the family to come to terms with their grief without the undue speculation, rumour and gossiping. It is just unfortunate that this case involved a celebrity and thus it has aroused intense media scrutiny.

As it happens, I spent an afternoon last weekend in the company of a family friend, a retired deputy police commissioner who was once the head of the homicide division, Nairobi. We spoke briefly about the “Wanjiru” affair before he told me about a case that he was involved in when he was a junior officer fresh out of college.

“Woolie”, he said, “Nothing is ever what it seems. Be prepared for the unexpected at all times.”

“In those days, you see we all thought that murder was an offence carried out by thugs and gangsters on strangers. In our naïve way we were brought up to be trusting in the general good of humanity.”

We had now retired to a small sitting room and the former cop opened a glass cabinet and took out a single malt whisky and 2 small glasses. He poured the drinks, made sure I was comfortable and sat down to light his pipe. Then he got to his story.

When the Ikumbi case came to the High Court in late October 1985 it made all the headlines because of the gruesome brutality with which Mr Silas Ikumbi had met his death. Here was a well-liked, successful businessman with a seemingly happy home life. He was said to be fair in business and generous to friends and family. He made numerous donations to harambees and other worthy causes. He was hard-working and expected the same from his employees but he also rewarded hard work with bonuses and promotion.

Then there was the widow. Young, beautiful, stylish – with friends in high society. There was plenty of money and hints of something shaky in the marriage.

It was the night of the 26th -27th July of that year. A horrible road traffic accident on the Mombasa Road. A Nairobi bound coach slammed into the back of a heavy goods lorry that stood broken down by the side of the road. A mighty fireball engulfed both vehicles and there were no survivors on the coach. Most of the bodies had been burnt beyond recognition. Four days later Silas Ikumbi’s wife came forward and claimed that she was sure that her husband had been a passenger on the coach on that fateful journey.

image from topnews.in

It is fair to say that most people were surprised by this announcement. Why had it taken this long for Mrs Ikumbi to come forward with this information. She claimed that she had tried to make absolutely certain that there was no mistake before going to the police. Mrs Ikumbi explained that her hsuband had called her from Mombasa on that evening and he had given her the name of the coach and their departure time.

Silas Ikumbi travelled frequently to Mombasa on business trips but he never, ever went by coach. Nor did he travel by train. Silas was a competent driver and he preferred to drive himself on long journeys. He told friends that it helped him to clear his mind, think and plan new business strategies. Also he had many business contacts in towns on the way to Mombasa and he liked to call upon them and catch up with business affairs. It was not unknown for Silas to drive down from Nairobi early in the morning, conclude his business meetings at the coast and drive back the same day. He derived great satisfaction from this.

The remains of the victims were buried and the authorities accepted the wife’s word and a memorial service was held for Silas Ikumbi on 13th of August. The service was attended by friends and family and many business associates from agents to distributors and wholesalers. Silas was a popular man.

It was just over a week later that a Mr Abdul Kadir from Mombasa came to see me in my office. He seemed unsure of himself but I ordered for us some tea and asked what was troubling him. He came out with it. He asked if I had heard of the coach crash tragedy. He then told me that he had attended the memorial service but it was only after going back to Mombasa and thinking things through that he felt that there was something that did not add up.

He pulled out a pocket diary and showed me an entry that he had made: Telephoned Silo, agreed to meet a week from today. Must have the samples ready for him. The date was 29th July a full two days after the accident. He had only realised this discrepancy after the service. Still puzzled he had called Silas’s home hoping to speak to Mrs Ikumbi but there was no answer. What, he wondered, did all this mean? One thing was sure – his friend could not possibly have perished in that crash. Was it all a mistake? Was he still alive.

We spoke at length with Mr Abdul Kadir checking details and covering other background stuff and I assured him that we would investigate all the circumstances surrounding this incident and keep him updated on future developments. Then he took his leave. I was touched by the gesture the man had made for his friend.

The next afternoon I drove up to the Ikumbi home in Tigoni near Limuru seeking to speak to Mrs Ikumbi. The security guard ushered me into the compound but when the front door was opened a young maid informed me that mama was not seeing any callers and that all communication to her was being handled by her lawyer. I could not hide my surprise. The maid duly presented me with a business card bearing the name of a city lawyer. As I turned to leave a young girl, 10 or 11 came up to the door. She had just arrived from school, it seemed. She asked if I was a policeman, come to find out where daddy had gone. The maid told her off and sent her indoors. I got into the car and drove to Nairobi deep in thought. I had now come across two people for whom the story that Silas Ikumbi was killed in a coach tragedy did not ring true.

It was time for action. Investigators went out to try and put together the final hours of Mr Ikumbi’s life. The bus companies of the day were not required to keep passenger manifests so no documetary evidence was available to prove one way or the other whether Ikumbi had been on that coach. My investigators dicovered no sightings of Ikumbi in Mombasa and none of his associates and colleagues had met with him. Investigators visited all the likely places he would have gone on a normal trip to Mombasa and everywhere it was the the same story: Ikumbi had not been there on the dates in question and in any case he always communicated his arrival well in advance – after all it is a long way to come and not meet your objectives.

It was now time to focus on the domestic setting. We already knew that Ikumbi loved his family and cared dearly for his only child, whose name was Faith. Years ago, we learnt, the couple had been told by doctors that Mrs Ikumbi could not have any more kids. This may have drawn the father to cherish the daughter even more closely. Family friends said that perhaps Mrs Ikumbi may have resented this. We focussed even closer coming to the days when Ikumbi had last been seen by the members of the household. We learnt that a day before the crash Faith had seen her dad in the evening and they had done some homework together. He had left for work early the following day and so she had not seen him before going to school.

The night watchman who had worked over that period had been replaced. It did not take long for officers to locate him. He turned out to be a habitual user of marijuana but he was quite willing to speak to the police. According to his statement the last he had seen of Mr Ikumbi was when he opened the gate to him one evening. There was something odd about the way the boss drove into the compound – but he thought nothing more of it. It may sound crazy, he said, but this was definitely after and not before that awful bus crash. He was not too sure about exact dates, though.

With this and other bits of evidence it became clear that Silas Ikumbi should now be classiffied as missing, presumed dead and that we were possibly looking at a murder case. My investigators interviewed Mrs Ikumbi always in the presence of her lawyer and she repeatedly claimed that Ikumbi had gone to Mombasa and had been killed in the coach crash. they stuck to their guns. Further she insisted that theirs had been happy marriage and she did not known what she was going to do with him gone.

There were further enquiries – mostly house to house. One junior officer was carrying out such enquiries within Limuru town when he struck gold.

The officer approached a small garage and found one of the mechanics polishing a car. He introduced himself and asked the young mechanic if he knew a Mr Ikumbi. The boy’s face brightened when he spoke of Ikumbi, a real gentleman. He brought all his cars here for servicing, you know. I always valeted his car. He treated me well. It was he that got me this job – he was like a father to me. We will never know what made him travel in that coach, anyway that is fate, I guess. You cannot escape your date with fate.

“When did you last see him?” – the officer asked

“I can tell you exactly when I saw him – gosh this is weird – he was here on the 29th of July I marked it here on this wall calendar because I changed the tyres on his car. He liked to know when he changed his tyres so we always kept a record.” Mr Ikumbi always checked his vehicle records in the office.

The officer asked a few more questions and then showed the mechanic some photos. He asked him if he recognised anyone in the set of pictures. Twice he picked out the city lawyer.

The mechanic explained that two cars had pulled up outside as he was working on Ikumbi’s car. He saw there were four people in each of the cars. Moments later one man came into the garage and asked if the mechanic knew where the owner of the car that he was working on had gone – this is Ikumbi’s car, right – the mechanic said he did not know the owner by name or where he was but he would be coming shortly to collect his car. He did not like the look of them one bit. That was when the lawyer got out of the front car and came across all smiling and polite and said – do not worry we are just friends of his we thought we might see him – but never mind. Thanks. And with that they got into their cars and left. Mr Ikumbi came soon after, paid for the job and left.

Woolie, these things ususlly take a momentum of their own because just 2 days my officer had visited the garage a Mzee looking after some cows near Maai Mahiu made a gruesome discovery. In a small depression quite out of sight in the fields lay the body of a man. He was clothed only in a loose fitting pair of trousers. No shirt, shoes, belt and no other items that could be used to identify him. His head had been beaten to a pulp as the perpetrators tried to conceal his identity. Police were called. The body had lain there for at least three weeks given the advanced stage of decomposition. After liaising with missing person reports police used dental records to positively identify the body as that of Mr Silas Ikumbi.

Law Courts
Image from taifalangu.com

Well as you can imagine there were many other details that came out in court but the long and short of it was that the lawyer Judas Magaryan and Mrs Ikumbi were long-time lovers. Together they had deviced a plan to kill Ikumbi and make it look like an accident. This would enable them to control the vast financial wealth that Mr Ikumbi had built. Magaryan’s profession brought him in daily contact with gangsters and it was one such group that he recruited to trail Ikumbi from the garage. They had jacked him by the railway tunnel near Limuru and bundled him into their own car.

Magaryan had donned Ikumbi’s jacket and hat and driven Ikumbi’s car back to the house. He was not familiar with the compound layout and even the stoned watchman noticed that his driving was erratic.

The prosecution was able to prove its case and the two suspects were found guilty. They were convicted and sentenced but their lawyer managed to get them out on bail pending their appeals. They are now said to be living quietly, somewhere overseas. You know what this place is like……..

Osama down, so where’s Kabuga?

This piece was written back in March 2010 but I place it here following the dramatic killing of Most wanted Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in the first week of May 2011.

The US Ambassador-at large for war crimes issues, Pierre-Richard Prosper, a few weeks ago said that Felicien Kabuga was still hiding in Kenya. Rwanda Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo is then reported to have said that her country believed Kenya’s word that Kabuga, Africa’s most wanted fugitive, was not hiding in the country.
image from tenorama.com

How wonderful it would be if the US would just put their money where their mouth was, back up their rhetoric and accusations and arrest the man. Somehow I suspect that they too have no clue as to where this war crimes suspect is and they use the Kabuga issue to embarrass the Kenya government from time to time. A specialist in locating missing people said to me the other day, “A man does not simply disappear into thin air especially not one with a delicious price tag of $5 million on his head.”

The Kenya government is caught between a rock and a hard place because it would be virtually impossible to prove that a suspect was not in Kenya unless they could prove that he was elsewhere or else – provide a corpse.

So where is this old boy – Kabuga? They say a painting is worth a thousand words but I believe that in order to solve the Kabuga riddle it is worth visiting the world of fantasy and imagination. A place where all things are possible…indeed a place where a Most Wanted man could disappear before our very eyes. In so doing it is hoped that we can challenge those who maintain that Kabuga is alive and well in Kenya to prove that he did not, infact meet with some terrible end. Perhaps then we can put this issue to rest -and I can go back to watch the cricket.

This story is best read with a large block of sea-salt.

A close friend invited me over to his home and we went to a Jamuhuri day bash. We were in the capital of this small and mountainous country where African despots and others come to hide their cash. No not Swaziland – There were people from all different nationalities as is normal in these events. By a stroke of luck amongst the people seated just by our table was a young lady from Kenya.

The Kenyan lady, Miriam worked as a translator here at the Kenya mission where the party was being held. She was married to Hendri Schmidt. We learnt that Mr Schmidt worked at the consulate of another european country. The evening went very well indeed with great music, fine wine and delicious food and when the time came to finally bring the party to a close we all felt it was far too early to be going home. The Schmidts invited my friend and me back for a quiet drink at their lovely apartment. We sat and chatted till late and at some point our conversation ventured into the murky world of politics. Mr Schmidt excused himself for a moment. He came back with a small folder marked Top Secret in red ink.

He said, the folder contained the statement that he had taken from a man who was claiming political asylum at the consulate. They got dozens of satements every day but Schmidt had kept this one at home because of the amazing story. He had removed the front page to protect the subjects identity

PAGE 2 STATEMENT

As serving officers in the elite protection force we were were routinely assigned to look after visiting dignitiaries and other VIPs. We gave support to the regular secret service and bodyguard teams but ours was essentially a background operation.

One morning around the first week of August I was called in to see our commanding officer. She glanced at me as I shut the door and continued reading from a khaki folder on her desk. She then stood up and walked up to me and stood there staring me up and down before telling me that she had received orders that I was to go on annual leave with immediate effect.

We learn not to question orders very early in this industry so I collected my belongings and headed for the gates. I was vaguely aware of a civilian saloon car parked by the perimeter fence as I neared the gate but I did not give it much thought. I knew the guards quite well and we had a bit of a chit chat before I went through the gates.

There is a frequent Matatu service between the camp and the city and I headed for the bus stop about 300 metres up the road. Here there was a bit of a bend in the road so that from this spot you could not see the gates of the military camp. The same white saloon car drew up beside me the back doors opened and two men grabbed me and put me in the middle of the back seat. One of them produced a hood and placed it over my head. I relaxed as I realised that they meant me no real harm – and I guess they too were relieved that I had not put up an unnecessary struggle. After driving in silence for about half an hour I dropped my head as if dozing off and started to snore gently. I could “hear” the smiles on their faces as they too eased down and pretty soon they were sleeping like babies.

It was dark when we got to our destination. They pulled me out of the car and the driver barked some orders to the two goons who held me between them. they took me to a small room and stood waiting for further instructions. The driver barked a fresh set of orders and walked off and one goon pulled off my hood.

The smells and sounds of the farm came rushing to me when the hood came off – I thought that pretty odd. Two minutes later the multi-lingual driver came in with another figure – a senior ranking officer from our elite team. He was the one that gave orders to our commanding officer. He ordered the room cleared and asked me if I wanted anything. I wanted to know where I was and why I had been brought here in such a fashion – but you do not question a senior officer and so I just asked for some food and water.

We were here – he explained – on a most secret government mission. A senior scientist from a neighbouring country was in the process of developing some type of vaccine to protect our pig population from the devastating effects of swine flu. It was important that this was done secretly – and that he was given adequate protection. In other words, he was a fugitive from his country and there were people out there looking for him. The officer said that in his view it would be much better for me if I did not know the scientist’s name. He explained that the nature of our work drew speculation from all quarters and it was our duty as professionals to avoid adding to it by engaging in careless thinking and loose talk. We were here to do a job and by God we would accomplish the mission!

It was time to meet the Scientist – we went into the main house and were shown into a lavishly furnished living room. The scientist and his wife were seated on a large leather sofa watching the evening news courtesy of KTN. They turned to us as we entered and the lady of the house waved at us to be seated. I recognised the grey-haired “scientist” and realised that the speech from my commander a few minutes prior was meant to warn me about who this man was. The US government had placed a sum of $5million on his genocidal head.

Life at the farm was pretty cool. There were few visitors. The AP men at the gate kept curious callers at bay. One needed special clearance from the ministry of Internal Security no less to gain access to this government scientific facility. I learned from the domestic staff that we were in a farm called the Grip farm – Government Research Into Pigs and that we were some twenty-five miles north of Eldoret. Pig buyers called on a Wednesday to pick livestock for market. Pig fatteners would collect their piglets on a Thursday and on Friday it was the turn of the feed merchants to deliver all the animal feed needs for the week. The rest of the time I spent patrolling the complex looking for weaknesses and potential points of attack. I also began to write notes of this operation for my own record.

Monday morning October (date deleted) and another beautiful day on the cards – the sky was blue and the birds were in song just as insects buzzed about. The pigs shrieked in their pens and the black-and-white cows swished their tails as they grazed in the meadow. I could hear the wood cutter’s axe echoing in the valley. In the distance a tractor was raising a cloud of red dust as workers prepared a field to plant maize – the farm sounds were like music to my soul. It was great to be alive.

I felt the first strains of tension when one of the APs who was always with the scientist, a nice lad called Sam, came up and asked me to fetch my boss.

Sam should never have left his post – why hadn’t he used his radio – what was going on. I found the commander in the driveway by the front of the main house. He was talking to a man seated in the back of a shiny limousine. When they saw me approach the man rolled up his window – the tinted glass immediately hiding him in his dark tomb. Then the car was gone.

The shrieking of the pigs grew louder. The commander asked me to walk with him back to his office. His normally jovial face was grim and his eyes held a far away look. He ushered me in and closed the door. From the corner of my eye I noticed that he locked the door and put the key in his pocket.

He opened a drawer at his desk and pulled out a bottle of Teachers and two small glasses. As he poured, he told me that our mission here was over. He did not look me in the eye. He was looking at the drink in his glass. The scientist, he said, was tired of running. He now believed that the vaccine rightfully belonged in his country where they had spent years in its development. He wanted to give himself up. Unfortunately it is never that easy. Yes he may have provided the finances and organisational skills but it is others who did the real dirty work – they were aware that if he cooperated – It would be Arusha for them too.

He looked at me – It would have been a totally unacceptable position. The scientist’s Kenyan pals who had made him welcome, protected him and entered into all sorts of deals with him, they too feared that they would be implicated and exposed – the commandant took another a sip of the whiskey. I felt a shudder as I realised why he was speaking in the past tense.

This was all too fantastic. I could not believe what I was hearing. The commandant was spelling it out that it had been decided – kill the “scientist” – chop him up as we did so many times before and feed him to his shrieking pigs- without a body there could be no conclusive proof that he was dead and the meddling Americans were free to maintain the spotlight on Kabuga whilst the others who actually coordinated and carried out the murderous orders were able to clear up their trails and evade justice. That also explained the locked door – I too would have to be silenced. The young Sam must have had a Special protector. He had been sent away from his post in order that he could be spared.

The commandant poured another couple of drinks all the while looking at his watch. The pig noises were driving him crazy so he stood up to shut the window. I had only the slimmest of chances – the bottle of Teachers was half full. I grabbed it by the neck, raised it and brought it down on his head, just as he was turning back from the window – he tried to go for his gun – but he was slow in motion and I saw the bottle smash into his face between his nose and left eye – spraying booze, glass, flesh and blood everywhere. He slumped onto the table and I grabbed the key and made my escape.


The Waiting Room


I had never heard of Paradise House before but I find the building quite easily from the directions that I have been given. My appointment with the bank manager is for 10:45. I am early and the polite young man at the desk points to a door marked ‘Waiting Room’

“Please wait in there sir. We will call for you when she arrives.” I thank him and go through the door.

This is a Super huge building playing host to numerous government and private sector organisations. People come streaming in from the street. They come in and spend several sterile hours staring at the walls or reading old magazines as they wait for their elusive doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, bank manger, architect, MP, Public servant…..etc.

the journey starts here

I slowly gather that the population right here comprises honest traders, criminals, priests, politicians, teachers, students, rich, poor, smelly, clean, short, fat ….in a nutshell the whole of humanity.

The waiting room patrons all despise their fellow waitees when they first come in and they furiously avoid eye contact. Presently someone will break the ice by declaring how hot or cold it is today or how useless the service at this establishment has become. Pretty soon the room is humming with dozens of quiet conversations. These are punctuated by the cries of hungry babies, unruly toddlers and desperate mothers. Calm is quickly restored using the age old technique of bribery where a piece of mandazi or a bit of chocolate silences the troublesome child. Sometimes nothing but a spot of breast milk will do. The few gentlemen avert their gaze or pretend to read.

More people have come into the waiting room. It suddenly occurs to me that during the hour that I have been waiting not one of my fellow waitees have been called for. Also despite my impression that they are all a complaining bunch not one of them has decided to give up the wait and leave. And another odd thing – the room is just not filling up.

After another half hour I feel that I really cannot wait much longer. I will speak to the man at the desk. I walk up to the door but a burly man six-foot something without a neck is standing in my way. I ask him nicely to make way. He refuses and I try to push him aside. Around 30 pairs of hands reach for me and I am manhandled right back into the room and bundled into a chair.

Now I am screaming and shouting insults and curses and making vain efforts to fight off my captors. Everything feels and looks queer. The room begins to spin around me slowly at first and then faster and faster. The arms on the huge clock on the wall now appear to move backwards. The clock reads 08:40. I am at my desk in the office. My crooked ways have been discovered. I need to get to the bank before the bosses arrive, withdraw the money and flee the country. I have spoken to Eva and our plan is to fly first to Lagos.

The bank is just across the road from our offices. I get across the Mombasa bound carriageway. There is an old lady on my left who has just started to cross the city bound carriageway so I shadow her. I look up and I can see the bank over on the other side. Freedom is just seconds away – and Oh my dear Eva. The woman screams and leaps back to the side – safe. I have no chance with six lanes of chaos around me and the 3.5 tonne van carrying empty soda bottles mows me down at 08:44 on that busy Friday morning.

As the truth sinks in I see even more people coming into the waiting room.


Strange but True


The author Mark Twain wrote: Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.

A few weeks ago I came across a bizzare incident that reinforced my belief in this idea.

It all began when I was interrupted from my compulsory afternoon nap by my youngest daughter.” We have a serious water leak, dad”, she said. “Come and look at this.”

cracked tiles

There was an unusual urgency in her voice and I rushed out of bed cursing softly to find her examining a large wet patch on the carpet near the radiator by the bottom of the stairs. She moved aside allowing me to take a look and I felt the pipes, trying to discover the source of the leak. I bent down closer and was smacked by a cold hard drop of water right in the middle of my growing solar panel. Phap! I discovered it was coming from above. On looking up I let out a groan of despair. The ceiling above our heads was sagging with the weight of water and it seemed about to burst. What was the meaning of this? The room above us was the bathroom. Did we have leaking pipes in there? What damage had been done? How much would it cost to put right? I rushed upstairs fearing the wost. In a moment I realised what the problem was. A cracked wall tile was letting in water and this was going down the wall onto the ceiling of the floor below. The whole wall would need to be re tiled. The kind of job i personally hated.

I presented the problem to the lady of the house as soon as she got home from work. I was in hysterics at the time wondering what we would do etc. She, ever calm in a disaster reassured me that it was not the end of the world. I went out to work leaving her to deal with it all. Later that evening my wife called me at work to say that she had found a reliable plumber/carpenter to come and carry out the repairs. He was well experienced and actually worked for one of the colleges. He came highly recommended by my wife’s work colleague who happened to be his sister, he was reasonable and he could start work in the morning.

Next day I was half asleep when I answered the door to a well-turned out young man. He said his name was Mick and he had come about the bathroom. I showed him everything and in a few moments he got down to work. Someone must have mentioned that I worked the night shift because he worked ever so quietly. With the bathroom door closed you would not have known there was anyone in there. Also unlike most plumbers or fundis he did not have the loud Boom Box playing Radio One with opinionated djs causing a disturbance of the peace. I soon resumed my slumber just in time to catch the 3rd episode of sweet dreams. Mick finished tearing out the tiles and preparing the wall that afternoon. He said that would come the next morning to begin the retiling and all being well the entire job would be completed by early evening.

Next morning. No Mick. To say that I was angry would be an understatement. I was incandescent. I held my tongue and waited until 11.00. I called my wife. I wanted to know why the nice man had gone awol leaving the bathroom looking like a building site. What were we going to do now? She called his sister to find out if she knew anything and the news we got was not good. This is what she said.

Mick had gone to her place that very evening looking very happy. He had brought his little boy to play with her own son. They chatted as she prepared dinner for the kids. Mick told her that the woman he was doing the bathroom for had given him a small advance and he would nip down to the shops to get them a few cans. He left his son there and went off to the shops. When Mick had been gone nearly an hour she thought to call him on his mobile. He apologised for the delay and said that he was on his way. She was not amused that he had been gone for so long. She reminded him that his son was still with her. He was to come home immediately and take him home. An hour later, still no Mick. She tried his phone but it went straight to voice-mail. She put the kids to bed and went off to sleep.

The next morning she got a call from the intensive care unit at the JR hospital. Her brother, Mick had been admitted in the early hours. He had severe injuries and it looked like he had been the victim of a very serious assault. When she got there he was recording a statement with the police. He admitted to them that when he left his sister’s flat he had gone to buy some weed in Littlemore. He smoked some before heading back to his sister’s. He could not recall anything about the attack or how he got to hospital.

That afternoon my wife showed me a small article in the local paper about another victim of a serious assault. He had lost his phone, wallet and several teeth in the incident. Police believed that the attack was linked to other recent muggings in the area. Mick was lucky because when they sent him up for a scan it turned out that his injuries though painful were superficial. He was able to leave hospital and recuperate at home. He resumed work two days later and finished our bathroom as promised. When I spoke to him about the incident he said he was still unable to recall anything about the attack. We agreed that his attackers must have got him from behind giving him no chance. All is well that ends well. Except that in this case there was more to come.

Mick’s sister has an eighth floor flat in an Oxford estate. Two evenings ago she was coming in from work when she met Marge, their retired neighbour on the ground floor. Marge’s flat was the one nearest the entrace to the flats. She had just come back from a two weeks’ holiday in Corfu

“How is your brother now”, Marge asked.

“Oh, he is much better, thank goodness”, replied the sister

“Do you know, it was my Frank who sat by him as I went to call the ambulance”?

“Your Frank? What ambulance” Mick’s sister seemed confused. What on earth was Marge talking about?

Marge realised that she needed to explain. It was like this.

Marge and her husband Frank were going off to Corfu for their annual two week’s holiday that night. They had booked for a taxi to take them to the coach station in time to catch the 02.30 coach for Gatwick airport. Just after 0215 they heard an almighty crash coming from the top flats.

The crashing sound came down the stairs and stopped when whatever it was had got to the bottom. Frank went out to check. He found the limp body of a young man crushed beneath a smashed up bicycle. He called out to his wife and they both thought the young man was dead. They called an ambulance which arrived in a matter of minutes. The paramedics realised that there were signs of life and decided to get him to intensive care with minimum delay. Marge and Frank were left wondering what to do. Just then their taxi pulled up. The driver urged them to hurry saying that they would have to leave immeadiately due to some temporary traffic lights along the route that were causing delays. Like most neighbours Marge did not have a contact number for Mick’s sister to let her know what had transpired and ofcourse once they were aboard the coach to the airport they had put everything else behind them.

crashed

Winter Blues

The Meteorological office is warning that heavy snow and freezing temperatures are expected to continue for at least another two weeks.

This follows Some of the heaviest snow fall in over 20 years. There has been heavy snow in the north-east of England and the Scottish borders, with reports of up to 30cm (12in) falling since early Tuesday. Parts of the northern Highlands saw just short of half a metre of snow.

There was also heavy snowfall in central and southern England and parts of the South West and south Wales. Counties affected included Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire Wiltshire, Dorset, Berkshire and parts of Gloucestershire, Buckinhamshire and Oxfordshire.

sailing

With the wide disruption to road and rail transport thousands of schools remained closed and hospitals cancelled out-patient appointments. It was estimated that 50% of the nations entire work-force stayed away from work.

sailing

birds are not scared of heights


Like most normal people I have always held the opinion that if the Good Lord had wanted us to fly We’d all be like eagles.

Unfortunately as the world “grows smaller” people become more and more restless and they feel the urge to move across the continents and the seas for holidays or to pursue studies, trade, employment, love, romance, marriage, medical treatment, etc etc in far-away lands. But there is so little time…and so fly they must.

In this shot a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 300 prepares to land at a misty Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi just after 07.00 am after an eight hour flight from London. No doubt some of the passengers and crew are taking a moment to reflect on this modern dilemma.

preparing for landing

2 eggs in a little black box


We were at a hotel room where a lavish marriage ceremony was coming to an end. As the happy couple were set off on their honeymoon the new bride was heard say to her man,” Darling, I want us to live together forever. If you love me as much as I do you then I bid you please grant me this one favour.”

The handsome groom said “Anything for my gorgeous bride. If it is in my power to grant it consider it done.”

She removed a small black wooden box made from smooth Tanzania ebony wood from her suitcase and she placed it on the bed.

“A girl must always have secrets. I hope that you will love me all the days that we live and that you shall respect my privacy and never look in this box. I will always keep it close by me under my side of the bed.” She smiled sweetly and fluttered those long lashes again.

” Forever my word will be my bond. As long as I live I will never look in there.” Was the man’s chivalrous reply.

We now fast forward at light speed to the future to find the couple now enjoying their sunset years sitting together in their large bedroom happily opening the many happy anniversary cards from friends and family from all over the world. Their grandchildren have bought them a round the world cruise and they are sorting out suitcases for their great voyage.

The old grey haired husband reaches under the bed to get his small travel-case but instead pulls out the smooth little black box. His wife looks down at him smiling and shaking her head slowly.

He looked dismayed and disappointed, like a little child denied some sweets.

“Look honey we’ve been together all these years, can’t I just have a little tiny peek?”

The wife decided there would be no harm in letting him look so she nodded and then watched as he excitedly opened the box. Inside he found two eggs and a thick wad of notes. There was nearly $2,000 in the box.

“I don’t understand. Are these your secret savings? Asked the bwana.

The wife thought she had better explain. She looked at him steadily and then she spoke. “I said to myself that I would love you forever. But I was weak. Each time that I was unfaithful to you I placed an egg in the box to remind me of my shame.”

A sudden wave of emotions swept through the man. He felt deep anger and humiliation. Suddenly a fresh thought came to him. He did some quick calculations and decided that in the unfaithfulness league his wife was a novice, a real amateur….I mean two minor indiscretions in sixty years. I have been quite a player myself hmmmm…remember only last thursday……..no I will show her mercy. I will definitely forgive her and be the better one. Haha

He turned slowly to his wife and smiled.” What about the cash, honey? You have bank accounts, why did you stash it here?”

Her answer was slow in coming but eventually she said, “Well, whenever I got at dozen eggs I would sell them…..”

To end the story here would be an act of great charity.


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