because you never forget that funny smell

Category: personal finance (page 1 of 2)

The black briefcase

On Monday there was a small article in the right hand column of page 3 in the Daily News that said “Police now believe that a faulty gas bottle was the cause of an explosion and fire that destroyed a house in Ruiru on Saturday night. One man was killed in the tragedy…”

Saturday morning

It was 9.am when young Idris tapped softly at the bedroom door and walked into the dark room carrying the large breakfast tray. The stale smell of cheap Moroccan hashish hung in the air. He went to the bay window and slowly pulled back the heavy curtains. His master, eyes tightly shut, groaned and flung his legs about on the bed as bright sunlight poured into the room. Continue reading

protecting your sim as well as your simu

It seems like it is nearly 100 years now since the introduction of the first mobile phones for us ordinary folk. Back then Safaricom was still the leading player. I remember with great fondness and some mist in my eyes how I acquired a shiny new sim-card with a beautiful 0722 number whose memory I will always cherish.

It took me a little while back then to familiarise myself with the normal use of a cell-phone. Safaricom operated a sim-lock system. One needed a pin to unlock the sim each time the phone was switched on. Also when you inserted the sim into a different phone you needed to enter the sim-lock pin.


This all seemed unusual and cumbersome to me, having become accustomed to the operations in other countries where the sim card was not locked. It was annoying and irritating to keep having to enter this pin and I cursed whoever had put such an unfriendly system in place.

As with most things in life it was just a matter of getting used to it and in a short period of time that which was originally an irritation simply became a matter of fact. Imagine then my surprise and delight when I saw a recent article in the paper that has got me singing the praises of the wise people who created this clever sim-lock to protect us from all manner of crooks and evil-doers.

The article relates how people are becoming victims of fraud when their sim cards falls into dirty criminal hands. I will not spoil the story for you but I am sure that you will be as relieved as I am that we have such a lock system in place if you are with any of the major phone companies. I understand that sadly Orange is the exception.

Read the shocking story here

The pickpocket is back

I walked into the new pub just before seven, nearly twenty minutes before our appointment. I was meeting my friend, the retired police inspector, whose views on time keeping sometimes bordered on the extreme. I ordered a cold pint and sat down at a table facing the bar. I drew a long sip of the smooth beer giving thanks for the miracle of water, barley, hops and a bit of carbon. I wondered aloud, “How on earth did they make it taste so good?”

I looked around the room now as more punters strolled in giggling like eager school children with faces all lit up in anticipation of the first pint. Seated at the table to my right a young lady was flicking the pages of a magazine. As I sipped my pint a young man came up to the table. He leaned forward and said to her, “ We ready?” She smiled at him and nodded. He placed his canvas bag at the foot of the table and sat down opposite her, reaching for his glass of coke. By now more punters were streaming in, both men and women finding seats for themselves. The more excited ones preferred to stand at the bar. This was quite a small pub.

The lady at the table next to me now got up and gracefully eased her way up to the bar. It was becoming quite busy here now as friends met with colleagues, bought each other rounds and caught up with the latest news. The music was getting louder making it necessary for the punters to shout to one another. There was the usual good natured shoving to get the barman’s attention.

More people poured into the pub. One of the newcomers turned out to be my friend. And he was five minutes late. He came over and quickly ordered a round. Our drinks soon arrived as we were exchanging pleasantries. My friend said that he had been unsure about parking and had opted to drive home to South B and take a taxi back here. I agreed that this made sense, especially if we were going to make a night of it.

We chatted for a while and I asked my friend if there was fresh information about the statements that he had promised. “ There are a couple of police and witness statements, nothing much. You must remember this was over 30 years ago.” He said. “Come by the office on Monday and see for yourself.” I nodded gratefully taking another sip of the fine beer.

There seemed to be some kind of commotion brewing at the bar area. The punters were all talking in an agitated sort of way. Someone uttered a loud shriek and said “Wooiii I have been robbed. My wallet is gone! Help. Someone call the police!”

One by one the punters at the bar patted themselves and on discovering their loss joined in calling for help. Someone suggested that the doormen should lock all the doors and conduct body searches. Another called to his friends go with him to see if the culprits were hiding, perhaps in the toilets.

I asked my friend what to make of the unfolding drama. “Stay calm and carry on drinking. The police will soon be here and they’ll get to the bottom of the matter, though I doubt they will find any wallets in these premises.” He signaled to the waiter for more drinks.

I guessed that his comment was to indicate that the perpetrator(s) would have left the pub long before the first victim noticed the crime. I tried to think whether I had noticed any suspicious activity before the ex-policeman arrived. As far as I could recall the bar area punters had been having a jolly of a time. They were all office-suite types and all seemed familiar to one another. There was no way that they could have been robbed by one of their own, surely.

As if reading my mind, my pal asked, “Did you notice anything unusual, seated here facing the bar?” I shook my head slowly and said, “Well the crowd at the bar were a bit loud but it was all good natured – the Man’Ure Aresn hole, Chelski type of banter, nothing serious, you know?”

The doormen opened the doors now to let in the officers of the law. The senior policeman strode to the bar, introduced himself and explained that his officers would make searches and then take statements. The searches did not yield anything, just as my friend had suspected. It was decided that the bar would have to close immediately. The police asked for a copy of the cctv recording for the evening. The bar man now told the shocked gathering that the system had been out of order for the past 3 weeks . The management were aware of this.

The statements done, we were free to leave. The police concluded that the pub had been hit by professional pickpockets. There were several teams operating in the area. This would be the focus of their investigations. In plain english, just forget your wallets and money, go home and be more careful next time.

We were back at south B at my pal’s local. He said, “Pickpockets often sit watching the bar area to see which pocket the marks put their money in.” It is fairly easy then to finger the pockets without the mark paying the slightest notice. Do you remember anyone sitting facing the bar area?”

I suddenly remembered the pretty lady with the young lad. As I described her to him I could see a tiny smile beginning at the inspector’s lips. In his eyes there was a far-away look. He asked, “Did you notice, think carefully now, did you see a hint of a limp as she walked?”

“Yes I did inspector, do you know this woman? Is she the thief?” I asked, getting all excited. The inspector made a call on his cell. He spoke quietly for several minutes and then hang up. He looked at his phone thoughtfully

“Hmmm. The wallets and purses – valuables and cash missing of course – were found dumped in a rubbish bin outside the pub about an hour ago.” He said looking at me intently. “A woman and young boy matching the description you have just given me were seen hopping onto a number 63 bus around the time the thefts were discovered. Now last weekend there was a similar incident at a pub nearly half a mile away. The wallets were dumped in an alley in this case and an old man and young girl were spotted jumping onto a bus.”

“So is this someone that you know, a criminal from your past?” I asked.

“I’m not sure, chap, it is just a suspicion that I have because of the disguises. I think we are done here. I will tell you all about it over a nice bottle of Kavosia.” He said, smiling.

So here we were just before midnight stepping into the inspector’s house. The place was in total darkness. He flicked a switch but no light came so he cursed the “dark forces” under his breath.

“There’s a box of candles in the kitchen. I’ll just find them then we can see what we are doing. Have you got a light?”

I offered him my blue cigarette lighter which he struck several times without luck. “Pengine the gas is over, try this one,” I said slipping him the red one. He flicked this one too but it would not spark, the flint was dead. He used the flint from the first lighter to spark the gas in the second one setting a flame to the candle and then there was light. Together we cursed the lousy cheap imported lighters from the far-east.

Using the reliable candlelight we located some glasses and the large bottle of brandy. We retired to the sitting room where the inspector fished out a couple of Havana cigars from a secret panel above the fireplace. With drinks served and blasts lit my host settled into his favourite armchair. He cleared his throat and said “I suspect that the incident tonight was the work of a former adversary of mine. A very talented and extremely prolific crook who ran rings around the entire police force in the early 2000s. She specialised in pickpocketing and confidence tricks but she ran high class scams targeting the so-called great and the good. She was never caught red-handed. I personally arrested her twice but on each occasion her case was thrown out due to insufficient evidence.”

“Wow, did she have well-connected friends, then?” I wondered.

“It was difficult to say”, he answered. “Remember that most of her targets were well heeled public and private individuals. She scammed jewellery, fine arts and plots of land. She lived the jet set life-style with the best of them.

“I was coming up for my retirement in 60 days when she pulled an audacious plan to scam the police commissioner himself. It was almost as if she was daring us to try and catch her. The commissioner allowed his standards to slip. He’d been officiating at a prize giving day in a City primary school. As the event came to a close the commissioner was approached by a young man of Indian descent who asked if he could help his mother sell some gold bars.”

“The greedy commissioner took the bait. He made contact with the lady, who revealed that she needed money urgently to pay for her poorly husband’s treatment. It was all straight forward. She showed him the chest full of gold bars – their life savings, she said – The woman named her price but our hard-working commissioner managed to haggle forcing her to accept half the asking price. The woman insisted on carrying out the exchange in a busy public place.”

The plan was that the gold would be placed behind the telephone box at the end of Wabera street and the commissioner was to leave the money in a briefcase at the bottom of a bench on the other side of the street.” I was amongst many detectives drafted in that afternoon to ensure that the operation went smoothly. We believed this was a sting operation to capture a well-known smuggler.

“As the commissioner watched, a dozen young women, all dressed in the full niqab approached the bench. They gathered around it for a moment and then disappeared down the road taking the briefcase with them, niqabs flowing in the wind. Looking back at the phone box he noticed that the courier had delivered the gold. He ran back and grabbed the box, throwing the lid off. It was as he had feared. 24 cans of Redds on a tray and a note saying “Have a good weekend Mr commissioner. Xxx”

“That evening the commissioner was quietly admitted to the Mental Health Institute at Gigiri having suffered a complete nervous breakdown. To this day nobody knows the sum of money that he lost. Most believed that it was a huge amount. They said that they would not be surprised if the woman finally retired. And you know what, that was the last anyone heard of her.”

I refilled our glasses and settled back on the settee. I asked the inspector, “You haven’t mentioned her name all this time, what was her name? Or did she go by so many aliases that you just couldn’t keep up?” He replied, “There is no doubt she switched between multiple identities as she scammed her way around the country but the name that we hold on record is Ms Amina Wambui Suleiman.

If Amina Suleiman is back in the city we can expect some excitement over the next few weeks and months


Poor parenting and bad luck

There is a new notice on this keyboard that I am using that says : Warning – official business only.
I am working late in the office tonight – only the second time in the 12 years that I have worked here – because I spent most of the day at Kaloleni police station. I was invited there to try and identify some items taken in a burglary at our flat in early August.

As I put my feet on the desk and sip my coffee I take a moment to savour the peace and quiet of the office. Outside, traffic is easing in the streets below as people make their way home. Save for the light from the street lamps it is very dark in here. Our electric lights’ circuit has recently been put on some kind of a timer so that you cannot switch the lights on after 5.30pm. The water in the loos is also on some timer – no flushes after 4.30pm.

Our problems began when Head office brought in a new office manager, Julius Kata, to take over as our Gladys went on maternity leave. Since the beginning of August Mr Kata has lived up to his name. He has cut our lunch hour to 35 minutes and declared a ban on all overtime. Some of the senior staff members on better salaries were asked to take pay cuts or see their positions made redundant. Everywhere in the office Kata has pasted small notices with slogans like Cut waste. Waste costs Jobs. Increase Productivity. He is quickly becoming public enemy No.1 in this place but we are powerless to do anything.

I sip some more tea and try to recall the events of the last few weeks. It came as a bit of a coincidence that just at about the time Mr Kata started swinging his axe in our office our youngest son aged ten learned that their school was starting Taekwondo lessons. He asked us so many times if he could join and each time Mrs Woolie said no. My son bided his time and came to me when I was alone. He begged and pleaded so much that in the end I capitulated and said yes. I read the letter that he thrust at me. It contained details of the course and fees. I almost screamed. They were charging a fortune! Is this legal, I wondered.

The next mistake that I made was to swear the little boy to secrecy. Under no circumstances could we tell mummy that he was taking the taekwondo lessons. At least not for the moment. That was to be our secret. I’d then sneaked out of the house at about half-past-eight making my way to our local watering-hole. On arrival I whispered to Magdalen, the young barmaid and she went off to fetch the local financial advisor. Just as I sat down Magdalen returned with Mr money- bags. We waited until our drinks had arrived. I explained my predicament and the shark said that what I needed was a short term log-book loan. We agreed repayments terms and I discreetly passed over Mrs Woolie’s Log Book. He counted out the 23K(i had my own expenses to take care of) with a practised hand, all the while a small line of saliva hanging from his lower lip.

My third mistake had been to confide in the shark. I explained that it would harm my marriage if Her Majesty was to learn of my smooth cunning. I said the clever thing tonight would be to put the notes in an envelope wrapped carefully with the signed letter of authority, place this inside one of his books and put it all away in my boy’s school bag. The boy could then give it to the teacher.

Shark seemed genuinely impressed and called me sungura mjanja.I bought him a final drink and made my excuses – I said to him that I had a mission to take care of. He smiled and winked at me – and guess what? I winked right back.

I was woken in the morning by wailing from downstairs. The children should have been finishing their breakfast. Their school-bus was due in a few minutes. Instead they were crying and shouting and totally inconsolable. I could not make out what they were saying; it was as if they were speaking a foreign tongue. Their mother informed me that someone had broken into the house and stolen some items from the kitchen. They had not managed to get through the security door that led to the bedrooms. She was calling the police. As I looked in the kitchen it suddenly occurred to me that the children were crying because the raiders had also pinched their school bags………..

The recession took October, I think..

October is gone.

Most people that Woolie knows are feeling the effects of the recession in one way or another. Inflation is at an all time high and nobody seems to know what to do about it. The countless meetings between politicians and their staff have produced nothing but hot air and threats of worse to come. The situation is especially hard with the economy slowing down and unemployment rising.

Perhaps we can say that all this is down to the mismanagement of our affairs by the politicians and their advisers, perhaps an argument can be made that too many people chasing dwindling resources is bound to lead to price inflation and shortages and that we need to seriously think about this. Yesterday the birth of a beautiful baby girl in the Phillipines marked the arrival of the 7 billionth human on the planet.Our politicians must stop waging wars and think.

October came and went. Whilst Woolie always cautions against wishing our lives away– It is a good thing to see the back a month which saw a dramatic collapse of the Ksh, fears of disaster for the Euro and all of Europe, a horrible end to Muammar Gadaffi and the evil doings of al-shabaab leading to Kenya’s invasion of Somalia. We are living in interesting times and nobody really knows what tomorrow will bring.

I love November. My little sister was born on the 1st of the month which is also All Saints’ day. For the past month I have not been able to get into wetwool.com – and all I got when I typed the URL was a blank page. I will admit here that the first day I noticed this I was at work. I went outside and wept bitterly. I imagined that all posts, coments, photos etc were lost forever. I was lucky to find the solution to this problem today. Woolie was saved just outside the slaughter-house and so he lives to see another day. I wish you a happy November. Keep the faith and do not let the recession steal it from you.


Somebody asked me the other day if I recall when a beer cost less than ten bob


This one speaks for itself……

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……..

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.

A Friend In Need

testing times

When I showed this story to a good pal of mine the other day the response that I got was totally unexpected. Saima sent me an email and all but accused me of being unfair, short sighted and ignorant. She said that like a majority of the public I did not recognise how unfair the testing and examining regime is to very many people – why should the whole future of an otherwise talented young person be determined by a set of tests?

Read a little of what she said:

“…….Hi Woolie, trust that you’re well.

I must let you know how disappointed I was when I read your comments. The actions of this guy who sat the test on behalf of his prospective MP should commended. He behaved as a true friend. Clement Waibara ofcourse went on to beat the other fifteen candidates in a landslide victory. Clearly Waibara had leadership qualities which his opponents may not have shown.

Woolie, back in my day I impersonated a terrified young lady and took the driving test for her. Word got round and soon I realised that there was a demand for this sort of service. My list of prospects grew and with a bit of reluctance I introduced a modest fee. That did not stop them and I sat more tests. I grew greedier and increased the fees but still they came; I sat more and more tests for people and the cash kept rolling in. The deception now extended to different examinations and tests in all towns and cities across the country and my typical day back then would have me sit a couple of driving tests, a medical test, perhaps a pregnancy test or two and several drug/alcohol tests for anxious employers. My best earners were driving and accountancy candidates.

Woolie, the test system is the most unfair way of determining a candidate’s suitability. It is designed to bottle-neck applicants opening doors to the priviledged few and denying opportunities for the many. After making my fortune abusing this system I now spend my time campaigning for fairer ways of assesing candidates’ suitabilities…..”

Does she have a point?

Affiliate marketing, another way

With the ongoing credit crunch and rising prices it looks like the economy is set for really hard times ahead. Unemployment is rising as firms seek to cut costs and for those lucky to be in work there are only so many hours in the day and only so much overtime that one can do.

Perhaps this is the time to give some thought to using the internet to earn some extra cash. Many businesses now sell most of their products and services on-line, taking advantage of the low overhead costs, the fact that the internet is “open for business” 24 hours a day and the internet’s global reach, targetting millions of potential customers right across the world.

An increasingly popular way to generate money online is by becoming an affiliate. Affiliates are websites, forums or blogs that promote a merchant’s products to their readers or members drive potential customers to their website. Customers can be redirected by affiliates using banners and text links pointing to the merchant’s website. Any orders placed by the referred shoppers are tracked using sophisticated software and a share of the order value is paid as a commission to the affiliate.

Affiliate marketing is a useful tool for any business wishing to sell online and many large merchants set aside considerable budgets to build affiliate networks. Big household names like Tesco, Virgin, Amazon and British Airways all have well developed affiliate or associate partner programmes. Many of these are open for anyone to join

To find out more why not visit the following websites for more details on affiliate marketing.




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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