Wednesday, 17 September 2014

EID AL ADHA OR TOBASKI 2013 PART TEN: A FEW PICASSO'S AND A FAMILY MEAL.




It’s the morning after the night before…
Dunno why I started like that because this is all chronological shit anyway, but I’ve always wanted to, so I did ?
It had been a bad night.
Everybody, kids included, had been short-tempered before we went to bed, and I can’t speak for them but I suspect we all had a restless sleep, I know Haddy and I did.
Shit !
You go through this stuff, and I’m quite sure I’m not the only one who’s been there, but there isn’t a recognisable guide to buy to get you through it.
Everybody just has to ‘wing it’ when the shit comes down, and it bloody well came down yesterday, I know that much…
So, breakfast is one tapa-lapa each with a small tin of sardines and it’ll do before we go.
Please God, just let us go out without any early morning visitations from anyone else, today…
And luckily it happened, and by nine we’re in a taxi off to Westfield and the bank.
Sailing through that while attempting to second guess how much we’re going to need for the rest of our break.
I think we’ve got enough, Haddy thinks it’s too much, but we can always leave any remainder with the kids when we depart.
I prefer to leave with about two thousand dalasi in my pocket because it means you can buy a snack at the airport and we’ll have enough to buy essentials when we come back again.
We’ve done it so often now, and it seems to work out.
So that’s sorted then, now we need another taxi to the supermarkets…
I have to admit that I’m not a great fan of The Gambian taxi system.
Oh yeah, it seems to work, but having to stop at designated places and change taxis because the taxi cannot cross an invisible line onto somebody else’s patch can be a serious pain in the arse when you have to go shopping.
And, of course, the line is between the bank and the supermarkets…
And then you find out that some of them can ?
It's all too confusing for me.
But we get there and start filling up again.
Thankfully we are able to replenish most of what we gave away last night.
There are a couple of things we’re short of, but nothing we can’t pick up locally at a pinch.
Right, let’s get home again and see what the day has in store for us today…

It was a lazy day.
My biggest problem is trying to get Haddy to commit to a time to get dinner ready for.
Hassa’ says about eight to half-past should do it, so that is what I’m going to aim for.
Awa and Housai’ will be back from work and changed by then.
Ok, let’s do it.
Haddy rang Yama to see how they were getting on, and apparently they’d already sold a pair of shoes for three hundred dalasi…
Well, it’s a start.
It’s ‘fish money’ but with the rice and vegetables we gave them it’ll get them back on track for a bit.
Haddy now has to decide what to do with her remaining box.
She’s sorted out a box full of ‘family sized assortments’ for Ousman, whose son will be picking them up at some time this afternoon after he’s emptied his truck.
It leaves her with one box, most of which is a cross between men’s clothing and kid’s stuff.
I say give the men’s stuff to the lads and Amadou.
The shirts and ties might help them at work, so why not ?
Obviously the children’s wear can be given out locally.
I’m still dubious about the ties, though…

Mariama and Jalika have found an old set of artist’s paints in a bag that has been stored in one of the shops since Baddou got them to clear their rooms.
It probably belonged to either Amadou or the twins at one point but it had barely looked used and so they’d decided to try them out.


Surprisingly the paints haven’t dried out and since it all seem useable, they’ve been painting odd designs all afternoon just trying them out.


It’s kept them occupied for a few hours and out of the way.


No fighting, no yelling, and no mention of last night for which we are all thankful.
So half way through the afternoon I start peeling the potatoes.
I’m going to boil them before roasting them because they crisp up better that way and I might as well do it properly.
The carrots I’ve decided to ‘Julienne’ which for those not used to cooking expressions are thin strips as opposed to dicing or slicing.
They look flash when served, so why not ?
The green beans just need their stringy bits removed but that’s easy enough.
And the meat needs roasting…
Which is probably going to be the hardest bit ?
Now it is probably fair to say that Gambian cooking compared to English, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Moroccan or any of the other things I try out on my poor long suffering family is something I tend to leave to one of the kids or Haddy.
This is because meat is done to death here as opposed to cooking it until it is tender.
There are reasons.
The heat does not lend itself to keeping meat fresh when you have no refrigerator is one thing.
The flies are another.
So cooking things well is a tried and trusted formula for not getting ill.
How I persuade them that this leg of lamb will be best served by keeping it a little moist inside is beginning to be today’s insurmountable problem...
And in the end I gave up.
It will be cooked by Hassanatou, who has taken all things into consideration but is still going to cook it her way.
Ok, I’ll shut up now and stick to the veg’.
Arguing with Hassa’ is a ‘no-win’ situation anyway.
Not for her, just for anybody else.
It’s a bit like Star Wars and that ‘May the force be with you’ quote.
You’d never have to do it with Hassa’ because the force is already there…
In spades !!!
And she sees no need to take any prisoners along the way.
I wonder where she gets that from ?
(Looks at Haddy, smiles, and shakes head…)
There’s a core of steel in this family.
It’s most noticeable in Haddy, Hassa’ and Mariama, but there isn’t a single one of them prepared to take any shit from anybody else.
Housai’, Awa and Amadou are just a little quieter and possibly a bit less direct about it, and as for Jalika, nobody is going to mess with the little one.
There have been far too many bloody noses, split lips and black eyes given those who had tried.
Talking of which, there are a couple of the local lads with huge ‘shiners’, one of which had been given him by Jalika a few days ago…
And she’d only hit him once.
I think we might have to think about karate classes at some point ?
Haddy is right.
Jalika can’t go through her life hitting people, she needs to ‘channel it’.
The twins had been when they were younger and it had given them a lot more confidence, it was now probably time to think about the youngest two ?
We’ll have a think about it, but in the meantime…
I have a meal to sort out.

The meat is cooked by eight and is now settling nicely.
It should be ready to carve at about half past eight when the vegetables have been cooked and I’ve made a gravy with the lamb juices after letting the fat cool.
It’s so much easier to do it that way and take the fat off in dried white lumps rather than doing it while it’s still in liquefied form.
It mixes better with the water and stock cubes too.

Well…
That went better than even I could have hoped ?
Hassanatou had done me proud on the meat.
I’d managed to do the potatoes to perfection.
A dab of melted olive spread mixed with parsley over the carrots.
And I’d nearly managed to remove all the stringy bits from the green beans.
The mint sauce (from a bottle) had added a touch of zing.
And all compliments will be gratefully accepted…
The general consensus of opinion was that it was pretty good.
Bearing in mind there hadn't been a chilli pepper in sight this was high praise indeed.
The potatoes had surprised them as proper roasted potatoes were not usual in The Gambia and the carrots with their parsley coating were judged ‘delicious’.
I can live with that.

All our visitors managed to come in while we were clearing our plates…
‘Neneh Kombo, why didn’t you tell us Uncle Chris was cooking ?’
Well, if we’d done that then we’d have had a compound full of visitors all stuffing themselves at our expense, wouldn’t we ?
Nobody actually said it, but the thought was there.
And when we had finished there was absolutely nothing left in the communal bowl whatsoever.
Even Princess had managed to get in on the act.
She’d stuffed a slice of meat, some chopped carrots and green beans covered in gravy, and was now meowing loudly looking for more.
Tough luck puss cat, it’s literally all gone.
Time to chill and sort out some softer sounds methinks ?
It’s going to be a hectic day tomorrow…

Saturday, 13 September 2014

EID AL ADHA OR TOBASKI 2013 PART NINE: 'ONCE IN A WHILE YOU GET SHOWN THE LIGHT IN THE STRANGEST OF PLACES IF YOU LOOK AT IT RIGHT...'




Time is getting on…
There aren’t that many days left before we’re going to have to leave again.
We’ve booked the last weekend for a day at Sanyang on the beach because most of the gang are free at the same time.
As it is currently, most of our time is spent at the compound with Haddy trying to get her bits sorted out, which, true to form is the usual two steps forward and one step back routine.
You get given a name and which office they are in, but they are usually out and it involves an awful lot of sitting around and waiting…
Still, she’s used to it.
I, on the other hand, am not.
Truth be told it drives me nuts, but we’re getting there slowly.
So there we were, just sitting in the compound one morning at around ten o’clock after breakfast and this little lad opened the gate and came in…
I looked at him, looked back toward Haddy and then turned and had another look…
Is it ?
It has to be because he’s a dead-ringer for his Father.
Samsidine ?
I spoke his name and there was the trace of a smile in his otherwise solemn look.
And I was out of my chair and shaking his hand before offering him my seat.
It turns out that he was back over the road living with his Grandparents.
My late friend Ebrima’s widow who was now working on a market stall, was going to settle down again with her current partner and so she had kept their daughter Amie with her and let Samsidine go to his Grandparents.
Apparently he’d been there for most of the Tobaski break but had not ventured over to see us, possibly, from what we were able to ascertain, through a bit of shyness at his new surroundings and family.
But he was here now, that was the main thing.
The last time we’d seen him he was a few months old sitting in his Mother’s lap, but now he was a big four year old.
Is it really that long ?
Time only seems to show its face through the ages of the children.
They get older and they grow.
Shit !
If I’d known he was over the road, I’d have gone over to meet him, but who knew ?
If our lot knew then they hadn’t let on but we’d find out later, what was important was that he was here now.
Haddy was the perfect hostess, putting him at his ease and when he left to go back after about an hour, I said I’d take him.
So we walked over the road, me holding his little hand until we got back to his compound…
‘Hey… Samsidine, you’ve brought Uncle Chris…’
And I got the handshakes and the hugs from Ebrima’s brothers and Mother.
So I sat and ate nuts, which it seemed everybody was shelling, for ten minutes while they all chatted away.
One thing I can say with certainty is that they were all glad to have him there.
Obviously it was going to be one more mouth to feed, but that didn’t matter.
What mattered most was that he was back with them.
His Father had died when he was a couple of months old and his extended family had been unhappy about his Mother taking him, but he’d returned.
Nobody knew if it was going to be forever, but at that moment it didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that he was back.
I asked his family to please tell Samsidine that he would always be welcome at our compound, as would his sister if she was visiting, and I got up to leave.
And it wasn’t only me holding the emotions in check, we were all doing it.
If I made it back over the road without breaking down in tears it was going to be a miracle…
At least I managed to get to the front gate before going inside and sitting by myself for a couple of minutes just to compose myself.
What is it with this place ?
Back in the UK nobody shows any real emotion at all.
It’s like it’s hidden under a veneer of respectability and composure, but here, in The Gambia, it’s on the surface and it doesn’t need much to bring it to a head.
I’m glad he’s back.
I don’t really know why, apart from the fact that he’s brought a bit of happiness to his own family.
I suspect it’s something to do with the fact that his Father was my friend and I know how much he wanted a son of his own, but I couldn’t really tell you ?
All I know is that there is something between us.
A bond of some description.
Whatever it is, it’s there.
And however much I may screw up in this life, I know I have to try to be there for him if I’m called upon to do so.
Ebou’, you old pirate… Wherever you are in the next world, no promises my friend, but I’ll do what I can.
And we didn’t take a single photograph to commemorate the occasion...



It’s early afternoon and Yama has turned up with baby Awa and N’Dey.
Everybody, me included, is sitting in the compound shelling nuts or making wonjor.


Wonjor is a drink, for them as haven’t a clue what I’m on about. 

Hassa' stirring the wonjor
It is made from the flower of the sorrel plant which you soak or boil and then add to a powder mix, you then mix it with sugar and water and let it settle.

Me, Tony and Hassa' straining the wonjor





Strain it through muslin, and then bottle it.


It turns out Hassanatou has a thriving small business selling it.
One small bottle for five dalasi and a bigger one for thirty.
All she uses are empty water bottles which she religiously washes out every morning.
The most popular are those that have been in our freezer for a while, as the colder it is, the more refreshing it is.
It tastes like a thicker and sweeter blackcurrant cordial when added to water and a couple of bottles downed in the heat will certainly re-charge the batteries somewhat. 

As for the nuts, you can’t step anywhere without crunching another couple of shells underfoot.
They are literally everywhere.


At some point in the proceedings Haddy and I are going to have to hit the supermarkets at Westfield as I won’t be able to obtain the things I need locally, so mid-way through the afternoon we shoot off to do some shopping.
Basically I need English food.
Not because I’m pining for it, but because I still have that leg of lamb in the freezer and I now know what I’m going to do with it.
It was a toss-up between English or Indian and because the Indian recipe needs a forty eight hour marinade, I have decided against it.
So, English it is.
The Uncle Chris meal for this year’s trip is going to be roast lamb, roast potatoes and as much English type vegetables as I can get from the supermarkets, along with mint sauce.
Classically English, instead of my usual foreign stuff and tomorrow is going to be the day.
I’m a bit worried about having to cook the whole lot over charcoal, but the family are pretty good on the guesswork as to how hot and how long and so we’re going to give it a go…
Brilliant !!!
I’ve got some green beans and carrots for the veg’.
The green beans were seriously ‘premium price’ but what the hell ?
Of course I also stocked up on the usual things like cat food for Princess, tinned tomatoes, tinned spinach, a few cans of milk and sardines because the supermarkets are cheaper than locally, spaghetti, cheese, chicken frankfurters, Julbrew, Guinness, Fanta, Vimto and ginger beer…
You know… All the essentials…
And now we’re damn near out of money again.
I’m not surprised because the actual cost of living has really gone up over here.
It’s frightening, looking at the prices and thinking back to what we used to pay ?
One day we’ll actually guage the right amount to get from the bank.
Obviously we didn’t withdraw enough this time, and so one of us will have to go back tomorrow as the trip to Sanyang is on the horizon and we’ll need a bit for our contribution towards that.

Did I say that the cost of living has gone up ?
I did, didn’t I ?
What I hadn’t expected was what came next.
Because we can only get over once or possibly twice a year, there is a lot that we never hear about.
There are a lot more grumblings from the general population as to what is going on, and probably rightfully so.
The general consensus of opinion is that their government has, to put it mildly, lost the plot and people are beginning to complain because it is impacting upon them.
How much is it impacting upon them ?
Well, there is no work because there is no investment in the country for a start, and this is beginning to hit some of the people that we know.
I found that out when Yama came out of the house in floods of tears followed by a very grim looking Haddy, and so obviously I asked her what was going on ?
It turns out that the job she had given Baddou was their ‘lifesaver’ as they were about to be evicted from their compound for non-payment of rent.
So the money that Baddou had made from the job had literally gone on paying the rent up to date.
The fact that they and the children hadn’t eaten in four days was another problem…
Which is obviously why they let their Haddy go to a friend’s for Tobaski.
If the kids can be ‘shared out’ then they can survive another day.
And it’s not like Baddou is lazy, he’s not, and he’s a bloody good carpenter to boot.
Christ !!!
It’s no wonder that some of them see Europe as the bloody promised land.
I haven’t had a raise for four years because of the banking bastards so I know a little bit about the causes, but the effects ?
The effects in Europe are bad, the effects in the UK are bad, but the effects of the banking crash in Africa is just fucking obscene…
It doesn’t help cursing the bankers and their fucking ancestors but it makes me feel a bit better so you’re gonna have to live with it, and if it upsets you then it’s just tough shit !!!
Those banking bastards who caused all this should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives, their goods and houses should be taken from them and sold, and any money made from the sale should be given to those who now need it most, and that’s a fact.
Of course it will never happen, but the thought is there.
At least the US is attempting to put some of them behind bars, but back in the UK we just give them knighthoods… He said, sarcastically…

‘Ok, so what are we gonna do ?’
‘I don’t know…’
‘How about if we give them a box of stuff for Fagikunda, that’ll get them some money as they’ll be able to sell what’s in it… Plus, there’s the stuff we just bought from the supermarket, they can have some of that plus a few of our reserves ?’
‘Are you sure ?’
‘Yeah, I’m sure… I’ve got two hundred dalasi left in my pocket so they can have that as well… We’ve got to go back to the bank tomorrow, anyway…’
'Thank you... I love you...'
'Come on darlin', what did I do ?'

And that was pretty much the extent of the conversation between us.

I mean, what the fuck can you do ?
We can’t keep the population fed.
It's as much as we can do sometimes to keep the children fed.
We’re just two people who happened to be in the right place at the right time to sort out a problem within our family, but we can’t do it forever.
And what if it happens again, what are we supposed to do then ?
Most people on this planet have a little bit of pride within themselves and find it difficult to even ask for help.
It’s difficult.
I’ve been there, done it and bought the bloody t-shirt on that one, so I know a little bit about what I’m talking about.
It’s hard to ask for help.
It shouldn’t be, but it is because it implies a weakness, and people do not want to be thought of as weak.
And most people can understand that.
But the alternative ?
What’s the alternative ?
Shame ?
Do me a favour…
If you can help then help, and if you can’t then get the fuck out of the way and let somebody else help instead.
But it’s easier said than done, isn’t it ?
Easy answers are not an option because a quick fix is like sticking a plaster on a cut artery.
It’ll slow the flow for about five minutes but then what are you gonna do ?
It doesn’t bear thinking about.

And so Yama rang Baddou who came over by taxi which we paid for, and he was basically pretty choked up.
We’ve asked the taxi driver to call back in about an hour for their return trip and in the meantime I’m going through the family reserve as far as food is concerned, and Haddy is going through her three remaining boxes to sort out some stuff for Yama and some stuff for Ousman in Killy. 
They’ve got half our vegetables including the potatoes, all the spaghetti, all the canned stuff we can spare, the frozen chicken frankfurters’, salt, pepper, rice, basically anything we thought would help them get through it ?
At least some of that will give them a form of stew tonight.
It’s not a perfect arrangement but it’s the only one we’ve got.
Plus, they’ve got whatever money we had in our pockets.
Yama is in tears when they leave and Baddou wasn’t too far behind her.
He grasped my hand and mumbled something about me being a good man and I just hugged him tighter…
‘We do what we can, mate…  We just do what we can…’
Poor old N’Dey is going through it.
The look on her face says it all.
No wonder she never looked happy any time we saw her, the poor thing was starving.
And having to eat on a permanently empty stomach couldn’t have done her a lot of good.
And then, just like that they were back in the taxi with a box of foodstuff and a box of clothing, and gone.
Haddy will ring them tomorrow morning to make sure they’re alright.

It had been a strange day.
I was emotionally fucked and I think that’s the right way of expressing it ?
First you’re up and then you’re down and there’s no happy medium and the rest of the family look wrung out, too.
It can’t have been easy for any of them, especially Mariama and Jalika.
It’s the sort of thing that scars kids, and if they keep it bottled up it will colour their ideas and ideals for years.
They KNOW the children involved.
And at their age the ‘What if it was me’ worry comes in like a battering ram.
Looking back, you think to yourself could you have done anything else, but you know the answer before you’ve even asked the question ?
No.
You couldn’t.
I don’t even know whether we did the right thing by doing what we did ?
I do know that given the circumstances if it happened again then I’d probably do the self-same thing.
Whatever ?
Everybody has to make up their own minds on this one.
I know that I personally don’t feel that good about it.
I feel angry.
But that’s a ‘blame’ thing.
And I blame those that let this sort of thing happen and then walk away from it.
Face it.
Everybody knows what I’m talking about here…
‘Cause it sure as shit ain’t rocket science, is it ?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

EID AL ADHA OR TOBASKI 2013 PART EIGHT: DRESSING UP, EATING OUT, ADVERTISMENTS AND KARAOKE...




And slowly we returned to something like normality…
The twins had finally got their Tobaski outfits, which made the pair of them look absolutely stunning.




Housai’ had received an invite to a works do at one of the top hotels and had decided that she’d take her sister along…
What to wear, that was the question ?
And Little ‘Tapha was finally going to start school again.
I don’t know how it had started, but Haddy and ‘Tapha Kebbeh along with a couple of others had said they would pool resources if the local Islamic School would take him ?
Between them they would pay for uniforms, books and the rest.
This was fine by the school so long as he was of a reasonable standard and he behaved himself.
Well as far as I’m concerned he’s of a reasonable standard but who knows what a school is looking for these days ?
Whatever it is, he managed to pass the test and so from next term he’s going.
That is a weight off everybody’s mind, mine included.

It's school uniform next 'Tapha...
He’s a very bright lad, and ok, he would have to start in the younger year but his natural intelligence should get him back to his own peer group within eighteen months at the most at a good guess ?
He seems pleased about the idea anyway, so I think they’ve done the right thing by getting him in.
And Haddy and I are now off to Banjul to see Uncle Pa.

When we go we always see him at his office and today would be no exception.
So off we went, up to the main road, and caught the first mini-bus that could fit us in.
It’s such a small world sometimes because we sat next to my drummer friend Hadim’s sister and her little girl, who for some reason took in instant shine to me and started playing…
Most of the little ones are ok with me once they realise a. I’m a different colour, and b. Whatever hair I have left is real, but this one decided that sitting on my lap and poking me in the eye was infinitely more preferable than doing it to her Mum who just let her get on with it, while she and Haddy caught up on the usual women’s stuff.
We parted at Banjul.
They were going shopping, but I reckon we’ll see them later when we hit the market…

Pa has invited us out.
He’ll be round for us this evening.
Apparently we are going for a meal and then we’re off to a Karaoke bar ?
Hmmm….
Gambian karaoke eh ?
That’ll be different.
So we left Pa at work and hit the market…
Baddou’s in, but Hadim isn’t as yet but he’s expected.
Guess who else we bumped into ?
What do you reckon.
Could I get a job as an unregistered child-minder (that’s baby-sitter to you…) ?

Babysitting in Banjul craft market
Apparently so long as she has her (empty) cigarette lighter to suck, she’s fine.
Before anyone thinks that is irresponsible, she’s had it for a couple of months now, and apart from sleeping, won’t go anywhere without it.
I didn’t do too badly, as she only cried when she dropped it…
The word seems to have travelled as now Hadim, Makumba and Doudou have arrived and as usual the talk turns to the band.
They are still stuck for the money to record the second album.
If there was only some way of helping them then I would, but this trip is going to put us back to zero in the bank balance department.
Still, they are getting a few gigs at some of the hotels and that’s good.
Ok, it’s a fixed rate, and they have always refused so far to ‘pass the bucket’ but at least they have been selling a few cd’s to the tourists.
It’s better than nothing and it keeps them in a ‘ready’ condition.
It’s soul destroying knowing that there’s this seriously good band of musicians who just want to play their music for people and who are totally stuck because of money and poli-t(r)icks.
But they are still going, still taking it to as many places that they can within their own country and still looking to bring Gambian music to as many people that will listen.
And it IS Gambian music, make no mistake about that.
It’s NOT Senegalese.
It’s NOT Malian.
It’s not a mixture of this, that and the other.
Put purely and simply, it’s Gambian, and it deserves a far greater exposure than it gets.
Ok, this is an advertisement but what the fuck do I care ?
IF THERE IS A BRITISH, EUROPEAN OR AMERICAN AGENT LOOKING FOR A SERIOUSLY GOOD ‘WORLD MUSIC’ BAND then please get in touch with this guy here, via his web-page…


 http://makumba-nyass.jimdo.com/makumba-nyass/ or you can contact me via this'ere blog and I'll put you in touch.
Or if you are just a casual reader then please buy a copy of their first album 'Duniyaa' because that would help them get some money for their second one.
Front sleeve

















Rear sleeve




















In the meantime we’ll do what we can via advertising and putting the word out.
Sad to leave them as always, but we have to go home and get ready for going out.
This is going to be interesting…

When we get back we find that cousin Tony has arrived from Senegal on a buying trip.





There’s going to be even less room in the house now as he’ll be sleeping on the sofa.
Oh well, whatever ?










But at least the twins have decided on what to wear tonight when they go out.
They’ve decided on European dress and have picked the two dresses that started the whole ‘send it to The Gambia’ scenario.

To be fair to them they look great when wearing them...

Pa arrives at the time he said he would, which is unusual to say the least.
Not that Pa is usually late, but this is The Gambia and everybody is usually late !!!
Apparently we are heading for Kololi, and a restaurant opposite the Palma Rima Hotel which is Pa’s usual eating place when he takes people out.
There’s a simple reason for this…
The food is good
So as soon as he walks in, he’s greeted by all the waiters, the chef, the assistant manager (because the manager is having an evening off) the bar staff and pretty much fifty per-cent of the other patrons.
Yep.  He’s definitely a regular…
After asking the chef what he recommends this evening,  Haddy and I forsake meat and go for the prawns in garlic sauce, and while we eat Pa regales us with tales from his recent trip to Rome and The Vatican with his church group.

Prawns in garlic sauce




It definitely passes the time because Pa is a practicing Christian and he’s also a witty raconteur and the couple of hours we spend there while he plies me with ever more Julbrew before, during and after the meal, seems to fly by.
Pa drinks beer but he prefers the continental lagers.
I’ve always reckoned that when you’re in another country then drink the local stuff rather than the premium priced imports.
Right, meal over, stagger to the car knowing that I really shouldn’t have any more Julbrew, and head off to the karaoke bar…
Haddy’s fine because she just stuck to tonic water.
Sensible girl, my wife.

We get to the karaoke bar which isn’t that far away and is called Churchill’s.
It’s run by an English guy name of Tony who has a propensity for belting out old Cliff Richard tunes, specifically The Young Ones…

Tony giving it some welly...
More Julbrew arrives.
This is getting silly because I’ve asked Pa not to get me another, so finally I’ve put my foot down.
Last one, and I’m not joking.
It was entertaining, I’ll give it that.
Most of the tourists are too pissed and can’t sing for shit, but they are happy to get up and make total twats of themselves.
One girl who decided to ‘do’ or should that be ‘do over’ Meatloaf’s ‘Dead Ringer for Love’ nearly made me laugh out loud…
The Gambians who have a go seem to be mostly female and on the lookout for men.
At one point Tony came over and greeted Pa whom he obviously knows, and asked us what we did ?
I just told him I book acts for a rock festival back in the UK.
It’s not all I do, but it’s good enough when I’m in a karaoke bar.
He asked me what I thought and I actually said ‘You want me to be honest, I’ve got three little girls who can sing better than most of this lot…’
To be fair to him, he laughed and said I should bring them along.
I don’t think so.
Whilst I realise that they are going to have to start somewhere, I don’t think Churchill’s is the best place for them.
To be fair to Tony after I’d written off the talents of his customers, he got one of his staff to bring us another drink ‘on the house’.


Oh Gawd !
Another Julbrew.
I’m gonna be pissing rivers when we get home.

Time to go, and Pa is taking us to another bar.
This one apparently has ‘live’ music.
Well, it has a band belting out chart hits from about a year ago, I’ll give it that.
The band isn’t too bad if you like formulaic versions of chart toppers.
Looking around me it is obvious that this place and Churchill’s are on a ‘circuit’.
You go to one and then move on to the other.
I wonder how many others are on it ?
Some of those people we saw at Churchill’s are now turning up here, including the woman who murdered Meatloaf…
The problem seems to be that she’s had at least one too many alcoholic beverages and is now grabbing hold of anything, tables, chairs, men, women, pillars… Whatever she can get hold of, to stay on her feet.
It is definitely not a pretty sight.
The Brit’s at play…
Wherever you go in this world, you can’t escape them.
But all good things have to end sometime, and it’s finally time to leave.
Pa takes us back to Fagikunda through minimal traffic at that time of night, and I fall into bed.
According to my wife she went to the bathroom and came back to find me fast asleep.
Well if she’d drunk eight Julbrew, she’d probably be absolutely ‘sparko’ too ?