Home Articles The Scots Lad Episode #9: The Scots Lad: Getting in a Paddy - Page 4
Episode #9: The Scots Lad: Getting in a Paddy - Page 4
Written by Gerry Hodes   
Tuesday, 26 May 2015 01:47
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Episode #9: The Scots Lad: Getting in a Paddy
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Perfect comprehension ensued, until I asked if there were any questions. One young lad piped up saying ‘Sah, what is a door bell?’ Turned out that, in his particular domicile, there wasn’t a proper door, never mind the luxury of a communications medium. Sobering, that was, and helpful in my assimilation of the real culture we allegedly were there to serve.

So Alvar set a few of us on a route that started to return something to Zambia. Asked to assist a class of weightlifters, which had been my chosen activity as a youth, possibly accounting for my muscular midgetdom, I met a giant 21 year old, Oliver Tembo, married with three kids. He reminded me of Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’, or Idi Amin, but combined bulbous biceps with a sweet nature and fists like two giant hams. Discipline in the group was never a problem with Oliver around and, oftentimes, I was glad of it, since the training sessions took place within one of the townships and white faces weren’t always welcomed, especially after dark. And that danger doubled when chatting up one of the many attractive, westernised females hanging around the shebeens.

I did my inadequate best to help the boys but this didn’t extend much beyond scrounging some equipment for them and bullying my office colleagues into funding the group a little, including offering tiny ‘loans’ to members of the group, despite being cognisant of the certainty that they would never be repaid.

However, Oliver and I were to cross paths again and, this time, it decidedly was to my physical benefit.

Tobacco products are stored in bonded warehouses i.e. duty unpaid until sold, but stock sometimes lingers there beyond sell-by dates. In that instance, to avoid paying duty, it has to be destroyed and certified so. One fine day, I was tasked to consign a mountain of perfectly smokable cigarettes, across the popular brands, to the firebox of the government incinerator at the Public Works site.

Merrily going about that task, my helper and I looked up from shovelling fags into flames, to discover a burgeoning crowd of restless onlookers. Having an audience appear from nowhere for any particular activity is not unusual in Africa, where there is too much population and not enough employment or entertainment. I’ve found the same phenomenon throughout Asia too, probably for the same reason, although it may just be that the TV programming is rubbish, which it is, on both continents.

Whatever, one could innocently cut a corner, sharply at speed, late one night, on a quiet suburban street in East Lusaka, thus causing a hapless, dark clad, unlit, cyclist momentarily to appear, via the windscreen, as a front seat passenger, before exiting through a (closed) side window. Before you could say 'Open Sesame', there is assembled a gang of critics assessing liability and tut-tutting away about the copious flow of blood from the two-wheel owner and the resultant likelihood of his early death. (he lived, btw)

Or one could be copulating vigorously on a secluded Nkana golf tee, where, at the carnal commencement, the cry ‘fore’ echoed around a totally empty environment and, before the first ecstatic gasp had been emitted at the denouement, there were more scruffy voyeurs than the Windmill Theatre ever attracted, chattering encouragingly and giving points for style.

I have no explanation for these curious occurrences, but they certainly happened, or so I’m told (the missus reads this, possibly the Zambia Police too and I have no idea about the terms of statutes of limitations for driving transgressions, or pre-marital lubricity)

Anyway, back at the boiler room of the PWD: our audience, at the start simply curious, became aggressively restless, once they comprehended that tobacco, the preferred currency of both working and indigent classes, was being cremated.