Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

Well, that goes on record as the weirdest Christmas of my life. Was going to spend it by the pool with friends, but it was a grey, cold day, rained most of it, so stayed tucked up at home. Spoke to no one, saw no one. Oddly quite enjoyed myself. Ate gingerbread and chocolate sent from home, drank a beer and had a Game of Thrones marathon.

I gave my housekeeper leave for a week so that he could spend it with his family who live out of town (wife and baby boy named The Best - which seems a little risky. What if he's the worst at something?).

Anyway. That night I was violently sick. 3:20 in the morning, head down the toilet. Blessedly I had running water the entire night. It's no fun at all throwing up into a toilet you can't flush. Scratch: it's no fun at all throwing up.

Fine the next two nights.

Christiane and her husband Bhaj came to stay. They were in town buying a car. Went out for a lovely Chinese meal.

3:20 (on the dot, again) head down the toilet.

Thankfully I'd digested that lovely meal so it wasn't a waste of money. Yet my body still felt there was something to be ejected. Judging from a Google search of 'the colour of vomit,' mostly just bile.

The only two things I can link to having eaten on those days were chocolate from home and a little alcohol. I wasn't drunk or anything. Now I'm terrified of touching chocolate or alcohol - at Christmas!

Cruel, Fate. Very cruel.

It's New Year tonight and I had promised to go out with friends but I have cancelled. Cold sweats and fairly sure I'm likely to have another rough night. I have a really vague recollection of something like this years before. A bug of some sort where you generally feel absolutely fine, then randomly chuck up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Passes after a week or two. Nothing serious.

So, it's just me and the internet for New Year. 

Hardly left the house in a week. Spent the past three days wearing the same clothes. Water came on last night and filled up the butts, so gave myself a proper scrub down earlier and used some nice smelling stuff... which isn't helping with that queasy sensation.

I don't think I have ever spent the festive season so sober or so alone.

You may not believe me, but - apart from the vomiting - it's been blissful. I've always secretly wondered what it would be like to be alone on Christmas. I guess you're suppose to do it once in your life, just for the experience. And I think the experience would be very different if it wasn't through choice. But it was interesting. None of the food and drink overdose of normal Christmases, no family, no comedy repeats on TV, no preparations and present opening. With Damascene away I was free to wander round in my underwear, scratch my arse and slob in the sunshine.

How much of a special day is special because of the day itself, and how much just because we say it should be so? Apparently it's all because we say so. Christmas doesn't happen in Rwanda. We've got one lame tree on the roundabout in town, sponsored by Coca-Cola and tackily decorated with cola bottles. No carols, no real decorations to speak of, nothing you'd recognise as Christmas or even New Year celebrations, even in comparison to Kampala or Freetown. Rwanda is just not a particularly celebratory sort of place. 

So that, minus an overabundance of food, minus trash TV = any other day of the year.

"Do they know it's Christmastime?" - Well, yes, but nobody's all that fussed to be honest.

I'm glad I got to experience that. Like I'm glad to have experience Pii Mai in Laos earlier this year. Laos' New Year is basically a giant water fight in the streets, yet in every other part of the world it means absolutely nothing. 

Definitely the strangest and most solitary Christmas/New Year of my life. I certainly haven't minded it, but I don't think I'll do it again - health allowing. This time next year I think I'd like to be in a position to fly home and do the traditional knees-up. Though I currently shiver when it's below 17c. I'd probably die of hypothermia in the UK.

Still, better festively freezing than bored. We have a limited number of truly festive days in our lives, seems a shame to waste them.

I've been working on a presentation to do with Disability and Human Rights which I need to deliver on Friday. Went for a Country Director position with a Human Rights organisation. A title that's good for the CV, and an area I'm interested in, but their projects only run a few weeks of the year and it comes with a lot of logistical stuff I don't feel particularly qualified for or enthusiastic about. Won't decide for sure until I've done my presentation and had a proper look at what's involved.

Went out with a friend the other day who is a big reader. She'd been reading some of my stuff and was extremely complimentary. Not because she's a friend, but because she felt I had talent. She told me that if writing is what I really want to do, I should pursue it. Which I am. In lieu of going out tonight, I'm chipping away at my next novel. Almost 3,000 words down already. I can't help feeling that if I'm still writing at midnight the Muse might bless me for the rest of the year.

The more I think about it, the more I know I need to set myself up in such a way that I can work and write, or work to write. 

I'm not sure how yet, but hopefully I'll figure it out as the year progresses. I listen to friends working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I hear about how bored they get being confined to their compounds and put on 'lockdown', and all I can think is - you get locked in a room on your own with a computer for hours on end?

Maybe that's the kind of job I need to improve my concentration?

Just thinking out loud.

I'm throwing the dice on a few applications, local and international, and I'll see what crops up. 

For now, farewell 2014. It's been a mad, mad year: Belgium, Laos, Kenya, Rwanda... I certainly got to do a lot of travelling. I have absolutely no idea what to expect from 2015, because there isn't really much I want. Time to micromanage the little things and let the bigger things take care of themselves. 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Festive Cheer

Well, it's been a while since my last update. I just haven't really known what to say, it feels as though Hollywood walked in and rewrote the script for Christmas in the genre of WTF.

I'm usually (overly) honest on this blog, it's a form of therapy, so I might as well take a deep breath and begin at the beginning.

A couple of weeks back a lovely friend who I knew from VSO six years ago was in country. She works for a major international aid organisation in Pakistan. We went out, got well sozzled, and caught up on the whole six years. It was so good to see her again.

On her last night here we went to Heaven, a lovely restaurant with a gorgeous art gallery attached.

If I had $2,000 this one would be mine.

Part way through, D joined us, and we stayed talking about world politics until we were the last ones there.

She liked D: "You two can talk about anything," she said, giving him the nod of approval. And, yes, it felt like we could. Took me back to times gone by when we'd sit on my porch talking all night.

One of the things we were discussing was the recent report issued about American human right abuses (let's be blunt - torture) committed in Pakistan. My friend was worried about going back because she foresaw reprisals. 

She couldn't have been more right. Days after returning, the Peshawar school massacre occurred, with militants killing 149 civilians, most of them children, in an area she works in. 

An unimaginable end to the year.

I feel bad continuing with my own story after that, but I will.

A couple of days later I went to visit D at his place. I thought my house was nice - he lives in a palace. His former girlfriend's parents helped buy them a house. That relationship ended, he's now buying them out with the money he earns from renting the rooms, mostly to ex-pats. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the place, it's huge, with a lovely garden. I was impressed. Landed on his feet.

He also showed me a back issue of a magazine he'd started. Also impressive. It covered the music scene and night life in Kigali, sponsored by some big name bars and hotels. Apparently it did well, and I'd given him the idea for it! 

I asked him why he'd stopped producing it and he explained that, shortly before his relationship broke up he was planning to study abroad, so he wrapped everything up, then things fell through.

He also placed a thickly bound document before me, and I was more than a little surprised to see that it was a script we'd started writing years ago. He wanted to make a short film, and we sat up one night, teaching him how to format it. Since then he'd continued writing, turning it into a feature-length piece. I was astonished.

Let's have a pineapple picture break. I live for pineapples at the moment.

After relaxing at his place for a bit, there followed a mad night out with friends. My landlord is one of my best friends, and I value his opinion. As far as D is concerned, I've never been able to trust my own.

We headed to Sundowner. The first hint should have been when one of my friends stopped me in the street outside to say 'hi'. D just kept walking, didn't even shake hands, which is odd here. You greet everybody. Inside, things got worse. Gone was the talkative guy from Heaven, replaced by complete silence. I excused it as shyness, but it bordered on rude. 

After we'd eaten, my friends and I went on to Papyrus, but D decided to head home. The past few days had been a bit of a dream, I remembered everything I'd loved about him before. Suddenly, the bad stuff came flooding back. As much as we can talk 'til dawn, there's also a communication gap I was never entirely able to bridge. 

I decided to be brutally honest with both of us, and explained in no uncertain terms what my interests were. There is an incredible electricity when I'm near him that shortwires my brain.

"Fine, well if that's what you want," he said, sounding almost hurt, "I could just take you back to mine right now."

Yes! My mind screamed. That's absolutely what I want, what a nice idea! 

"But not right now," I said. "I need to go party."

My friends had gone ahead and I didn't feel right about ditching them when I'd said I'd catch them up. 

"But hold that thought."

With a little wave I trotted off to find my friends and proceeded to have a fabulous night. 

Puzzled, though. What's his hang-up? However badly we didn't work in other ways, the bedroom was always fantastic. If he didn't want that, what was he after? 

Then the whole bedbug thing happened. 

This is a bedbug, in case you've never seen one.
And, yes, they do bite!

A plague upon my house for the naughty thoughts I'd been having. So I moved in with my friend across town for a few nights.

When I returned, the grasshoppers were out in force again. Hundreds off them in the garden. I switched off the lights to watch a movie and just kept hearing this dull thud as they hopped up and down on a cardboard box in the corner. They're such funny little things, get everywhere. Sadly, all dead by morning.

A pretty standard story so far, right? Dull, I'm sure. 

Then came Christmas Eve. 

Got into bed and opened my book.
Look what the first words of the sentence were! Spooky.

What a day.

First, D sends me a text saying he'd like to come over and watch movies with me. I hadn't heard from him for several days, so you can imagine I was pretty happy about the idea. I had no plans, so said I'd call him when I got back from town and figure out a time.

In town, I meet up with a friend who had just returned from Kampala. He'd been robbed whilst he was there, thankfully got his iPad back but they made off with $150! It was the cleaner at the hotel.

That was just the beginning of the story. Turns out someone I considered to be a friend (stayed with me a while back) had just been arrested for attempted murder. In a fit of jealousy, after his lover said he was leaving, he hired hitmen to kill the guy and went with them to watch!

I was speechless. I knew this guy, and I just couldn't reconcile the two images. I think you can tell a lot about someone when they're drunk, and when this guy was drunk all he wanted to do was kiss everybody and hug everybody. I never saw a hint of violence about him.

My friend, whose judgement on character tends to be better than my own, felt that although the guy wasn't exactly violent, neither did he think through the consequences of his actions. That perhaps it was all a bit of a game to him and he didn't realise how serious it was. Still, it's one thing to hire hitmen to kill someone from a distance, but to go with them and watch

I wouldn't have believed it only he had admitted it to his best friend, and he would never have lied to her. 

What was slightly more difficult to believe was that he'd since bought his way out of jail (apparently you can do that in Uganda) and was lying low until it was safe to return to Kampala. The guy they'd attacked hadn't died, but it didn't sound like he was even going to stand trial for it.

Too strange for words.

So, knowing my complete lack of judgement on all things obvious to others, it'll come as no surprise to you that I spent Christmas Eve being stood up. D has a hundred different phones (something my friend rightly says is dodgy) and they were either off or left to ring. No text, no call... nadda. And what pisses me off more is that I had the offer of spending the evening with friends instead. I blew them off to sit by myself like a total lemon, thinking 'I'll just give it another half-hour...' 

And they'd warned me. All of my friends, new and old, those who knew him from before and those who had recently met him, kept telling me he was a waste of space, but would I listen? 

(Cathryn, if you're reading this, I am truly sorry. You were right and I was a monster.)

To top it all off, the power went out.

Sitting there in the dark (except for one Christmas-scented candle), feeling like a total dick for blowing off my friends.

Live and learn.

Woke up this morning to open presents from home.

My family know me so well.

That last top is totally sassy. An off-the-shoulder piece with a low neckline and ribbons! Definitely wearing that for New Year. 

D? D, who? I'm placing my love life squarely in the hands of my buddies from now on. As I've been such a disaster left to my own devices, I can't see this approach could be much worse. Plus, there's still someone I've placed a question mark over. I was intending to answer that question when D bumped into me in the street. Should just have kept on walking.

However, it's also raised some other questions in my mind. Talking to my friend working in Pakistan got me thinking. I've never been particularly career-driven, falling into things by accident rather than design. She sparked my curiosity, and I think in the New Year I might start spreading my net a bit wider. This time next year, I either want business to be booming, or I need a job that provides a decent R&R cycle. I'm very happy here, but perhaps I could be happy anywhere. I'd just like to do the traditional Christmas next year. Get enough money to go back to the UK now and then. Travel a bit more... I dunno. If seeing D again has taught me anything, it's that I fall too quickly into old patterns. Maybe I should aim to get away from all of this and go do something completely different? After all, I was only intending to pass through Kigali. Now look at me: identity card, long-term visa, rent, VAT, post box... I guess I'm proud of all of that, but it is a little scary.

We shall see. I'm in no hurry. Got an interesting interview tomorrow in the Human Rights field, which is something I'd quite like to break into. Shan't hold my breath, but new year, new prospects.

Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and a roaring New Year! x

Monday, 15 December 2014

Drive On

Oh my goodness. I don't think I've ever been so tired in my life! 

So, I ask Damascene to clean right under the beds because they're starting to gather dust there. I come home to find my mattress outside in the yard.

For the past month or so I have been noticing little beetles on the bedding. They look like weevils and I didn't think much of it. Just - oh, hello little beetles.

Turns out they're not harmless little beetles after all. They're blood-sucking, vampiric bedbugs. 

Roll on fumigation of entire house.

Mixture of boiling water and a white powder that lists confusion and convulsions as side effects - 'no known antidote'. Good stuff!

My landlord came over to help spray, but the spray pump didn't work properly so he ended up putting it in a watering can and basically drowning everything.

No way I could stay in the house until it was safe again, so packed up all my belongings and moved onto his couch in Nyamirambo, right the other side of town. I was only going for two days, but I'm terrible at packing light.

Just discovered the joys of Whatsapp (and how annoying it can be) and used it to text a photo of my flight to my dad back in the UK. I'm getting very good at all of the following on a moto:

  • Going over speed bumps at high speed - no hands
  • Texting
  • Taking photos
  • Checking to see if I've remembered my keys
  • Giving myself a shoulder massage
  • Carrying three large bags of groceries and a double duvet spread

Seriously, I'm talented.

My friend was so lovely. He offered to move out of his apartment but I said the couch would be fine.

That night we went to Sundowner to get royally squiffy with his friend L (who's a bit of a celebrity here - a model - gets stopped in the street a lot) and D, who abandoned us when we left for Papyrus. Turns out he's still as quiet as ever, and my friends and I are a bit of a mad bunch when we get going.

We had a late one. Got back at about four, which was what I needed in order to fall asleep on the couch. But the next day I was totally knackered. Went over to Jo's and fell asleep on her floor for two hours whilst she and Zuba watched movies. Not before we sat in her beautiful garden with our feet in the paddling pool. They've just cut down some trees at the bottom of the garden and she now has an incredible panoramic view of Kigali.

(panoramic - click to enlarge)


Fun with paddling pools.

And ice-cream.

Apparently it's Christmas

Survived the couch again and spent yesterday down Alpha Palace swimming with Isaac.

Couldn't resist Facebooking this to Brad, an American guy
who was here before - his catchphrase was 'douchebag'.

Whilst we were swimming, L was training models for his company in the gym next door. We went to watch for a while. It was quite fascinating. Lot of very pretty people. Lots of walking up and down whilst pouting.

After, we went to this excellent little place called Tally in Kabeza. They sell the best burgers and mango smoothie I have ever had. Way better that Bourbon or the big hotels, and much cheaper. Toilets were the only let down, but the service, speed of food and quality were incredible. Really worth a visit.

Then we tackled the bus home. Since I left five years ago, all the little buses have been replaced with swanky big buses. Sadly, they are so dangerous. It really annoys me because Kagame has been pushing this road safety initiative to try to reduce road deaths, but the buses are purely profit-before-human-safety. They pack as many people on as possible, to the point where it is horrifically uncomfortable and totally accident prone. There is hardly room to breathe. Then we sat on this bus for almost an hour whilst they tried to pack more and more people on.

The bus only left when the passengers started to riot. They were banging the poles and shouting loudly because they had been crammed in like sardines and were going nowhere. It was the worst public transport experience of my life. Although the old buses were uncomfortable, at least there was no standing room, so everyone had a seat.

We were thrown forward three times as the bus came within a hair's breadth of running into vehicles in front, then thrown into the air as the driver forgot about a speed bump. At one point a heavily pregnant lady got on and the driver just put his foot down before she even had a chance to reach a chair. My friend had to put his hand out to catch her as she fell forward. It was astonishing how little regard the driver had for passenger safety.

I'm tempted to write to the Ministry of Transport. If they don't do something, the death toll in an accident could be truly disastrous. It's a really obvious tragedy waiting to happen. I reckon the driver probably bought his license rather than earned it. He was driving like a complete maniac.

I will never take another public bus here. Motos aren't so safe either, but that was insane.

Made it home eventually, although it took a good couple of hours to travel a distance that takes about twenty minutes by moto.

Anyway, my house is now bug free and I've finally come home, but I'll be sleeping in the front room on my only uninfested mattress tonight until things have settled. It's only been three days but it feels like a week. Got dive bombed by mosquitoes all last night so functioning on very little sleep whilst helping my friend with her tax returns. Thought I'd finished with all that for a while, but she's as mystified by RRA's online system as I was.

Just so glad to be home. Need to sleep (on anything) for a couple of days and recover. Still not sure what I'll be doing for Christmas, if anything. Had a few offers but I'll see how tired I am. Part of me would just like to spend it in bed reading or writing my next novel. Review copies of the current one are ready to go out - all very exciting.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Night to Remember

Finally got John Legend out of my head. Feeling all Duffy.

Guess I begin at the beginning?

Hectic day. Had a work meeting at 10am. Took a ten minute moto ride up the road which turned into an entire hour. Got a moto who didn't know where it was, who then stopped to ask directions from another moto driver who didn't know where it was either. Ended up driving around the whole of Kigali. 

Good meeting though. 

Then went to my tailor to pick up some much needed clothes.

Had a bit of time to kill in between, so decided I'd better go in search of condoms - as you do.

You'd think that'd be simple, right? Hell no.

My friend went to buy some the other day. Got to the counter of the supermarket where they're stacked next to the till. Thought she'd be all adult and mature about it. Reached for them, expecting to pick up a discrete box, only to find the box went on and on... like, supersized pack. She ran out of nerve halfway through and legged it.

I laughed so hard when I heard that story.

Then I stopped laughing, because it was my turn.

I decided to try Simba. Walked in. Headed for the cosmetics aisle where I thought they might be. Five seconds in and this attendant comes right up next to me, just staring at me, waiting for me to explain what I needed.

I decided to stop at shampoo and legged it.

Standing on the street outside, I suddenly see my friend F walking up the road towards me.

I confessed all.

When I said 'protection,' he thought I meant the pill, which you can buy over the counter here.

Again - hell no. You know that costs £67 a quarter? We have no idea how good we get it on the NHS.

Anyway, after grinning at me for a while, he marches me straight to the nearest pharmacy and orders them for me. When the lady puts down a pack of 12 he proceeds by asking: 'Are those the very best you've got?'

'They're Durex,' I murmur. 'They'll be fine.'

I stare at the counter and hand over the money.

So, thank you F for being my safety officer. There aren't many blokes who'd do that for a gal.

I miss the old joke:

There are 101 problems go with being a lesbian. Getting pregnant ain't one of 'em.

Anyway, we went for lunch and I silently commended myself for being such a grown up.

Then I hopped on a moto home and texted (I'm very good at texting on a moto now) D to ask him if he was free tonight. He was. I asked where we should meet. He suggested this hotel bar I'd never been to. I said OK. He said he had a meeting until 9pm and would text when he was on his way. I said OK again.

Then I went home and tried to numb my nerves with inane chatter on Facebook and playing a game of hide the Easter (scratch: oestrogen) egg. Burying condoms around the house anywhere they might possibly be needed: behind beds, back of the sofas, office draws. You never know. It's good to be prepared.

8:44 he texts to say he's on his way.

This is unheard of. Meeting at nine, I was expecting at least ten. Then I considered 'on my way' might mean in the literal African sense of 'in about an hour' and decided to faff about a bit so I didn't get there early. Spent about half an hour on my eyeshadow. Even popped into Kisimenti to buy a few things. 

I finally get to this place - it's beautiful. Truly beautiful. The lamps on the wall are made from African masks, the lighting is mellow and the decor is tasteful. As I walk in he's sitting right ahead of me. I can hardly breathe. He looks incredible. Smart shirt, dreadlocks, jewelry like a bohemian pirate. 

We spend the first hour nervously drifting from one topic to another. 

It's been five years.

So very much has happened, but I didn't really feel like talking about myself for once in my life, and he didn't make me. 

I eventually ask the obvious question: 'Did you get married, have kids?'


He was in a long-term relationship which ended a year ago.

'You're not wearing a ring,' he observes. 'Or did you take it off?'

So, we both know where we stand.

When the beer runs out he suggests going somewhere to find food.

'Or you could come back to mine and I could cook something,' I suggest.

Honestly, no ulterior motive. I just have a wonderful porch where we can sit, smoke, drink beer and keep talking. We used to spend hours on the porch talking.

So, that's what we do. I cook omelet and we sit on the porch.

It was kind of funny, we were both busting for the loo when we got in, and I have two bathrooms. We used to live together so had no qualms about dashing off to respectively relieve ourselves. All of the first date nerves, but none of the new relationship inhibitions. 

Sitting out on the porch we talk around things for a long time. I explained that the night he bumped into me my friend didn't know whether to rescue me or leave us alone - she said we were 'intense'. 

'Comes with history,' he smiled.

'When you walked away I could hardly stand,' I admitted. 'My head was spinning.'

'I went to Papyrus and ordered a bottle of waragi,' he told me. 'My friends were there but I couldn't believe I'd just seen you, so I left.'

We talk until two in the morning.

'Can I see you again?' he asks. 'There's some place I was supposed to go this week, but I want to stay and spend time getting to know you again.'

We agree Friday.

I walk with him up the deserted street to find a moto. He holds me so close and it's like fire. He smells so good. The best of everything we were comes flooding back. I feel safety, honesty and desire.

I apologised several times for what I'd done before, for being unkind. 

'Look at me,' he replied. 'Do you see hate? There's no bad blood between us. You took me in when I had nothing. You taught me so much.'

I feel like crying.

We end the night with a hug and an awkward peck on the cheek.

'Friday,' we agree.

We're taking it slow. He's out of a tough relationship. I've no idea what I'm doing. But I like it. 

He's changed so much. He's so much more confident, so talkative, so grounded.

I got home to my empty house, sat on the porch and half imagined I'd dreamed everything.

If he hadn't stopped me in the street the other night, he would never have been there. It was so easy to believe he hadn't been.

I'm so glad that he was.

I'm so glad we didn't fall into bed or even kiss. It feels important somehow. The intensity between us is maddening. I don't think I've ever retained that with someone I've slept with before. We know each other but we don't know each other - we're still so much the same, yet different. I'm looking forward to getting to know him again, to starting afresh. To seeing where this goes, if anywhere.

Roll on Friday.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Butterfly Park

He called.

It was incredible to hear his voice again, but awkward.

Awkward because I owe him an apology for some mean things I said. He’s one of these guys who, even when you’re unkind, thanks you for picking up the phone. I feel bad about my behaviour and his kindness makes me feel worse.

Also awkward because of the way I feel when I hear his voice.

It does something to me – the ‘Fran’ effect.

So, we’re going for a drink this week. Apparently there’s a lot of things he wants to tell me, but not over the phone. The day is up to me, and I’m too chicken to commit to one. As I don’t think I can focus on anything else until I've done this, I’m thinking maybe tomorrow night.

If he’s married, I don’t think I could take that, and if he’s not married, I don’t think I could take that either. From the second he called my name, I was doomed.

I cyber stalked a little today (after unfriending him a few years back on Facebook) and almost fainted. Standing in the sea in low-riders, water dripping off his torso and his gorgeous dreadlocks.

Am I just another stupid white woman, led by my libido?

And if I am, so what?

I think that’s why, despite the arguments, we did kind of work together. Whilst everyone else had their sights on marriage and babies, I never asked where he went or who he saw. I never expected fidelity and I never queried it.

Part of me wonders if I was the only one who never asked for that and actually got it.

Or maybe I was just as blind as everyone else, but unlike everyone else I just didn’t care.

I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the new D. He looks super cool. It’s the same feeling I had with that model on my arm. I know I shouldn’t put myself down, and I wouldn’t say it out loud because, hey, confidence is sexy, you gotta fake it even when you don’t feel it, but it’s just a bit unnerving when super hot people pay attention to you. Still, I’ll be past it soon enough so I might as well enjoy myself whilst it lasts.

All I learned on the phone is that he lives down near the American Embassy now, has a business renting rooms and doesn’t go out much, which is probably why it’s taken us seven months to bump into each other.

That’s not a bad thing. He’s my worst distraction (Oi, Legend, get out of my head! – and off the airwaves in Africa for two bloody minutes), and I probably wouldn’t have managed to set up my business or do anything constructive had I known he was about then.

We first met when he was working in a recording studio next door to my office. Some mornings I’d arrive before any of my colleagues and the office would be shut. If I forgot my keys (which was fairly regularly) I’d go and sit in the recording studio until they arrived. D would be there on reception, bored off his trolley. He loved crime fiction and the VSO resource library had an entire wall - floor to ceiling - of books. I used to borrow them for him.

Some of my favourite memories are spending days in bed watching movies and sitting on the porch talking all night. I’d like to do that again, mostly because it's a lot cheaper than going out.

Christmas four years ago was the last time I dated someone. I got stranded in a major snow storm and had to bus my way back across Europe from a work thing. Ended up in London for a couple of days where friends introduced me to a friend. We had a very brief (couple of months, less?) fling, mostly because I needed a date for a ball and he wanted to buy my car. I think he liked my car more than he liked me. Anyway, I woke up next to him one night, stared at the ceiling and decided there and then that I was madly in love with my former colleague and wasn’t going to waste my time on anything half-cut again.

Thus I donned a veil and turned into an utter saint for the next few years.

Yes, years.

I know, okay. I know. I don’t need telling. I’m just glad I’m over it.

So, having completely sabotaged myself in one way, you can see why I’m not in such a hurry to sink my own ship another way – which would be D.

I can’t even get my head around the fact it’s December, yet alone Christmas. Already I have this dreamy idea of spending Christmas Day in bed, watching movies and making up for lost time.

Which is why I’m sure I’ll find out he’s married.

The only way to know is to go, but I’m really good at putting things off when I’m scared of a ‘no.’ I’d rather not know and live with the daydream. 

There’s a whole world of problems go with a ‘yes’ too.

Okay, I admit it. I’m useless.

Just beam me to another planet.

He had the courage to call me, I should at least man-up enough to go meet him.

I can always hide under the bed if it gets too much.

Watch this space.... (get popcorn).

Sunday, 7 December 2014



This is the best thing you will ever read if you live in Kigali.

Truly spot on.

In the cold light of day, I would like to apologise for the original post of this title that I made at 4am this morning having crawled in from Sundowner (without #5 - having anything stolen - I hasten to add).

You should never, ever blog when drunk. Especially John Legend lyrics. That was obscene and uncalled for. I am very sorry and can only hope that between 4am and waking with an incredible hangover and no voice left at 9am, when I reached for my phone and reverted it to draft, nobody was actually awake anywhere in the world to read it.

I wish I could say that I have reflected on the sentiments written in that post and woken far more sane and mature.

Sadly, I think I may be in real trouble.

To recap in coherent language:

Went out and had a mad night with a lovely, beautiful lady I used to know five years ago. She's currently working in Pakistan where she's on lockdown most of the time, shut in her house, no drinking or skimpy tops. So we decided to do the full shebang tonight. Get it all out of her system. Went to a local bar for food and a couple of beers, then on to Papyrus for more of the same, and ended up in Sundowner dancing at 2am.
A truly lovely, wonderful night. Fascinating five-year catch up.  
But my whole world is on its head. 
As we were leaving Papyrus, I heard someone call my name. 
'Yes?' I said, turning.

I didn't recognise him at first, he's bulked up a bit and has dreadlocks. Also, I just assumed he was in Uganda.

It was D.

You'd either have to know me or know my old blog to understand the significance of this.

Kigali is a total box. You can't go five paces without bumping into someone you know. But him. There. Back road, middle of nowhere (well, Kimihurura), two in the morning.

I just stared at him.

I couldn't think of anything to say.

I stared so long he apologised for taking up my time and was about to walk away. All I could do was shout 'No!'

My friend said his stare was 'intense' - she didn't know whether to step in and rescue me or leave us alone. She said I looked as though I'd 'seen a ghost,' and that's exactly what it felt like. So many memories came flooding back that I'd forgotten. Good memories, despite all the rest. I wasn't all that kind to him at times.

Anyway, I managed to pull a card from my bag and gave him my number. He said he'll call today.

It was as though five years had never even happened.

I don't know if he'll call. I wouldn't blame him if he didn't. He's probably married with kids by now anyway. Guys like that don't stay on the open market for long, especially looking like he now does. If he's learned to play a guitar since I left, there's probably a queue of ex-pat girls round the corner waiting for him.

Do I want to know how he is? How his life has been? Why he's still here? Would I like to apologise for the way things ended?

Yes, probably. If he calls.

Would it end there?

Probably not. I've always been in trouble with him. If it does end there I'd rather not have known he was about. I'm not sure we could ever just be friends, it was an all or nothing attraction with us.

I don't think I could do that again.

I just want more of the other week: some fun, some freedom. We were just never simple.