Saturday, 29 August 2015

What's up, doc?

There comes a moment in long-haul travel, particularly if you are over six feet tall and it has been impossible for you to sleep on the plane, where it is dangerously easy to forget not only where you are, but also how long you have been travelling.

About halfway through a rickety bus journey from Nairobi to the remote village of Kajuki, along dusty, rutted, and red mud roads, I realised that there also comes a point where you begin to question where you left your sanity. Either that or you wonder if perhaps, against all the odds – crushed kneecaps, for example - you actually succeeded in falling asleep on the plane and have yet to wake up.

For me, that moment arose when, glancing through the grimy bus window, I watched – or thought I watched – as two human-sized rabbits fought each other in front of a skeletal hotel building. Doing a double take – how could I not? – I realised that my sleep-deprived brain was not playing tricks on me and that I had indeed watched this unlikely scene being played out.

Whether to advertise the hotel or just – you know – “because”, possibly on a whim, two grown men dressed from head to foot in furry rabbit costumes, upholstered model heads and all, were trading what I hoped were pretend blows by the side of the road. They appeared to be having fun, because even so completely disguised it was possible to see that they were laughing, as they parried slow hits and struggled to keep their heads from falling off.

The unlikeliness of such a situation took me some time to process, as the bus juddered and rolled its slow way along the road, swerving precariously to avoid donkey-pulled carts and straggling rows of goats, minded by lone children. Had the manager or owner of the hotel conceived this as some unusual marketing scheme? The irregularity of traffic on this road rather argued against it, unless the seemingly foolish optimism that had led to the construction of the hotel itself also extended to their skills at promotion. An alternative theory, that both men had, independently, come to the decision that morning to dress up as Bugs Bunnies, seemed equally improbable, but then I was new to the country, and had not slept properly for around forty hours.

Looking around at my fellow passengers, I was blearily surprised that nobody else seemed to have considered the sight remotely remarkable. Settling back into my seat, I resolved not to be thrown by this, and leaned my head against the pleasantly vibrating window, to watch the passing banana plantations give way to rice fields, until I drifted off to sleep.

Friday, 28 August 2015

The horse that rocked (or didn't)

Gather round, dear friends, as I tell you a tale; a tale of ominous surprises on dark nights, of unexplained sights and horrifying surmises, and one that I fear may chill you to your very core. I make no apology for the frightful details that I will, here, relate, or the effect that this story may have on you, should you dare to read on, but know this - what you learn here can never be unlearned. You have been warned.

From time to time there are things - ordinary, everyday things - that when seen at a particular time, or in a particular way, assume an atmosphere entirely at odds with their usual demeanour. So it was, brave reader, when walking past this playground in South London, late one night, that I was brought up short by the sight of what I an only describe as this eerie playground horse.

Maybe it was the lighting that attracted my attention, or maybe it was the sinister ghostly creaking of the riderless horse on its spring in the dead of night, nudged by restless spirits or the bitter wind to canter through the night in a sort of back and forth motion. All right, if I'm totally honest (and despite my occasional inclination towards the melodramatic, I can rarely bring myself to be anything else) it wasn't moving, there was no wind, and there was no creaking, but I don't want that to detract from the atmosphere or whatever the Hell the point was that I think I might have been trying to make.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Sinister ghostly creaking. Right.

Perchance, it occurred to me, as the biting cold shrieked through the tree branches, whipped at my face and gnawed at my fingers (although, to be truthful it was a mild July evening and actually surprisingly pleasant) the thing that really sent a shiver down my spine was the fact that the otherwise apparently innocent playground was shut and chained behind heavy iron bars, its fibreglass inmates harshly floodlit and restrained. Wherefore, such stern and barbaric precautions? And who was being protected from whom?

Some might say that  this was done for  perfectly understandable crime prevention reasons, but maybe, it occurred to me, as I shied away from the gates as if from the very gates of Hell, they merited their fate, these mute and malevolent steeds of doom. Maybe their incarceration was entirely deserved and, but for the steadfast locked gate, oh faithful defender, they would have pulled me and any other innocent traveller down, down to their very destruction?

Who can say, dear reader? Not I. I will, however, say this: Bit spooky, isn't it?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

In which a manifesto, of sorts, coalesces.

Looking at the world today, with its many and varied problems, the obvious thought occurs to the sentient person: why isn't there more ill-informed blogging occupying virtual space on the world-wide wide interweb?

Well, rest easy, hypothetical reader, for herewith is further rambling and ranting of a vague and poorly-defined nature, the enthusiasm for both writing and reading of which will inevitably fade as time goes by. Maybe, together, we will find a way through the miasma of modern life, to reach the broad, sunlit uplands, or alternatively perhaps we will reach an amicable agreement to just let it go and trouble each other no more. 

So, I hear nobody cry, what's all this about then? What do you want from us and why don't you just leave us alone to eat our cheesy snacks and bread products in peace? I wish I could, dear hearts. Or, at least (and at most), I have apparently decided on this course for now, and suggest that we just get on with it and see what transpires.

Being a being of dazzling originality (or at least of insufficient curiosity to check whether anything I bang on about on here has been done to death elsewhere) things that may crop up on here could include such diverse subjects as mountains, walking, walking on mountains, "stuff that I see around and about", and generally anything that flits through my waking brain that, even if for just a moment, makes me think "oh, well now there's a thing."

Join me. Or don't. It's a busy old world and we all have things to be getting on with, but if you have nothing better to do, or not much on, let's give it a go.