Lousy goods and other sad tales

When you start the morning by electrocuting yourself in an Internet cafe, you might be forgiven for being pessimistic about the rest of the day.

The electrocution happened because of the shoddy quality of Sudanese electrical goods, more particular a replacement cable that we recently purchased for our laptop, at rather considerable expense (it cost about 150 SDG – just under 40 quid – which was pretty much the cheapest we could find). Not long after we bought it, it started playing up, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for connection to be maintained. Then, this morning, as I was starting to fiddle around with getting it to connect, it began sparking and shot 240 volts (or at least I’m presuming that was how much) into my arm. I felt a little tingle, but my main injury was to my pride as the staff at this particular WiFi cafe seemed to find this hilarious.

It was nine in the morning. I decided to search for a replacement, seeing as I would need one during the day. I was astounded to find that, walking through Oxford Street, very few shops actually opened before 10 pm. What, I thought to myself, are we back in Sudan??? This was somewhat incredulous. I had a dental appointment, so had to abandon my search for the time being.

It was at this point that Violetta phoned me from Italy to inform me that there was something wrong with the certification I had recently obtained that would, I hoped, allow me to marry Violetta. Apparently, I had neglected to legalise my birth certificate – something that I was not told I had to do. This whole marriage preparation business has been a bit of a nightmare, and worthy of a separate blog entry. One might be tempted to believe I was marrying a Nigerian rather than someone from the EU who, one would think, should share the same rights as me no matter where we get married. So far, I have had to fork out more than 300 quid just in solicitors and government fees – and that is just for the English side. I may now have to buy a flight ticket to Italy in the next few days, to sort out stuff on the other end.

I arrived at the dentist in a foul mood, which was little improved by some tentative prodding, which revealed spreading decay in the left side of my mouth. I was advised to see the hygenist, which resulted in me parting with a small fortune and a couple of kidneys.

I waited a long time for the 381 to take me back to the metro station. I got on and my Oyster ticket failed to work. The driver – who I recognised from when we lived here a year ago – smiled at me smugly, and said that he couldn’t take me without any money on my card. I was in the middle of nowhere, with no place that I might buy a card. Couldn’t he just let me travel a few stops? I asked. No, he said. He was very much relishing the thought that I had a 15 minute walk ahead of me.

It is silly, but at this point a few tears leaked from my eyes. It just seemed that nothing was going right today, and maybe never would again in my life. Melodramatic, perhaps, but this last insult was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I needed a drink.

I walked to our old local – the Quebec Arms – and was surprised to see that it had closed down. Well, not all that surprised. When I was there, it never had any custom, and the bar manager spent all her time playing on the fruit machines. But a little saddened. This was one of my favourite watering holes, where I used to stop off between work and home, before having to face my flatmates and all that was going on at home. A lot of my best thoughts last year were had here.

I finally ended up at the local Weatherspoon’s, full of elderly alcoholics, speaking in deep gravelly voices. The depressed side of my brain wondered if I might eventually turn up like them. I had two pints of cider, a packet of dry roasted and a traditional English breakfast. It was only midday when I left.


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