Sunday, 9 January 2011

Cold turkey in a warm climate

Addiction is a terrible blight on the lives it affects, isn’t it?

I’ve been a week without internet, and therefore a week without being able to put up any blog posts. Fortunately, this experience of sudden deprivation, this cold turkey treatment as it's known in the business, didn’t reduce me to the status of a gibbering wreck – or at least, not so much as you’d notice if you knew me. I put this down to the compensating features of our surroundings.

Last Tuesday's lunch venue went a long way to compensate for lack of internet access. If only next Tuesday's could be as attractive

High among these were the presence of three generations of our family – Danielle and I representing the oldies, a full complement of sons and partners, and even the lone representative of the next generation, our granddaughter Aya. We had a week's holiday together in the Gambia, enjoying ourselves without any major disputes, which has to be something of a feat in itself.

The place provided blue skies, temperatures of around 30 C, great food, wonderful landscapes. Against that idyllic background, the Gambia provided some of the friendliest people it’s ever been my pleasure to meet. ‘Nice to be nice’ is their motto, and they stick to it, unless you make a big deal of minor irritations such as lifting an i-phone carelessly abandoned without supervision. But then you have to be pretty silly to leave valuable property on the beach while you go for a swim, as was done by one of our party. Please forgive me if I don’t name him, but I want to avoid embarrassing my son Nicky.

Several Gambians also told me that if I smiled at the sunrise, I would turn as black as they were, a statement which they always followed up with a warm-hearted laugh, one of their most endearing characteristics. I put their claim to the test: I had a tendency to wake up early and took advantage of the fact to smile manfully at the sun. I must have looked a complete idiot, and was grateful to have the beach to myself with no-one to witness the event. In any case, it only worked partially, as in the course of the week I merely turned a rather violent shade of pink.

Being up early gave me the opportunity to run along the beach, with the surf splashing around my ankles and the music of Vangelis running through my head. I tried to imagine which of the characters in Chariots of Fire I most resembled. Not, I had to admit, Ben Cross as Harold Abrahams or Nigel Havers as Lord Lindsay, but who knows, perhaps the rather overweight one who didn’t manage to complete the cross-country event. The idea made me positively glow with pleasure, unless that was just a result of smiling at the sunrise.

Anyway, as a break from the sub-zero temperatures of England, it was glorious to bask in sunshine and go into water that lapped at our feet gently and soothingly, rather than being frozen solid enough to support our weights. I like to scoff when Southern Californians tell me of the benefits of summer in the winter months, but I can see now that they might have a point.

As for the internet, the hotel claimed to supply Wi-Fi services. I checked with the reception staff.

‘These days it isn’t working,’ they informed me dolefully, with apparently genuine sorrow at this sad state of things. I don’t know how many ‘these days’ represent, except that it’s certainly more than seven: the WiFi wasn’t working at the beginning of the week, and it still wasn’t when we left at the end. But there’s a Gambian sense that time doesn’t really matter anyway – why should it when every day resembles the next in its perfectly limpid light and warmth? Perhaps I should just learn to enjoy the moment and stop caring so much.

Anyway, I’m going to try to catch up with my missing posts now.


Pino said...

Giusto, mio caro amico
We all perfectly know that this is exactly what we have to do to enjoy our life
< learn to enjoy the moment >
But we also perfectly know that it is not easy to learn it.

Anonymous said...

We, your readers also suffered from cold turkey!
Welcome back!