Daily Archives: December 6, 2009

An Old Fool in Africa

I have many friends in Ghana, but when a stay becomes extended like this one I miss Nadira, Jamie, Emily and Cameron dreadfully.

When I was about 8 years old and living in a bungalow at Beeston Regis with my mum and brothers and sister, we had one of the very few christmasses in my early childhood when my father was at home. We had a black and white TV and the big BBC film on Christmas Eve was “Calamity Jane” with Doris Day. My parents and especially grandparents were quite excited about this and had been talking about it all day.

We had eaten our tea, the children sat on the floor with our Corona pop and the adults sat behind with their Guinness or Mackeson, sherry or whisky as we focussed on the small television.

We had placed pillowcases around the christmas tree. I decided that I was so excited about Christmas that I wanted to go to bed early so it would come quickly. I thought as my dad was home I would get a really good present (I did. I got a bike. It wasn’t new, but my grandad got a tin of silver spray paint from Woolworths and sprayed it. I thought it looked new. I couldn’t touch the pedals at the bottom of their rotation. I rode that bike until my knees scarcely unbent as the pedals turned).

I left the party, though everyone told me it was a really good film. Of course, I didn’t sleep. I lay in my bunk bed staring out at the stars and listening to all the songs from Calamity Jane through the wall, with various family members singing along.

I never did see Calamity Jane, until last night when it came on satellite TV in Accra. Then, in the dark of an African night, in a small house alone in a big compound, through the one lit window a stupid old white man sat, with tears streaming down his face, sobbing out loud for all that was lost, for every hurtful word he had said to those who were gone, and for all the good he had not done.

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