Heron on the Nile
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  Last Straw Last Straw Tue 10 May 2005  

Tue 10 May

Some workmen march into my classroom talking to each other as if I wasn't having a class discussion with a dozen students. Then they start moving furniture. I am furious. I ask them to leave, but they ignore me. We don't have the same language so we cannot communicate, it's that simple. I try ushering them to the door. It almost gets physical. Just then Ustaza Tharaya (my boss) walks in and is rather shocked. I wonder how badly the "nice Englishman" might have damaged his reputation. To my relief she reprimands the workmen and apologises to me. "It's because they work for central administration they believe they are above the teaching staff and certainly the students." To their credit, the students seemed suitably embarrassed for me.

Later I meet Max at SudMedia, the Khartoum publishers of the Juba Post. We spend a few hours pawing over computers and quark express files, trying to work out how to present the weekly newspaper on the website as a nicely bookmarked, downloadable Acrobat document.

Later we meet up with other friends at the French Cultural Centre for a performance by a black African band whose main feature seems to be an enormous xylophone. Well it's good to get out occasionally!

Wed 11 May

Walking to my class at the southern campus, I go past Kalifa's house where invariably a number of policemen are occupied "guarding" the entrance. I usually wave but this time one of them comes out to greet me. "How's your head?" he asks, reminding me of my trip 500km north to Al Kuru and Karima when I had gashed my head while visiting an ancient tomb. He was the local policeman, and part-time guide, now on two month secondment to Omdurman.

Again, this morning, I wait in a classroom for non-existent students. It is enough to convince me that I really am wasting my time trying to hold classes the week before examinations. I decide (finally) to return to the UK for a quick "breather" before travelling down to Zanzibar. My passport is ready to collect from the embassy and there is nothing else to delay me.

I go in to Khartoum and tell SVP what I'm going to do. I give them the bits and pieces they need to sort out my exit visa.

At the British Airways office I arrange my return flight for next Tuesday night yikes! That means I'm off within the week.

At the British Council I meet with Jenny as planned though I'm no longer looking for some quick money. She suggested getting my CV together and maybe in the coming months she will have enough work for me to return.

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