One of the things about today’s post which made me smile will seem very inconsequential to most – the use of gaffa tape. For the uninitiated amongst us who do not know what gaffa tape is, it is an extremely strong heavy duty cloth tape, easy to tear and apply. It is very versatile, and will stick to most surfaces. It is ideally suited for packing, repairing, joining, sealing, fixing, protecting, reinforcing, and pretty much anything else that you can think of. Now that you all know the main qualities of this wondrous product perhaps you will understand why Matt would not go on any trip without it. I don’t know who introduced him to gaffa tape, but he thought it was great – and to be fair it is pretty good – but I can almost hear him extolling its virtues as he created ‘The Nimbus’ …
Day 9 – July 24th
“We awoke this morning to the Kenyan morning chorus: the sound of hundreds of cows being marched to green pastures. I was collared early on by Simran and Matt Hyde who wanted my permission to spend some group money on paint and a new S.I.M. card for the team phone. In a meeting very similar to Dragon’s Den, we argued over prices and discussed what was and wasn’t necessary before I reluctantly handed over the notes. Breakfast was then served by Peter, our tribal cook, and consisted of bread and butter with a boiled egg and milky tea.
After breakfast Callum and I headed off on a reconnaissance mission to attempt to find out what needed to be done.
The headteacher pointed us in the direction of the first classroom to be painted and we set about cleaning the walls. The local children showed us how to collect fresh grass to use as a brush, and the engineer inside me surfaced when I decided to attach some grass to a stout stick with gaffa tape, re-inventing the broom – to me it was a Nimbus 2000. So we set to work cleaning, removing decades of dust and cobwebs and disturbing several rather large spiders. Meanwhile, Simran and Matt were with Andy on a trip to town for supplies, and Adam and Christian were teaching a class each.
As lunch approached, the headteacher gave me his phone and he and Craig asked me to haggle for some more paint, although I wasn’t especially successful despite my best efforts which were all met with, “No I am afraid this will not be possible my friend.” By this time we had started painting, Callum and I were making our way around the top of the classroom while Sam, Gavan and Josh did the rest. I was precariously balanced on an unstable desk as was Callum as this was the only way to reach the top of the walls.
We were called for a lunch break soon enough – another chicken, ugali and boiled bananas which tasted like mashed potato. It was straight back to work after lunch, all the while smiling and waving to the curious children who walked past and gawped. There was one little girl in a red dress who seemed lonely but smiled the biggest smile when I waved at her and kept waving at me.
At 3.10 school finished and things got serious: a football game between England and Kenya – 11-a-side on a massive pitch which played into the hands of the Kenyan’s superior fitness. By half time my mouth was a desert and my lungs burned. What we lacked in fitness, however, we made up for in strength and ball control. Kenyans are seemingly all obsessed with English football, and it was a competitive match. I swapped between holding midfield and centreback, and with Craig and Matt pushed forward to play the offside trap, winning several offside free kicks. We ended up winning 4-3, although I predict a rematch in the near future.
I lie in my tent now, thinking about the massive storm clouds overhead, and how both Chris and Gavan are basically lying on top of me, and snoring. Tomorrow I am going to teach a lesson!”