Monthly Archives: July 2009

Chaos created out of order

On my way into Salisbury I encountered a traffic queue on the A30, it was stop start for about a mile but it did keep moving. Then I saw the problem, three cars had shunted one another and an ambulance was there in attendance. One side of the road was blocked but drivers were behaving very reasonably and letting the ‘other side’ have a go when needed with the result that both sides were moving at a reasonable pace considering the circumstances. Once passed the accident it was onwards to Salisbury bus station and an immediate turn round because I was now about 10 minutes late. However, as I approached the accident again it was obvious that the traffic was far worse with nothing moving for ages. When I finally got to the accident the ambulance had gone (it had been on the same side of the road as the accident) I found a police car on the previously clear side of the road and a policeman ‘controlling’ the traffic through the chicane he’d created with his car! Utter chaos where 30 minutes earlier all had been polite and orderly.

Baby in a box

This is a letter from Cathy Buckle which I received a few minutes ago. I’ve immediately e-mailed her asking if she is able to pass on US$, which I’d transfer to her, to assist that family. If she is able to do this does anyone wish to join me in helping these poor souls out?

Dear Family and Friends,

Late in the afternoon a friend got a call on his mobile phone. The words were garbled and broken up, the call lasting just a few seconds before cutting off. The musukuru (grandson) is serious, come now. You have to be a Zimbabwean perhaps to know that the word ‘serious’ usually means very sick. What would be a problem, even an emergency in the “normal” world was destined to be a nightmare in our broken country.

Again and again my friend tried to phone for more information about his grandson but after numerous attempts gave up. He was wasting time. His grandson is in a rural village, it was almost dusk and he knew he must go. A fifteen kilometre bicycle ride got him to the village. It was completely dark when he arrived. By the light of a candle he looked at his precious little musukuru. Teeth clenched, face in a grimace, body curled in taut foetal position, the two year old boy obviously needed help. He had been vomiting copiously, shaking and arching his back and now the slightest movement caused him to scream in pain.

The nearest clinic is 3 kilometres away. There is no transport, private or public. No telephones. No electricity, not even any running water to wash away the vomit. An ambulance will not come from the nearest town, not unless you can pay cash, in advance, up front: 50 US dollars. As gently as possible the musukuru was laid in a box which was lifted onto the back of the bicycle and tied securely with strips of old car-tyre inner tubing. Blankets underneath and on top of the musukuru in the freezing cold winter darkness, the journey from hell began. Every stone, bump and gully on the disintegrating gravel road caused a scream of agony from the child. Words of comfort were measured against the urgency of the journey. At the clinic at last, there was no sign of attendance. Calling, shouting, knocking finally produced a youngster: No nurses here, he said.

The next clinic is another 7 kilometres away. The grandparents finally arrived, pushing their grandson in the box on the bicycle at 2 in the morning. Shivering and with frozen fingers their lifted their precious musukuru into the hands of the nurse. They knew what to expect and had bought a small sheet for the bed, their own blankets, a towel and even maize meal and a small pot to make porridge for the child. A drip went in, that’s 14 US dollars, payable immediately. An intravenous antibiotic was given, that’s 12 US dollars, payable immediately.

Two days later my friend was back in town and stone broke. The musukuru is still in the clinic, still on a drip and still has a problem. There are no doctors there. The nurses say that sekuru must pay for more drugs. His cell phone is flat. He has no money, no airtime left and back there, down the dusty pot-holed road the life of his little grandson is in his hands.

This year’s flowers

In the past I’ve put up a picture each year of my flower pots and hanging baskets. Here is this this years display which I’m rather pleased with, it’s been drawing good comments from neighbours and passers by.

2009 flowers


No, you’ve not gone mad if you’ve read this before but it now seems a bit different. I keep doing things to get the blog looking and running as I want and in doing this forgot the name of the databse I was using and backup up the wrong one before deleting! Thanks to Google’s cached version I’ve been able to recover all but this posting. Anyway, here’s roughly what I wrote.

I had a fellow bus driver and blog commentator on my bus to Salisbury yesterday, he was going to walk the Clarendon Way from Salisbury to Winchester. As I drove back to Winchester I mused on this and came to the conclusion that parachuting and walking have much in common. In the first you jump out of a perfectly safe and satisfactory aircraft in order to do it yourself, in the second you abandon a perfectly good transport system like rail or bus and do it yourself as well. I then congratulated the un-named walker on his achievement after he e-mailed me to say that he’d completed the walk.

Jeff then posted a comment which identified him as the walker. Cogi responded saying he didn’t ever think it could have been Gillers getting off his fat arse! Jeff came back to say that Gillers does do some walking – from the Railway station to the Jolly Farmer :-)

Not a good day

Second day back from our trip to France and all the nice chilled out feelings got knocked out of me this evening. On the way home I stopped at Waitrose to get some dinner things and was driving in the car park when the car in front stopped, I too stopped about 8′ behind this car, a 2006 525 BMW. I then saw the reversing lights illuminate ……… please, no! My thoughts weren’t enough to prevent it starting to reverse so I blew my horn long and hard, it was still sounding as the BMW hit me with a pretty firm thud. Of course I got out and had to answer the stupid question “Is you car damaged?”. “Yes, the concave front is not a standard feature of the Land Rover Discovery”! I also asked a question “Didn’t you hear me blowing my horn. I see you you’ve got reversing sensors didn’t they alert you?” To which there was a perfectly rational answer “My daughter was playing the music so loud I didn’t hear anything”. I’m now wondering how much her story will vary from the truth when it comes to her insurance company. Will it become “I was stationary and this Land Rover Discovery rammed me from behind? By the time I’d looked at my vehicle and started the conversation with the other driver anyone who’d seen it happen had disappeared.

Cathy Buckle’s letter from Zimababwe

Dear Family and Friends,

On the side of the main highway near Harare there’s a hand painted sign on a piece of battered tin. ‘Bricks 4 Sale,’ it says, the message wedged into a forked stick. Standing in a forlorn heap alongside are the very bricks. Its a sad little assortment of rubble: lumps of red, odd sized, second hand bricks with eroded edges, cracks and chips and some even with splotches of white paint on them.

A few kilometres away a very battered blue pick up truck with no number plates and a seriously twisted chassis is below a bridge across the main road collecting water from a stream. The stream bank is full of litter – plastic bags and drinks bottles, broken glass and beer tins. In the back of the truck there’s a huge white plastic container that must hold a thousand or more litres. Three women and four men are working in a line with buckets, pouring murky water from the polluted stream into the water tank.

A little further along the road a crooked tree branch is propped up with chunks of cement, a thin plank nailed onto the top. Standing in a line along the plank are six old plastic jam jars. They have no lids and are half filled with a murky brown liquid. “HUNEY” is the sign that’s written in charcoal on a stone nearby.

A group of soldiers stand right in the road trying to wave down a lift and as you swerve to avoid them you see how very young they are, almost children still and yet wearing army camouflage. No private cars stop, no one knows who’s who these days. The big 4×4’s flick past, windows closed, doors locked, huge aerials swinging. On their car doors are the stickers announcing that they are the people keeping Zimbabwe alive, the international aid organizations.

Strange scenes are everywhere in our broken country after a decade of collapse, even in upmarket suburbs. Rounding a corner in a quiet residential neighbourhood its not unusual to come across a great gathering of people. At the hub is whichever house in the street is fortunate enough to have a borehole, and whose owner is gracious enough to share. A hosepipe over a wall fills countless buckets, tins and twenty litre plastic containers. Patiently men and women wait for a share, some carrying their containers in aching hands, others pushing wheelbarrows and hand carts.

Even with such abnormality around us, not to mention the disgusting scenes of hooliganism at the constitutional conference recently, there are little glimmers of light
coming into view. The removal of 20 US cents worth of government levies from fuel is one, the lifting of import duty on newspapers, mobile phones and computers is another. A breath of fresh air is blowing into our country and lets hope it turns into a gale and blows away what newspaper owner Wilf Mbanga calls Yesterday’s Men. Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy