Saturday, March 04, 2006


Mags, it turned out, was an Australian 'surfer chick' who had been sold the idea that Kilifi was a 'bonza' place for surfing by someone she met whilst in Cornwall. Without actually bothering to research the truth of this idea she had set off using a combination of trains, planes and automobiles to arrive in Kilifi town three months later and stony broke. My friend, who works with an NGO based in the town, had found her sitting on the side of the road and asked if she could help. The surfer explained her story and wanted to know where the surf was, because she hadn't seen any yet. My friend explained that the last time anyone had seen surf in Kilifi was thirty years ago during a freak weather patch. The problem, basically, was that Kilifi meets the ocean head on, by way of cliffs, and then there is the issue of a a large reef that breaks the waves way out to sea. So, instead of surfing, Mags had joined up with the local ex-pat sailing fraternity and was giving lessons to their children.

There was enough room for us all to stay comfortably. The main purpose of the weekend was just to relax on the beach after a hard weeks work in Entebbe. I of course did not rest completely. The house we were staying in was close to a creek which had several small beaches nestling along its length. Each morning I would wander down with my portable easel and paints, and bring to life some scene that had been playing in my mind. I will be exhibiting one or two pieces on the art pages when I scan them in and get them uploaded.

Ravel was dour and sour most of the weekend. I saw him writing three letters, and often he would ask me or Mags how to spell certain words that were outside his limited vocabulary. The letters themselves were full of pathos, longing, and raw feeling that could only have come from someone unused to the curtailed emotions of the British psyche.

On sunday morning Mags suggested we go for a swim across the creek. I readily agreed, as I felt like I had not achieved recently in terms of physical effort, even if my brain was working out on a regular basis. We wandered down to the beach once more and prepared to set off. On noticing Mags take a jar of brown liquid out of her bag and put in down near the water's edge, I enquired as to its purpose. But the reply was simply 'Last one to the other side is a bit fat bonzo' and then off she ran into the warm waters of the creek. I set off in hot pursuit, my competetive streak suddenly aroused.

She was quick, but my unique hyrid style of freestyle arms and breast-sroke legs was superior. I was in the lead when we reached the other side of the 200m wide creek. The rules were that we had to leave the water and touch the bottom step on the beach before swimming back. Having accomplished this task I raced back towards the water just as Mags left it. She must have run very fast though, as I had barely begun to swim before she plunged into the water and started to swim frantically. I kicked even harder and was just about to draw level with the sporty antipodean when I suddenly felt a sharp stinging sensation in my left underarm. The pain was acute and severe, and almost immediately I could hardly use my arm to propel myself. Mags surged ahead whilst I slowed to a crawl, and eventually to a halt, about three quarters of the way across the creek. The pain was intense. I watched Mags reach the other side before I began to faint from the pain. I could feel everything becoming heavy, my breathing becoming shallow, and it dawned on me as I began to slip down into the water that I was about to die. My life began to play itself in my mind, and for the first time in years I was acutely aware of my own mortality, even as it seemed it might be extinguished.

The next thing I remember is being hauled onto the beach by Mags. I managed to open my eyes and saw, though couldn't feel, that she was checking my pulse. Moments later, she had opened the jar of brown liquid and was pouring it over my underarm. The sharp smell of malt vinegar met my nose. Then, to my shock and horror, she pulled off her bathing shorts, straddled my upper body with her lady parts hovering over my arm pit and released a lenghty stream of urine! Having splashed the contents of her bladder she then picked me bodily up from the beach, carried me back up to the house and laid me on to the verandah. She tightly bandaged my arm, left the room and came back moments later holding a hyperdermic syringe. 'Antivenom' she shouted before plunging it into my arm. My scream must have been heard across the creek and halfway to Malindi....

'I never piss before a swim' she confided in me later that day as I recuperated in the bed of a local hospital. 'You never know when you might need some. I reckon my urine saved your life Crumbly. The jellyfish round here could drop a horse I've been told. Lucky for you I was there, eh?' I had to agree, though it did also occur to me that she might have warned me before we went into the water...

That unfortunate incident delayed our departure by a day, but we did leave eventually and it was a smooth journey back to the UK. Ravel managed to smile once or twice, (especially when I relived my ordeal), and by Thursday we were both back at work at the Cumbernauld Institute of Parasitology. Mrs Dr McCrumble was most relieved to see me home again, and made me promise never to go swimming in tropical ocean waters ever again. I was not about to argue!



hermione2001ie said...

The healing properties of the Golden Shower eh?!

Glad you're back safe in chilly old Scotland. Thank you for keeping me entertained with your marvellous tales.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Golden what? Oh, I see what you mean. I hope you don't think I actually enjoyed having another persons excretions pouring over me!

Gorilla Bananas said...

Yes, I've heard rumours that some men get aroused when a woman pees on them. It's just as well you were incapacitated at the time. But don't these bushwomen have a remarkable knowledge of natural cures? You should have offered Mags a job as a research assistant.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Sadly my funds do not run to employing everyone who has saved my life over the years! I am of course very grateful to Mags for her reservoir of urine, but like I said, she should have warned me beforehand!