Monday, March 29, 2010


I'd like to apologise for my last post. I was having a strange day. I don't really hanker after large hats.

Thank you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

How to end piracy off Somalia

I have just simultaneously solved the problems of piracy off Somalia and carjacking in Nairobi. I give you Protection Rackets!

Back in the day, criminals would at least have the decency to allow you the chance to pay them off before trashing your deli with a baseball bat and garotting you with a strand of undercooked spaghetti. I think it is time to return to such old-fashioned values.

Starting Monday, because I didn't sleep well last night and am a bit tired, I am going to marshall all the Somali pirates under my command.

The deal is simple: I will be chief pirate, with a hat that's way too large and elaborate for my head (a bit like this one, only bigger), a dog called Raffles that I have trained to smell out treachery among my minions and a cutlass I sharpen on knife block clamped between the teeth of the severed head of the lead singer from Coldplay.

Shipping companies will pay me protection money and I will share it with my gang, obviously minus a big slice for myself, which I will use to fund even more elaborate hats until the day I get too adventurous and my neck snaps like a twig under the weight of my most-daring creation yet.

The annual fee will be less than the cost of hiring private armed guards and the increased cost of insurance. Ships will be unmolested, so the companies will be happy. My gang and I won't even have to get out of bed in the morning to collect our wages, never mind go out onto the ocean in a tiny boat, running the risk of being shot, arrested, knocked over by a big wave or accidentally sailing off the edge of the world. So we'll be happy.

Any freelance pirates who try to hijack ships will be pulled to the bottom of the sea by an enraged giant octopus, one of an army I will train to roam the sea enforcing my will. Ships whose owners do not pay the annual fee will be dealt with similarly.

Even the journalists will be happy, because they won't have to write the same bloody pirate story almost every single day of their lives for all eternity, as they do now.

Once this is running smoothly, I will branch out to Nairobi, where pale expats scuttle from mall to mall, windows tightly wound up, in deadly fear of any black man that approaches their car. ("Is that a carjacker, Astrid?" "No, I think it's just a hawker, but call the diplomatic police to come and shoot him anyway!")

All carjackers will be invited to join my gang. Any motorist who pays the protection fee will get a scale model of my giant and elaborate pirate hat to perch atop their bonnet. This will render them immune to carjacking. Everybody else is still fair game. Any cop that shoots one of my carjackers will be dragged to the bottom of the ocean by an enraged...hang on, that doesn't work on land. I'll just bribe them not to shoot my employees.

Once I've had a nap, I plan to also come up with innovative solutions for other long-term problems, such as the Israel-Palestine conflict, international terrorism and Amy Winehouse's smack habit.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Angry mobs in Kenya

Sometimes I love Kenya, a country where an angry mob can form at any second for no other reason than it is fun to wave a ripped-off tree branch at the cops or form a roadblock from stones and burning tyres.

I was heading back from a city centre press conference this morning to catch a bus at the big stop near the GPO when I heard the unmistakable rumble of a mob voice. I couldn't really see what the commotion was about, as the usual massive crowd of wananchi had formed to stare, laugh and slap their thighs merrily. I was thinking maybe a thief, anti-government protest, possible some internally displaced demanding their rights.

Then a tow truck emerged from the crowd, pulling your typical Kenyan taxi driver white saloon car behind it. Pursuing the truck, armed with big sticks, were about 30 blokes, some of them in suits, screaming and shouting and trying to stop the towing. The cops were waving their big sticks back - fortunately none of the coppers had a gun, or there would have been shots fired. Off they went up the road, the angry mob chasing the car, the cops backing off in front of them, and the wananchi, literally hundreds of them, all pissing themselves laughing.

I don't know if they got the car back, but I was thinking it is exactly thist kind of thing I will miss when I eventually leave Kenya. I would love to see a mob of motorists chasing a traffic warden or tow truck up the street in the UK, but I don't see it happening.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Coldplay and Kenyan "rock" bands

We were at a battle of the bands in Qatika t'other week, and I heard at least four Coldplay cover versions. There may have been more, but after the fourth song I stuck knitting needles through my ear drums and was bleeding in blissful silence in the corner.

Kenyan rock bands: Coldplay are fucking turgid. Stop doing cover versions of their dull, whiny songs. There are many other great bands out there you can cover. If you want to do whiny, at least cover some Radiohead songs - they do it with style and musical excellence.

Kenyan rock fans: Coldplay don't even qualify as rock, so stop giving it the sign of the horns when bands are playing their meandering, tuneless dirges. You may as well headbang to Celine Dion. You have permission to give the horns only when you hear bands such as Led Zep, Black Sabbath, AC/DC.

Coldplay: Just stop. Please. You're setting a bad example to impressionable Kenyan youngsters.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

How to be earnest

I may seem a little out of the loop here, but I just saw the video for We are the World 25 for Haiti for the first time, and there is one word to describe it: hysterical.

And I don't just mean it's funny, which it is in a cringing, am-I-really-watching-this manner. It also aptly describes the singing, as each star tries to outdo the others to show how much they care by launching into vocal histrionics.

Michael Jackson must be turning in his grave, and saying “ow!”.

But that isn't the funniest part. Apparently, the best way to demonstrate you care for Haiti's orphans is to earnestly pucker your face while clenching your fist poignantly. Some of the stars are puckering so hard I was worried they might create a black hole, sucking themselves into oblivion through their own nostrils and taking Lionel Richie with them (Hurray! I hear you shout).

Next time, just give money people. You can afford it. We'll just assume you care. A lot.