Even the heavy, unseasonal overnight rain flooding the road East out of Gulu could not prevent our unproven team from embarking upon its first day on the tools today. Positions were quickly assumed: T-Hen, Nobbs, Percy and Jano on the Eastern wall; Jonty, Moo and Rosco on the Northern wall. By lunch time the more intricate and difficult Northern Wall was already two courses further advanced than the Eastern Wall.
Our welcome lunch time break confirmed what we had long suspected – namely that stickers and bubble blowing have universal appeal within Uganda, with the local children again entranced by both.
A post lunch reallocation of resources with Moo and Nobbs helping on the East and Jonty moving onto the Daba (aka Muchunga in Swahili or mortar in English) saw the Northern Wall belatedly completed in time to allow the team to begin some preparatory work on the interior walls before knock off.
Following our day’s productive work, we departed the site with a sense of trepidation, all too familiar with the story told by Winston Churchill’s security guard – diplomatically, after Churchill’s death. As readers would be well aware, Churchill was not only a political leader, a soldier, a Nobel Laureate in literature, a painter etc, but he was also a bricklayer of some renown if not aptitude, even becoming a member of the Amalgamated Union of Bricklayers. Churchill’s security guard related the story of Churchill (complete with cigar in mouth) proudly building a brick wall in the garden at his beloved family home of Chartwell. When Churchill retired for lunch, his security guard and builder looked at Churchill’s wall, then at each other, then back at the wall, before quickly agreeing the wall to be so shoddy that it would need to be knocked down and rebuilt before it fell down of its own accord. This was duly done whilst Churchill enjoyed his lunch, presumably with his traditional bottle of Pol Roger. Upon returning from lunch, Churchill examined his morning’s handiwork with great pride, announcing to his builder and security guard what an outstanding piece of work it was and how dreadfully proud of it he was. Neither were able to bring themselves to tell the great man the truth!
To satisfy ourselves of the integrity of our work, some strategic markers were left (particularly along the Eastern wall, given its uncertain start) to ensure that we knew whether our work had been interfered with overnight. Tomorrow will tell!
Today’s big cultural lesson was learnt by Jano – namely, if you order fish and chips for dinner, and your order has not arrived by the time everyone else has finished eating and you politley ask for it again, you ought to expect that:
- ‘It might take a few minutes’; and
- It may arrive with five potatoes and no chips!