Our Man In... Nigeria

Eddie on safari

Contents:

The Melon Farm

Slow pub crawl

Socialising

 

Nigeria links:

Nigeria.com

Nigeriaworld

 

Having missed the chance back in 2003 to document the exciting, enlightening journey of spaceman's friend Eddie to India, on a seven-month secondment for Scottish Newcastle Breweries, spaceman is determined to take advantage of Eddie's latest expedition, a two-year transfer to Nigeria (of all places).  All a far cry from Eddie's beloved Eccles.

 

This site hopes, in the form of a diary over the next few months, to share the trials and tribulations of our grinning adventurer as he goes forth into the unknown.  Enjoy...

 

The beginning

With an original scheduled departure date of Monday 9 January 2006, Eddie did not have much time to get used to home, having returned from a New Year skiing break in Courmayeur, Italy only a few days before (his fourth holiday in six months).  However, our intrepid buddy was left in limbo as a result of the Nigerian Embassy holding on to his passport and visa, thus delaying the trip by a week or two.

 

On the Saturday before the new leaving date, Thursday 26 January, Eddie, spaceman and friends had a "last supper" in Gaucho's Grill.  It was a fitting final meal, with fine wine and juicy steaks (perhaps a little too "juicy" in Eddie's case).  Ok, lager was consumed as well (spacemen being a Dedicated Lager DrinkerTM - see this website).

 

Then, as dramatically as some of the icy slopes of Courmayeur plunged into the distance, the flight time was brought forward to 06:45 hours, Tuesday 24 January.  The passport and visa had arrived and everything was go.  In every sense.  Eddie does not like to plan ahead too much, and so packing last minute was very much in his nature, but this left a lot to do in not much time.  However, a necessarily short sleep later and Eddie was on that plane, and this is where our man comes in (with suitable paraphrasing in places)...

 

Day 1 - Tuesday 24th January 2006

"Early morning rising and it was off to the airport.  I experienced my first challenge at the airport.  The check-in assistant told me that my luggage was 20 kilos overweight, which would cost me 450.  She asked me to go and pay at the ticket desk.  I told her that I was business class, which got her thinking, but she still told me to go and ask at the ticket desk.  I conceded the fight and went to the damn ticket desk.

 

At the ticket desk, the assistant asked me how many bags I had.  I neglected to tell them about 3 of my hand luggage bags, but I did say one of my bags contained my golf clubs and that was what was sending me overweight.  She ummed and ahhed for a while, saying things like she thought there was a local exception for flying to Lagos and as it was my golf clubs, etc, etc.  Then they made a few calls and let me off.  Result!  I would have paid, but I didn't want to start my expedition by shelling out unnecessarily.

 

On the plane, I sat next to a nice old Nigerian man from Lagos.  He was very nice and helpful in Lagos airport, telling me where to go and what to do.  He had been to London to see his son for two weeks.

 

The flight was good - I watched Elizabethtown (starring Orlando Bloom and Kirstin Dunst), which may not have been the best film to see as the lead character was called Claire and it was a bit of a rom-com.  From what I could tell it was an ok film, but I was constantly interrupted by stewards with food and drink (why can't they just leave you alone for a bit?) as well as falling asleep at one point.

 

We had a great view of the Alps after leaving Frankfurt, which reminded me of the skiing holiday.  Then I got my first sight of the Sahara desert.  Inspired by its majesty, I decided to christen it with a trip to the toilet for a number two.  To my surprise, I could see the Sahara from the toilet, and very much enjoyed my alleviation of waste while trying to make out whether there was a sandy-looking town below me.  I delayed flushing just in case.

 

They have great, brand new, flat beds on the Lufthansa flights (business class), which I spent about 30 minutes messing around with - massage button and everything.  I got in the perfect position for sleep - hence the reason for missing some of Elizabethtown.

 

After a while, I realised that the Sahara was indeed quite big and that I could see nothing but sand everywhere.  The food on the flight was nothing special and I stuck with Sprite (avoiding the booze at this stage).  I could get used to business class, though - they had a wireless connection for laptops.  Unfortunately, my stupid work laptop had no wifi card, which is rubbish.  But, on future trips I may be able to play online Civilization IV at 40,000ft, which would be cool (although I might need a new laptop.

 

When we landed, I met Richard Gibb, who is from the UK and I had met once before (in India a few years ago).  He is a director of Scottish & Newcastle and was actually on the flight, but neither of us knew this.  He was in the immigration and visa queue, wearing a ski jacket and looking very hot.  He said "Richard Edwards"; "Richard Gibb" I replied.  "Yes" he said.  Simple but effective.

 

He was being helped by the Nigerian bloke who had been sent to see us through the airport - I was told to follow him.  Apparently, Richard G had been at a sales conference in Austria, up a mountain on a team-building treasure hunt only 12 hours earlier, with the temperature getting down to -20 degrees C.  Now he was stood in a queue for bags in Lagos airport with me, and the temperature was 32 degrees C with 100% humidity.

 

He was heading down to Lagos with Antoinette and I was to go to Sona to meet Tobias (more later).  So we got our bags and my golf clubs, and off we went, with a drive and the car full to brimming, and two women who had been employed to make sure that our entry to Nigeria went smoothly.  Which it did.

 

The traffic was hell as I had expected - a bit like India in this respect.    The journey took about 2 hours to go about 30 miles.  Apart from the traffic, my first feeling of Nigeria is that it's hot and dusty.  Something I will have to get used to.  I duly made some calls home to let people know that I had arrived safe and sound.

 

I arrive at the house of Tobias, in Sona village.  Tobias is the guy out already over here.  I'm here because this is where I'll be living while my house is being finished off.  It's being lived in by some contractors and is not ready yet.  So this is where I'll be for a few days.  Tobias has mild malaria, which is a great start.  I hadn't previously thought that it was possible to just get mild malaria, but you live and learn.

 

We had some food, some beer and a gin and tonic, and just chatted.  I was on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at this point, but Tobias was very nice and welcoming.

 

I managed to speak to friends online on Tobias's PC, although fatigue and typing on a keyboard with half the letters missing did not help.

 

It's been a long day and it's time go to bed.  I am very tired, although I have the hardest bed and pillows ever made.  I don't think this will stop me sleeping tonight, however."

 

Day 2 - Wednesday 25th January 2006

"First day full day in Nigeria and first day at work.  Breakfast with Tobias at 7.30am (we're one hour ahead of the UK) - cornflakes with full fat milk, nice and cold.  Tobias was making himself some sandwiches for elevenses - jam with this very expensive Norwegian cheese, called gudbrandsdalos, which had a kind of caramel aroma about it.  It is very good with jam and bread, anyway, despite the strange sounding combination.  I have only had one or two, though, because it is quite expensive.

 

We set off for a meeting with Mr Merchant Danni, the Indian who owns the Sona business, and his right hand man (who is a Nigerian).  And Richard Gibb.  And Regis, who is my new boss.  It was about 10am when we got to the meeting, during which they talked about all sorts of stuff and I kind of just sat there, listened and drank tea and water, and ate the chocolate on offer.  This went on until about 2pm-ish when we took a break for lunch.  (It did go on a bit - so much so that I began surreptitiously texting Claire under the table.)

 

But first there was a brewery tour, and I met the head brewer Vicas, and the MD.  We started the tour a bit backwards, with warehousing first.   I saw the new can line installation and the bottling hall, which were all quite impressive for Nigeria.  I thought that there might be some hope to myself.  But then I saw the brewery.  "Shithole" doesn't begin to describe it, unfortunately.  I have seen worse (in Chennai, India) but only just.

 

One of the problems was that they were (and still are) doing  a lot of engineering work, so it makes everything look like a big mess.  Anyway, we finally went for lunch, which I was glad of as I was starving.  Lunch was ok - a mixture of Indian food, pasta and chips.  Not too bad; I can survive on this, I thought.

 

And then there was another meeting to round things up, before Tobias and I returned to the house to get changed to go into Lagos.  There was some discussion about whether to go as he was only just recovering from the malaria, and I was tired and still a bit screwed up in a completely new environment.  But we went in the end.

 

It was a good opportunity for Tobias to have a night out with Richard Gibb (as he is one of the directors of the company), who was just going to the airport first to check his bags in, then coming out with us for a few hours before he got an 11 o'clock flight to Paris, I think.

 

Tobias and I went to a bar first near the Sheraton hotel not far from Lagos airport.  We waited there for an hour before Richard Gibb, Antoinette and the Nigerian right hand man to come.  We had a few beers and something to eat.  The service was poor.  The service is generally good in Nigeria, although it is poor when compared to India.  But the woman here was rude and not interested in serving us.

 

We started with a local soup, called pepper soup, which is a speciality of Nigeria.  Richard G and I were both a little worried, but it was nice and spicy.  You can have two types: sea food or meat.  We had meat.  The Nigerian guy had the head of a sheep in his, I think; Richard G had the tail; Tobias the tail; and I got something that didn't look too bad.  I had a few spoons of the liquid but decided to leave the meat bit.

 

A friend of Tobias joined us.  He was a Nigerian who worked for a marketing company we had used in the past, and we got some chips and club sandwiches.  And carried on drinking.  Richard G left at about 9ish, then we made our way to the Sheraton, where we had actually been earlier to try (and fail) to get a room.  On returning, however, they managed to get us one.  So we put our bags in the room and headed to the bar (recurring theme) at about 10.30pm.

 

We had a few whiskeys, then Antoinette went to bed shortly afterwards.  Meanwhile, Tobias and I stayed up drinking Jack Daniels, and I introduced Tobias to an old friend of mine, drambuie.

 

We went out in the evening sampling the local ale.  We stayed in the Sheraton hotel, which costs 150 a night normally.  Tobias gave me a Guinness from the mini bar and filmed me drinking it.  Its a great film.

 

The bed was very soft compared to the bed I slept in the previous night, with great pillows.  I was half-tempted to borrow them for the long term, but then Tobias put me off by telling me that it is the only hotel near the airport and we will have to use it again.  The only downside was that I had to share it with Tobias.  Presumably malaria isn't contagious."

 

Day 3 - Thursday 26th January 2006

"Bad hangover today, naturally.  I'd rate it a 4/10, helped by some Ibuprofen, some (light) breakfast and a litre of water, but it deteriorated to a 6/10 by lunchtime.  Mainly because it wasn't until 3pm or so, and I had run out of energy.  An hour after forcing down the pasta lunch, I was coming out of the worst of it.

 

I found a few Pentium 4 computers today, but unfortunately I did not bring my trusty copy of Civilization IV with me to Nigeria.  This is perhaps for the best as I don't want to mess up the whole brewery system by playing Civ 4.  I had a chat with a guy today and he reckons that, even with broadband, internet connection will be slow.  So I don't think there's much chance of any online gaming.  Not without a copy of the actual game, anyway -  I will have to bring it with me next time and see how it goes.

 

I've got a headset with me to try to take advantage of MSN Messenger's voice facility.  I've never needed the headset in the UK as calls are cheap, but Tobias (or 'Tobs' as I call him) says that the phone bills are huge.  So I thought I would look at ways of cutting down.  About 1,500 for a month is typical, says Tobs!  Work pays for business calls, but I am meant to foot the bill for personal calls.  However, they send you an itemised bill by email and then you tick which ones were business calls and which were personal.  Tobs says he pays a token 1% or something, so it might not be too bad.

 

I had my first game of tennis tonight with Tobs.  I say game, but it was just a knockabout really.  We plan to have a few games in future.

 

I have to sleep in the crappy bed tonight - I am going to get a new mattress and pillows soon.  They are a nightmare - there are no springs, and they are just stuffed with solid foam or something.  My back is bad as a result.  It might be better sleeping on the floor.

 

Mildly impressed by spaceman's Nigerian diary webpage (on which I am writing now), but I love the Nigeria facts.  The population of 150 million feels right.  There are people everywhere - it's mad.  I am living in Lagos, where there are something like 20 million people."

 

Day 4 - Friday 27th January 2006

"Off to a club tonight to see a DJ but he doesn't come on until midnight.  Played another game of tennis today.

 

There are no phone lines here, so you use a phone with an aerial on it.  It's kind of wireless but analogue I think.  It gives adequate speed for instant messaging and some web pages, but it is rubbish for downloading anything.  I think the speed is about 115kbps, which is approximately twice dial-up in the UK.  But I'm used to broadband.

 

In the end, we didn't go to the club, though.  We both were not feeling to great and instead stayed in, eating and drinking with the Italian guys, and Regis (my boss)."

 

Day 5 - Saturday 28thJanuary 2006

"Went to work today as it's pretty busy, even though it's early days, and Tobs is working so I thought I may as well.  I set off for work at 8am, but it was after 10am when I finally got there.  Managed to speak to the Doc last night briefly, but it was hard to tell what he was saying as he was out in Bolton and there was a lot of background noise.

 

I'm eating well generally.  Tobias and I have a cook, who has been making us some Jamie Oliver-type stuff.  We had pizza last night and meatballs for lunch yesterday.  He also boils the water up then filters and bottles it, otherwise I have normal bottled water.

 

I was telling spaceman this morning that I had not had shits yet, but that backfired a little when the next visit to the cabin was a little on the looser side, let's say.  I suspect that it might have been meatball-related.

 

We went to the clubhouse as there was a conference on.  They do lunch and dinner there every day, but I think Tobs eats at home generally as the food isn't great there (although I think it's acceptable).  You might as well if you have your own chef!

 

It takes about 2 minutes to get to work.  We both have drivers, but there is no point given the distance, so I drive myself.  I have Tobs' car at the moment, but I will get my own."

 

Day 6 - Sunday 29th January 2006

"Another game of golf this morning.  Have 8 very good, straight drives with the driver, all about 200 yards, but otherwise I was shit.  (My driver is my friend of the pin.)  I need lots of practice, but I'm not sure I have the willpower.  Tobs has been giving me some pointers, but I think it has screwed up my style.  Hopefully it will make me a better player in the long run, though.  I had had enough by the 9th hole, especially considering it was bloody hot out there (although the chaps I was playing with it said it was quite cool).  We started at 8am and finished by about 12.45pm (trying to avoid the main heat).  I guess it started about 25 degrees and rose to 30+.

 

It has been a bad day in general.  I was tempted to pack by bags this morning, but I haven't done.  The golf didn't help matters.

 

I have been very dehydrated, with the yellowest piss I have ever had.  It's not good, and probably due to all the tennis in the heat.  I am drinking loads, but it doesn't seem to do much good.

 

Had my first proper game of tennis with Tobias, after our initial knockabout.  Tobias won the first set, but I took the second, coming back from 4-2 in the process.  We only played up to 3 in the decider, as we needed to go for some dinner and someone wanted to play badminton, which was at the end of the tennis court.  Tobias won all three games, though, and took the match.

 

I have since won two matches, which leaves me 2-1 up overall I think."

 

Day 7 - Monday 30th January 2006

"Pork chops for lunch, pancakes for tea, with a salad starter.  Sweet pancakes.

 

Day 8 - Tuesday 31st January 2006

"Things are getting frustrating; working with the Indian management.  There is so much red tape and, well, shite that you have to go through to get things done.  It's just a good thing that I know that when they say 'tomorrow' they mean 'next week'.  So you have to pester the hell out of them until they do what you want, otherwise you wait forever."

 

Day 10 - Thursday 2nd February 2006

"Nothing much to report.  Things are ok but a bit boring.  Tobias is now moving onto the gin, having previously been on some Norwegian spirit.  I have had just one baileys, which was ok.  Tobs and I are starting to watch the Lost DVD box set.  I had seen up to about episode 20 before I left for this adventure, so I need to get to the end.  It's something to do, although I miss being able to play Civ IV.  It doesn't help when I'm updated on the GOTMs that spaceman has been playing (GOTM = game of the month).

 

My first trip home is Easter, which will after about 3 months of being here.  I have Tobs to do things with, but he goes soon, off on holiday for 2 weeks."

 

Day 11 - Friday 3rd February 2006

"I'm playing golf again tomorrow morning.  Another 6.30am start - bit of a bugger (for a Saturday morning) - but the course we are going to is a bit further away.  Especially when the golf is not much fun.  But there is not much else to do, especially when the other option is work, which I was going to do but then I thought that I should try and get out a bit.  You know, make the effort and all that.

 

I manage to get the old headset working - chatted to my brother who is living in London these days.  There is a slight delay but it is quite clear."

 

I had tried to sort out getting my girlfriend Claire to come over to Nigeria, but she can't make it this month because it is too short notice.  A visa is too hard to get in the time.  I need to have a resident's pass for Nigeria, but I only applied for it today and it takes a month to come."

 

Day 13 - Sunday 5th February 2006

"I am having a bad today and generally feeling sorry for myself.  What have I signed up for?

 

I had two games of golf in the end this weekend, but both were shit.  But it can only get better.  (That's positive thinking for you!)

 

Tobs and I have had a marathon Lost session over the past 3 days, watching about 23 episodes in the last 3 days.  We've nearly finished the series (what is it about US drama serials and the vast number of episodes?).

 

While watching the last episode, Regis comes round (my French boss for those who haven't been paying attention).  He just popped round for a chat.  He gets as lonely and bored as everyone else here."

 

Day 15 - Monday 7th February 2006

"I have a bit of a struggle helping my dad set up his headphones.  Parents and technology don't mix.  Bloody hell, it's hard work.  I can't actually get it to work on his computer from over here, despite having gone through it step by step.

 

Just chilling watching Alias at the moment.  I had my tea and needed something to munch on or drink, so I gave into the beer temptations.  I opened up a nice bottle of gold.  And it tastes rubbish.  Ah well, beggars can't be choosers.  Spaceman is sceptical, saying that "beer is beer" (the Neanderthal).  You need to taste these exotic brands before you can make a comment like that.

 

Indian beer, it has to be said, is the worst I have had, but some Nigerian beer isn't far behind and unfortunately it is the stuff we are producing.  I've got a lot of suggestions.  Mega-improvements are on the way.  Some beers are ok (they have Heineken for example)."

 

Day 18 - Friday 10th February 2006

"Kind of cloudy and hot-ish today, about 28 degrees I guess (it's just before 10am).  Not too bad.  As I have said before, it warms up around midday to 3pm (as you would expect), so you don't go out for too long then.

 

I'm at work and it's getting crowded in my office as there are 5 people in here now.  Anyone would think that they were doing some work.  I get some bad news from spaceman - the 5th series of 24 is starting on Sky this Sunday.  Noooooo!  I miss all the good stuff being in Nigeria.  (I've also been told that Smallville - another of my faves - is great at the moment.)

 

I will get them all on DVD, but I just hope they are as good quality as Lost.  I will probably have to wait for about 10 weeks I guess, until the first 10 have played in the US.

 

I am planning on going shopping tomorrow to check out what is available on the food front.  The new South African supermarket has just opened up so I am going to investigate.

 

Then in the evening, Tobs and I are meeting up with some Danish girls that Tobs met recently.  Hopefully it will be a good night out.  And no, I'm not an "old dog" (which spaceman accuses me of being).

 

On Sunday, there is an Indian party at the clubhouse as the IT guy got married in November and his wife has just arrived over here.

 

The power goes while chatting to spaceman (on MSN).  Not good.  I am meant to be in a meeting now, but I can't be arsed as they are rubbish.  There is no point until things get changed.  They ran out of bottle caps this morning for one of the products and now they want to change the program.  But they just can't do that as all the beer is ready to go.  They are a joke.  I just laughed at them.  The Indians here really couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery.

 

But I am not going to sort out their procurement for them.  I am not here for that.  I will ask them every day if they enough caps, but that is as far as I will go.  I am here for brewing.  I am not arsed about production.  If they can't bottle because they forgot to buy something then it is their fault.  They have no planning ability at all.

 

The guy who is the buyer tries to screw everyone on price and then wonders why they send him faulty products.  Anyway, that's my rant over with.

 

In the evening, I watch the African Cup on Real TV via mediahopper.com.  The final goes to penalties and Egypt take the title.  Guests then come round for tea."

 

Day 19 - Saturday 11th February 2006

"I meet the Italians for lunch at 1pm today.  I plan to do some work while watching the football (Liverpool vs Wigan in the Premiership).

 

Unfortunately, I am no longer going out tonight.  The girl I was going to meet is not around now, so I can't be arsed.  Kind of rubbish, really.  I should ring Fred, with whom I have played a few rounds of golf, but he is 50ish and conversation is thin on the ground.

 

The Italian guys are still here tonight, so I will go out and eat with them, then maybe have an early night.  I have lined up a football afternoon, as Man United are on later, and there are two games on at 3pm.

 

Sunday the housekeeper has just got back from shopping, so I had to help him.  Sunday is kind of his Nigerian name.  He has a French name like Marsalan (or something) but Sunday works well for me.

 

Food is expensive here; well, the stuff he got was anyway.  He spent about 80 and there isn't that much.  Sunday reckons that it will last about 2 weeks, which is ok I guess.

 

The Winter Olympics has started, so I watch Germany vs Finland in the ice hockey and a biathlon (skiing and shooting.  There is a French station that always shows good TV shows (Alias, 24, Smallville, etc) but I don't get it and more to the point I don't speak French.

 

I ring a florist in Anglesea to order some flowers for my girlfriend (it being close to Valentine's Day).  It's a bloody expensive business this Valentine's thing.  Fifty quid for a dozen red roses.  They saw me coming I think.  I had been buying them from Morrisons while I had been at home for about 2.99 for a bunch of 10 roses."

 

Day 20 - Sunday 12th February 2006

"It's 11.30am and I'm starving hungry.  I haven't been arsed to get my breakfast yet.  I'm thinking of scrambled eggs on toast.  I've already been to work today - how good am I?  Or sad.

 

Later in the afternoon, I am waiting for a game of cricket with some Indians.  I think they take it very seriously, so much so that I could be in trouble.  They were meant to start at 5.30pm (10 minutes ago).  I will no doubt impress them with the old Eddster windmill (not a classic bowling action, and one that hasn't been put into operation for many a year).

 

Unfortunately, the game was a bit boring (we lost).  We got 136 runs off 25 overs, and the other team made it him with about one and a half overs left.  I was out after 3 balls for a duck, bowled. And I didn't get a bowl.  The standard was quite poor, apart from about maybe 6 players, 3 on each team.  I was bowled by the best guy on their side, who was also their captain.  He was taking it easy on me as well.  All our runs were scored by one bloke and the same for their team."

 

Day 23 - Wednesday 15th February 2006

"My satellite TV is broken, which is a bit of a bugger.  I'm hopefully going to get it fixed tomorrow.  I've not been up to a great deal - watching an episode of Dark Angel on DVD.  Not played tennis for a while as Tobs is on holiday (skiing in Austria and Italy for 2 weeks).

 

I'm working until about 7pm every night so I'm a bit tired when I get in.  I'm busy-ish.  Brewing is a bastard.  You can hang around all day for something to happen and you can be guaranteed that it will happen when you want to go for lunch, or go home at night.

 

For example, part of the process, like yeast cropping, or waiting for a brew to fridge, or a part of the filtration that I want to see (still with me?).  There is always set-up time and cleaning to do beforehand, and it just goes on.  There is usually some delay - it's the same everywhere, not just here.

 

I've got a bit of a sore throat so I retire to bed.  I need the zzz's."

 

Day 25 - Friday 17th February 2006

"Not a bad day today.  Meetings in the morning and then a long-ish lunch watching Yes Prime Minister.  Then I did my PDP in the afternoon; spent an hour on the phone to France and 20 minutes on the phone to South Africa.

 

Unfortunately my DSTV still isn't working, which is the South African satellite system I have.  I was looking forward to watching Liverpool vs United and Bolton vs West Ham in the FA Cup tomorrow.  I have a man coming round so hopefully he will be able to fix it.

 

I am already thinking of going to a pub to watch it, but I am out in the sticks and it can take anything up to 2 hours to get into the city (even though it is only about 25 minutes or something).  Depending on traffic.  But I may have an adventure out.

 

I have a nice, old-ish English man and a Kenyan over for dinner tonight.  Quite good to have company.

 

I am growing a beard at the moment.  It's coming on nicely.  I think my friends back home may be shocked.  I should really have done stages of growth - they could have been posted on this website (although I do have some pics which I will get spaceman to put up in time)."

 

Day 26 - Saturday 18th February 2006

"Watched Liverpool's victory over Man United in the FA Cup today - United just lost the midfield battle.  I am now watching Gary Bailer on DSTV (he's the ex-Man United keeper from the 80s.  He is South African - he always used to wear a yellow shirt and blue shorts.  With blonde hair.  I want to stay in and watch Bolton vs West Ham, but I need to back to work as 3 chaps are putting in a can line.

 

I got back from work and I bumped my head on the the wash basin when I got the shower.  There's a big lump there now.  I still had a headache from it a few hours later.

 

There's a major thunderstorm here this evening, but I think the Indians are playing cricket, in between the short showers.  I decide to have a cup of tea, then change my mind and decide to go for a whiskey and coke.  While watching the snowboard cross.  The woman in first had a 100 metre lead and threw it away by showboating over the final jump.

 

My plan for the evening is to watch Ladder 49, an action movie with John Travolta.  My beard is quite a few different colours.  It is strange.  There is some white and grey, and it is blonde white under my bottom lip.  And ginger in a few places.  The film was ok.  Reasonable.  Nothing more."

 

Day 30 - Wednesday 22nd February 2006

"I'm having my worst day to date in Nigeria today.  I need to ring Doctor Hosie (friend from home - does he know who he is?).  It started off bad, with relationship problems, and went worse.  Much worse.  It went onto malaria in fact.  I am know the proud owner of p.falciparum, or parasites in other words.

 

Luckily I have caught it early.  But I have a problem because I have been prescribed one thing by the doctor here, but having spoken to Regis and Tobs, they say to take the stuff that Tobs had (remember he has malaria too).  And I also have something else to take of my own.  So now I don't know what to take.  Which is why I am going to call Dr Hosie.  Despite Chelsea vs Barcelona being on.  (The doctor's verdict?  "I've heard that the only way to catch malaria is by smelling your mum's knickers.")

 

They could have flown me home for the money I have spent being on the phone tonight.  I fire off an email about my condition to my boss in the UK.

 

So, the symptoms.  I was feeling a bit flu-y last night.  And I woke up in bed at 3am with a bit of a fever.  I was up for an hour with hot and cold stuff, and I had a bit of a cold, bunged-up nose type thing.  I knew that lots of people had malaria here, so I thought I had better get a check-up .  And well, they told me I had it.

 

I told the doctor about the three choices I had, that is, the one I brought with me, the one the doctor here gave me and the one that Tobs has given me.  I am going for the Tobs option has it is tried and tested - general medical practice it seems.  If that doesn't work, I will try another and hope for the best.

 

The one I am taking requires an empty tummy and you take 2 and then another 2 at 6-hour intervals.  So I am going to have them now and set the alarm from 7am (it's 1am) as I write this.  I've been waiting around until this time so that I didn't have to get up so early."

 

Day 31 - Thursday 23rd February 2006

"Still not so great today.  I've done all my tablets and now I just have to wait, I guess.  I did a few hours at work today, 10am to 12.30pm then 2.30pm until 4.30pm-ish, but I feel the worst now.  I've not actually been that bad today, but a bit of a headache and generally not great.

 

My boss replied to my email and didn't really have any ideas.  He said that I should go to a British Counsel-recommended doctor.  If I am no better tomorrow I am going to go."

 

Day 33 - Saturday 25th February 2006

"Cornflakes for breakfast and a dilemma for thoughts.  I am not sure whether to take my regular anti-malaria tablets.  I took it yesterday, but I wonder if that was why I was feeling a little better.  Doxicylcine is what I take on a daily basis, which just suppresses the malaria but doesn't get rid of it.   If I don't take it, I know I may feel pretty shite, but I will know that the stuff on Wednesday might not have worked.

 

I watch S Club 7 on BBC Prime.  Just for the music, you understand."

 

Day 34 - Sunday 26th February 2006

"I have brainstorm today and remember the Yahoo Pool games I used to play online (often against spaceman, but you can play against anyone).  Unfortunately, spaceman remembers how to play as well and generally wins more often than not.  Spaceman should get out more.

 

Unfortunately, I get cut off reasonably regularly, which can make the game interesting.  I take a short break as Noah came to pick up the car - he is going to pick up Tobs tonight from the airport."

 

Day 35 - Monday 27th February 2006

"Not too bad today.  I trapped my finger in the door and I am suffering from a poorly jaw, but otherwise I seem to be on the mend.  The finger isn't that bad, more of the knuckle, but the haw is a pain.  I get it sometimes when I have a cold.  It must be a side effect of the malaria, which seems to be clearing up. "

 

Day 36 - Tuesday 28th February 2006

"I came home at 4pm today because I was so pissed off.  Everything is still not working here.  I keep thinking that it will be ok soon.  But isn't yet.  And I've been losing a few games of online pool."

 

Day 38 - Thursday 2nd March 2006

"Unfortunately, I can't follow the cricket (England vs India in the 1st Test at Nagpur) because it's not on here, which is a bit rubbish.  It's not on my TV anyway.  The Indians will have it on I would have thought.

 

I'm out on a night out tonight.  I will work until 1pm and then go for my lunch before heading out into town.  I am just work now, waiting for the boss (the owner of the company) to come.  And then I will bugger off.  I need the toilet too.  For a number two.  Which is not good, in fact it's very bad timing, as I'm not keen on going in the brewery.  There is one good toilet, but it can't be flushed and I keep leaving presents for the cleaner.   To be fair, though, he seems to shift them.

 

I think I might give the beard a trim for the Lagos visit.  And evacuate the system with a good curry, a kind of cleansing process, which should be done periodically, I think.  I contemplate a game of online pool, but I am in a public place in work and it is not a good idea.

 

There is a frantic clean-up operation taking place for the boss's arrival.  I wouldn't mind but he does a tour every Saturday morning and so they should know.  I'm not helping them.  I don't give a shit, basically - the place is a shithole and no amount of cleaning could get it to the level required.

 

And I tell the boss that.  He says that he will spend the money to do it, so we will see.  The problem is that the engineering work is still going on, which is what is making it worse.  Worse than it actually is, maybe.  But everything goes so slowly, it tests me.  I actually have the patience of a saint, and I need it.  But hey, what's a little shit in your beer, or a little hay for that matter.

 

In the end, I retire to an office and play spaceman a few times at pool.  And I generally lose.

 

Later, I find out that the boss isn't coming today after all."

 

Day 41 - Sunday 5th March

"A guy who got burnt at work the other day.  He opened up a tank of boiling water and it went all over him.  Unfortunately, he seemed to overcome the safety devices that are present to stop things like this happening.  Thursday it was, I think.  I was there, and I saw him just after it happened.  It was nasty.  He had first degree burns, which is always difficult to recover from.  And he died today."

 

Day 42 - Monday 6th March

"I took my time going to work today.  Noah came round to say that I should stay at home today as there was a union strike and the workers were causing trouble at the gates (as a result of yesterday's death).  But they just called me and said that it was ok.  Bugger.

 

Tobias is not well today and I suspect malaria again.  It's not good - he has been sick all day.  I guess he may never have gotten rid of it.  He went for another test today, to see if it is malaria.  The thing is he has been tummy sick and actually sick, if you see what I mean.  But we have eaten the same stuff, so why am I not stuck?  Although he did forget to take his ant- malaria tablet yesterday, so it's all pointing in the malaria direction.  It has just about all the symptoms you can have.  Sickness is apparently another classic sign.

 

I think I have an ear infection.  I went swimming on Saturday and I have had a little earache since."

 

Day 45 - Thursday 9th March

"I'm off to the doctors tomorrow to get the old malaria checked up (and for a few other things too).  It seems to have gone, but I have been suffering from some headaches and earache.  I think it is all linked to my back.  I know the headache is anyway.  It is the usual thing I get in the UK every now and again.  But I am not sure if the earache is linked or it is an infection.  I also have a rash on my face, below my nose and on my chin.  I also had those in the UK before I came here but they have flared up again.

 

But anyway, the malaria might have gone.  I think I killed it off with the last lot of tablets I had.  So the visit to the doctors is just a precautionary check.  The other stuff is all minor, just small ailments.  It's just that the ear thing and the rash have been annoying me today.  They use a few cleaning chemicals in the brewery that are affecting the rash.  In the UK, we are not as exposed to the stuff as much.  Here it is in open tanks, so it is in the atmosphere more.  I don't think it's good for me.

 

This morning I walked into the brewery and my eyes were watering and I could feel my skin pinching.  They were cleaning the bottle filler with caustic soda it was so strong it was in the air.  I got out of the air as it wasn't nice.

 

I may go out after the doctors tomorrow as it is 2 hours to get there and it's a shame not to go out for a meal and a few drinks.  We have not been out to eat that much in Lagos.  We went to one place last Saturday, a Thai restaurant, which was ok.  The food was good - not what I would call luxury, but still good.  And that's what counts.

 

Then we went to a very nice bar (not sure of any of the names for these places).  It was cool, very modern - Tobs got a cigar and I did flaming drambuie and sambuca, and managed to get us some free absinth.  It was 85% - the real stuff - which we did with a spoon and some sugar.  I didn't finish all mine as I was a little scared of the 85%.  And it didn't taste that nice.

 

Then we went to a club where Steve, one of Tobias' friends was putting on a part.  I'm not sure what it was for, but it was ok.  The bar was ok too, but not with the stock of drinks that the last one had, so stuck with whiskey and coke.  I played 2 games of pool there with some random Nigerian guys when I was on a wander.  I had got bored at the bar so I buggered off for a while.  I lost the first game going in off on the black, but won the second as the guy did the same thing.

 

Then Tobs called to see if I had been mugged (I think it must be commonplace).  Then we went to another place with an Indian guy (another mate of Tobs), but it was rubbish so he took us somewhere else.  There were a lot of Lebanese guys at both places and they didn't like me and Tobs being there, so we were quite wary in both places.  They were not that friendly.

 

We got back in at about 4am, and I had a hangover starting from a 2 to a 4, then back to a 2.  I was bored by 2am and show I should have come home then.  We met a few people while out.  Tobs liked a Canadian girl called Sutton (she told me she was named after Sutton Coalfields).  Tobs thinks that it is a joke, but I am not so sure.  I didn't think she was nice looking, anyway.

 

I'm coming up to 50 days here (next Tuesday it will be) and I need a break.  I'm a bit short.  It's been a stressful old time, but I have not been working too hard, basically due to my frustration at the people here.  They are all fuckwits.

 

Indians and Nigerians appear to be a bad combination.  Nigerians seem to be lazy and everything is about money.  And the Indians only care about saving money.  So you have a deadlock and nothing gets down.  The politics are vast and complicated.  Tobs learnt after 6 months that there was nothing much he could do, so now he just lets it pass him by.

 

I learnt that after about 3 weeks, although we both try to fight it from time to time and get nowhere.  Which is what is so frustrating.  We just have to learn to live with it and hopefully get a few small wins.  In a way, I suppose that's why I came here, for more of a challenge.  The UK is settled and routine, 9 to 5, the normal, and, well, boring really.  Some middle ground would be nice.

 

I do have a few allies here, which is good, but the problem is the people with a little power - I have no way of really manipulating them, and they don't really know how to look after people here.  I have to fight for everything.  For example, today's battle was for sheets and bed duvet and pillows for my new house.  In the UK, I could just go out and buy them.

 

I have to move in to my new house on Wednesday as Tobs has a friend coming.  But it's not ready yet - I will just get the bedroom sorted.  The problem is that I have limited cash myself, so I have to ask for the money for things all the time, but they won't give me much.   They say that everything has to be bought through the business, so a man goes and sources everything for you.  But he is shit.  He won't get what I want and it will take him forever.

 

Anyway, I will sort it out, but it should be easy and it's very hard.  Enough complaining, it's late here (1am) - time for some kip."

 

Day 46 - Friday 10th March

"I went to the doctors today.  I am all clear for HIV and malaria.  He threw in a HIV test for good measure.  Buy one get one free, or something like that.  I have a bit of eczema on my face and a build up of wax in the ear.  But otherwise fine.  So I got some ear drops and some eczema cream, then went for beers.

 

Lagos is a bit quiet after work, though.  I had a beer in Bob's bar, then had one in the same bar as last week.  Then I had some dinner, but neither of us (Tobs was with me) were hungry after the beers.  Then we went to the Raj again and the cigar lounge.

 

Tobs is off to golf in the morning.  I have a meeting at 11am, but I would like to play gold.  Well I think I should make the effort (for golf), but I'm not sure if we will be back in time.  It will be an early start, and it's 1.20am now.  Bedtime in other words."

 

Day 47 - Saturday 11th March

"I'm having bad weekend blues today - well, this morning I was.  I am better now.  I got the position that I should just give this job time, after nearly convincing myself to take tonight's flight home.

 

I cheer myself up by cracking up a coke and watching Bolton vs West Ham in the Premiership.  Bolton end up winning 4-1 (my brother will like that as he's a big fan).

 

My bloody satellite system has done on the blink again.  I am getting good signal strength and the TV is working.  It's coming up with the channels and the information of what's on.  But no picture.

 

I get it working again anyway and watch Home And Away (Aussie soap, TV fans).  ER is on this channel as well, called GO, which I have only just found.  I have decided that I am going to stay here.  It was the Home And Away that swung it."

 

Day 54 - Saturday 18th March

A week later, with spaceman away in the Caribbean, and therefore with no motivational instant messaging conversations, Eddie succumbed to his demons and headed home, a little bloodied mentally, the adventure over.  Spaceman was back in England a week later and confused by the fact that Eddie was playing Civilization.  In the absence of a full and frank explanation from the man himself, Eddie mentioned that he had "reams" of reasons for coming back, primarily related to work-life balance (i.e. he missed Claire, hated his job and contracted a mild form of malaria).  Crucially, though, he couldn't play Civilization in Nigeria and spaceman thinks that was the key reason...

Facts about Nigeria:

Population

130.2 million

Land area

357,000 sq. miles

Main languages

English, Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa

Currency

Naira = 100 kobo

President

Olusegun Obasanjo

Random facts

1. Oil accounts for 90% of export earnings.

2. One in every six Africans is Nigerian.