Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Off we go again

Hello everyone and apologies for the long absence. We've had rather a lot on, as you are about to find out.

We are leaving Uganda on 21st Dec, as in 'leaving leaving' not 'Christmas holidays leaving'. We took the decision about, i dunno, six weeks ago. Why? Well, the long version is a bit complicated and more nuanced than what follows, but here is the short version.

1) My job. It was fun and most of the time I enjoyed it, but it became pretty obvious that I wasn't really making the business any money. Product development mainly involves telling suppliers "do it like this, not like that...and please can I have the perfect, finished article by next week?" Then you wait for them to deliver. Then you start the nagging phone-calls. Three weeks go past: nothing. Someone gets malaria, has to go to the village, or it's raining. Then you get the pillows/bunting/macrame dolls and it's still wrong and you have to send it back. Repeat ten times. Now, this is Africa, and things do happen a lot slower round here. Given how difficult it has been to get crafts into the shops quick enough, it was hard for my bosses to justify my full-time position.

I was offered part-time, but as the main breadwinner, we couldn't really live on the money. And in my heart of hearts, I was missing my girls a lot. I think Emma and Gloria didn't mind that much that I wasn't around, but I've really missed baby K and I like to think she has a soft spot for me too. I've also gained a new appreciation of how productive mothering is. Boiling up carrots and smearing them on my toddler's face feels like a better use of my time than waiting idly for craft paper from Kenya and feeling guilty for being paid for it.

R liked his job in the cocoa business, but realised he much preferred emergency response. But it wasn't just about the jobs. I think we found living in Uganda much tougher going second-time round. The electricity saga, a gruelling school-run over terrible roads, the riots when we just arrived back. Our friends witnessing a man being beaten and then burnt to death in a horrific case of mob justice, not one mile from where we live. A lot of frustration and sadness over a great country badly managed.

We also had something of a nagging conviction that we had moved back for the wrong reasons: the nice climate, the great school, the interesting work opportunities. All very convenient, but even three months ago we felt torn and lacking in passion and purpose for being back.

So where too now? Well, we have been exploring various options. R applied for and got a job in a country which does tick our passion and purpose boxes. (Its government is rather touchy, so that's why I'm being coy about saying exactly where.) But we all wanted to be sure it was the right thing, so he flew half way round the world intending to visit it only to have his visa for said country denied. At least he got to explore the airport for 8 hours, and he brought me back a tasty seaweed snack. Yesterday he had an interview for another job in....Teddington! I can't deny that a large part of me would LOVE to be home. We could buy a big house and stay there for forty years and never go on an aeroplane ever, ever again. But stop me before I count my many chickens before they are hatched.

Operation Pack Up N Leave is going well so far. (Another reason why I haven't posted for ages.) We have sold our car, lots of paintings, got new jobs for our staff, had parties. According to BBC Weather it will be snowing in Portsmouth on Saturday! Can I get woolly coats in Owino market?
So there we have it. Leaving on a jet plane with no job and nowhere to live. But we are happy and are sure it's the right decision. Here's a picture of our darling Emma, going out with a bang in her Christmas play, Hosanna Rock!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Problems with our utilities - fascinating!

Thanks for all the comments, guys! There are lots I want to come back to (nothing like the warm glow of controversy to get me to my computer screen) but I am a little distracted at the moment..

We had a visit from the electricity people on Friday. No, sorry, the electricity people and the lawyers. Dudes in suits and dudes with wire cutters, anyway. They told us we were among their "most stubborn customers" - I love Ugandan English, even when it's threatening - and they had come to cut us off.

To cut a long story short (and boy it's long and very boring), there are about $600 worth of electricity arrears on this house, from before our tenancy began. No-one is taking responsibility for it: not the landlady, nor the previous tenants, who both blame each other for the arrears. There is no meter at the house - despite repeated requests for one - so it's not like we've got any hard evidence against either party. We have got by so far on many, many, many...journeys to the elec people's office, paying what we think we use, giving our best smiles and begging a stay of execution.

So on Friday, when they turned up with m'learned friends, we thought our number was up. After some more chit chat - I am getting quite good polite, slightly desperate pleading -they disappeared again. But for how long is anyone's guess. If they cut us off again (like I said, long, boring story) we will move out immediately and look for somewhere a bit less complicated.

If that weren't enough, something is up with the water tank. The girls' evening bath now has a layer of sandy sludge at the bottom, with tiny, creepy red flukes wriggling in it. That can't be good for you. I think the moral of this story is 'Don't judge a house by its pretty view.'

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Unhappy Halloween

Well, here we are, October 31st again, and I think this is the last year I can get away with avoiding the whole subject of Halloween with the girls.

I don't 'do' Halloween. I don't do it a) on principle and b) on preference. On principle because it's a pagan festival, specifically a celebration of spirits, witchcraft etc etc and as a Christian it's against my religion, man. On preference because a) I find the sight of little kids dressed up as vampires and skeletons weird and creepy b) I've had bad experiences with South London hoodies trick-or-treating c) why mess up a lovely harvest autumn vibe with skeletons and occulty stuff? And pumpkin pie? It's a crime against cuisine! D) (yes, I'm on a roll, but ranting can be good for you) it's also a peculiarly American festival and I resent the Americans taking over my cultural anniversaries. What was wrong with bonfire night?

Have your say, because I am feeling comment-starved. Am I
a) a miserable old fart. Put on your witches' hat and party!
b) spot on! Those trick-or-treaters should be locked up and force-fed pumpkin pie til they repent.
c) right and wrong, because I'm a nice person (not like you) and I like to sit on the fence

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Forget cereal..

I have been on my own the whole morning. R has taken the girls, plus good friend Zia, to the shops, leaving me to potter and fiddle around the house in perfect peace. So far I have managed to write a long email; swap the girls bookshelves and tidy them, arranging the books in order of height; pick lots of things off the floor; read The Week from cover to cover and eat some of last night's beans and sweet potato. Now I'm bored.

This afternoon Zia has promised to give me a curry masterclass. I *heart* curry, but like so many things -sigh- I can't cook a good one. Last week I tried a lamb rogan josh, and despite following the recipe to the letter, I got comments along the lines of "bit stringy and fatty", "more of a casserole than a curry isn't it?" and "are you sure this is lamb, not mutton?"

Now what do you think of our weekend breakfast? Fried with onion and a little oil, termites are a very tasty snack as well as being full of iron. And as Her Majesty The Queen Termite lays on average 30,000 eggs a day, more sustainable than beef or lamb or mutton.

Yum yum!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Should dentists be camp?

I went to the dentist yesterday. Visits to the dentist are something I am very skilled at putting off, especially in Uganda where finding a good dentist involves committed research.

I have serious dentist fear. When I was a kid, I spent every three or four months in the chair (my mother was and still is, very conscientious about oral health.) It involved lots of fillings and nasty flouride treatment with mouth guards filled with vile-tasting bright blue gel. When I was old enough to decide whether or not to visit the dentist, I chose not. I have had long spells of truancy, the longest of which has been four years. But I am trying to turn over a new leaf: set an example to the children, something like that. Add to that the sneaking suspicion that all is not well dans ma bouche, and, having a terrible sweet tooth, the realisation that my chocolate chickens might be finally coming home to roost.

"Why don't you try Doctor T," said my boss. "He's great! It's so relaxing I often fall asleep in the chair!" I liked the idea of falling asleep in the chair, even if I didn't believe it for a second.

Fast-forward to a smart area of Kampala, a nice courtyard and shaded parking. "WELCOME!" said Dr T, a Ugandan man in his early forties. By this time I was already in the chair, sweating, both through nerves and the fact it was covered in plastic. He took digital photos of my teeth (very cool), some X rays, poked around...and said I needed a filling.

"Because it's only a superficial cavity, I will drill without anaesthetic ok? Any pain, just raise your hand." A split-second later, after I almost leapt off the chair in sudden agony, I got my injection. So much for falling asleep in the chair. "My, we have a jumpy one here!" quipped Dr T. For the record: I have had three children, none of which involved anaesthetic. Again it's the dentist thing: someone poking around in my mouth just gives me the screaming heebie jeebies. I really think I would rather give birth.

After I was filled, her reviewed my x rays, oo-ing and ah-ing like a pantomime dame. (I don't want a camp dentist: sorry. I want an earnest dentist, an academic type with glasses, who pauses before he gives a considered answer from the well of his experience and long medical training.) "You have another cavity right there!" he said, pointing at what I thought looked like a perfectly decent looking tooth. I have to go back in a month.

Then I went home, nursed my fat cheek and ate some mashed potato for dinner. I'm not sure I will make my follow-up appointment.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A posh function

There is nothing like the words "official " and "work dinner" that make me reach for the excuses or feign sudden illness. So I still have no idea why I did actually end up going to this:

Okay, so I'm not exactly a huge fan of his, but my head was turned by the likelihood of el presidente turning up. And he did! He was two hours late, which I think is moderate lateness for a president, by which time I'd had ample opportunity to catch up on my texting, and by which time the nice waiters had filled up my wine glass many times...not good when the food, like the president, is also late, and I am supposed to be a poised and dutiful wife.

So when el P arrived with his security detail and we'd sung the national anthem (no-one sang along actually, but there were at least some chest-clutching patriots in the room), I was a little pink around the eyes and minded less that my posh frock was a little 'gappy'.

Then came the awards - the whole thing was like the export equivalent of the Oscars - and Gandaman's company got the gold award for cocoa. Hooray! Other categories included 'hides and skins' and 'stationery'. Yes, Uganda exports stationery! And fish, fyi, lots of it - wouldn't have guessed that one.

El P gave some handshakes, there were some speeches from ministers. The banana lady had the line of the night: "he who touches the banana, touches everyone!" El p came across well in a grand-fatherly sort of way, though I didn't really take it in as I was very hungry and it was past my bedtime (10:15). Gman kicked me twice for nodding off, but I woke up just in time for the buffet.

In other news: the whole of Kampala and probably the whole of Australia is overjoyed at the safe arrival of the baby warthog. Would pay good money to hop over the Brisbane and tickle his little tusks!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Ugandan dudes

Week three of being a working girl again, and I am slowly getting into my job. There are things that make me want to bang my head on the table in boredom - measuring bag handles - and tasks that are such good fun I can't believe I'm getting paid to do them.
One of the fun things is visiting lots of Ugandan artists and taking pictures of their work for potential buyers overseas. That's how I met Eria Sane (above), at his parents' house in Entebbe. He does big, exuberant, acrylic paintings and treats his subject matter with a lot of humour and playful irreverance. Eria himself is bright, ambitious and articulate. At 30, he has ten years of painting already behind him, and is still energetically churning them out.
"Ugandan artists don't make money because they're not very productive! They just wait for an exhibition or something. I am very productive," he tells me proudly. I ask him if he thinks the lack of productivity is a cultural thing. "You see, colonisation brought suits and ties and office jobs and made black people despise working with their hands! Now we have all these people in offices, but what are they actually doing? We are not producing food anymore!" As he continues his productivity rant, I tell him he reminds me of Margaret Thatcher which makes him laugh.
What is Eria's favourite subject matter? "I'm a humanist. I like things like justice, fairness...I like being a social critic. I like being fluid. I am painting a lot of forests right now, because it's so important that in Uganda we keep our forests, our swamps." (De-forestation is a big problem here.) I ask him his plans for the future. "I want my art to go worldwide. I want to make a name for myself. I want to market our culture, who we are."

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

We are not alone.

Little Warthog has a possum. We have a banded mongoose! Mickey Mongoose and his family have happily installed themselves next to the compost bins, where they snuffle around and eat any snakes and rats that come along.
They can definitely stay, then.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Punctuation matters

We are settling back into Kampala life...thankfully no more hair-raising incidents to report. I love being on top of my mountain, and we even had a party last weekend a sort of housewarming / R's birthday combo.

I like parties: I just hate organising them. I get in a terrible fluster about how much food to buy and whether we have refrigeration capacity. I can't bear the thought of waste - something I have inherited from my mama - and whether my terrible cooking will be exposed. (We had broccoli, pasta and sausages the other night, which I managed to mess up. I still maintain the useless grill was partly to blame.) Barbecues are at least quite forgiving in this sense, especially when you buy the meat pre-marinated and there are lots of pyromaniac friends prepared to take over. But I most love it when the guests turn up, and the spirit of misery guts suddenly disappears.

My favourite thing though: the cake...

Yeah, "Robert", Happy Birthday!
You can run but you can't hide, scumbag!
your friends at the FBI

I think I should be told.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

How Uganda works, pt 3288

Gandalady is on the phone. It is Wednesday. Day three in her new job!

GL: Hello? Is that 'Standard Signs'?
Male: Yes. This is Brian from Standard Signs.
GL: Oh great. Can I come and meet you? I'd like to order some new signs for Banana Boat. Can you tell me where your office is please?
Brian: We are on Kampala road, next to the Crane Bank etc etc.
GL: OK see you tomorrow!

Gandalady is in the car. It is Thursday: time for her meeting with Standard Signs! She has spent about fifteen minutes looking for a parking space in the centre of Kampala. She is trying to be smart and professional, but is actually hot and bothered.

GL: Hello, Brian? I can't see your office. Can you meet me outside Crane Bank?
Brian: Yes of course.
They meet, make chit-chat and head to the lift. They get outside Sanyu FM, a local radio station.

GL: Er...where is the office? Standard Signs?
Brian: Actually...I don't work for Standard Signs, I work for Sanyu FM! Here is my card. I am an advertising sales executive. Would you like to advertise on the radio? Wait a minute, the studio is just here, do you want to look around...?
GL: No thank you. I want to go to Standard Signs. You told me you were from Standard Signs.
(Awkward silence.)
Brian: Let me get you the number of Standard Signs.
GL leaves the building. Later on, Brian sends two numbers for Standard Signs...neither of which work.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

No really, everything's fine!

Good news: much calmer today. We had a nice drive to the shops and I even went for a walk with Gloria this afternoon. Sadly it doesn't mean a total end to the violence; just that it's migrated to another part of town.

What's annoying is that our electricity is very feeble at the moment. Rumour has it someone sabotaged one of the transformers at the army barracks near here during all the unrest. We have lights, although very dim. (I can't see my keyboard properly. Does that mean I can actually touch type? After all these years? *emotional sob!*) But we can't run the fridge and the inverter won't charge. An inverter is a special widget that sucks electricity from the mains and stores it in batteries for when mains power fails. That is the, er, technical description. But: at least we have the internet! Who cares if the milk is sour!

Baby Kitty has also developed a nasty stomach bug. She has thrown up four times in 24 hours..she doesn't have a fever, but I hope it doesn't develop into anything sinister as we haven't got our new health insurance sorted yet. We have, however, run out of cot sheets as the washing machine is broken and everything has to be hand washed. Not that we could run the washing machine anyway with the power situation.

So yes, I'd say we've got off to a somewhat shaky start to our Ugandan adventure (round two.) But at least the rains have made our garden beautiful. I might even try and grow something in it!

Friday, 11 September 2009

A scary moment

What is going on in Uganda?

We learned yesterday from our neighbour, that "there were riots in town, people dying, eh!" At the time we didn't take it that seriously because a) our neighbour is a bit of a jack-the-lad and prone to exaggerate and b) we put it down to another local turf war dispute, and so unlikely to affect us. We carried on business as usual.

Apart from being beautifully traffic-free, I didn't notice anything unusual on my school run. But an hour later, we were told to come and pick our children up. We heard of shops closing and people leaving work. I went home with my new boss and had a very nice time chatting about cushions and Christmas decorations, and from time to time we heard gun fire. Cue nervous laughter. Then it got to be frequent enough for some anxious phone calls to R and boss's fearless mother about their movements. (Fearless mother adamant about going to town to buy a new notebook.) Boss went home, and R came back with Emma, and we went about making beans and sausages for lunch. Everyone was a little tense.

Then, just as we sat down to eat, the gunfire got very noisy and quite intense. It sounded like it was a couple of hundred metres away, although we live on top of a hill and noise travels so we weren't sure. But it was scary enough for us all to suddenly get up and go and eat in the corridor away from the windows. We tried making it into a bit of a joke, but it was pretty frightening.

It didn't last, thank God, and it died down after an hour or so. We ventured down the hill and went for a swim, and everything seemed pretty normal, though 'the situation' is a hot topic of conversation. Tomorrow is likely to be bad too, as the king of Bugunda is planning to make his visit (against the wishes of the President.)

So your prayers are appreciated..for our safety, for this land, that the people won't go and screw it up. We still believe God is in charge, and that he's good. That's a huge comfort, and goes deeper than the fear.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A long absence

I can't believe we're back in Uganda already and I only found time in England to write one lousy post. So here is a summary of the last few weeks. This is where those time-efficient bullet points come in handy!
  • It is a shock having to look after one's own children. I am not sure how anyone manages it back home. Either I am fundametally lazy, or Uganda has spoiled me. Feel free to speculate!
  • We did A LOT of socialising, all of it enjoyable and somehow involving food. There is half a stone more of me here as a result. I would be on the rice crackers and cottage cheese...if you could get them here.
  • Although we did a lot of socialising, there was still not enough time to see everyone. (Sorry, PF, are we still friends?)
  • We did lots of work on the garden. Actually, Rob did everything, I called out encouraging things from the kitchen.
  • We intended to clear the loft, but nostalgia overtook us and we ended up putting 90 per cent of it back.
  • Major change has occured in Tooting: Primark has become...TK Maxx! Marks and Spencers has become...Primark! And Woolworths has become....Poundland! (Not much change there then.)
  • Despite being grey, rainy, overcrowded and full of miserable people, I absolutely love London. It's home.
  • Gloria had her first filling! No more fizzy drinks and neat Milo powder for us and
  •'s my birthday today. Thirty-six and still hot!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Gandalady's essential camping guide!

I can hardly believe it, but already we are two and a half weeks into our England adventure. So far, it's been great. Lots of family and friends to see, and cool drizzly skies to enjoy: yes, really. Prior to our departure there had been hardly any decent rain for a month, and Kampala was turning into a dust bowl. (I will let you know when the novelty wears off.)

The highlight so far has been camping at New Wine. We heard some excellent counter-arguments to the new atheism from Dr John Lennox, who has publicly debated its leading exponents. We came away with a library of books. And the camping was very character-building! Just in case you're thinking of taking your young family to Somerset for seven nights under canvas, I have put together this useful guide to help you learn from my mistakes!

1. It WILL rain, torrentially, unremittingly for eight hour stretches, more than once, because THIS IS ENGLAND. Factor this in before starting the holiday to minimise disappointment.

2. Come prepared. Gum boots, waterproofs, tent in good condition, sense of humour, enough change for courage-building chocolate and caffeine fixes.

3. On a camping holiday, you can never have enough warm clothes. Bring twice what you think you'll need. If you have been living near the Equator, bring three to four times that amount.

4. Tiny, two-man tents are for sixth formers and masochists. You need something spacious that you can stand up in. And an air mattress, and a double duvet. It is not supposed to be punishment.

5. Bring the potty. It is much easier to take to the toilet block in the rain than a screaming, bursting child who has lost their shoes.

6. Don't worry if you don't wash for three days or change your shirt for five (ahem.) No one will notice. Will they?

7. Don't even attempt to wash the children in a muddy communal shower. It is a complete waste of time.

8. Ear plugs. The teenagers come out in force after dark and this is..testing.

9. Take full advantage of the close quarters: babysitters everywhere! Other children for yours to play with! Very good.

10. A glass of wine at the end of the day warms you up and generally improves the whole experience.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

How Uganda works

It's the day before the Gandas leave for England. Gandalady is running errands all over town. Her list of duties includes collecting Emma's new passport, having only realised the old one had expired two days previously. In the car on the way to the British High Commission, her phone rings. She comes to a junction on a quiet road, indicates, feebly pulls over and answers the call. Behind her is a pick-up crammed with police. One of them jumps out and taps on the window.

Policeman: Madam! Stop there! (points to parking space over the road, waving arms around excitedly)
Gandalady: Umm... Oh? me? My phone? How silly of me. Sir, I am so sorry, very sorry. Please, I won't do it again. Please let me go, I have a thousand things to do. (She pulls over as instructed. The pick-up pulls in front, blocking her in. All the policeman, about a dozen of them, stare at her. Some of them are armed. The first policeman comes back to the driver's side of Gandalady's car.)
Policeman: (righteously indignant) You were driving like an unprofessional! If I take you to court now for being dangerous, am I wrong?
Gandalady: No. Not at all. You would not be wrong. I was not thinking. Sorry. I will not do it again. Forgive me. Pause. Can I go?
Policeman: (enjoying G's discomfort) No, it is not OK! Give me your papers.
Gandalady hands over her driving licence. Policeman pulls out Cath Kidston style flowery note book and starts writing down details. Other police watch intently.
Policeman, uninvited, gets into Gandalady's car on the passenger side.
Policeman: (lowers voice). You see madam, it is like this, today I am out with the big man. Three stars! So I must do my duty. I must confiscate your phone. 400,000 shillings fine. And then you must come to court, where they serve 6 months to 1 year for dangerous driving. What do you say?
Gandalady: Please, sir. I cannot let you have my phone. I need my phone, I am travelling tomorrow. What is the fine? Let me pay the fine. Gandalady reaches for her purse.
Policeman: (hisses aggressively) You put that money away! We go there first (points to spot a few metres away from the pick-up. Gandalady obliges.)
Gandalady: What is the fine? Let me pay it.
Policeman: We go to police station first. Then the court must decide, if it is prison or what.
Gandalady: I can't...
Policeman: Just give me 100, 000.
Gandalady hands over the money. I will give you a million shillings just to get out of my car and go away.
Policeman: (shoving notes in his pockets) Go now, if you make trouble for me I will take away your vehicle and get you in prison.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A small problem

We have moved.

I am sitting in my living room on the house on the hill, looking out over Lake Victoria. Four days in and we have just about unpacked. I say 'we': actually Gandaman did all the leg work. I sat around, staring catatonically at the boxes as he unpacked, mumbling about "exhaustion."

I am a very reluctant packer, and an even more reluctant un-packer. G-man likes his house a home, with books on shelves and photos and nice lighting. I am at heart, still a student: give me a saucepan and some teabags and I am pretty happy. Everything else we need will creep out as I need it, or so I reason.

I was surprised at some of the items that had managed to make it to the new place - a plastic doll's severed leg, various tupperware boxes with no lids, some broken plastic wallets, unplaceable foreign coins. And yet, I had managed to leave behind some very vital personal property: no less than my entire underwear drawer!

Imagine my consternation on Friday morning when I discovered the absence of my precious smalls. Followed by the despair as I handwashed my remaining pair in Johnson's Baby Wash, the washing powder having similarly disappeared. Then the acute embarressment of calling the new tenant at our old house and the new boss at Medair to try and locate their whereabouts. "Hi! How are you? Yes, sorry to bother you, but..have you seen?.."

To add insult to injury, these were not any ragged old things: they were almost new, specially ordered from England. Decent bras and pants are about the only thing you can not get here. Balsamic vinegar? Check. Brand new DVD player? Yup. Marmite? Technically yes, though the arabic script is a little unnerving and it doesn't taste the same as back home. But undies? Only if you like polyester blends from China in pastel shades.

Then we got the call yesterday: the contract cleaners had picked them up (the contract cleaners!) and discreetly put them in a plastic bag, which was subsequently taken to the Medair office. I sneaked in earlier today and removed them, carefully not making eye contact with any of the staff.

It's great to be reunited with my er, 'items', but I am also saddened that I no longer have an excuse to run amok on my yearly pilgrimage to Marks and Spencers.* Though actually, I think I will anyway.

* we fly to the UK on Friday for 6 weeks - yay!!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

News! News!

We have a house and I have a job and we are staying in Uganda!

After much to-ing and fro-ing, we are moving into the house on the hill: the one with the spectacular view and beautiful creepers and guest house and veggie patch. And I took the job at Banana Boat! At last, Gandaman gets to realise his dream of being a househusband, although he is also sniffing around for a part-time job in case the dream becomes a nightmare.

It's all go round here: we are signing contracts and transferring money, doing inventories, thinking about work permits, booking flights. From time to time we remember we have children to attend to. We have to move in before we go to the UK on 17th July.

Worm update: Emma took it to school today for her show-n-tell. A powerful health promotion message there!

And here is a photo of our girls, because even though we've barely had five minutes with each other of late, they are still dreamy. As in all photos, I am looking a little rough:

Thursday, 25 June 2009

No news

No news, no news. Nothing on the house, nothing on the job. We are still in limbo. There is nothing we can do about either, so I'm distracting myself with useful things, like looking up evacuation policies and deciding which pink looks best in the cushions Eva is making. I am remembering my deep breathing exercises, and only occasionally run screaming into the bushes. As soon as we hear anything, you'll be the first to know.

And FYI, I was not exaggerating about the worm:

Friday, 19 June 2009

All over the place

Oh dear, usual apologies about being a terrible blogger and leaving long gaps between posts. I actually have an impressive list of excuses and preoccupations which have kept me offline.

1. My parents were here. We went to Jinja, where our driver was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, but we had a nice time anyway (and no-one was hurt.) We went back to Mihingo Lodge, just as beautiful as last time and my mother cantered through the savannah on a horse -again, no-one was hurt, though she looked very wobbly at one point.

2. Baby K had a roundworm. It was 10.5cm long. We pickled it in some waragi (local brew, made from bananas, undrinkable) and took it to the doctor's. There are loads more details I could add, but won't, as it is stomach-churning enough as it is. We have all now been de-wormed.

3. We have been to lots of parties. We had three of them last weekend. Not sure when we got so popular, but we went with it anyway. I am looking porkier as a result of gorging myself on canapes.

4. We have spent hours discussing our future. R's job is coming to an end soon, but I have been offered a job here! We might stay. Then again, R has applied for a job in Burma/Myanmar and we might go there instead.

5. In case we stay, we have been doing some househunting. Lots of over-priced new builds, with floor-to-ceiling tiles (why do Ugandans love so many tiles? It makes the whole house feel like a giant bathroom.)

6. But we did look round our dream home: on top of a beautiful hill, with views over the whole city on one side and the lake on the other. R could paint in the guest annexe while I win the bread. Lovely creepers and burgeoning vegetable patch.

7. We would be subletting off some Americans who aren't sure yet if they're coming back to Uganda, so the whole thing may be a non-starter. If, that is, we end up staying, which we don't know yet.

8. If R gets through this next round of interviews, he will go to Seattle for the final showdown.

9. Apparently the schools aren't great in Burma, so lots of people home school. I am not sure I am cut out for home-schooling.

10. Oh yes: my job. It would be with Banana Boat, designing and commissioning new Ugandan products with local suppliers as well as lots of other interesting things. I would also have time to really develop Sweetshop, which would be fantastic. If we stay.

If I think about this any more, I am worried my head might explode.

Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Sowe island

On Wednesday I got to put my nurse's hat on again as I went with the Hope Clinic team to Sowe island, to vaccinate school children. It has confirmed that I am not really an aid worker type. Call me a wuss, but I am rather attached to my clean, running water and electricity.

I was really looking forward to our trip because I have never seen anything of proper, rural Uganda. It was quite a shock. Sowe island is 45 minutes away from the mainland by boat, and about 1 and a half hours away from Kampala itself. Though hardly convenient to get to, it's not exactly remote - I was back in plenty of time to watch Angelina Ballerina with the girls before dinner at 6.30.

But Sowe is a world away from our cossested, urban life. The village we visited had no running water, no sanitation, no power, just lots of kids running around with distended bellies, alot of them caked in mud and with horrible skin diseases. They drink, wash and defecate into the lake. (It was like sailing on foul green soup, featureless except for the odd plastic bag.) There is a 'health post' - run by an enterprising individual with zero medical training, who picks up 'medicines' from Kampala to sell. There is a school, a 10 minute boat ride away - only the boat is broken. And the school has no teachers, books or other resources. The school is a recent feature, so let's hope the rest will follow. These people deserve better.

Injecting the kids was a nightmare. We were doing the standard infant vaccinations - DTP, polio and measles, which unsurprisingly, none of them had had at birth. It is one thing injecting babies, quite another a school age child who can and will hit you back because, despite careful explanation, the only thing they really register is 'strange white face about to stab me'. One girl was so scared, she peed all over me. (I added 'change of trousers' to my mental list of things I wish I'd brought. Already on it were: sensible shoes, key to the toilet, functioning tin opener. It was the inaccessible lunch, not the pee, that tipped me over the edge.)

The shiney, new school was a reasonable location, but the church hall less so, as every surface was thick with bat droppings. ('Cloth for removing bat droppings' - didn't have that either.) On the way back, our propeller got caught in a discarded fishing net ('pen knife'. Tsk! I would have been a rubbish boy scout), so we had to row into shore. I got home, had a shower, made myself a cup of tea, watched Angelina...and felt a lot better.

PS. By "pregnancy-addled", I was referring to my last three pregnancies. I am not preg, sorry..though I have chuckled hard at the fevered speculation!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Where to start?

Thanks, everyone for your lovely comments. It makes a girl feel loved when she's miles away from home! You are a kind bunch.

I am racking my brains for things to write about but they are not coming...except in a kind of panicy, jumbled mess. I said in my last post that I wasn't quite in the departure lounge - perhaps I am now. Hence the panic.

Topping the list of anxieties: where will Emma go to school? My pal Jo gave me the names of some good ones, so I parked that worry for a bit, thinking "I'll just go and visit each of them when we get back." (I couldn't imagine signing her up for a place that I've never seen. ) Then of course, I realised it'll be the school holidays. Great for assessing whether you think the children and staff are happy.

Another anxiety: how exactly do I go back to work? My nursing registration lapsed a while back, so I would need to do a Return to Nursing course. It's only three months, so not a big deal, but here's the rub - to get on the course, you need a job. How do I get a job without being registered? I'm sure there's a solution here, but my poor pregnancy-addled brain can't see it.

And here's another thing. R has applied for another job overseas. If he gets it, then all the above will be irrelevant. There are several more hoops to jump through, so this is by no means a done deal.

Maybe a cream cake will give me some clarity?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


We are leaving Uganda on July 17th.

There it is, the big news. We have known about this for sometime, but for various reasons have had to keep it quiet on cyberspace. We are departing a bit sooner than planned, and though we have got used to the idea of leaving, we are a bit heavy-hearted at the same time.

So why the early exit? Well, here is the good reason. There is peace now in Northern Uganda, after 18 years of civil war. After years of living in displacement camps, people are beginning to return to their villages and become self-sufficient again. Medair - who for years provided emergency humanitarian assistance in the Northern states - are shrinking their programmes accordingly, so that the private investors and development people can take over. This is entirely a good thing - if the emergency NGO's outstay their usefulness, they create problems (e.g. dependency culture), rather than solve them.

This, plus the less good reason (global financial crisis), means that there is a lot less money in the pot. One of the toughest periods for R at work was making Ugandan staff redundant - 5 people in Kampala, 30 in the field. It was a time of serious soul-searching for us too. We realised that our family (R's salary, our house etc) is expensive to the programme. So Rob basically sacked himself. There is a lovely, extremely competent single man who is taking over - and he will rough it in the team house like everyone else. (We did suggest moving into the team house, but they said no! Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned Gloria's 5.30 waking habit.)

Yet through all the uncertainty, we've seen God's incredible faithfulness. Most of the staff have got new jobs. We don't have anything lined up work-wise yet, but we feel at peace about this. We're considering going overseas again, some further study for R...I might even go back to nursing (arggh! arggh!)

But we're not in the departure lounge just yet. There is still plenty to do, like handover Sweetshop to the right people (details to follow in another post), find my wedding ring, and of course, catch the rat. Would it be creepy to then stuff him and take him back to England?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Lost: wedding ring

I know it's just stuff and you can't take it with you, but losing a wedding ring is quite a big deal. A bigger deal than say, losing a contact lens. The contact lens is probably more inconvenient, but easier on the heart strings.

It's been over a week now, so it has jumped categories from 'mislaid' to 'AWOL', although it won't be 'gone forever' until we get on a plane and leave Uganda. But while there is that glimmer of hope that it might still be under the sofa, I am still a little sad and feel somewhat under dressed without my special bit of bling.

It was always a question of "when" and not "if" I would lose it, however. I think I have lost every piece of jewellery that I have ever been given. A gold chain from my Dad when I was about 11; a ring from my best friend on my 21st birthday. I am a bit clumsy and forgetful (and not naturally tidy), but I don't do it deliberately, either. I have sort of accepted now that I am not a jewellery girl, and have made R swear never to buy me any no matter how special the occasion.

It was white gold, plain and very small. (I am not petite by any means, but my fingers are.) I remember choosing it in R's old school friend's swanky jewellery shop, trying on lots of different styles and feeling very excited about getting married. Hours into the marriage, my brand new ring made the skin underneath red and itchy, and so my habit of taking it off a lot was born. For the next 6 years I wore it most of the time, except when I came into contact with water whereupon it was consigned to strategically-placed shelves, i.e high ones, out of reach of little fingers.

Very early last Wednesday morning, I saw my ring on the bathroom shelf next to the toothpaste. I am pretty sure I put it on. Then there was breakfast and the usual morning mayhem. I got Emma's school bag ready and waited outside our gate for her lift to school. I put her in the car and kissed her goodbye. It's around this point I don't remember having the ring anymore, though I have no memory of taking it off. Since then I have searched high and low and - nothing.

The one thing that makes this whole thing a bit easier is that R lost his wedding ring a couple of years ago. He thinks he stuffed it with a napkin into a paper cup in Starbucks at Heathrow Airport. So we are one all.

I will definitely get another one (if it really is Gone Forever), as I am sick of men throwing themselves at me in the street under the illusion that I am available. Except this time, it'll be made of stainless steel.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Ugandan dudes

Meet Dan, our ex-guard and his family. That's baby Angela on Mummy's knee, who is a few months older than Katherine.

Being a security guard is a rubbish job in Uganda. The shifts are long, the pay is dismal and it is very, very boring. The big security companies treat their staff appallingly, not relieving them on time and generally being very unsupportive. All too often we watched Dan stay on, well after his 12 hour stint was up, while we made increasingly irate calls to the company - let's call them Group Five - demanding they relieve him. As a result of our phonecalls (in which we frequently threatened to cancel the contract) Dan came to us one day, obviously distressed, saying that the management at Group 5 had started intimidating him for being a troublemaker. He desperately wanted another job.

On his days off, I used to give Dan driving lessons. He was in possession of a driving licence, but his examiner must have been either drunk, blind or of a thrill-seeking disposition. But after a few door-clutching spins, Dan got to be a very good driver, and very adept at the hated school run. And he could do inch-perfect right hand turns. I said I would keep my ear to the ground in case any driving jobs came up - a step up in pay and a welcome break from seven years opening gates (which is basically what guards do all day.)

It wasn't long before Dan came to us, very excited, saying he had been offered a security management job which involved driving - and that he'd passed their basic assessment. The job was also in Mbale, Western Uganda, where Dan is originally, so the location couldn't be better. Hooray! So here we all are, having our farewell afternoon tea. We will miss Dan - a really good guy.
(And for the record: Ugandan men never smile in photos. So take his Mona Lisa curl to be an expression of extreme joy.)

Monday, 30 March 2009

Kitty is one

Here she is, my little treasure, with her mad, staring lunatic of a mother. Some of us are just born unphotogenic...either that or this is just further evidence that the whole business with the (still uncaught) rat has tipped me over the edge. But isn't my Kit just a million shades of adorable?

At one she can
1. Wave 'bye bye'
2. Say 'Mummy!' 'Daddy!'
3. Squeal delghtfully.
4. Suck her thumb expertly.
5. Almost, almost, almost walk.
6. Splash in the pool - and go under water for a split second. (We've been dunking her from the get-go, to avoid the tedious waterphobia of her elder sisters. That stage is thankfully past now.)

Notice also the appropriate Kitty cake. Not bad, eh? Actually Rob did it all, under my careful creative direction. None of that messy icing business for me, no thank you!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, 20 March 2009

In no particular order

Ratwatch. The glue is gradually going hard and therefore useless, but we did find a little slick of rat hairs on it this morning. So there is hope. The glue from the tube is the thing apparently, and lots of it.

General insectwatch: Steve the Spider seems to have disappeared, just as well, as he had made the hit list. In his place we now have Simon the Stick Insect, who hangs benignly off the tiles above the kitchen work surface. I like stick insects: he can stay.

Internet Service Providerwatch: I have had 11 days now without internet at home. I have had many phone conversations with the contractor, varying in tone from cool displeasure to shrill rage, waited in for long, fruitless hours. After a face-to-face confrontation at head office - I actually jabbed my finger - someone has been round and is off round Kampala looking for a piece of cable. I'm not sure I am past finger-jabbing stage just yet.

Childrenwatch: Katherine fine, almost walking, Glory fine, loves to cover herself in body art, Emma a bit poorly. It was her class assembly today which she insisted on performing in despite her condition. She croaked her one line and she got a nosebleed half way through, but she soldiered on through the 'Good morning' and the 'Insect' songs (appropriate, eh) before I whisked her home to recuperate.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Close to nature

My rat (should I say 'my'? Am I emotionally involved now?) is still at large. He has wised up to my glue traps. I hope that means he has moved on (Rebecca?) and not chewing the electric cables. Though that would be another way of seeing him off.

Ratty is not the only creature to have moved in recently. There is a huge lizard in the girls' bedroom. Not monitor lizard huge, but about 7 inches long and slimey, a lizard, definitely, not a gecko. He likes to hide on the mosquito nets, and jumps out at me at when i put them down at night which makes me scream. My first instinct was "kill it, kill it" (I am a born conservationist) but he doesn't bite and he eats the mozzies, so I've decided I can live with Luke the Lizard. I just wish he weren't so slimey and...animal.

My feelings are more ambivalent about Steve the Spider who waved at me while I was having a shower this morning. Steve is a hairy spider. Small, but hairy, like a tarantula. He is black and white, unlike a tarantula. Is he poisonous? Will he kill me? Should I kill him first?

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Rat in mi kitchen

My furry friend has moved in. He is making himself very comfortable. He has put his bags down, thrown his towel on the nearest available poolside sunlounger and is checking his watch so as not to miss the beginning of Happy Hour.

He has found the pantry. I have seen his little ratty gnawing teeth marks in the avocado and the pawpaw. He has been helping himself to our food, and smearing our cereal packets with bubonic plague. (Sorry. I am a little hysterical). My previous strategy - making him disappear by the power of positive thinking - has failed. It is time to change tack.

My international rat consultant and friend Rebecca has suggested strong traps and peanut bait, but my Ugandan friends have told me to go for special rat glue. At least I am not alone in having vermin issues.

Rat glue. Glue for rats.

The idea is this: they come out during the night to feed and get stuck on the glue, you find them in the morning and finish them off with a frying pan.

Why do things like this always happen when Rob is away?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Nairobi, rats and crochet

We are back online at last after five long days of no internet. It was a revealing absence. It showed, among other things, that I am a) addicted b) always desperate for news from home c) capable of major hissy fittage with unsuspecting technical support personnel.

The headlines from Ganda are:
We went to Nairobi.
We have rats.
We are branching into crochet cushions.

Nairobi was BRILLIANT! I wasn't expecting this, given Nairobi's fearsome reputation. But I revelled in the paved streets, the balmy climate and the leafy suburbs. And the supermarkets! We left with armloads of multigrain loaves and mozzarella. We ate hummus and mushrooms - not from a tin! Bliss. Most blissful was hanging out with very old, dear friend K and her three lovely children.

We have rats. A rat has been seen, scurrying from corridor to bathroom. The fact I am writing this in such a calm way in no way reflects my mental state on the issue, which I have erased from my conscious mind. We also have cockroaches. (Tea, anyone?) I should get the fumigators in.

Following the roaring success of our crocheted Christmas stars, we have begun crocheting cushion covers and kids' blankets. The lady who owns Banana Boat - Uganda's classiest craft shop - has commissioned us. Of course, it's Joan who does the actual crocheting, not me. I just negotiate the patterns, colours, specifications and the money. There's been a lot of trial and error, but we're sticking with it - and if we get the right design and Banana Boat order in bulk, that's a very tidy little earner for Joan, currently out of work.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Beware the Glorymouse

"..and so it came to pass, after being so snobby about Facebook (see below) Lizzie then decided Facebook was the best thing since sliced bread, and ditched her beloved blog in its favour."

The End.*

*I have also been in Nairobi for the weekend, there have been some very tedious power cuts and general internet connectivity nonsense.

Friday, 13 February 2009


I first joined Facebook about two years ago. I dallied around for about six months, then quietly didn't log on again for another year and a half. Back then I decided I didn't like it: I felt I was already in touch with the people I wanted to be in touch with via non-FB means, and every time I did log in to Facebook , it would suck me into The Facebook Vortex of Extreme Timewasting. So I dropped it.

Then funny things started to happen. Friends who I shared a lot of actual face time with, with whose highs and lows I was well-acquainted, would ask me (actually affronted) why I hadn't become their Facebook friend? I thought this was a bit weird, and told them so. Then I would receive emails from people who I no longer had any face time with, but wanted to stay in touch with, with requests to 'check out their Facebook profile'. My resolve not to become a Facebook monkey started to waver.

And so, the day before yesterday, after I had checked out my friends' blogs for the millionth time that day, the children were all asleep, Rob was away, and feeling sick from too much QS, I logged in to Facebook again after my long absence. Sure enough, the Facebook Vortex of Extreme Timewasting sucked me into its inky depths, and it was only 1 hr and 45 mins later that I managed to extract myself.

At first, being on Fb is a bit like being at a huge party of people you haven't seen for years. I spent ages going round each little group, catching up. Indeed this is the beauty of Fb: seeing old friends' kids for the first time, hearing about their various adventures. Initially, it made me very homesick. But sooner or later, I was led astray, and ended up nosing around friends of friends, and people who I didn't dislike, but didn't get on with either, and suddenly I felt like the teenager at the party, wondering if everyone was secretly sniggering at my choice of outfit. Then I noticed a comment on someone's wall that wound me up, and I kept myself awake at night constructing a clever riposte. That's what I mean about the Facebook Vortex of Extreme Timewasting - it's not just about the actual internet time, it's the headspace it occupies afterwards.

So Facebook, is it a good thing? Or a bad thing? I'm still not sure.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Home alone

R is away.
Children in bed.
Just me.
All alone.

With a tin of Quality Street.

Anyone want the strawberry creams?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Ugandan dude -ess

Last Saturday we all went to a party to celebrate 10 years of Red Chilli Hideaway. It's a chain of backpacker hostels run by my friend Debbie. I met Debbie about 9 months ago, queuing to get Emma a new passport in the British High Commission. We hit it off straight away - same height, Brit, likes talking, and as it happened, her kid was due to be in the same class as Emma at school.
Unlike us swan-in, swan-out NGO types, Debbie arrived in Uganda twelve years ago on some post-university travel and never left. (She did go back to the UK for a year, but we'll get to that bit.) She got together with Steve, who was working for the British High Commission at the time. But he was fed up of diplomatic life, and together they decided to start Red Chilli.

They bought some land, with some "derelict buildings" on it, a few kilometres from Kampala city centre and started rennovating. "Derelict buildings" is Debbie's expression, but that's generous: the photos reveal only two out of four brick walls with some grass in the middle.

The tourism business anywhere requires tenacity and nerves of steel, but especially in Uganda where political instability, fraud, unreliable infrastructure, and a tonne of red tape are par for the course. "It was one step forward, two steps back," said Debbie ruefully in her speech. Then in 1999, eight tourists were massacred by Rwandan Hutu rebels in Bwindi forest, home of the mountain gorillas and probably Uganda's biggest tourist attraction. Debbie had met some of them, having passed through Red Chilli en route. (Following their rescue, the survivors turned down a night at the Sheraton and asked to go back to Red Chilli instead.) Tourism to Uganda dried up overnight, but they persevered, and opened a second Red Chilli opened in Murchison Falls National Park.

In November 2005 Steve was in Murchison when he received a distress call from some rafters. On his way to help them, Steve was ambushed by the Lord's Resistance Army. He was shot in the heart, and died instantly. Debbie was in Kampala at the time with their two-year-old son. Two hours after learning of Steve's death, she found out she was pregnant. Grieving, she went back to the UK for a year, to give birth to her daughter. But she didn't stay. "I couldn't allow the dream to die with Steve," she said. So she came back.

Things are far from easy, but on the whole Red Chili does a roaring trade. I bump into Debbie most days at school. When I ask if she's tired, she replies "yeah well I was doing the accounts all night and then Zoe woke up three times..". Running a successful business and mothering toddlers are stressful enough - then I remind myself she is also a widow. Sharp, funny, self-deprecating, down-to-earth too. Impressive woman indeed.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Exit interview

This is Auntie Caroline. Glory and I took her to Entebbe airport early this morning to wave her off after a month in Uganda. It was pouring with rain and quite chilly - perfect transition weather. I was meant to 'interview' her for the blog, but we got distracted with last-minute present buying. But I did manage to squeeze out a couple of her highs and lows. For the record then, here is Auntie C's holiday synopsis:

Best moment: Giving Nanny a piggy-back in the forest on Ngamba Island and grooming her. (Nanny is a juvenile chimp.)
Worst moment: Being wedged in the front of a pick-up with two men, one woman, one baby and one buttock suspended mid-air between seat and door handle. For eight hours. (That's a long worst 'moment.')
Most useful item of luggage: mobile phone.
Least useful item of luggage: flowery gardening gloves. Apparently useful in the forest for grasping prickly vines and such, but they stayed in Kampala with us.
I would have probed more, but like I say, we ran out of time.

So from our side:
Best moments with Auntie C: Too many to mention. All her lovely interactions with our juvenile chimps, probably. Watching her jump off the scarily-high middle diving board at a pool in Entebbe, after I dared her to. (I climbed the ladder but was too chicken - even after three attempts.)
Worst moments with Auntie C: C's consistent victories at Snatch.
Did Auntie C have anything good in her luggage? Yes! Fabulous Christmas presents from all the Schos, Green and Blacks chocolate and Mr Kiplings mini- Battenburgs (all eaten.)

We miss her already.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Not much happened today*

I did clean out the car, however. This is what I found:

Plastic bottle - one
Cornflakes - a few hundred, crushed and rubbed into upholstery
Bits of tissue paper
Some shoes, presumed lost
Bits of foil
Lord Lucan - hiding in ashtray
Crew of Marie Celeste
Trillions of dollars - saving world from global economic disaster etc
(that's enough -ed)

*when I promised to post more frequently, I offered no quality guarentees

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A glorious party

You couldn't do this back home in January..
Look how it turned out! I'm even a bit disappointed that I've got nothing to send to cake wrecks , though the mottled cross-eyes are an unexpected feature. Handy tip, bakers: don't put smarties in the fridge.

M: Gloria, you're the birthday girl - why don't you open it?

G: No, you won it fair and square old thing -I insist!

M: You're too kind, but it is I that must insist. You open it!

Baby K: Give me that parcel!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Granny's last day

Here she is, the intrepid explorer, a few feet away from the raging Nile! This photo was taken at Bujugali Falls in Jinja, where you can watch the whitewater rafters. It's exciting to watch the boats as they go over the falls, but I'm not sure I'd want to do it myself. At least not when I could stick my head in the washing machine in the comfort of my own home for a fraction of the cost.
Granny R is heading back to (freezing cold) Britain tomorrow. The girls will miss Granny bath and story time, though I'm not sure she will miss another rendition of Blue Kangaroo's Christmas which she can recite by heart. It's been fun.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A milestone looms

Gloria will be 3 this Sunday. Hooray!

I am impressively ahead of the curve (for once) with the party planning, mainly because Auntie C and Granny R have been acting as willing slaves under my creative directorship. We have made invitations out of Cornflakes and yellow wool, drawn a monkey for Pin the Tail on the Monkey (I know it's a break with convention but there is a monkey theme going here.) We* have looked up 'Monkey Cake' on the internet, but that is as far as we've got with the catering...maybe we're not as ahead as I thought.

*Gandaman, reading this over my shoulder, prickled at the use of the royal 'we' in this sentence. The cake is his turf, no trespassers.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Ring Out, Wild Bells

I found this in my inbox, sent by the lovely C - thank you.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred Lord Tennyson