Burping phones and rumbling cars in Franceville
Mobile morning calls and heavy traffic at 6.45am leave your correspondent feeling afflicted.
My mind ran on an old classmate this morning. When I was at secondary school in south London , Eddie Flanagan used to come and call for me - after he’d done his morning paper round - and we’d walk or take the bus to school together.
One day Eddie started using the word “afflicted” quite extensively. He’d obviously been reading a book and consulting a dictionary. I didn’t have a clue what he was on about.
However, at school, Darryl Dowling did. And there were probably several playground stunts on various pupils, myself included, to elucidate the significance (I’ve perused a plethora of publications since).
I’m a couple of thousand miles and nearly as many years away from that playground but boy did I feel afflicted earlier today.
When a text message comes through on my mobile phone, the contraption makes a baritone burping noise and rumbles aggressively on whatever surface it’s been deposited. As it is a company phone I don’t want to poke at its innards too much for fear of disembowelling the device.
Libertis, the local mobile phone company, has a habit of sending out a text message at 8am offering me the chance to get two credits for the price of one in the next hour. And when it’s not doing its pre-dawn promotion wake-up calls, it emits a text at roughly the same time asking me to guess who is going to win the day’s Africa Cup of Nations matches.
There were no messages this morning. Instead there was just a load of loud cars trundling along the drive at 6.45am.
I haven’t yet checked if there is a dignitary on site. I just don’t think it’s that kind of hotel here.
The more swanky location is on the other side of town. It is so new and swish there that the paint hasn’t started to peel and they haven’t yet managed to fill up the swimming pool.
I got back to sleep for a while and after breakfast I sat at my desk to prepare the day’s work assignments. And then, without so much as a: “By your leave, sire” - the noise of drilling. Sustained stuff it was too.
Call me old-fashioned but I thought the customer was king. Perhaps resistance is feudal.
There may well be a pressing need for the work, but what about a courtesy call to see if I was in or even to enquire when I would be going out so that the repairs could be done without disturbing me or other guests too much.
But perhaps my concept of a hotel is skewed. True, if I really don’t think it is up to scratch, then I can take my business elsewhere. To the shiny, bright palace on the other side of town? Doubt the company would hack the price hike.
Or I could defect from the afflicted state. Exercise some self-determination and just take myself elsewhere.
Of course! Go and do a few lengths in the swimming pool!
I can live with that as a morning drill.
And there’s water right to the top.