Day 258: The Second Pizza of Freedom

15.09.09: RULE 6: NEVER EXPECT AN APOLOGY I woke up before dawn to find that my guard had gone. I went for a walk around the station – it was empty. I was strongly tempted to leg it, but since The Man had given me his word that I’d be out today (and he wasn’t a Vogon), I returned to my bed. By noon, I became despondent. The Man was nowhere to be seen. Where the hell was he? What the hell? They had held me for SIX days, without charge, for no reason other than being white. My usual Shackleton-like endurance was wearing thin. I decided that the next morning, I would wait until 5am, and then make a break for it. There was a low roof adjacent to the compound wall with a car parked beneath it. I reckoned that I could climb onto…

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Day 257: You’re Free But You Can’t Leave

14.09.09: RULE 5: AVOID AFRICA I’m sorry. I’ve cracked. The wars (all 47 of them, want a list?) may be over (kinda) and I was desperate to blaze a trail from Rabat to Cape Town and declare Western Africa (finally) re-opened after 50 years of rampant corruption, stupidity and ineptitude, but I can’t. Not in good faith. The horror is still here, still alive and kicking. Oh yes, there are wonderful people here and yes, there are wonderful things to see, and yes, the people here need your money, they need you here desperately…but mark my words, the Vogons will go out of their way to ruin it for you. IT’S NOT WORTH THE HASSLE. I can deal with it in Egypt and in India – there are Vogons there for sure, but not ones that will steal your things and throw you in jail for…

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Day 256: The Horror, The Horror

13.09.09: RULE 4: VOGONS ARE UNFEASIBLY STUPID You cannot reason somebody out of a position they haven’t reasoned themselves into. Appealing to my captors on the logical grounds that I was a tourist, had a valid passport and a valid visa, had no contraband in my luggage and that as quite possibly the only tourist in Brazzaville, their actions where no only bad for me, but also bad for their rotten hellhole of a country, got me nowhere. Sunday passed VERY slowly. It’s hard to mark time without a watch. Nothing to read, nothing to write…just me and my thoughts. To mess with future inmate’s heads, I marked the entire Periodic Table on the wall. My daydreams centred on two things – a new Indiana Jones movie set in Africa called Indiana Jones and the Heart of Darkness; and the possibility of escape, slim though it…

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Day 255: The Heart of Darkness

12.09.09: RULE 3: VOGONS HAVE NO EMPATHY “The only way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down their throat”. - Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Most children learn about empathy at an early age. The Vogon brain, being hardwired for bureaucracy, selfishness and greed, never develops the necessary range of higher-level emotions that are necessary to successfully gauge the suffering of others. Therefore, there is nothing to prevent a Vogon brain’s owner from locking them up in a stinking cell and wondering why the victim might not enjoy the experience. Similarly, there is nothing to stop Vogon leaders from stealing everything, absolutely EVERYTHING (including the future), from the bottom billion poorest people in world. The man, as Super Furry Animals once sang, don’t give a f**k. With no watch to tell the time, I measured the…

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Day 254: The Saddest Song In The World

11.09.09: RULE 2: NEVER TRUST A VOGON I awoke on the little couch in the ‘chief’s’ office. Gone was any chance of me submitting my visa application for Angola this week. Max returned and was helping translate the situation. Then they took me outside and tried to stuff me in a 4x4. I resisted on the grounds that they wouldn’t tell Max where they were taking me. In the end, Max said he’d follow and not to worry, they say they’ll let me go soon. So off I go with the police. Are they just going to take me out to the sticks and put a bullet in my head? Who knows? Why am I here? Why are they doing this? Are they crazy or just blitheringly stupid? I was taken to another police station – this one much larger (and even more horrible) than the…

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Day 253: The Last Thing I Needed

10.09.09: Let me tell you about Vogons. "Vogons have to be just about one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous. They wouldn't even lift a finger to save their own grandmother from the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal without orders signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months and recycled as firelighters”. - Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Since I started this stupid, impossible journey I have been consistently battling Vogons. Curiously absent from Latin America and Europe, they bogged me down in the Caribbean, treated me like a dog on the Greyhound, imprisoned me in Cape Verde and have made my trip through Africa a non-stop cavalcade of misery and paranoia. Now I don’t…

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Day 159: Show Me The Body

08.09.09: On Monday morning, Captain Mbeye and I were taken away with four others. We (typically) weren't told were they were taking us, but it turned out to be the courthouse, the Palácio Da Justiça. There I met Maria, the wonderful lawyer that my parents had organised for me. She assured me we'd be out before we knew it - the police had no case and no right to hold us for so long without following the correct procedure of Habeas Corpus. However, they didn't have a translator for the fishermen, so we had to go back to the cells until 2pm. I spent the time singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs. The fishermen and I ate our last lunch together and just after 2pm, I left the illegal custody of the Cape Verde police for the last time. At the courthouse, I…

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Day 158: The Cack Monster

07.06.09: I would find out later that my parents sussed out where I was being held and spent all day yesterday trying to phone me, but it wasn't until my fifth day being held at El Presidente's pleasure that somebody finally got through to me. That wasn't before our early morning wake up call. I staggered from the cell into the lock-up area to find some of the other prisoners gathered around what I can only describe as the biggest mess of a human I have ever seen. A guy who had drank so much that he pulled down his pants and had defecated EVERYWHERE, rolled in it, got sick, pee'd himself and then passed out. Now I've been to some seriously messed up house parties and attended some truly drunken festivals, but this was on a whole new level of JUST PLAIN WRONG. Why had…

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Day 157: Thank GOD!

06.06.09: We had now hit the fourth day of my illegal incarceration on the island of Santiago. I had been held beyond the 24-hour limit of Habeas Corpus, and even beyond the 48-hour limit of extenuating circumstances, so unless I was suspected of being a terrorist or I had somehow been teleported to Guantanamo Bay in the reign of the Great Ignoramus, I was now certainly more sinned against than sinning. On top of that, it being Saturday, my girlfriend Mandy and my mum would be worrying about the fact I hadn't checked in with them. They would think I was dead. The police told me that the British consulate had been informed; they told me they had spoken to my family; they told me a lawyer was on the way. But I wasn't born yesterday. If my parent's knew I was here, there would be…

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Day 156: The Crying Game

05.06.09: I felt like one of the ‘victims' of the Milgram experiment. Only I wasn't pretending. I was given no change of clothes, there was no shower and by now it was either drop the browns off at the pool or risk bowel cancer. I hadn't gone since last Sunday. Luckily, I befriended one of the cops, a guy called George. He's a top bloke and will get my recommendation for Chief of Police once all this is over. He went out and bought me some bog roll (I have no intention of EVER using the old wet left-hand trick favoured by the less salubrious areas of the world) and I used the toilet  to say goodbye to all the stuff I had eaten that week. Talking of food (kinda), they did feed me well - we had two decent meals a day (usually rice and…

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