Entomology, chemical ecology, evidence-based environmentalism and science in general. I like big bugs and I cannot lie.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


Fun day yesterday, it was so hot you could actually watch beads of sweat forming on your skin and the generator exploded. Actually, genuinely exploded – Sarah, one of the MSc students had to put out the fire and in doing so discovered that the fire extinguisher had already been discharged. A miscommunication with the guards sent me and D off yomping round town to try and sort out a problem with the NAWEC (National Water and Electricity Company) that didn't actually exist, and to top it all off one of the kittens is missing and has been for several days, presumed... well not presumed anything good anyway. Just about the only thing going well here at the moment are the sores on Mission's ears – I didn't expect the antibiotic powder to do much but they're about half the size they were when I arrived. He may even be ready for a photo before I go (I know they'll just get worse again when I leave, but at least I can give the poor dog some relief for a short time).

In the evening wrote a long email to my supervisor, summarising how my work had been going (badly) and the internet cut out as I was sending it – I lost the whole thing. So I decided it was finally time for the five tiny strips of streaky bacon the students had picked up for me in Senegal, that I'd been saving for when things got really bad and cooked this:

And incidentally facilitated cannibalism in the process, by unthinkingly lobbing the plate of peelings over the wall to the pigs the way I usually do and forgetting there was bacon rind on there too. So I cut my losses and got an early night.

A few hours later I woke up, needing to visit the toilet to give the mosquitoes their midnight snack. Getting back into bed by the dim illumination of the security lights is always tricky - I don't know if you've ever seen that daft film in which Catherine Zeta-Jones writhes around in a catsuit to dodge laser beams, but if you imagine a mosquito net that has inexplicably multiplied overnight into a dozen layers instead of laser beams and me with a sweat-stained t-shirt and hair like a refugee from the eighties instead of CZJ in a catsuit you'll get the picture. I'd managed to get inside from the waist up and was leaning on my hands to pull my legs in when something largish and indistinct in the feeble light darted across the sheet and came to rest against my hand.

My heart started beating like that of the average teenage audience member watching CZJ writhe in the catsuit, but I didn't move my hand ("Must...not...disturb whatever it is, spider? Baby scorpion? World's largest tick? It doesn't seem to be biting me yet. WTF is is???"). Instead I cautiously, slowly reached for my torch with the other hand, flicked it on and carefully moved the circle of light closer so as not to startle the...... @(**$%@ing rubber earplug that had rolled across the sheet into the depression made by my hand (I keep the box inside the net with me to be easily accessible in the event of enthusiastic mosques or rams, and it had come open). I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry so I settled for passing out asleep instead, falling into feverish dreams in which the person I'd expected to most disapprove of my involvement with Mission was paying to bring him over to the UK and helping me to choose a crate for him for the flight. I think all things considered that if my subconscious is going to torment me with anything I'd rather it was phantom insects.

1 comment:

Imogen said...

I'm sorry you're having bizarre dreams too - tho' in the heat i'm not surpries. Attack of the rubber earplug will be funny later...