Chapter Headings

Kings, Cakes and Kalashnikovs

Swaziland flag

Part I - Swaziland

Chapter 1. - A Mountain Kingdom


First sight of Africa - In Swaziland – we stay in Rider Haggard’s house, and meet King Sobhuza, an octogenarian with many wives. First meeting with the expatriate world – ‘Iolanthe ‘at the Theatre Club. A visit from Australian parents. Mother, a lady of Edwardian views meets a Swazi warrior close-up and has a win at the casino. Domestic help in the house – a mixed blessing, - Thembeni cleans the saucepans. The joys of night guards and a gardener who didn’t garden - The bishops's funeral.

Chapter 2. - “Madam, there is Something in the Bed!”

Animals arrive – Paddycat- large African tabby cat, Panda and Polar Bear.- two English Bull Terriers. A fence is built and a dog runs away with a sting in the tale. Mr Dlamini, the office driver, helps to catch a petrol thief. The car is dented and dented again. A neighbour achieves Independence and KJ is transferred.

Swazi dance hibiscus flower Swaziland stamp

Zimbabwe flag

Part II - Zimbabwe

Chapter 3. – Living in a Time Warp

Zimbabwe bird

In 1981 the ‘60s are alive and well in Harare. We rent a lime green house and eat moussaka with Ian Smith. We meet the new staff, Jane meets the ‘veryterribledogs’, and Panda walks on the water. We observe old colonial ways. Hope and optimism abound in the New Zimbabwe. The Beira pipeline is blown up, a petrol crisis ensues and everyone takes to their bicycles. Harare survives a drought.

Chapter 4. – Coping Strategies will be Called for

Diplomatic duties, VIP visits and a not very observant Great White Hunter. Rodent Week is declared. A friend comes for Christmas and gets lost in leopard-infested mountains. Another parental visit - Mother asks a dangerous question. Writing a thesis – ‘Coping Strategies in Multiple Sojourners’ – or ‘How do people survive overseas postings?’ KJ goes to HQ and comes back promoted. Reinhild coaches me on the new job – The pets and I look for a house.

Chapter 5. – 151 Meath Road

KJ departs for HQ. The move to Meath Road. Mrs Bakewell’s astonishing Cordon Bleu cookery classes. The Non Aligned Conference invades Harare. The dogs go missing. And are found. We go to Lisbon to learn Portuguese in three weeks. KJ arrives in Angola to open a new office and he is assailed by a Marxist Mata Hari. At last a house is found. With cat, dogs, and 15 suitcases, we set off for Angola.

Jacarandas in Harare Flame Lily Harare Zimbabwe

Angola flag

Part III - Angola

Chapter 6. - A Country at War with Itself

Rosa de Porcellana, national flower of Angola

Angola, Oh Angola! We arrive with seven suitcases. We meet Dona Adelaide, the housekeeper from Hell, and her assistants Gaby and Francisca. Heat, black markets, painters in the house. Finding food amid the confusão. The Naked Policeman and the deep-frozen President.

Chapter 7. - Dona Adelaide and the Ambassador’s Bones

The story of the Ambassador’s bones. Dinner parties and diplomatic gaffes. Gabriel departs in a hurry, and we attend the ‘Cockroach Dinner Dance’. KJ flies in to an unscheduled maize harvest, and we learn about the ‘Incentivos’ system. The Cardinal enjoys mince pies.

Chapter 8. - Adelaide, the Galloping Gouvernante

Adelaide, Oh Adelaide ! Entertaining with Adelaide. Dona Adelaide’s cooking. Dona Adelaide’s Inventions. Dona Adelaide and the silver tea-service. Dona Adelaide’s gardening skills. Much advice from Dona Adelaide. Dona Adelaide’s wedding.

Chapter 9. – Senhor Cruz & Co

A change of staff. A new cook is found and Adelaide skips off to Portugal. Senhor Cruz – Major Domo, Cook and paragon of virtues. Polar hears his name on the BBC and encounters a lobster. Senhor Cruz suggests an alarming chicken dish. Faz Tudo arrives. Senhor Cruz does an Easter Brunch as the Battle of Cuito Cuernevale rages. We go on leave, confident that all will be well.

Chapter 10. – Senhor Cruz - Act II

Strange happenings in the house. Senhor Cruz is not himself, and the cupboard is bare. Senhor Cruz has one more chance. The East German Ambassador’s vet saves the cat of Europe.

Chapter 11. - And Hungry Angolans have Eaten it

Agostinho, the President’s ex-driver joins the team. And helps not to catch a plane. Hunting for missing Food Aid. A mysterious break-in. The squeaking lobsters and the rat patrol. Dramatic excursions out of Luanda.

Chapter 12. – Panic, Potholes and Packing cases

The SADCC conference explodes upon us. Guests, welcome and unwelcome. Senhor Obnoxioso misbehaves. St Patrick’s Night in the tropics. The leaving of Luanda.

Angola the Marginal hibiscus flower Angolan market

Swaziland flag

Part IV - Swaziland Again

Chapter 13. - Gazing at Sheba’s Breasts

King Mswati

New house, new staff, new King. Star arrives and bonds with Day Guard Moses. The Berlin Wall falls and Nelson Mandela walks free. Waterford Kamhlaba International School. KJ tells a story, becomes an icon, and is involved in a Donkey Derby.

Chapter 14. – The King and I

Swazi traditional life. Kingship, song and dance. Building a new house. We become the ‘Patrons’ of a queen-to-be. Tea at the Palace. An unusual dinner The King helps to plan a Highway.

Chapter 15. - Whirlwinds, Witchcraft and Warriors

A whirlwind and an electrical storm. ‘The man in charge of thunder and lightning in Swaziland’. Bravery of a Swazi warrior. The official opening of the house and a Swazi funeral. A pioneering Aids Awareness campaign.

Chapter 16. - Moses da Vinci, and Death Threats in Somalia

A promising artist in the house. The man who jumped into cars. The King doesn’t come to dinner and a sequel in Hawaii. An Impala jumps.

Chapter 17. - Sadness, Somalia and some celebrations

The house is burgled. Special Envoy to Somalia. KJ receives a death threat. 25th Anniversary of Independence. And the King’s 25th birthday. Twenty Heads of State arrive - all at the same time. Thoughts on new postings.

Chapter 18. - From a Mountain Kingdom to a Place of Genocide

Magic in the house. “This place hates me!” Posted again. Packing again, and KJ leaves for HQ briefing. The Rwanda Genocide begins. Back in England with the dogs. I write a play set in Africa - “It couldn’t happen. No one lives like that any more! “

Swaziland reed dance Swaziland King Sobhuza's wives Swaziland reed dance men