The other night, cutting it a bit fine before the cut off deadline, I started to listening to a BBC Radio 4 Extra programme by Jessica Fostekew called Motherhood: Bump, Birth and Beyond.
Here’s the description from the BBC website:
“Made for 4 Extra. Jessica Fostekew charts the horrors and highs of the nine months of life with a bump, the moment of reckoning with birth, and the chaos, or not, that lies ahead.
We have clips from over 50 years of Woman’s Hour, programmes on pregnancy and childbirth from the 1960s and 1970s, and archive interviews about coping with parenthood – and we’ll be speaking to the comedians Jenny Eclair, Cariad Lloyd, Sara Barron, Richard Herring and Catie Wilkins, Caroline Mabey, Jen Brister, Hatty Ashdown, Kirsty Newton, Katie Mulgrew, Taylor Glenn, Robin Ince, Laura Lexx, Sindhu Vee, Diane Morgan, and Holly Walsh about their experiences with fertility, pregnancy and motherhood.”
I was listening, sitting in bed, in the dark, on my own, late at night and it made me quite emotional.
When I was in the Serengeti last March/April time Joe, the Yr 5 teacher, came up with a game to keep us amused. Any time another safari car came by you had to wave at the occupants of the car. Easy enough you would think, but the game was to keep on waving for as long as you could, beyond the comfortable limits of being polite. You won if you managed to wave for the longest time, especially if the others waved back. If they didn’t they were normally termed ‘miserable bastards’ and waved at anyway with a fixed grin on our faces. It was like a car version of this:
Long car journeys when I was small always involved waving at other travellers, people in coaches, other children trapped in the back of cars being dragged by their parents to god-knows-where and, of course, truckers. You were most successful if you got a trucker to honk their horn at you as you drove past. Sometimes this would be accompanied by Dad’s truck driving country song mix tape. Later, in our battered space cruiser, the Fairport Convention album ‘Glady’s Leap’ got stuck in the tape player and so was on repeat for about 3 years. When I hear this song, I can still picture myself staring out of the moon roof, trying to count stars as we went Driving In The Dark.
I’ve been playing the waving game a little bit since getting here. It’s one of the things I do to entertain myself when I’m plodding around on my own. It seems to work well on boats, although everyone else gives up a little quicker than I do, but then they don’t know we’re playing. If they did, they’d probably try a little harder.
What I have noticed in most of the places I’ve been to, around the UK, Western Europe, Tanzania, Kenya and now Thailand, is that children still delight in getting a wave out of strangers driving or sailing by. In Tanzania, children would rush to the sides of the road waving frantically, on the motorways of France, Spain and Germany they press their faces up against their car windows, hands madly shaking back and forth. In Thailand there’s a mixture of the two, kids by the side of the road, perched on scooters, in the front of pick up trucks. And anywhere you go you are greeted with huge smiles. If only we were by more adults.
I realise that I’ve been rather neglectful of this and my other blog recently. After festival season drew to a close for me I had a frustrating 10 days or so when I was waiting for my new job to start. I had no formal structure to my time, and I am not a person who copes well with extended periods of structureless time. I tend to end up sitting until 3 in the morning having done nothing. And I did for a few nights, so I didn’t think I’d write about it. So I didn’t. But now I have some structure again.
I clambered into the 4 by 4 and apologised for my bacon sandwich dripping all over the seat. Edward the Dog ran alongside us as we drove down towards the gates, the askari on duty waving me off as if I was leaving for the holiday as nearly everyone else had.
But I wasn’t being driven down Airport Road to catch a flight out of Mwanza, instead we turned left off onto a dirt track that would take us out into the villages and some local rural school. Sheila Murray, a teacher at our school, has set up a charity that promotes links between rural schools in Tanzania and schools in the UK. We were going to see how some of the donations from the UK had been spent.