Wednesday, 27 February 2008

The Art House

Quite incredible. For the second time in a week I found myself cycling down Boulevard St Germain. This time I was en route for the L'Arlequin cinema in Rue de Rennes.

I had it in my mind that it was a plush venue to see a film. It was not. But at the same time it wasn't a dive. Maybe I as confusing it with somewhere else. Though where that elsewhere is now escapes me.

There was a lovely cinema in London called the Lumiere. It was in St Martin's Lane and I used to go to watch late night art house numbers there when I was a-courting in the city.

But that was London in the late eighties. This is Paris in 2008 where I can now go to the movie house for a reduced price thanks to my Carte Famille Nombreuse.

And you don't even need the children to enjoy these things. I love France.

I saw Peter Greenaway's latest offering: Nightwatching. Usual cinematic feast. It was about the painter Rembrandt fulfilling a commission to paint some soldiers in Amsterdam — The Night Watch
(The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenhurch).

There was one particular scene which struck me as masterly. The Rembrandt clan were having an alfresco meal in the countryside. They all piled onto a table and formed a tableau. The camera receded to show white sheets swaying in the wind in the trees.

I thought wonderful. Simply wonderful. I was hoping for shots of decaying apples and oranges which seemed to permeate Greenaway films of yore. Didn't see anything of that sort this time. Like the fruit, he has matured.

And the narrative was more comprehensible than earlier films such as the Baby of Macon or the Pillow Book.

I emerged enlightened visually and intellectually.

Monday, 25 February 2008

The Final Tablet

Perhaps I should have had more ceremony. Perhaps it should have been a lavish meal. I took the final malaria tablet. It was a simple repast.

As I was eating I wondered what it must be like to eat alone often. I rarely do this at home. The noise of four others fills out the meal usually. And it's punctuated either by the eldest wolfing down her food, while regaling us with her mind's incidentals or complaining that the middle one is lingering.

Or there's just the horror that the boy has regurgitated some clump of rice and meat. Oh it's animated.

Tonight it was just me and my malaria tablet.

Now that it's down I have to be wary for a few months at the slightest sniffle. It could be the onset of something far worse.

I wrote an email to the captain of the football team to say that I would be again available for selection from March 15.

That will be nearly two months out what with the trip to Ghana and the school holidays. Knowing my fragile frame, I'll probably do myself a mischief and be out for a few weeks as soon as I kick a ball in anger. But we must be brave.

I have resumed my training programme and so I cycled over to the radio station this morning. To embellish this resurgence I planned to stop off at the Piscine Pontoise on the way back home.

It was a mild afternoon and I crossed the river to join Boulevard St Germain just by the Assemblée Nationale. It was a pleasant ride, not too much traffic and I was able to see the posh boutiques and cafes along the route

I even stopped off at the Bang and Olufsen shop as it was advertising a sale on display items. Helas anything vaguely within my price bracket had long gone.

But I do know where I'll get my next TV.

I eventually reached the swimming pool. I read the notice that it was closed for cleaning between February 25-29. I went in and asked for a ticket for a swim.

The man pointed at the notice and of course said it was closed.

I said I'd seen the very same poster and registered the information. Sadly the twirl of foam bouncing between my ears couldn't process the data.

I'd gone through a whole day not knowing the date. What kind of state is that?

Me at the Bang and Olufsen shop thinking I could buy something. Unaware of the date. Perhaps the rambling, delusional symptoms of malaria have already kicked in.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

The Church Visit

Since I spent a good amount of time on the roads in Ghana praying for deliverance, it seemed only right and proper that I go to church on my first Sunday back.

At St Michael's the service has the benefit of being in English. And since that's my mother tongue, it does help unravel the mysteries of the almighty. Then again a service in French might be a mystical experience. But I did have enough of those during the road trips in Ghana.

St Michael's is run now by someone who used to be vicar at the church at the end of my road in south London, so there's a certain amount of familiarity with his modus operandi.

What's strange is the area around the church. St Michael's is off the Rue du Faubourg St Honoré which sports some of the top shops. Going along the well scrubbed road just before I went to Ghana, the eldest gasped at a garment that cost 1,500 euros.

"Can you buy me that?" I asked.

Given that I had refused to purchase a Nintendo XXV456LVXYMK4-443 or its upgrade - she naturally refused.

I missed the window shopping with my disinterested girls before the service.

Church has changed in my lifetime. When I was a bairn, there were wooden pews and gritty sermons. Now it's comfy chairs and coffee and biscuits before and after the service. Altogether more humane.

I've never bought into the line that God was all about suffering, distress and having a poor experience of life on earth.

Then again I did notice an inordinate number of churches in Ghana.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

The Repose

Solitude is mine once more. The school holidays have taken the family to England and so I've been deserted. Of course that's a gross exaggeration but there's no one here to rein me in.

I took the girls to school for 8.30am. They told me when I picked them up three hours later that there was only a handful of children in school. So they stayed in their classroom and played.

Well there's lip service to the end of term and there's just stupid posturing.

But since I took them away to America back in October for 10 days to see their great grand father, I feel it's only right to have them there right until the end of term.

We phoned him in Jamaica today as he was 91 on Friday. We all wished him a happy birthday and he seemed pleased. Even his two year old great grand son managed to join in with a few murmurs.

It was quite moving.

And just as I was getting used to the raking sounds of my children, they've gone. And all I've got is the ticking of my mind.

I'm not yet sure if that is a boon. But what is undoubted is the unlimited access to my video and DVD collection. There's no need to share the TV screen.

This is almost too much. Where do I start? Quality time with me, myself and I.

Perhaps the four Die Hard films. I was going to take those to Ghana but opted for the Matrix trilogy and Star Wars.

I was a tad disappointed with the Matrix. I didn't remember how number three ended so it was something of a surprise. But I still felt let down for some reason. Maybe it was the heat outside.

Nearly a week back in Paris. Ghana does seem so far away. But while I'm taking the malaria tablets, I still feel slightly exotic.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

The Readaptation

It's astounding how quickly I've resumed normality. I've taken the boy into creche and as was my wont I've returned to Chez Prune for a coffee afterwards even though a new cafe on the approach to creche looks quite appealing.

I'm quite pleased about the familiarity. It's so reassuring.

What's not so thrilling is the news from the medics. The nurse at RFI told me to be wary should I get a cold or fever over the next couple of months as it could be malaria.

That's good to know. I've got another four days of the malaria tablets to go and then I'll be free of that concern.

They're a bit jumpy at the radio station about the tablets. This follows the demise of one employee who came back from an assignment abroad and didn't take the tablets once he got home to Paris.

Suffice it to say there was an opening in his department.

I will be vigilant.

Of course the full reimmersion will only begin once I recommence training for the football.

Nothing quite as highpowered as the Africa Cup of Nations just the veterans league.

Ultimately it's all about goals.

Monday, 18 February 2008

The Voyage Home

Go Ghana Go was the exuberant cheer which enveloped Ghana's participation in the Africa Cup of Nations. I often heard Go Black Stars Go.

And the chant was valid until the semi final defeat against Cameroon 11 days ago. It was in currency for the third place play-off against Cote D'Ivoire nine days ago.

But now all the Black Stars are back with their clubs around the world. And me, the faithful follower of their footballing fortunes, well I'm back in Paris.

Gone Ghana Gone.

I was whistling Soul to Soul's song Back to Life as I wended my way through Schipol this morning to catch the connecting flight to Paris.

It's a summery tune and it seemed apt as heat is where I had come from. It was -4 in Amsterdam.

I was wearing my flip flops and a tee-shirt. I was also wearing a pair of trousers.

And because I'm a sober sort I had packed an anorak, a pair of socks and shome deck shoes for the final thrust home.

The night flight is perhaps the best way to do the airwaves for me.

The food was wheeled out and I took a couple of small bottles of red with my pasta bolognaise concoction.

I was so becalmed - hardly surprising since it was about 11.15pm - that I couldn't dredge up the energy to watch Elizabeth The Golden Age. Cate Blanchett, who regales us as the regina, is one of my favourite actresses. Maybe it's because she reminds me of a girl I used to step out with.


But not even La Blanchett's cheekbones rising wrathful towards the red thatch could halt the march to slumberland. Go Bess Go. Paul's Going, Going. Gone.

I was perhaps still sleepy as I went through the baggage check at Schipol. It didn't seem too horrific.

I was obviously reintegrating into my natural context.

Gone Ghana Gone.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

The Chill Out

In a former incarnation I used to get up, have a light breakfast, jump on the bike and cycle over to Tooting Bec Lido where I'd swim anything up to a mile before getting out.

I'd then continue breakfast at the poolside cafe or with things I'd taken along myself.

This was the summer time idyll.

All that came to mind when I woke up on Friday at the Busua Inn. I got out of bed, put on my trunks and took a dip in the ocean before returning to the inn's terrace for coffee and toast.

It's all so simple. Sea, splash, relax. And I'm to the manor born.

I followed the same pattern this morning and I can safely say that it would take quite a while for me to become bored with this regime.

It's probably just as well that my ticket back to Paris is for Sunday evening.

I head to Takoradi in a couple of hours for the four hour coach ride to Accra.

I'm not looking forward to that. But with any amount of joy there must be suffering.

And have I been joyous.

Busua is a zone as yet unspoilt. The beach stretches on and on. The fishermen cast their nets into the sea of a morning and heave them in as a synchronised unit of muscle.

The hotel/restaurant looks out onto the sea and that is the main sound. It was difficult to be churlish about the cock crowing or the reggae pounding out this morning.

That is the vibe.

Three weeks of football, three days on the beach. The structural incompetence of the tournament seems so far away.

As a place to work, Ghana has been a nightmarish gridlock of perceptions. But when time can melt into the distance, it is a dream.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The History Tour Part II

A dozen kilometres away from Cape Coast lies Elmina. And there the oldest European building in Africa. Or maybe I heard that wrong during the tour. Well at any rate Elmina Castle houses the first Christian church to be built in Ghana.

What happened there a bit later wasn't at all Christian. More slaves were shipped off around the world.

The guide told us that the governor had a balcony from which he could select the best looking ladies. They would then be ushered up a ladder and into his chambers. Various forms of torture were explained to us so that dissent was minimised.

We were also shown the cell for unruly European soldiers. It had light and ventilation. The cell for miscreant slaves was altogether more macabre. The Dutch put a skull and crossbones above the door. You knew it was goodbye cruel world.

As we were being shown round, Mark, the guide, told us that the slaves came from all over. From as far away as Tamale and Kumasi. It took them nearly two months to walk the distance.

I nearly said it takes that long to drive the distance. But the idiot within was suppressed. This was not a place for levity.

Which made me wonder what on earth was I doing? I've had two days and two castles with stories of despair and degradation.

Is this my way of earning a few days on the beach with a book?

The Bridge House Hotel, where I'm staying, is wonderfully located. It overlooks the castle and the vibrant fish market.

I started a stroll through the fish market but got out quickly after narrowly avoiding bits of slops nonchalantly thrown towards the water by women skinning and decapitating the catches.

Local colour excites me only up to a point. If the shorts are sullied with bits of snapper and the like, then my wardrobe will suffer.

In view of all that I've seen recently, it seems so effete.

It must be time for the beach.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

The History Tour

After three weeks of watching highly paid youngsters run around kicking a ball, I've gone all scholastic.

Went round Cape Coast Castle to see how they used to process people. The atrocities of the slave trade are well documented. And I thought that it wasn't really necessary to go and see where they started their voyage.

Well I was wrong. We went into the male slave dungeon and as we descended into the space, the guide, Morgan, turned the light off. Of course some of us lost our footing.

But he'd done it to lend authenticity to our fleeting experience. There was a small hole in the rock which allowed a fraction of light into the dungeon.

He explained the sanitary arrangements. They didn't involve power showers.

Once back outside in the blaring sunshine, we got a few anecdotes about the colonial executives who were overseeing the deal.

The relatively sad story of Letaetia Maclean who came out to Cape Coast to join her husband the governor but who died after a few months.

Was she poisoned by the African woman who'd become the conduit for Gordon's loins in her absence?

Did she kill herself because of raging jealousy?

Or did she die of yellow fever or malaria?

Well apparently it's one of those and not total guilt over what was happening to thousands of people around her.

The govenor's bedroom and hall were joyously bright; a stark contrast to what was transpiring just a couple of hundred metres away.

The cell where they sent recalcitrant slaves was especially grim. No light, no food, no water until they died. The cell was there pour encourager les autres.

Last days on earth in suffocating darkness.

It was back to the Castle for lunch. I could see the sea this time. Heat, darkness, light. The contrasts are powerful.

You know what you're going to get and you get it.

The Mighty Victory

Bizarre name for a hotel but it's got qa bed and a shower even though the light in the ceiling is a bit stark.

I went to a place called the Castle for supper on Monday night. Took the grilled snapper with chips. Sadly it was too dark to see the waves crashing against the rocks. The walk back to the hotel was a bit unusual. I went past people trying to sell salted eggs and other bits of paraphenalia. Some were sleeping by their stalls. I saw two small children wrapped in cloths on the floor snoozing away. And why not. In this heat it makes sense to sleep outside if you don't have air conditioning.

And the smells. Accra seems so antiseptic by comparison. I'm not sure about the chickens which hang out with the families. All I could think was clucking hell.

A phrase not far from that one came to mind when I was on the coach from Accra.

I started to prepare for my passage to the next world when a porter boarded the coach and began to put suitcases by the side exit door.

No-one seemed to think that this might be contravening basic public carriage safety. So why should I come over all sophisticated European.

I realised a few minutes later that my mouth was still open when a fly nearly got in.

When the driver introduced himself to the passengers I thought that's real chummy.

He said that if anyone wanted to to stop they should tell him and he'd stop as soon as he could.

Dressed in a long blue jacket, he seemed more like an avuncular lab technician.

He paused, raised his head skywards and boomed: "Almighty God - guide us to our destination."

There was a unanimous "Amen" from the passengers.

The fly nearly got in again.

I turned to the bloke sitting next to me and asked if this sort of thing happened regularly.

"Depends on the driver," said Joseph as he put the earphone of the MP3 player back in.

Mighty Victory was indeed the appropriate place to stay.

Monday, 11 February 2008

The Check Out

The time to leave the hotel has come. We're supposed to be out by 2pm but all morning the chambermaid has been loitering around asking when I'm going.

Was I that bad a guest?

I have got the coach to take at 4pm and have to be at the coach station at least 30 minutes before departure.

The coach will take many hours and it is not air conditioned. I am not a great coach traveller.

However I must be intrepid if I am to advance. I'll be at Cape Coast at 8pm. Apparently there's a good restaurant nearby.

The trip around the real Ghana has begun.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Final

It is all over. The fat lady has sung. The whistle has blown. It's too late to think of any more cliches. I'm all exhausted.

Egypt won the 26th Africa Cup of Nations. They beat the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 1-0 in Accra and it wasn't a bad final. The best team won and all lovers of football can go away and think: those Egyptian boys done well.

I loved their silky passing patterns. When I go back to my team I'm going to try what the Egyptians do and pass to someone on the same side during a match.

Fascinating as Mr Spock in Star Trek would say.

The Cape Coast magical history tour starts tomorrow. I am going to take my computer with me so I can listen to my music and more importantly watch some DVDs as I recover from this my first Africa Cup of Nations.

Go Ghana Go, as they used to sing on the TV.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

The Post Office

I almost wish I travelled up to Kumasi today. Ghana beat Cote d'Ivoire 4-2 to get the third place prize.

I'm sure the party in Kumasi will be worth attending. But I thought for the sense of stability I'd stay in the capital.

I am pleased to have been with the people watching the match rather than with loads of journalists in the press tribunes.

It was more of a laugh. During half time, I asked Foster to take me to the post office so I could send off the batch of cards that I've written. We couldn't find a letter box. A woman there said the free standing receptacle was where I could drop the letters off.

It could be picked up by anyone. So I thought I'd leave it till Monday.

The hotel staff are having a cocktail for all the RFI staff. Mighty kind of them. They'll be in good spirits after the victory.

As the adverts have been singing all tournament, Go Ghana Go.

Wish the cheesy musician would do the same.

The Third Place Play Off

Ghana will play Cote D'Ivoire in a few hours. Three weeks ago when I was but a boy in Accra, this was widely thought to be the final.

Nothing is inevitable in football and so in the semi finals, Cameroon beat Ghana and Egypt thrashed Cote D'Ivoire.

I thought that the Ivorians would win the title. But they didn't take their chances. At any level you've got to stick the ball in the back of the net.

I wonder how the lads are getting on back in Paris. Given that they were losing quite drastically with me there, it's been as soothing as it is upsetting to find out via the emails that they're getting pasted in my absence.

I don't think we'll be pushing for third place in the division this season.

It's going to be interesting to see if I'll be a better player after all this football.

Like I said nothing is inevitable in football.

The Bus Station

The STC bus station in Accra merely confirmed all my prejudices about road journeys.

It was chaotic. I didn't spend that long there but I'm sure if I had I would only found structural disorder beneath.

I want to go to Cape Coast on Monday. The 7am coach is full so the only one left is 4pm.

As the voyage will take around three hours. I'll be in Cape Coast at 7pm. Just in time for my evening meal. On Tuesday I'll be able to get up have a look around and then head into Elmina for Tuesday night.

This is the plan. But what good is that sometimes. I can't buy my return ticket for Accra next Saturday yet. I have to do that nearer the time and then of course it might be booked out.

This is starting to remind me of Paris. Strange that Ghana was once a British colony.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Paranoia

The Africa Cup of Nations sponsors MTN were at the training ground on Tuesday to dish out 50,000 dollars to the Ghana team for getting to the semi finals.

Rather charmingly I asked if it was going to go to a charity of their choice. No said a man from MTN, it's for the team.

As I noticed he was up there on the podium handing out a large cardboard cheque, I thought he might have something to do with the company.

So since I trained as a news reporter, I asked for his name, which he gave to me. He also told me what he did. He was the chief financial officer.

I asked him another question. He said he couldn't answer it so I took his card and said I'd call for more details. As I turned to see if there was an actual footballer to talk to, a woman came up to me and asked me where I was from.

Now since the microphone has RFI on it. I worried that she might think I was being facetious if I said the BBC. So I looked down the microphone, held it up slightly and said: "RFI. Radio France International's English service."

She asked: "What did you ask him?"

"His name."

"What did he say?"

"His name."

She said that he wasn't supposed to speak. "There's protocol."

I wondered if she might be related to the policeman in the Kumasi mixed zone.

"Yes but if you're the protocol, you weren't there when I spoke to him."

I took her card but frankly I don't think I'll be interacting with MTN.

I will be in touch with UNICEF however. I went to the Street Academy with two UNICEF young reporters, Stephen and Edith, who went to the academy to encourage the children to attend school.

These Street Academy kids come from homes where the parents aren't altogether chuffed about their offspring going to school. Some as old as 15 have not had any formal education.

One boy, Joseph, told how he hadn't been allowed to go because it caused too much trouble.

The school was housed in a building overlooking shacks near the National Arts Centre.

It was ragged. The football pitch was dirt and sand and the children played barefooted or one had a sock for his right foot.

The side of the pitch was effectively an ersatz rubbish dump which unfolded towards the beach.

While the boys practiced their football, the girls sang songs.

Joseph wanted to be an engineer when he grew up.

Who was his favourite footballer?

"Frank Lampard"

"Frank Lampard? You support Chelsea?"

"Yes," said Joseph.

"That's my team too."

I didn't really think it was the moment to talk about my disillusionment with the whole Chelsea concept.

From worlds apart, we were communing. I've never known anything like his suffering. Though they split up I had really supportive parents.

I phoned my mum on Tuesday night before the trip out to the Street Academy.

She laughed when I told her the pineapple was so sweet that I didn't want to share it.

"Don't be so mean, Paul."

"But the pineappele's sweet."

It's so good I only eat it in my hotel room now.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The Quarter Final Part II

Checking in for the 8.15am flight from Kumasi to Accra reminded me of going to the doctor in Paris.

Check in time was listed as 6.30-7.30. So I was there at 6.40. The City Link check-in operative didn't arrive until 7am.

I've had 9am appointments at the doctor's and she's not arrived until 9.25. An appointment slated for 10.40 means you won't get seen till nearer 11.30. Time is reappraised in her surgery. Maybe she's worked in Ghana. I'll have to ask her.

Egypt beat Angola 2-1 on Monday night in Kumasi to go through to the semis. The rowdy supporters were there again. And some seemed to get into the mixed zone. A short, stout man with a winning smile beneath a fez came in with his oud.

He got in via the players' side. Perhaps he's a mascot. Whatever. He twanged his thang and imbued the mixed zone with a hint of eastern promise. Oh hang on that's straight from a 70's advert for Fry's Turkish Delight.

Never mind. It's a phrase from my childhood so it's from a formative period and can be appropriated.

The mixed zone did sound authentic though. Interviews with Egyptians to the plangent strains of an oud. Rock the Casbah as Joe Strummer once sang. How very bazaar, I say. Officious policemen repeated their ludicrous trick of rushing players through a place where they're allowed to stop and chat.

The organisation is a farce. You can't overlook it.

My interaction with Kumasi is over. I was going to return on Saturday for the third place play-off. But I'll stay in the capital.

Thursday's semi between Egypt and Cote D'Ivoire in Kumasi will be good - a rerun of the final two years ago which Egypt won on penalties. The latest clash is too tough to call. Actually I'm not even going to bother to predict.

The cracker in Accra (my turn of phrase) is the Ghana v Cameroon showdown.

I have absolutely no idea which way that one will go either.

Maybe I can't concentrate.

I've started my second pineapple.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The Quarter Final

Precisely one week to go before the final. And it's down to the last eight. Here in Accra, Ghana took on Nigeria.

In the prelude to the clash I did some work for Monday's programmes. And I pondered the state of my stomach. It's not alcohol because I'm drinking nothing but water. Maybe that's the problem. The ailments go by lunchtime. But I do eat with anxiety.

Maybe I should try a knife and fork.

I confidently predicted earlier on the 5pm broadcast that Nigeria would win on penalties.

After 25 minutes my analysis of the match for the 6pm programme was that if Ghana failed to capitalise on their sustained pressure, then they could be hit.

Five minutes after I went off the air. Ghana were 1-0 down. My I felt smug.

After they equalised I thought it was heading for penalties. I thought I should have called a bookmaker with these sorts of powers.

But then the Ghana captain John Mensah was sent off for a professional foul and the hosts were down to 10 men.

Suddenly they were the underdogs and that was a weight off their shoulders. Nigeria didn't go for the kill (obviously waiting for the penalty shoot-out).

Ghana won 2-1 without the drama of penalties. They're into the semis and will be up against either Egypt or Angola.

I'm heading off to see that match in Kumasi on Monday. I'm going to take a plane this time. It's only 45 minutes.

But I haven't seen the plane. And I haven't seen this particular episode of The Saint which is running on the TV at the moment.

Roger Moore has got a cool convertible in Italy and there are couple of thugs on his trail who obviously want him out of the way.

What I like in The Saint are the backdrops. And the British actors putting on Latin accents.

What I really liked was Simon Templar's Volvo PT1800. When I was thinking of buying a car I almost bought one. I went for the Peugeot 304s cabrio instead.

It was the cheaper option. Flying to Kumasi tomorrow is not the cheaper option. But it is the logical one.

I better not get started on Star Trek.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

The Pineapple Part II

Must say that the Pineapple Part II sounds like a spoof gangster film. But the fruit still continues to make a welcome addition to meals.

It has been one of those days when the rest day for the footballers has meant the same for me.

For some reason I don't feel that wonderful in the morning. I don't know why. Maybe it is the air conditioning in the hotel rooms. Maybe it's the anti-malaria tablets. Whatever it is I am not 100 per cent of a morning. This is not usually the case with me.

Staying around the hotel today therefore suited my disposition. I had a rendez-vous wth a man from the Ghana Tourist Board who wanted to drop off some brochures for me.

I phoned and told him not to come over. Moreso since I was on something of a roll preparing for Sunday's quarter final between Ghana and Nigeria here in Accra.

It is going to be a long day because the second quarter final starts at 8.30pm in Sekondi.

I'll watch that one on TV while having my supper.

I can't think what I'll have for dessert.

I'translated into

Friday, 1 February 2008

The Pineapple

Getting petrol in Kumasi was a production. The pump attendant also doubled up as a forecourt cashier which meant that she was forever stopping to give people their change rather than filling up the vehicle.

Thirty minutes out of the city we were on a road under construction. I like these kind of dirt tracks. It makes me think I'm in some kind of sweaty jungle adventure starring Clark Gable.

But no. This is not a film just me trying to get back to the capital in one piece and not trying to save some luscious maiden from the perils of the savages.

The car was not built for the journey. It shuddered and shook. Foster coughed as much as the car juddered. He said he was pulling over and bought a coconut by the roadside. Pierre did likewise and they slurped the milk from the insides.

I think they were following fashion as about 15 minnutes earlier I asked to pull over because I liked the look of the pineapples.

There's a logic to the interminable roadworks. The queues allow hordes of traders to skirt along the vehicles and offer various wares.

You could call it hustling. Maybe they're being entrepreneurs. It would be economic hari kiri to shun a captive market.

I didn't succumb to such hard line tactics, I preferred the soft sell and bought the pineapples from a lone trader by the wayside. I got out of the car with Foster and she gave us five for 3 cedi. She gave Foster one on the house so to speak.

By the time we reached Accra I was nauseous. Pierre's much hyped shorter journey was nothing of the sort. But I guessed that was going to be the case. I have to say that I've never felt so depleted after a car trip.

My hotel room wasn't ready so I went to the RFI studio to prepare for the broadcast. I felt awful but after a sandwich I started to perk up.

I did a tiny bit of yoga and freshened up for my evening meal. Supper was fish and chips. My dessert treat was the pineapple from this afternoon. The waitress asked me if I wanted the kitchen to cut and peel it.

I said not necessary because I only wanted a tiny bit. She gave me a knowing look as she brought out a sharp knife from the kitchen.

I lopped a tiny bit off, took a bite and had a religious experience - not surprising really since the Living God had been kicking around a few days earlier. I sliced off some more chunks and savoured the sweetness.

It was the most palatable part of the journey.