Guests who are ‘aard work

New guests in the shape of an English couple in their 50s arrived in camp yesterday morning. It’s lucky they’re here because, it turns out, they know everything there is to know about safari camps. They know so much that D and I might hand them the keys and say, “You flew over with Kenya Airways and have read a guide book? You’ve got this.” and take the rest of the week off.

They’d seen an aardvark on a night game drive at their previous camp. I told them that they were very lucky; “D and I don’t get much time to go out on night drives – I’ve never seen an aardvark.”

The wife, Linda, looks at me pityingly; “Well, they’re about a metre high with a long nose and tail, and…”

She chunters on for a minute or two whilst I try to work out a nice way of saying, “Just because I haven’t seen one in real life doesn’t mean that I don’t know what one is, you patronising moron.”

I’m unsuccessful and she ends with, “…and they’re mainly nocturnal.”

Suppressing a laugh, D goes to show the husband, George, how to work the torch, “Be careful not to push the button halfway or it’ll start an annoying…”

“I KNOW HOW TO USE A TORCH, YOUNG MAN,” says George.

“…S.O.S. signal and…” continues D.

“I GO CAMPING IN SURREY ALL THE TIME!”, says George.

Linda adds, “He’s practically a professional.

Last night, which was completely moonless, we’re sitting round the campfire with the other guests when we notice that George and Linda are the last to arrive.

We look down the path to their tent to check if they’re coming. We can see a rapidly flashing strobe effect illuminating the tree canopy between the tents.

Dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot.

“George, for goodness sake, use it properly.”

Dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot.

“I’m trying woman, I can’t turn this ridiculous thing off.”

We all hear a call of “Jambo!” followed by a high-pitched scream from George. I guess immediately what’s happened: seeing the flashing light make its way down the path, our askari, a watchman, has revealed himself in the darkness to guide the guests to dinner. His sudden appearance out of the long grass, supposed to be one of the most reassuring of sights has, in fact, had the very opposite effect on George and Linda.

As I quickly head down the path, I am greeted by the sight of the guests and Onesmus having a little S.O.S. disco under the acacias. Onesmus is the only one enjoying himself.

I must admit, the sight of his face looming in and out of darkness with the intermittent flashes is rather off-putting and could be a little scary as I imagine Africans leaping out from behind acacia trees are rather thin on the ground in Surrey.

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