« Grog-Free Day | Main | Spicy Wild Ducks »

A Court Of Fowls: Episode Four

Our hero learns that he is being posted to that blighted land, Somalia.

Master storyteller Michael Conrad Wood contiues his new novel.

Chapter 2


If only Brickman had understood. If only I’d insisted on taking
the time to tell him why my ‘behaviour’ as he put it, was already a
thing of the past. A few weeks before the contentious meeting with
him, the office messenger dropped a sealed envelope into my near
empty in-tray. Not an extraordinary event you might conclude, but it
turned out he was the harbinger of unwanted news.

‘Jambo Mr Munro, Sir. Habari ya asubuhi?’

‘Sijambo, Samson. Na wewe?’

‘Njema, asante’.

I never had much to say to Samson except ‘good morning’ and
‘how are you’ or some derivation of these mechanical greetings. He
soon disappeared on his rounds, trailing the overpowering smell of
Brut Faberge. I’d been sitting contentedly having a smoke and a cup of
Kenyan coffee, while engaged in meaningless chatter with one of
our local girls, Jamila, who sat cross-legged on my desk. She was a
pretty little thing. Usually I maintained a strictly hands-off policy
with company girls but it was clear in this instance she had come to
flirt and I must say I’d been open to the little vixen’s attention.

I recall events now as if it was yesterday. I leaned over the desk to
pick up the envelope. An impulse tempted me to run my free hand
along her silky leg until it reached the hem of her skirt. Detecting no
resistance, I travelled slowly into forbidden territory until Jamila uncrossed
those delightful pins of hers, and by indication of hardly
perceptible little thrusting movements, suggested I should plunge
right in.

Only then did a modicum of sense overtake me.

‘You’re a very bad girl, Jamila. You shouldn’t lead me on like that.’

‘But Mr Munro, it is nice.’

‘I know it’s nice, gorgeous one. Of course it is. But this is the office
and even if at times it doesn’t seem like it, we are here to work.’

‘Maybe we can have some fun after your weking?’ she giggled,
suggesting she had nothing much to do herself.

‘Hmm. That is a very tempting proposition young lady. I’ll talk to
you later. Meanwhile, I’d better get on and see what’s in this highly
important looking envelope which Samson has delivered,’ I said with
a grin and my customary cynicism.

Jamila left, turning to blow a kiss. The lovely young fille de joie
clearly felt that her visitation had paid dividends, and goodness, I
didn’t really want to disappoint her.

Inside the envelope was a memorandum from the awful Brickman:

In Confidence 14 November 1988
Mr Munro (Regional Sales Manager)

You may know that our London masters have been considering whether there is
potential in spreading this office’s remit beyond the now traditional client base.
BAAT products already sell well in Kenya and Tanzania and our networks in
support of such business are firmly established. In spite of President Museveni’s
emergence from the bush and concomitant despatch of our old friend Obote and
his motley army, there is no reason to suppose that our business connections with
Uganda will be in any way disrupted under the new administration, even though
we must continue to work hard on product pitch.

If we are to spread our tentacles further therefore, and bearing in mind (in respect
of our distribution of effort) Western Governments’ still lukewarm recep-
tion to the new regime in Kampala, I believe the logical place to test the water is

We have never had representation in Mogadishu and I am not for the moment
proposing it. Nevertheless, I think the time is right for an exploratory mission.
Should we conclude that there is a viable business case, we would of course need
to make judgments about staff, at what level, and where they should be located
(there, or operating on a basis of frequent visits from here).

I should be grateful if you would make plans to undertake an early visit, if possible
within the next fortnight. You should please have a preliminary word with
an official in the Somali Embassy here (commercial – assuming any such body
exists) and seek his advice on whom best to connect with in Mogadishu.

Please let me have a verbal debriefing as soon as you return and a fuller written
report of your conclusions (which we might pass to London for comment).

Managing Director

Was he fucking mad? I could hardly believe the insanity of his
proposal. The moronic toad wanted me to go to the world’s capital
of third rate accommodation, crappy food and searing heat. Mogadishu
was both the pits and located slap in the middle of a virtual
desert. Okay, so these attributes were not in themselves enough to
bar Somalia’s consideration as a potential market for our cigarettes.
But there was much else awry with this untypical East African state.

Under the guiding hand of Comrade Siad Barre, ‘volunteers’ built
roads and laboured in the fields. I had surmised that industry, banks
and businesses were all nationalized and just about scraping along.
Urban secondary schools had been closed for years and its pupils
despatched to the countryside to educate their ‘nomadic brothers
and sisters.’ Everyone knew that Somali clans needed little excuse to
go hammer and tongs with one another. Things could get serious
there. Brickman had to be joking, and if he wasn’t he had certainly
done no proper research to arrive at his preposterous conclusion.

Not only did my boss refuse to see me however, but he also
stepped up the pressure to get me on the first available flight. ‘You
will go,’ he had told me on the phone ‘and that is the end of the
matter. I want you there fast.’ So there you have it. Somalia was to be
the centre of a British tobacco company’s ambitions of expanding


Chapter 2 - Mogadishu will be contiued next Monday.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.