Man buys comb


The comb is for tidying a new beard gown to distract you from my thinning cheeks and jowls, the side effects of weakened health and aging.

Before the chin got covered, a friend who hadn’t seen me in a while said “My word, you look like shit.”  

So I am reminded of the war between Ethiopia and Somalia over territorial claims to the barren Ogaden desert lying between them. It was likened to two bald men fighting over a comb. 

And I am reminded too of the bald man who said grass doesn’t grow on busy streets but flourishes elsewhere. 

The medical profession says it’s time to cleanse myself of years of alcohol and smoke and yet they have addicted me to painkillers, opioids no less. It’s called pain management and there’s no substitute at present.

( *** see annotation at the end.)  

So in a stream of consciousness brought about by the humble comb I am reminded of my time in rehab for substance abuse and the horror stories there that don’t bear repeating. 

In my visits to doctors I have seen patients far worse off than me as general health services go to the dogs.

That reminds me of the time we started greyhound racing. With our long tradition of horse racing, the Sport of Kings, some people thought the country had truly gone to the dogs. The greyhound experiment didn’t last long.






AnAnd that reminds me of Pope John Paul II’s pilgrimage in the heyday of the Sport of Kings because the infield at the race course was spacious enough to accommodate the Pope’s flagship mass. One thoroughbred horse bolted past scaffolding being put up for worshippers, sunk a leg into a contractor’s trench, collided at full speed with a perimeter tree and had to be put down. 

It was a difficult decision not to sue the Pope. Besides, the deceased racehorse would have encouraged betting – not actually a sin – but gambling visits ruin upon many bitten by the bug.

I am reminded of Isaac who cycled to the Tote office in town. He ran late one day and rushed inside to make a fortune from a winner he was sure of. In his hurry he had forgotten his padlock. Thieves stole the bike outside and he lost the bet, a double curse for poor Isaac

That reminds of the more drastic curse of Vatican banker Roberto Calvi found hanging dead in a noose under Blackfriars Bridge in London,  recalled in David Yallop’s eye-popping book “In God’s Name” on years of murder, corruption and double dealing at the Vatican.

Pope John Paul’s trip further reminds me of the Jesuit wisdom borrowed from Aristotle. Give me the child until he is seven and I will keep the man.  Robert Mugabe, educated by Catholic missionaries, returned to the church after years as a Marxist-Leninist stray and took confession regularly. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall. Forgive me Father for I have sinned…

(Back in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. Mugabe at the inauguration of Pope Francis.)

And thus I am reminded of Mugabe’s daughter Bona, born out of wedlock, being enrolled at the Convent high school but the nuns wouldn’t let her gun-toting bodyguards through the gate.  A cardinal rule: No guns in school. Mugabe quickly acquiesced and the pistoliers stayed out.

The comb has retrieved a chain of memories but that’s enough already …

*** Down from 78 kilos to 62 kilos in the past year. A benign tumour blocking circulation, an old spine injury, weakening bones, muscles melting away and concomitant matters are not deemed fatal so far, nor is it worms or AIDS as some of my detractors might suggest. On the other hand I walk with a cane now, looking somewhat distinguished, it might be said.  

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