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A sort-of tribute to my late father

The day my father died, three months ago yesterday, I was at my mother’s house helping her to move out of our family home. It was nearing the end of the two weeks I’d spent with her laughing and crying through the packing up of 40 years of tat, trinkets and family treasures.

I was alone, sitting on the verandah and lamenting that this would be the last time I could enjoy the spring lushness of the sub-tropical paradise that my mother had created in her garden, when the phone rang. It was my younger brother.

‘Pam?’ There was a pause. ‘Dad is dead.’ Continue reading

Counting blessings

“Darling, why not phone them now and say we will ring them when we get to Nairobi. Tell them Mummy wants to take them to Carnivore tomorrow night.”

Carnivore, this slightly overweight, posh Brit tells her public school looking teenagers, is a restaurant. As I’m standing in the queue at Heathrow waiting to board the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, I imagine them gnawing on a great big kudu leg, and I shudder, suddenly grateful that my family have lived in Africa long enough to have lost this colonial edge. Continue reading

Secrets, lies and thinking on your feet

Keep Calm Pamela. This is the message on the key ring given to me last Saturday morning by my friend, the mother of my daughter’s friend of nearly 15 years.

The best friend is organising a surprise birthday party and I’m dropping my son off at hers so that we can spend some ‘bonding’ time together while my house is decorated and the food set out. Continue reading

Putlocker, piracy and parents: when sharing isn’t always caring

“Art is art. That’s how it is in our household. No way would any of us ever download free music or films. Absolutely no way!”

It was an emphatic response to the question I’d put to the crowd at coffee last Friday: “How would you feel if your children were downloading films or music illegally?” Continue reading

The Cloud Lifts

At 4am the day after my Gmail account was hacked over a month ago now, I penned a blog, Google’s Very Dark Cloud (see below if you didn’t get a chance to read it before I binned it). Sleep was elusive and there was little else to do while I waited for two hours to run my anti-virus programme before reactivating my account. Words flowed easily. Continue reading

Our Monsters on Moshi

Last night my six-year-old son signs in to MoshiMonsters, the popular online children’s game, which now has over 50 million users worldwide. He is very excited because he got a monthly membership for Christmas so he can now do more with his pet Monster. So while I get dinner started he clicks through to his friends’ tree, the space where children post messages to each other, and lets out a shriek of delight. A pink monster in America called KittyKat wants to be his ‘friend’.  “I’m going to send her a message,” he yells and excitedly begins typing. Continue reading

Feeding Africa

Rising food prices and the link to political instability have been a core theme across global media in recent weeks, following the release of United Nations updated food price index in January. That was bad news; for seven consecutive months the index rose, in both real and nominal terms, to highest levels since records began in 1990. And the forecasts do not look good either Abdolreza Abbassian, a UN Food and Agricultural Organisation economist and grains expert, says “high prices are likely to persist in the months to come”. Continue reading