Mrs C has something she calls ‘the Bullet’ (it’s the best brand, apparently) which communicates via a long cable with ‘Cerise’ which in turn wirelessly divides up the bandwidth to our devices – laptops, tablet and phones. The Bullet is attached to a long aerial and when we are at rest – a relative term as often we bob and roll and the anchor chain clunks in its roller on the bow – both Bullet, encased in waterproof protection, and aerial are hoist part-way to capture wifi internet signals from the shore. Mundane little hub Cerise sits on the chart table, blinking red. It is a great system when it works, and of course a source of great dissatisfaction when it does not. Right now it does not but Mrs C is on the case and never fails – it just takes time and a fair bit of cursing and swearing.
This is why we found ourselves in the Vodafone shop in Lagos. We have a back-up system using an attractive little white box, smooth as a pebble, which contains a SIM card ready to be loaded with expensive, doubly-intangible, 3G accessibility. As the lady grumpily filled our pebble with 3G goodness, using her desk-top computer – which itself raises all sorts of questions in the ignorant (me) – a short man rolled in, leathery face marked by mistrustful years of disappointment in his fellow man. He was talking (how old-fashioned!) into a mobile phone.
“Yeah” he growled “I’m callin’ abaht that money”.
You should know that somehow this nice little Algarve town has become Streatham in the sun. The English are everywhere, as always making one proud with their pasty tattooed beer-bellies and raised monolingual voices. This chap sounded how I imagine the Kray brothers did. We waited for him to go on. “Don’t tell me I have to send the boys arahnd” or “I’m a patient man, really I am, but you’re pushing it, sunshine.”
We left, regretful, before hearing how he proposed to resolve the problem abaht the money. Later, from the relative safety of the cockpit, I heard Mrs C struggling again with that on-board wifi system and can report that it’s gonna have to get its act together, sharpish like, if it is to avoid getting the bullet.