I blame the cockroach for the specific incident, though the deeper blame lies with the antisocial 'neighbour' whose predilection for leaving rubbish in the shared landing instead of taking it straight outside is the ultimate cause of the cockroach invasion. Friday morning, I'd rigorously sprayed Pif-Paf in all the corners, nooks and crannies and was just settling down to watch the news, when, bold as you please, a half-inch roach appeared from nowhere and paraded jauntily across the middle of the lounge. I wasn't quick enough off my mark, so he dodged my attack and scuttled behind the Stupidly Heavy Sideboard, unscathed, or so he thought. No doubt I should have lifted the Stupidly Heavy Terrapin Tank off the top of the S.H.S. instead of trying to heave the whole lot away from the wall in one go, but I didn't want to lose the element of surprise. Anyway, in a single glorious second, S.H.S. moved, cockroach was duly stamped and something went click in my lower back.
One can't let a crocked back disturb one's routine, though it will certainly cramp one's style. So it was that walking awkwardly home from Ramada on Friday night, protecting my back, the normally negotiable smashed-up gutter was sufficient to cause a second accident in the form of a badly sprained ankle which, by Saturday morning resembled an incandescent tennis ball just below the skin.
Nor can one let accumulated injuries ruin one's day, though my regular Saturday afternoon walk was out of the question. What to do? A short limp to the local corner shop to buy five riyals worth of Tiger Balm, followed by a taxi ride to the Inter-Continental. Five minutes in the privacy of a cubicle, to massage Tiger Balm into the flaming tennis ball and the base of the spine, then straight to the Belgian Café to further treat the inner man with a few pints of Leffe Blonde, Belgium's finest offering, and a plate of sausages with mustard.
The miraculous Tiger Balm reduced the tennis ball to a golf ball within the hour and greatly relieved the lower back, though at the expense of raising its local temperature to a dull red heat. After a while, the pungency of its essential oils wears off, or more likely the wearer ceases to notice it. We are change detectors, after all. It could have been coincidence that all the seats around me remained vacant. Be that as it may, the further miracle of Leffe Blonde came in the form of a very good night's sleep.
Today, I'm almost human again.