The Dows & Tales of Darker Road


Allan DowHilary & Alan Dow were great fun and Hilary's greatest claim to fame was as Carole's first bridge teacher ... she also tried to teach Carole pidgin ...

Happenings were non stop in Dakar Road. Water and telephones were permanently quenched but electricity was occasionally available. Tumble fly infestations in bra straps, which could only be relieved by suffocating Vaseline and a lighted cigarette. Refreshing showers and resulting piles of pains due to inadequate hygiene and low temperature bathing. Breakthrough malaria as Paludrine tablets failed to pacify the mosies. Dehydration when air conditioning worked and relief from drinking salt water ... and occasionally the bugs got the better of Milton and Guanamycin ... but it was Star that proved to be our saviour.

In 2015 Hilary remembered all the fun.

Carole, reading your email and names gives me a big bubble of pleasure. I have not played bridge for some years. Its a great game and we played 4/5 times a week in those days in Apapa ... and I remember the day I went to see if my friend Rita could come over and make up a four. The steward said Madame never be here. She has gone walking down the road wearing her knicker pants and carrying her balls ... (to the tennis court?).
Well what could I say?

You must recall the start of our bridge learning sessions. I recall you knew little about cards and it was almost down to basics - 52 cards in pack, 4 suits! We used to play 'Snap' a bit at first to get you handling cards and then gradually got around to the real serious stuff ... bidding ... I told you it was a great game.

Christine sometimes came along to our bridge sessions and took her hand sewing, I recall she made Sally a cute pink top!

You mentioned Star beer but what of Heineken and Gulder? People used to ask sometimes how did I have such a lovely shine on my hair ... a quick rinse with Heineken after washing!
Allan did like his beer and you used to have a few after work with Mike and Mr H. After leave Allan used to bring a bottle of J & B for Mr H; his favourite tipple. Allan also enjoyed a malt whiskey, with a couple of pals, it was good to keep colds at bay. Surprising how often they felt a cold coming on!

When Allan was at Dunlops they were often invited over to Guinness for a little slurp. It was quite a heavy brew and often 7-Up was added to help wash the dust down. Before he left Dunlops he wanted to get in some spares for essential machinery but there was a quibble over cost. Allan insisted the plant could be down for some weeks if spares were not available. He got his way and got the spares in reserve. Soon after he was invited to join Unilever. Inevitably the plant at Dunlop did break down and the new Chief Engineer went down to LBN to thank Allan as he knew they would be in trouble if that stuff had not been waiting in store.

Then there was a lovely smiley young man named Jonathan who liked to top up the beer glasses. A dear little girl named Sally who liked our dog and when someone gave her a chicken she named it after him. If one of us went into the garden and called 'Pippin' our little dog bounded out and there was a 'puck, puck puck' and the chicken clucked into view.

Saying to the gardener that it would be a good idea to wipe the leaves of the rubber plant as there was a visible layer of dust. I was actually thinking of water or even water and milk to restore the shine (or Heineken!). I came back a day or so later and he proudly showed me he had wiped the plants down with engine oil out of the garage ... eek !!

Sunday the steward coming to ask me to go and look at the generator. It kept starting - Da,da,da,da - there was no-one around our compounds at all. I had to do something ... help! I went across the road where there was an Italian family - a nice man came to the door and I grabbed him and started dragging him. He had little English and yours truly little Italian. I made prayer hands and he came anyway. He understood the problem and fixed things. He kissed me on the cheek and walked away grinning and waving back at me.

Then there were the evenings when the power went off and we telephoned NEPA (No Electricity Power Again) ... when the telephones worked? - 'This is 4a Dakar road we have no light when will our power be restored?' ... no know - phone cut! Allan went to the NEPA office and had a chat with someone he thought was some big cheese. After that whenever the lights went out we got phone calls to say - please don't worry your power will soon be restored!

interesting memories of many parties.
Alex used to practise driving his Dad's Volvo and put it in the garage, he spent many hours canoeing around the creeks, playing tennis at the Apapa Club, table tennis & darts in the porch, walks with Pippin, and chasing after him, canasta as well as bridge, jigsaw puzzles and studying for maths A level, playing Abba & George Macrae records on a old player ...

Gosh I recall a load of manure! We had corn growing over eight feet tall and a 'black' porch when the maggots became swarms of flies.

Sheena was invited to go and play with the daughter of some Germans and came back saying they talk German all the time - Yarbrahinken ... I don't want to go there again.

Robberies and 'teefmen' were everywhere. We swapped tales of the latest robberies over coffee. Dad had brought his hockey stick with him from home and when we had the big robbery in Ikeja he went out to investigate with his stick in hand. Of course there was the straight forward stuff like selling cold tea in sealed 'Johnny Waker' bottles, cheap cheap. And getting into the back of your car and demanding money for 'protection' or 'chop' at 100 naira a throw. And even getting underneath cars to disconnect the fuel supply in an effort to make a bit on the rescue when the engine quenched.
There was also more sophisticated stuff where veg stalls sold drugs along with the beans and rice - '‘would madam like some giddy-giddy?’ ... in the end perhaps it was only the 'fine bread' that was reliable ... but the overseas bonus was generous!

The Housing Manageress Mrs Afolabi from LBN offices often came to see if we needed anything. She came one day very upset but I sat her down with a cold drink and when she calmed down told me she had been to one house and waited & waited for the guard to come and open the gates for the car ... 'My madam said I should not let anybody in' ... She furiously said she told him, 'I am not anybody'!

Sunday was upset one time as his son Uda had come out of school and found that there were thieves waiting, one either side of the path and one in front who was taking pupils shoes off. I gave him money to go and buy some replacements which he proudly showed me later on.

Allan talked to some of the crew from the ships unloading at LBN at the time of 'congestion' when about 500 ships were standing off Lagos harbour. One local chap called Eric was happily telling some of them that he loved congestion as it was so good for his business. Allan saved him from being man-handled by the seamen!

But Carole used to get upset when reading the newspapers? She didn’t like the depressing news from around the world? But it must have been cuddly stories compared to those nowadays.

The Flying Ant and meals out, always with French Onion soup and Houmous ... the Lebanese restaurants were superb ... and we still can't remember the name of the Lebanese restaurant on the Awolowo Road ...

And exotic things grew in Dakar Road ... avocados, mangos, bananas, plantains straight off the trees ...

Wot fun!

RIP Allan Dow 11th Nov 2014.  

john p

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