It has been two weeks since the burglary. How time flies when you’re having fun.
Last Wednesday I had to return to the police station to get a police report to enable me to file a claim for our stolen items. The same young WPC/CID officer led us into her office, disturbing a young man completing his own crime report who was told to go and complete it outside – it was raining hard.
They may not have petty cash for a pen and paper but there was an impressive DVD and satellite receiver awaiting installation.
I was told I would have to see her superior officer –in the office upstairs, reached by a stairway, and was I OK with stairs? I replied that I had had a lifetime’s experience of managing stairs and had just about got the hang of them now (not a flicker!). Assuming I had been a complete incompetent in the stair-climbing skills department, there was no other way up, unless they were going to haul me up in a rope and bucket contraption.
Once I had demonstrated my complete mastery of the stairway to her satisfaction I was beckoned into an even dingier office and invited to sit on a bench polished by all the bums that must have sat and squirmed on it over many decades. Her boss decided not to see me and left. The WPC spent the next ten minutes trying to locate my file from within the heap of files on the desk. She eventually pulled out a grubby battered manila folder that probably dated from the colonial era, if not earlier. She decided the other files ought to be stored in the desk drawer which fell apart when she removed it. I did not rush to help her in case she cast doubt as to my drawer assembly and insertion skills. I could have detailed my experiences over many years assembling MFI flat-pack furniture but thought better of it.
My crime report now found, I had to take it to the High Court and swear an affidavit. Whatever possessed me to think that this would be an impressive, wood-panelled, wig-wearing, shiny brass experience, m’lud!
I ran out of the rain, unsuccessfully dodging the water pouring off the Court roof and suddenly realizing that both my shoes had holes in the soles. The office of the presiding clerk was a showpiece in wrecked furnishing. She finished her chicken and jollof rice and then asked to see my typed report to VSO. She then hand-wrote my typed statement in red biro on a creased sheet of A4 – which was free! Her hand writing was painfully slow and to me, barely legible. I then had to pay 500 naira (about 2 pounds) for her hand-written account to be re-typed and I would have to come back for it in an hour. Two hours later we were on our way back with a typed affidavit to the police HQ to have it countersigned by the chief officer of signing things. He wasn’t in yet (2pm) so I would have to come back in an hour – but I would need to pay 1000 naira in advance for a typed police report and photocopy. I resisted asking if I would have to supply my own photocopier. I left it three hours. He was still not in so come back tomorrow – but check the report first. When I did so I noticed all the spelling mistakes in the typed copy – copied from the hand-written version. I thought this was going to cost me another 1000 naira because they insisted that all the errors would have to be removed and the document retyped – so come back tomorrow. All this was conducted against a backdrop of noise coming from the crackly TV and Radio Kwara, both on at the same time. Radio Kwara itself induces intense migraine after about 30 seconds of listening, but coupled with ‘African Magic’ you feel almost suicidal.I now have my affidavit and my police report – both typed, after a fashion and 24 hours later my ear-drums have just about recovered. The amazing thing is that local people seem oblivious to the levels of noise in office environments, where the TV and/or radio is always on, no matter how important the meeting, unless you ask them to turn it off. Yet they appear to be able to carry on conversations regardless – unless they are just pretending and really nobody understands anything anyone else is saying, which would account for a lot!