Those of you who have known me well since 1985 will also know of a fellow by the name of 'Scotch'.
I first met Scotch when I was at the Hotel School in Bulawayo - and he was working in the house that we lived in as students. For reasons best known to himself, Scotch 'adopted' me - and he has followed me around Africa for the last 27 years - working variously in my house and in the different hotels I have been stationed at.
Whenever I have changed jobs - Scotch simply went home, packed his pots and blankets, and came along for the ride. He has been with me in Bulawayo, Nyanga, Hwange, Victoria Falls, Harare, Vumba and Penhalonga.
His real name (or rather the name on his national Identity Card) - is actually 'Watch' - but he used to help himself to the whisky in the bar at the house we lived in as students with such regularity that we re-christened him Scotch - and the name stuck. Not that he ever emptied the bottles - he was very careful to leave at least one, but never more that two, tots in any unattended spirit bottles.
He stopped working by common consent (as he has no idea how old he really is - but we do know that he helped clear the brush for the powerlines from Kariba) about 2 years ago - and I foolishly have been paying him a monthly 'pension' ever since. On reflection - the old fellow is probably going to outlive me, so not such a wise offer on my part.
He spends about half the year with me, and the other six months at 'home' - some place which takes about 5 days of walking to reach in the bush somewhere - possibly in Mozambique. Every day he brings along one of the stainless steel teapots that he stole from me many years ago, so that he can get some tea, milk and sugar added, and I give him a meal and noon every day that he is here.
Here then, is part of my past, present, and unforeseeable future!!
I am going to start a competition - and would like all interested parties to try and guess his real age - after all, I need to inscribe something on his headstone when he does eventually fall off his perch. His hair is white - and apart from the sudden apearance of a snake (of which he lives in mortal dread) - not much motivates him these days.
So - how old d'ya think he is? We will use the average age of all guesses as being his actualy age.
Then again - maybe I'll just dig a hole and bung him into it!