A thing that happened the day after I got back from Lamu Island off the coast of Kenya was that I developed three large and painful boils. I took them to my doctor who refused to lance them, but prescribed a powerful antibiotic. He didn’t think I’d picked up some tropical disease, but said my trip could have “lowered my resistance to the staphylococcus that resides on the skin . . .” The antibiotic didn’t help a bit – the boils just got bigger and more painful. Eventually I lanced the one on my elbow and something hard came out with a little pus. Then my travelling companion Jane phoned from Saudi Arabia to say that she had also had boils and that they were caused by a fly that lays eggs in wet laundry. When you wear those clothes larvae emerge looking for an animal host. They burrow into the skin, and must be removed with a needle. Her experts on tropical diseases told her the culprit was the Tumbu Fly, and prescribed two different types of antibiotics which she had to take for seven days.
I immediately grabbed my scalpel-sharp penknife and attacked the boil on my left buttock in front of the bathroom mirror. With the help of knife and needle a large larva emerged, and it was still wriggling. Yeech!
Then I phoned Jane’s sister and asked her if I could come round to show her the photos of my trip. Here is the tale of my visit to her, as told in her inimitable way in an e-mail she subsequently sent to Jane:
P came around on Saturday to show photos etc, and ask me to dig a grub out of his back – he managed the others, but couldn’t reach this one. Oh Lordy!! Perry brought his penknife for me to “just slice off a flap of skin”: FUCCKKK: thought well now I know why I’m not a doctor: nearly puked all over him! Anyway – very disappointing: grub was dead and quite small (according to Perry) – I sat at least hoping for some REAL LIVE ACTION, and I had to check the thing out in a magnifying glass to see it was a grub – no question, doll – THESE ARE THE REAL MACOY!! Shit – I would have platsed on the spot if I were you, digging this grotesque thing out of my groin!! What do they eat – blood, or flesh??? P was quite unpreturbed – even brought his Germolene ointment along!!
Anyway. Enough said. I thought I’d dropped the bloody thing on the floor, it was going to turn into a fly in my bathroom, and I was going to populate Pinelands with bugs in their broeks, but fortunately this was all just hyped-up imagination. It’s not every day I get to slice someone open with a penknife, so I wasn’t quite myself at the time.