I went back to Pakistan at the end of July, which I was very happy about, set up the ComMand in Karachi, and started up the field crews. What’s not evident from the letters from this period is just how awful Somalia was. In Mogadishu, there was no rule of law, no army or police force, just three warlords battling it out for control of the streets. Aside from the street battles, there were the ‘green guards’. These were kind of unofficial religious (Islamic) enforcers. We called them the green guards because that was how they dressed—actually, they looked a bit like boy scouts. But they had absolute authority, and were greatly feared. Even we westerners were wary of them.

 Mog itself was extremely primitive, practically mediaeval; women were totally subjugated, punishments were unpredictable, harsh and arbitrary. Out in the field we were armed—well, we had weapons, but never actually had to use them. I seriously considered arming myself in Mog, even though it was forbidden (by our Embassy).

 As the pic in the first letter from Mog shows, there was a sector of Mog where there were low, whitewashed stone houses, and one of these was our staff house. They were impossible to keep even remotely clean—you crunched over the cockroaches as you crossed the room. There was a lavatory, but the sanitation didn’t work. We had electricity at entirely unpredictable times: a few hours once or twice a day as a rule. The heat and, especially, the humidity were almost unbearable. The menu was goat. Or goat. I spent as much time as I could in the field, which posed its own difficulties, but they were at least the kinds of problems I was fairly familiar with and was ok with. Trouble was, the ComMand in Mog had lots of problems, due largely to the difficulty in keeping it cool, and the erratic electricity supply, so that meant I had to spend quite a lot of my time in Mog. It really was a wart on the arsehole of the world. And from what I’ve seen, it’s much the same today as it was then.

 In all, I did five tours of Somalia (I had to go over a couple of times from Ethiopia, and I got out as soon as I’d fixed the problem). So, anyway, after my really great leave in Greece with Debbie, and my posting to Pakistan on an indefinite basis, I was very happy. But by this time, I’d learnt only too well just how unpredictable this business was. I was quite prepared to zip out from Pakistan to fix something almost anywhere in the world, if necessary, and then come back, and I told Tawassul that when he sent me to Pakistan. I also told him that if he sent me back to Mog, I’d quit. He did, and I did. That was in September, I think. I already had about 2½ months of leave owing anyway. So when he asked me, very nicely, if I could just go to Mog and fix the ComMand, I said no, and caught the next flight back to London.

 It was, on reflection, a sad end to the affair, kind of like an angry divorce after a long and happy marriage. However, I don’t regret my decision. I met some wonderful people, had some unique experiences, saw some breathtaking sights (and some awful ones), and travelled the world. As for what happened next…well, that’s another story.

Me, today.