Saturday 6 February (Nairobi). Saturdays here are like old-fashioned Saturdays in the UK. Many banks and offices are open in the morning. Lots of whites come into town to do their shopping and then have lunch in a restaurant or at the club with friends. I call at the Post Office. Only two letters: one from the trustees (boring!) and one from Sue, which I save for later. Call at Preston's Garage. The Beast (my Land Rover) is still in intensive care. I shall have to scrounge a lift to the Hash Run this afternoon. No response to my advertisement about the trek South. Surely there are some intrepid souls out there?

The Hash Run is rather fun. We go charging through the coffee plantations on the outskirts of Nairobi and end by having supper and lots of beer at a little wayside restaurant. Funny, juvenile, tribal initiation rituals: I am made to sing a song with a bog-seat round my neck and then to drink beer from a plastic piss-pot. When I can drink no more, I have to pour it over my head; ho ho ho! I meet a lot of expats, some of whom have helpful information to share.

One muscular young man turns out to be a Sergeant from the Defence Section at the British High Commission. He says that a British infantry battalion comes here every year to train in conditions varying from permanent snow to rain-forest to desert. This sounds fun. They stay from October to March. At present it is the Queen's Own Highlanders. They will not be here much longer, as it is now February. As a farewell treat, they get two weeks' R & R at the coast. I ask whether there is any chance of visiting the base. The answer is no: it is a highly sensitive location and I would not have the requisite security clearance.

The SAS also run field survival courses here; again based at Nanyuki. These are pretty tough: there is no backup; the instructors hunt you, allegedly firing live rounds; you live mostly off what you can hunt, fish or gather (e.g. termites) and, if you run out of water, you drink your own piss. You bag your shit and take it with you, so as to leave no trace behind you. You sleep in bivouacs. I think I should find it challenging! As luck would have it, I bumped into one of them: he was not actually SAS but Coldstream Guards; he had however been doing the SAS field survival course and was taking a few days' leave in the comparative civilisation of the Club to "chill out and become human again" before returning to the UK. I met him in the men-only bar at the Club. He looked dashing, even in his slightly scruffy civilian clothes (hacking jacket, chinos and tattersall check shirt with Brigade of Guards cravat). His shirt collar and cuffs were slightly frayed and his desert boots were scuffed. He had neat, short hair with a quiff, and looked super-fit.

He had "soldier" all over him, so I took a chance and introduced myself. He was called Lawrence Jones and he could not have been nicer; when he learned that I was to go to Sandhurst in October, he became really friendly and told me a lot about the place. We ended by having supper together in a restaurant called "The Carnivore" near Wilson Airport. It serves game meat, including antelope, zebra, ostrich, crocodile and buffalo. "Normal food," including beef, lamb, sausages; even salads and vegetarian dishes, is also available.

"This is great; it's all so fucking civilised," said Lawrence. "I cannot get used to it. I am clean, shaved, and I'm eating properly cooked food again." The dessert trolley lurched past us at this point. "Wow! Is that ice cream? I gotta have some!"

He was like a kid in a fair; on an extreme high. He was also suffering extreme culture-shock: I suddenly realised how tough and disorientating his field survival course must have been. Compared with it, my romantic overland trip in the Beast suddenly seemed like a charabanc outing. Lawrence showed me a photo of himself at the end of the course. I barely recognised the haggard, grimy figure with beard-stubble, wearing scruffy, stained fatigues. He looked like a badly-dressed and very grubby werewolf.

"I thought of sending it to the girlfriend," he said. "Then I thought the better of it. She might be alarmed to see the animal I'd turned into". He had a point. "What the photo doesn't convey is what I smelt like."

There was live music. Presently he bounded over and spoke to the leader of the small band. They started playing sentimental old songs. Lawrence has a good voice. He got a lot of applause for his rendering of The Donkey Serenade. While he was singing it, he saw me laughing (the lyrics are quite funny) and gave me a big smile. Lawrence insisted on picking up the bill. He offered to run me back to Mrs Skomorowski's in "his" Land Rover, which it turned out he'd borrowed it from the High Commission. He knows the Military Attaché. All right for some!

I said, "The night is still young. Why not come in for a nightcap; I have some single-malt?" Mrs Skomorowski does not have a bar but I had smuggled in some malt whisky that I had been given by Wilfred Thesiger in Maralal. Someone else had given it to him as a gift but he says that he no longer drinks spirits; did not like it to go to waste; so he gave it to me. It was a kind gesture.

Lawrence seemed rather impressed when I name-dropped Thesiger, who, he said, had been an early SAS soldier, a long time ago. He accepted readily: Laphroaig is not easy to come by in Kenya.

My room is a nice one, with a balcony that overlooks Mrs Skomorowski's garden. I suggested that we should take our whisky out onto the balcony, where there are two chairs and a rustic table. The garden, insofar as I could see it, as it was now dark, looked peaceful and deserted, except by the fireflies, which were zooming about. It was not, however, silent. Cicadas and other things (crickets?) were making a soothing, chirruping, tropical night-time noise. We listened, while sipping our Laphroaig and smoking.

Suddenly Lawrence said quietly "I want to make love to you. May I?"

Oh boy. I had not expected this; he had been rattling away about his girlfriend(s) earlier in the evening! I have rather outgrown sex with other men and am now definitely straight. I am nineteen; I haven't been with another guy since I was about fifteen, and not through lack of offers. Having said that, the idea did not repel me; I had not had sex with anyone for months; and Lawrence had been so tremendously kind, buying me dinner and briefing me about Sandhurst (which he had left quite recently, having joined the army as a graduate) and Northern Ireland, that I acted grown-up and said "fine". He leant across and kissed me. I was out of practice but it was quite enjoyable. He was definitely not out of practice, and proved very expert indeed! His mouth tasted bitter and macho: whisky, tobacco and something else: maybe the spicy sauce on the game meat we had eaten earlier.

Lawrence looks a bit like the actor Peter O'Toole: not as he is now, but at the time he was acting the role of T E Lawrence in the 1968 film Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence and Lawrence: there's a neat symmetry to that. Lawrence is tall, fair-haired, long-limbed and sinewy. He has a floppy quiff that gets in his eyes. He is very tanned after his training at Nanyuki. Nice blue-grey eyes; Infectious grin; big, white teeth. He's bloody good in bed; partly because he is so fit. He has lots of energy and kinky tricks, some of which I look forward to trying out on someone else! Better not tell her where, how or from whom I learned them, though. Lawrence is not in the Parachute Regiment but he is, like them, "ready for anything": he had some condoms and sachets of lube in his wallet. Thoughtful chap: you never know when you may need some condoms and lube.

He had no inhibitions, at least as far as doing things to arouse me were concerned. It blew my mind when I felt his rough tongue rimming my asshole. Later he fucked me in several different positions. Finally, he took off his condom and prepared to wank us both to orgasm. I stopped him. "It's my turn now," I said, "give me a condom." He looked amazed, then he laughed and said that I should do what I liked.

I did a few things to arouse him, and then asked him to grab his legs and spread himself, which good-natured Lawrence did. I then fucked him, which I suspect had not happened for a while. I was able to do this while kissing him. He wrapped his long legs round me. I had one of the best orgasms of my life and Lawrence gave a cry of satisfaction too as he shot his load against my stomach. We lay there for a bit; then had a shower together. We didn't get dressed immediately but squatted cross-legged on my bed, touching and looking at each other and smoking a post-coital cigarette.

"That was a really good fuck; first I've had since I got off the field survival course," he said. "I could get quite fond of you; pity I'm flying out tomorrow evening. Would you like to have brunch with me?"

I was happy to do that. We agreed to meet at the Thorn Tree. He then drove back to his club.

Sunday 7 February. Next day, it was all sweetness and light. Having parted only a few hours earlier, we were so pleased to see each other that we might have been long-lost old friends. He winced as he sat down: his asshole hurt. I started to laugh. So, a moment later, did he. "You pack a hell of a fuck," he said. This must be a compliment of sorts. We chuckled conspiratorially for several moments. Maybe casual sex has a social function after all? It apparently does, in chimpanzee society. In our case it seemed to lead to instant friendship. We were loath to split up. I ended by spending the whole day with him and accompanied him to the airport to say goodbye. We had a farewell drink at the airport bar. We agreed to meet up in the UK when I get back. He wants to hear all about my later adventures. He strongly advised me to transfer to a Guards regiment; "much more your scene than the Green Jackets. You're from Shropshire; you could get into the Welsh Guards." I felt rather flat after he vanished through the door to the departure lounge with a cheery grin and a wave of his hand. Lawrence was moving on. Ours had been a very fast-tracked holiday friendship/romance. Now I'm back on my own. Shall I ever see him again?

Sue's letter had been in my pocket since I collected it yesterday. It's full of loving reproaches for not having written more often. I feel faintly guilty over Lawrence. I write her a long letter, making no mention of him.

Saturday 13 February. Lawrence seems to have taken some of the sparkle with him when he left. I feel bored and dispirited. I must be moving on soon. I do the Hash Run in the late afternoon. I do more expat networking, but meet no-one who wants to drive south with me.

Sunday 14 February. Is it just me, or are Sundays naturally depressing? Unusually for me, I go to the Cathedral for Sung Mattins at 10.00 am. I've got to keep in with God: I will probably need His special protection for the days ahead! I derive more pleasure from the regimental colours and memorials than from the Bishop's sermon, which is boring and unmemorable. Then, feeling in need of a supportive friend, I ring up Lawrence at his London flat. We have an enjoyable chat. He got back okay. He sounds pleased to hear from me.

"I'm missing you, Chum," he says. It is difficult to tell whether that is just Lawrence being charming and polite, or whether he means it. "I'll give you dinner at my club when you get back," he adds.

"Wish me luck," I say to Lawrence.

"I do: you'll need it," he says encouragingly. "See you later this year."

I shall leave tomorrow unless something momentous happens to make me change my plans.


Max Markham


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