"Happy Christmas to all"

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December 25th 2009
Published: December 25th 2009
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One of these days I'll put up some serious travel writing here but, for now, let's embrace the festive period. And who better to conjure up a grin and a yo ho ho? Hmm, I wonder..

Just the name “Namibian” connotes a jocular, doughy form brimming with platitudes, doesn't it? A veritable, clownish Goliath of a man? A corpulent chap with a club foot? Dear old Namibian may be all of these things and more, but he never fails to bring a smile to one's face. He lights up another's countenance like no other, and asks nothing in return. Though lamentably incompetent, and as far from apple-cheeked as a human can be, he nevertheless possesses beguiling characteristics. Hang on, I'll try and think of one...

Seriously, his cheerful spirit and ineffably entertaining quotes have becalmed many a fraught moment this year; in the face of adversity, he has diffused situations simply by saying something utterly absurd. Yes, I've led him around Europe, and bought him the occasional collectible thimble while he lies supine in his truck, but his generosity has remained boundless. Let's doff our trilbys, and say Happy Christmas, to the man whose antics have provided us with so many guffaws this year. Let's also celebrate Namibian's birthday, by rewinding to July on the U2 tour this year. And how convenient that he looks - with his gargantuan frame and preternaturally sunny disposition - like the quintessential Santa Claus. Yo ho ho. I, for one, love him to bits.

Be honest, you thought Namibian was in his sixties, didn't you? No, no, no. You're a rotten lot. Had you looked closely over the last couple of months, you would have noticed a dashing exuberance and purple fetlocks, surely indicators of ebullient youth. In fact he has only just turned fifty. Yes, Big Boy has reached the half-century and, by my calculations, has a good six years left before succumbing to the inevitable. As you know, there are only two certainties in life - and he's already paying taxes. 'You'll be dead at forty,' he snaps, as though I've hit a nerve. Honestly, where this unwarranted vitriol comes from, I just can't imagine.

We are celebrating the big day in a car park in Milan, sprawled in deckchairs beside fifty-four articulated trucks. 'I'm Peter Pan,' he says, through a fug of cigarette smoke. Really? I don't remember “the boy that never grew up” having quite such an insatiable appetite for whisky - or even whiskey, come to think of it - and Cola. And I could have sworn Peter was slimmer, with hair less like a toilet brush. I'll tell you what, though: Namibian really is losing weight now we're into hot weather. As his shorts slide ever southwards, the rest of the U2 crew are submitted to a grotesque daily spectacle as he cycles past. On this score alone, he's overqualified for a position in the construction industry.

Though he intends to be forty-nine for ever, and swears he's Peter Pan, any lingering misapprehensions as to his identity quickly evaporate: he pours another whisky - polluting it with a tin of pop - and swears colourfully. And if language and alcohol were not evidence enough, Namibian cannot fly - it's simple physics. Even with the secret ingredient of a McDonald's pizza (with chips on top) inside him, he remains on terra firma. Rather more firma than he'd intended, actually. Namibian is drunk; the bicycle was a stupid idea in his condition; a fellow trucker's deckchair is crushed to a pulp. The final evidence that he is not, in fact, Peter Pan is a particularly virulent fart.

Happy Birthday Namibian, old chum. I hope the next six are just as much fun.

Happy Christmas, too, to all the bloggers out there. And to the readers, without whom our efforts would go unrewarded. So here's to a literary 2010 - even Namibian will be contributing a paragraph..


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