The Woman Who Knew Why That Was

by Adam Acidophilus

A woman embarked upon a journey to the tropics, attended by her constant companion. But, as their ship came into harbour, the constant companion became quite animated.

“Oh my goodness, oh my goodness. Look at all the poverty!” she quaked. “See how the poor folk live in squalor by the quayside!”

There was, indeed, a tented city erected on the quayside; teeming with sullen, filthy beggars.

“Nonsense, nonsense,” said the woman who knew why that was. “You know why that is – ” she explained – “these people do not live here at all. They are on holiday from their villages. They camp in order to save money, and for their health, like the French. Whilst here they boost their earnings with part-time seasonal employment. It is a sort of local tradition, which they enjoy.”

The constant companion was relieved to hear this. “How fortunate you knew why that was,” she sighed. “But why is that child begging by the gangway?”

“A simple ploy to elicit attention,” the woman assured her. “Pay it no heed and be careful to give it no money.”

They hired a couple of characters to drag their bags to the hotel.

“Marvellous lined faces these characters have,” remarked the woman who knew why that was. “You know why that is? It’s because of all the sunshine and years of continual laughter.”

“They do look a little undernourished though,” observed the constant companion.

“Nonsense,” said the woman. “That’s because of their breeding. They are a very light-framed race.”

The women checked into their hotel, and shooed away the characters – who were demanding to be paid for carrying the bags from the docks.

“All part of the Theatre of the Street,” explained the woman who knew why that was.

The characters began to shout curses and throw bricks at the hotel windows.

“They seem to have roped the hotel manager into their act,” the constant companion noted. “He seems to be supporting their claim.”

“He doesn’t get a penny, they don’t get a penny,” said the woman who knew why that was. “It would be the thin end of the wedge, and rather bad for them in the long term.”

By evening a sizeable mob had gathered on the steps of the hotel, chanting and setting fire to the front of the building.

“Oh you know why that is?” said the woman who knew why that was. “It is almost certainly a religious festival. The worship of fire runs deep in these people’s veins . . . ”

“I’m not entirely certain that that is what it is,” mused the constant companion – as a petrol bomb exploded in the hotel lobby.

“A rudimentary firework!” her friend remarked. “Now, where’s my camera?”

A military policeman arrived at the hotel, a riot squad behind him.

“You no pay thees man! You muss pay thees man!” he ordered the women.

“Well, you can see what this is,” said the woman – who knew what this was. “A small time public official attempting to win a little local glory with a bribe and an hollow threat. I’ve seen it a hundred times the world over!”

“Wouldn’t it be easier to pay him?” whimpered the constant companion — the riot going uglier, the automatic weapons clacking into readiness.

“Not until he learns to speak basic English,” announced the woman. “Now: We form the negative with do: don’t or doesn’t – but in the past tense didn’t. Now: didn’t I pay this man, or these men? Which is it? You are failing to communicate!”

The military policeman had the women arrested. With their hands behind their backs, they were frog-marched into the city centre. A baying crowd surrounded them all the way.

“Do you know why this is?” shouted the constant companion over the noise.

“I certainly do,” said the woman, who knew why it was. “Probably some sort of role-play. I had a cousin who was involved in something like this in the Pacific. When dealing with excitable primitives it is vital to put on a brave face; that’s what they expect! Although they did eat him, come to think of it – ” at which point her constant companion lost consciousness.

In the town square the women were tied to some railings, and a priest appeared – shaking his aspergillum.

“It’s a Roman! It’s a Roman!” shrieked the constant companion, revived by the cold holy water.

“Yes, you know why that is?” said the woman who knew why that was. “They are testing our British mettle. See? Raising the guns now! All a huge bluff! Taking aim, I thought so – it’s a bit clichéd, isn’t it?“

Their bodies were dumped on their embassy steps.

“Ah you know why that is . . . ” said the ambassador. “The authorities were trying to extort a ransom for those two. And they’ve dressed them up as women, rather unconvincingly. Probably German dope-dealers. Wouldn’t fool anybody . . . ”

Moral: Travel broadens the mind.

© Adam Acidophilus 2020