“Slow and steady wins the race.”


 I am conscious that this process is slow and I hope that interested parties will bear with me. I have comforted myself with the words ‘slow and steady wins the race’. This comes from Aesop’s fable ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’.

My mother used to read bedtime stories to me and among the many was this old animal fable:

One day a hare saw a tortoise walking slowly along and 180px-The_Tortoise_and_the_Hare_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994[1]began to laugh and mock him. The hare challenged the tortoise to a race and the tortoise accepted. They agreed on a route and started off the race. The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he’d sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race.

He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise, plodding on, overtook him and finished the race. The hare woke up and realized that he had lost the race.

The moral, stated at the end of the fable, is, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

I think I liked this fable because I liked tortoises. I had a few, as pets, when I was a child in Uganda. I can remember my father stopping the car when we were driving on safari and jumping out and picking one up which was crossing the road. He put it on the floor in the back of the car. It made a horrible smell when it opened its bowels, probably with fear, poor thing. I think that must have been my first tortoise.

I can remember that we used to ride on the backs of some giant tortoises when I was a child in Uganda, I keep trying to remember where they were. I am not sure but think they may have been near or at the Namirembe Cathedral. There are a few large tortoises even now at the Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe.

When we lived up on Makindye hill there was this old swimming pool thing in the garden. It was the outer, round, metal frame of  one of those pools which stands above ground, presumably it would have had a liner in it at some time, which would keep the water in.  I think you can find these things even today? Any way, the one in the garden had been there from before we lived there and as there was no liner the grass and wild flowers grew inside making a good home for my collection of tortoises. I seem to remember having about 6 or so. There was the big original one (it had grown a bit over the years…. unless the collection had been added to when I was away at boarding school, they all looked pretty much the same to my child’s eyes) and then a couple of smaller ones (still quite big by English standards), and then, one time when I came home from boarding school in  England (The Royal Masonic School for Girls which was in Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire ), I found that there were all these little ones, so sweet, I didn’t know where they had come from, but thought that ‘they’ must have had babies!

I used to like taking tomatoes and luttice for the tortoises to eat. I liked watching the way they took big decisive bites from the crunchy lettuce leaves,  cool green cucumber and squishy tomatoes. It surprised me how fast the creatures could move. I liked the tortoises because no one else seemed to take much interest in them, so they were kind of  ‘my secret’, though of course they were not a secret as such, and I think the house staff or gardeners must have fed them when I was away. I had a guinea pig long before the tortoises, but one day I came home from school for lunch I found that the dog had killed it (I went to the Nakasero Primary School in Kampala at that time). So the tortoises were a safer bet as the dogs could not attack them, they just went inside their shells of course. I had the guinea pig when we  lived at Kawempe.

The saddest thing is that I just don’t know what happened to  them when we left that house and I still wonder to this day.

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1 Comment

  1. Hello – I was in the school San with you at the time your Dad went missing – I had bronchitis & I remember that they put you in the room opposite me – the press at arrives at school – I’ve always wondered at yours Dad’s disappearance & have researched it a few times in ten past – I found your blog whilst searching again!
    It’s a part of my childhood that I never forgot…..

    Kind regards

    Angela xxxx


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