Sunday 21 March 1999
One man was cutting the kava plant, Piper methysticum, a dusty little cluster of dry twigs and spindly roots. As he hacked with a bush knife, making a pile of roots, another man scraped and peeled each root, while a third man worked on the half-peeled root with a coconut shell, rubbing off some - but by no means all - of the red dust.
The coconut rubber handed the piece of root to the men who were standing. They opened their mouths. They had black teeth and gummy, coated tongues. They stuffed the woody kava roots into their mouths and with a crunch like chicken bones, they began to chew them.
These chewing men - one in a straw pie-plate hat, another wearing a T- shirt that said "Alaska - The Last Frontier", the third in a sensationally filthy sarong - walked in circles, chewing seriously, their cheeks bulging.
I heard many eye-witness reports of bombs falling on the Presidential Palace in Baghdad.
At that moment, one of the men leaned over and spat a big wet wad of masticated wood, the size of a scoop of ice-cream, onto a green leaf that had been spread on the ground, apparently for this purpose.
Bombs also fell on Baghdad Airport, destroying runways.
Splat went another blob of kava and spittle, as the man in the T-shirt bent from the waist like a bobbing duck and released it onto the leaf.
Splat - more mush hit the leaf: it was like a kid spitting up baby food he hated. That was the consistency of the stuff - a cowpat of Gerbers baby food.
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
Life & Style blogs
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?
Black Friday: Best beauty deals
Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Black Friday: best UK tech deals on iPads, Macs, PS4 and more
Black Friday: From Bicester Village to Amazon, best fashion deals
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Plebgate: Andrew Mitchell’s reputation in tatters as judge rules he used the word ‘pleb’
- 1 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
£31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Car: h2 Recruit Ltd: EXCLUSIVE TO H2 RECRUIT - GLO...
£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...
£25000 - £50000 per annum + £50,000 OTE + Car, Mobile, Benefits: h2 Recruit Lt...