Sample dialogue goes something like this:-
"Hello Nasser," I say from a distance of about 8 metres, voice at a deliberately moderated volume. "Didnt you fail the last course?"
"No! I no fail," he bellows. "I no pass. You no me pass!"
"That's because you got about 30% in the exam."
"You fail. I want speaking English. No pass. No fail."
"But aren't you deaf?"
"Yes! I am no deaf."
"Are you deaf or not?"
"Yes! Am I deaf!"
At this point his expression takes on a cross-eyed, thousand yard stare as though spying a camel on the horizon.
"So how do you expect to pass a language course if you can't hear?"
"I no can hear."
"You've just heard everything I've said."
"Yes, yes. I English good ..." pause for thought during which I can almost hear the clanger going off in his head ... "What?"
I tolerate his deaf/no deaf routine for a week - about 40 years old he sits in the class feigning ear impediments and plays games on his phone - before we are at loggerheads over homework that he hasn't done, explaining that he hadn't heard about it. I point out that he's circled the exact exercises in his empty workbook and that he's lying. Accusing someone of lying in the sand results in fury of volcanic proportions, even when they are clearly as guilty as Oscar Pistorius. He heard that alright too and slams down his books.
"You say I am liar-man!"
"I don't really need to say it, do I? The evidence is right in front of us, or are you blind now?"
It was long ago that I stopped pandering to the childish egos and tantrums of grown men and adopted a policy of Take No Prisoners. If they don't like it, I know exactly where the airport is. He storms off to blub to the boss man. Ten minutes later I'm summoned and we have another 'at loggerheads moment' before the boss man gives me a wink and I'm back in the courtyard doing the Guardian crossword, which brings me back to the topic of this story: Marmite.
Some would call it comfort food - an edible item that you miss from your homeland; craving for which is a result of homesickness. I don't call it that. I call it delicious food that just happens to be stocked on the shelves of my local supermarket. And besides, I never get homesick, even in the sand. Have you seen the state of Britain these days?