Aidan Hartley Aidan Hartley

Wild Life | 10 September 2011

Aidan Hartley's Wild Life 

Aidan Hartley’s Wild Life 

Nairobi

My friend Philip Coulson was shot at midnight while driving home after the theatre in Nairobi recently. He had slowed down to go over some rumble strips when a white car halted in front of him. ‘A man got out and I could see in silhouette that he had a gun,’ Philip tells me. He backed away in reverse but the man walked up and from a few feet away he fired his pistol at Philip’s face. The closed window exploded. Philip felt a tug in his stomach. ‘That was a bit over the top,’ he says. ‘I thought, “I’d better get out of here.”’ He started to go forwards and the man said, ‘Now I’m going to kill you.’ Philip has forgotten the bang of the second shot, fired as he came up alongside the attacker. Later a bullet that must have been aimed from point-blank range was found lodged in the front-door frame directly in line with Philip’s neck. At this instant headlights illuminated the scene and an oncoming car drove past. ‘I imagine a poor guy on his way home, tipsy after an evening at the long bar, passing this ghastly tableau in freeze-frame.’

Philip accelerated away into the darkness. His ears still ringing from the gunfire, he noticed BBC World Service was still playing on the radio. He aimed to drive home and get the shattered window fixed next morning. At this point he noticed that his shirt on his left side was moist. ‘I never suffered anything like agony. I thought, “Oh, what a pain. I’ve been shot.”’ As he drove himself to hospital, he telephoned his sister, MJ. ‘Hey, MJ, can you come to the hospital. I’ve been carjacked.’ He rang off. MJ phoned back immediately.

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