Walking on Arab Street
Highly improbable that an entire
should be deprived
of the minimal
December 24, 2003
Professionally, it is a very bad time for me. My revenues have
plummeted. As a stock, I have plummeted. As a prospect, I am as
bright as a Monday morning in Minsk.
My digestive system is busier than my brain. Frankly I'm not
surprised: the day begins with a large coffee and croissant (once
I axed the kitchen door
down to get the coffee, shrieking, "Heerre I Come"), followed at noon by pizza
preceded at 11 by a bun ("Doktor, ven I march past ze Reichpastry shop, ze
donuts, zey shout unt shout 'ett me'" "Waddadey shay," asks Barbara
Stroudletank, my shrink,
"zey say 'Hey looser eat me', or sometimes, 'Try Me Big Boy'?").
is afternoon tea (Panettone and tea "chillout"), perhaps with
goes the cream) or baklava to block that "crash-of-79 feeling",
and for dinner, something
light - bean sprouts, say - followed by eight Ferrero Rocher chocolates
I eat while staring into space. (I recommend the book, "Mein Shtruggle"
by Ferrero Rocher, a story of tears and laughter and one man's
fight against tragic
Cream-Puff 'Gaseous Vortex'
International affairs at least are going my way, and
several items have recently brought me close to tears.
I was moved listening to George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II
address a state banquet in London. The monarch concluded her
speech with a quote from
Bush: "We know what is right, freedom is right." Wonderful: I had a stinging
feeling in my nose.
Then there was the moment L. Paul Bremer III told a Baghdad
press conference, "Lladies and gentlemen, we got him." The Iraqis burst
into cheers: the American viceroy was visibly moved. Was he moved
by the triumph
arms? That is what a malicious former socialist would say. But watching
the news item you could see that he must have felt an élan,
as the French say, a pang in the heart, on seeing Iraqis in the
audience jump and shout
I was an assiduous student of geography at school, scrutinising
the map of the Soviet empire for hours, redrawing borders, pushing
the evil state
some days pulling the Ottoman Empire back into Europe, at the expense
of communist Bulgaria and Rumania. They should have left the Austrian
in 1918, a
polyglot land of waltzes, cakes and contented people sipping coffee.
(So happy they lost
their wits it seems: an Austrian official was warned about the Bolshevik
exiles in Vienna before World War I, plotting revolution in Russia.
"And who is going
to lead that revolution," the official reportedly scoffed, "Mr. Trotsky
sitting every day at the Café Centrale?")
Iran, I would expand back into the Caucasus, but I wonder now,
do we want our former subjects back? All those mourners for Aliev
level of intelligence among Azeris, dimmed by 70 years of communism
and 15 years of Aliev. The Georgians knew what was best, with a few
BBC. Why would anyone mourn Heidar Aliev, when he was no better
(and we may guess that you, Alidad, consider him far worse) than
("Aliev, khe was a great man.. akha..akhaa.." Weep. But
why, what has he ever done for you? You queue all day for a sausage.
"I no mind da stinky
Papa Heidar, he gone.. we luuv khim... akhaa.." ).
Some might say
again that I am abusing and caricaturing a nation to amuse myself:
I say, "Up Yowrs Guvnar," if I may quote the
And what of the stupidity of those Arabs who have not cheered
the arrest of Saddam? Trust the press to put a negative spin
of Arab resistance or affirmative action, you read and hear.
What rot. The Arabs are a miserable bunch if they prefer
freedom, lawful government
private enterprise -- is my message to the "Arab Street".
I also have
an Arab Development Manifesto ("fixit awright?") my secretary
is typing out,
be published and distributed across the Middle East. Here's
an extract from Article 2, "Shake yar fat ass Mr.
Yaw-wake up -- smell da mean mother coffee." No, just
kidding, I'll do a spell
check before it goes to the printers.
The Arabs know better of course: simply because the law
of probabilities makes it highly improbable that an entire
should be deprived
of the minimal
common sense needed to recognise a good thing when they
I saw a wonderful poster for a play or show in New York
last year, called something like: Since the End of
Life Has been
Empty. I wouldn't go so far. I keep busy. I am making a giant
rabbit out of my Ferrero Rocher wrappers, and there's
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