There’s a certain time in the evening of any social gathering, normally between one or two o’clock, where the most important focus of any conversation is damage limitation. Having put up with most people with grace, time starts to wear away our cloak of civility. Nodding politely inevitably makes way for honest observation and mischief soon follows – that’s when the problems start.
The other day, I found myself trapped in a corner with an obnoxious bloke I hardly knew but who felt that we were on such good terms that telling me his whole life story and that informing me of his inane opinions was the least he could do. The conversation inevitably moved to Egypt and he wasted no time in proclaiming that Mubarak’s departure was another US-Zionist conspiracy with all the carefully managed media theatre.
My response could have gone down a few routes, nod politely and offer words of superficial agreement, calmly challenge his views or even try to bring the conversation to a close. But it had crossed that crucial hour and the conversation went as follows:
Me: Well you’re a smart man, I never doubted your ability to see through the charade .
Chubby man: Ah, yes but I’m no genius, political insight just comes naturally…
Me: Well, you might be able to help me with something.
Chubby man: Shoot
Me: I just need a gun. I murmured.
Chubby man: What?
Me: Oh nothing, I’ve heard some reports about why he’s still in Sharm Al-Sheikh and I’d like to see what you think about it.
Chubby man: Why of course, go ahead
Me: The whole protracted affair was apparently down to gas
Chubby man: Gas?
Me: Well, Israel is quite dependent on the gas that Egypt supplies and Mubarak was the one who made it all possible.
Chubby man: This is not something new, what’s the issue?
Me: Well this gas was really natural…I mean REALLY natural! Mubarak was a prodigy, no came anywhere near to his prolific flatulence and it was piped straight from the presidential palace.
Chubby man: Hah, you’re pulling my leg now
Me: No. I’m deadly serious, these are credible sources and what’s more it explains the delay in his departure, they first claimed he was a regional ‘asset’ and later on they cited issues of a smooth transition, now we know what they meant. What’s more he remains in Sharm-Al-Shiekh because he’s supplying the Israelis from an inlet terminal there.
The Egyptians were subjected to a lot of hot air in their time but in reality they were spared the real carnage.
Chubby man:…(looking doubtful)
Me: Of course you don’t have to believe me but I thought an insightful man like yourself would appreciate the more subtle maneouverings of realpolitik.
Chubby man: Hey, steady on, I was just weighing the implications of this. Adnan my journalist friend needs to know about this – HEY ADNAN, COME OVER HERE!
Me: Listen, I’ve got to go, nice chatting to you
Chubby man: But meet Adnan
Me: Really can’t do I’m afraid, sorry
I made a nifty exit but managed to hear enough of the cries of GAS, ITS ALL ABOUT THE GAS ADNAN, to make me feel a bit guilty but at least I didn’t spin him one about Saddam, the hole and crude oil.