On Sunday morning came the news I was waiting for – my Saudi invitation was in the bag! Within just a few days I’d be finally buzzing through to Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE. I headed like a bonanza bongo bang bang buckaroo over to the Saudi embassy. Only I found myself stopping along the way in a copy shop to get the letter of invitation printed out. But this wasn’t just any old copy shop – this was the copy shop that Eric was talking about the other night! I could get the visa here! Of all the copy shops in all the Kuwait Cities… Awesome. I printed out my letter of invitation (which was all in Arabic) but it was up to Captain Hugh back in the UK to rush back to his office in Liverpool and write me a letter of introduction (HUGH……. You are an Odyssey GOD!) that afternoon I handed in my application – stamped, sealed and signed on the dotted line. All was good. Five days, they said, Ishallah – meaning god willing. Hmm… I guess that means seven.
Either way, this should be my last week here in Kuwait.
The next day I was invited by Andrea, Eric’s wife, to give a talk at the British Ladies Society of Kuwait. I was promised tea and cake, how could I say no?! The Ladies were wonderful, taking a keen interest in my mad adventures and even having a whip-around to help me and WaterAid on our way. From that talk, many doors were opened to me…
I was invited to give talks to the girl guides, the boy scouts and various English schools around Kuwait. Kids ask the best questions – out of all the people you’ve met, who had the best name? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten? Do Somali pirates look like pirates? But best of all I was invited to come and watch the British election at my embassy – something which made some of my other British chums a little uppity… we’ve been here six years and we’ve never been invited to the embassy!
Something you should know about the British Embassy in Kuwait… they have booze. And my surname doesn’t rhyme with ‘booze’ by chance. After four weeks of 7up and ethanol, drinking an ice-cold Stella is like a little taste of heaven. I think there was an ulterior motive in inviting me to the embassy… there was a politics quiz on. My reputation must precede me.
Of course my team won (could there have been any doubt?) and since we won by one point, my firm belief is that it was me getting Rebel Rebel by David Bowie in the lyrics round that made all the difference. I miss quizzes, it’s one of the few competitive events that I kick ass at – seriously, if you’re ever on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire you want me as your phone-a-friend!! As the night went on I sat with the British ambassador in the Embassy garden watching the election results come in. I remember discussing the cons and cons of PR, getting more and more sozzled and demanding to know where on Earth he was hiding his tray of Ferrero Rocher.
Before I knew what was going on, Gordon Brown was squatting in number 10 and Nick Clegg was umming and arring about who to team up with. I was just looking forward to Sunday – my Saudi visa…