My more mature British readers will get this post’s title reference to the 1960 advertising campaign for Turkish Delight. You may therefore take it as read this post is about the middle east. Sort of, because first we have to go to Wales, and Mohammed Karkoubi.
He and his family fled from Aleppo in Syria, and somehow fetched up in Aberystwyth. Here he plies his trade as a blacksmith. Wanting to integrate, he decided to learn Welsh, and did a cramming course. I admire him greatly for gaining a gong from the Nation of Sanctuary Awards. I’ve commentated before on the impenetrability of the Welsh language. Even Susan, who has lived in Wales since 1971, has trouble with the written word, and spoken it sounds like a Flowerpot Man bringing up a furball. Mr Karkoubi was undaunted and just knuckled down. Good on him. I suppose being shelled out of your home makes you wish to please the people who welcomed you and your family. Aberystwyth is about as un-war torn as it gets, it’s very sedate. I came close to ending up at university there.
We move a bit now. Some years ago I wrote a short story, Playing the Taleban at Cricket. I’d discovered that Afghanistan, of all places, has a world-class international cricket team, in part because the Taleban approve of the sport as being morally upright, though in that regard they’ve clearly never had a drunken knockup on a beach.
Something even more unlikely came onto my radar this weekend. Egypt apparently has world class croquet players. More people in Egypt play croquet than do people in England. Who’d have ever thought that? They also excel at squash. You live and learn, don’t you?
Nice little touch, here. In the 50s, members at the Heliopolis croquet club faced a minor problem. The ground was just across the road from a presidential palace, and this was besieged on a regular basis by dissidents. To get to play a game of croquet, players had to clear the lawn of tear gas canisters*. And golfers moan about bunkers and water hazards.
Talking of sand hazards, if you teed off at Giza, near the Pyramids, and shanked it, there’s nothing but sand and desert till you get to Libya, and then you’ve got a few more issues to contend with.
*I’m informed that in very low concentrations, tear gas smells like apple blossom. I’ll take their word on that.