Tuesday, 11 January 2011

MIckey Mouse vs Saddam Hussein - Round 5

As most nights, I make my way from the seafood restaurant in town, and back to the Tikki Bar at the Days Inn, to have a couple of beers and a chat with my new friend, Bob.

Bob is everyone's old friend. That is his new job since he - at the age of 60 - split up with his wife in California and made his way down to the shrine of The Rodent (as the tour operators refer to Disney's most famous off-spring), in order to take on a job which would have been better suited to a man of half his age.

At some point in the evening, a man of about half his age walks up to the bar and asks for a beer. The young man is about 6 feet tall and has a full beard. Bob asks if he is over 21 years old, and whether he has any identification to prove it. The young man sighs, and walks away, dejected and beerless. I marvel at the strict alcohol laws in this state, but I feel glad that I am working in Florida and not Utah.

I make my way back to my room on the balcony of the second floor, and as I walk across the lot, the Deputy Sheriff cruises into sight and gives a one-second blast on his siren, just to let everyone know he is around. This little toot will earn him a free meal of steak hash and coffee in the seedy restaurant run by a painted, 70 year old woman called 'Cindy'.

I close the door of my room, draw the curtains and turn on the air-con, which starts with a blast of theatrical steam from pulling in the saturated, tropical air outside. I can no longer hear the rising frog chorus from the lake which begins at dusk and ends at dawn. Then I turn on the TV and tune into CNN - a new broadcasting company that is beginning to make a name for itself with almost 24 hour reporting on the new Gulf War.

The picture comes into focus, and it is of two incongruously suited, American men, standing on a roof-top of a high-rise in Kuwait, talking to camera and looking nervous. One looks a lot more nervous than the other, and is beginning to stutter with fear, as the drone of an air-raid siren is heard starting up in the background.

The more confident reporter cuts short his description of Scud Missiles, and their crude inaccuracy. He had just begun to assess the possibility of whether or not this incoming could have a form of nerve-gas in it's war-head, when he advises that the both of them should now don full-face gas masks, just in case the Scud does indeed contain chemicals.

His companion is shaking so badly by now, that he cannot fasten the straps of his mask, and the other fellow has to cut short his broadcast to help him. When both masks are on both reporters, it is difficult to hear the one who is talking, but it is not difficult to see that his colleague is having a full-blown nervous breakdown, triggered by justifiable fear. This would turn out to be his last job as a war correspondent.

Then, the camera swings round to miraculously capture on film an enormous and almost rusty looking Scud missile which has landed in the street below, and is skidding to a halt right outside the hotel.

Whoever is operating the camera has nerves of steel (which may soon be destroyed by the chemicals within the Scud), because he holds the camera rock-steady on the missile - 40 feet away - waiting for it to explode. It never does.

Right. Turn off the TV. Time for bed, I have another hard day tomorrow. Support the troops.

to be continued


  1. "Tom...hey Tom...Hollywood calling, how are you buddy?..have just called Bruce...he's happy to play the lead role, and there's a good chance Denzel will jump at the chance to play the young Ray. No agent? Don't worry Tom...we are all good people in Hollywood..no worries. Have your girl call my girl."

  2. But who's going to carve the stone while I'm away, now that Anthony Quinn is dead?

  3. P.S. This is a true account of the early days of CNN, as witnessed by me in Florida, just in case you think I am making it up.

  4. I remember it well Tom. We were in our early days in Tokyo and I remember watching a play-by-play from Peter Arnett in Kuwait.

  5. I remember sitting in front of CNN each night listening to Peter Arnett and (oh, can't remember his name, but remember his face)recount breathlessly the nightly scud attacks. The footage of the skies looked like shooting stars. It was absolutely brilliant reporting that brought the reality of the situation home every night. And Tom, I really think we need someone with an accent to play the lead, Daniel Craig perhaps, but I think Denzel is a little too old to play the young Ray. I say we go with an unknown, from Orlando, of course. Don't know if I will sleep tonight anticipating part 6. Ann

  6. What happens in Utah? I'm available for the part of Bob.

  7. Yes, Ann - young Ray was small and wiry. The only person I can think of that looked a bit like him was a young Sammy Davis Jnr. but with 2 eyes. He is now unavailable, I think. The second Gulf war made a name for Al Jazira, with their fearless and impartial reporting from an Arab perspective.

    I think Utah is a 'dry' state, Cro. Salt Lake City certainly is/was. You'd have to shave your beard off and dye your hair dark for Bob - we'll be in touch.

    Dear old Anthony Quinn has been dead for some years, Sue. I was thinking of his portrayal of Gaugin in 'Lust For Life', alongside Kirk Douglas as Van Gogh - possibly one of the most hammed-up films of all time. I reckon he could have made a very kitsch performance as a butch stone-carver, if they ever made a movie about my life!

  8. I find CNN very lopsided (cloistered) as it covers 98% American news and almost nothing of the rest of the world. We were censored from real life coverage of the war in Iran (x George W). We saw nothing like what was seen in Europe, and the UK.

    You are a good story teller and I'll bet even better after a "few" down at the pub. :)

  9. Yes Grouch. The International Herald Tribune used to be a good newspaper too, but not any more. As for drinking and writing, I try to avoid the old-style 'Fleet Street' type writing, but usually don't. (And I usually don't try either - I was lying)

  10. Brilliant - another great post !