Meeting MuammarPosted: March 21, 2011
I only met Gaddafi once, at a cocktail party that that lovely Joseph Palmer held for Gaddafi’s birthday in June 1972. My husband, Keith, had been doing some “freelance” regime change contracting in Ghana at the start of the year, and we got sent to Libya for six months as punishment.
An entire country built on camel shit, camel spit, sharia law and egomania. Not a decent bar in the whole place.
You can imagine that things were a little strained between Ambassador Palmer and the Leader and Holy Guide of the Glorious Revolution. Palmer was always trying his very best to calm things down, but all the time Dick Nixon kept sending angry telegrams ranting about how Gaddafi was a “fucker” and the US could have troops in Monrovia in two hours if he didn’t pull his head in.
(Dick had apparently moved onto his Dexedrine period at that point. Yes, he was erratic, but it was much better than the months where he was mixing scotch and Haldol.)
Palmer had organised a cake the size of a table in the shape of Libya, dancing girls, coke especially imported from Columbia – the whole shebang.
Gaddafi’s eyes lit up as soon as he hit the room. He managed to hoover up three lines before Palmer had even managed to say “Happy Birthday”. When I shook his hand, he was swaying like a pendulum and he told me my breasts were like camels around a limpid pond.
Just the way to get a girl – compare her to a bunch of bad tempered shit and spit machines.
By the time the cake cutting rolled around, Gaddafi was trolleyed. He had a bottle of Glenfiddich with a straw in it in one hand and a naked 12 year old in the other, and he kept singing the third verse of the Libyan Anthem over and over again.
“Say With Me Woe To The Enemy:
And God is Over The Invader Egotist…”
We should probably have seen that as a subtle hint, but we’d all been drinking and doing blow for three hours by that point, so you can’t really blame us.
Anyway, Palmer had (foolishly as it turned out) arranged for Dick to call through live to wish Muammar his best wishes. Dick got on the line, and he was ok at first, even though you could hear he was thinking about his next pill. Pitty Pat was there as well and she mumbled something about carpets through her schnapps-haze. Dick wished Gaddafi well, then asked him if he would like to cut the cake.
Gaddafi went off about the invader egotist slicing up the Jamahiriya just like their imperialist cake. He threw the cake on the floor. Dick started screaming that Gaddafi was a “fucking camel-fucking fucker” and that he was going to fuck him up, and the evening went downhill from there.
Five months later, Palmer was withdrawn and Gaddafi was more popular with his people than he had ever been.
What’s the lesson? Only this. As he swept out the door clutching a big hunk of cake, Gaddafi gave me a huge wink and smiled a smug smile like a 2 year old who has just done a poo on the carpet, but has managed to both shift the blame to the dog and make his parents have a screaming bottle-throwing row over it.
The more things change…