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‘And beardy boy out there? Pakistani?’
‘Is nationality so important to you, Mr Pat O’Carolan?’
His deep tones and accent made Pat’s name sound exotic, Parto Caro Larne. Pat turned from his gazing into the yard, his wet hands dripping onto the flagstone floor. ‘Nationality? Sure, it used to be everything to me. Now it doesn’t seem terribly important, tell the truth. Where are you holding my niece?’‘I am not holding her. She is safe.’ Yousuf gestured at the stack of black briefcases in their plastic wrappers stacked along the kitchen wall. ‘You wish for to begin? The more quick you finish these, you see your brother daughter.’
I dropped the car off for servicing this morning. Pretty much total chaos at Al Habtoor, an attempt to regulate the Saturday crowd with a numbering system meeting with spirited resistance from the jostling mob. Got a taxi home and, joy of joys, he was 'new driver'. So given I malum and he no malum, I directed him home. Because I'm an idiot, I pointed out various landmarks for him so he could pick up at least a smattering of 'knowledge'. He wasn't really listening, of course.
Using my writer's vocabulary and language skills, I was able to put together the immortal sentence 'Bridge down left', which did the job. I pointed out the Radisson Blu Sharjah to him, 'This funduq Rad Eason Baloo' and then 'This funduq Cher A Ton', I said and that reminded me of Parto Caro Larne and Mist Air Queen Larne, an African's pronunciation of Irish names in my new book, which I might have forgotten to tell you about, A Decent Bomber.
You do steal rather a lot of the world around you when you embark on this writing thing. I've always admired John le Carré's ability to conjure up an immediately authentic sounding German or Russian with a few phrases. After all these years, I'd hope I can do a decent Arab...
BTW, here's a handy pre-order A Decent Bomber link for a quiet Saturday morning. Thanks to Derek Pereira for the Saturday morning hint...