Colonel Kooky

An American woman at the safari guesthouse asks me whether Colonel Gaddafi dyes his hair.

“I am not familiar with the contents of his bathroom cabinet, ma’am,” I reply, “but my guess would be that he doesn’t. Mr Gaddafi sleeps in a tent, and humans who favour the camping lifestyle tend to view hair-dying as a decadent affectation.”

“Yeah, it looks like his natural colour,” she agrees. “I always thought he was cute in a kooky kind of way. Back in college I used to have dreams about him.”

“Really? I hope his conduct was gentlemanly.”

“I guess so. I’m like dying of thirst in the desert and Gaddafi drives up in his jeep. He gets out and stares at me while I’m gasping on the ground. Then he puts a bottle of Evian to my lips and says “drink, baby, drink” in this soothing Arab voice. I gulp it down in one go.”

“How very thoughtful of him. Did he do anything else?”

“No, after drinking the water I always wake up and go to the bathroom.

“A wise precaution in the circumstances,” I remark.

She wouldn’t be the first woman to have fallen for Gaddafi’s diabolical charm. His all-female bodyguard detail reputedly adore him. Many have wondered whether those fierce little houris ever visit his tent for a puff on the presidential hookah. My own view is that Gaddafi’s preference for female bodyguards is entirely pragmatic. He doesn’t want some burly fellow throwing him to the ground and shielding his body from would-be assassins. If anyone took a suggestive photo of such an incident, it would be curtains for his political career. The one thing a dictator can never do is get a reputation for taking it up the butt. All the Roman emperors who were exposed as sodomites came to a sticky end soon afterwards.

The turning point in the Libya’s foreign policy came in 1991, when a cabal of old-school Bolsheviks put Gorbachev under house arrest. Unable to contain his glee, Gaddafi sent a congratulatory telegram to the new Soviet junta, lavishing praise on the size of their testicles. He was the only national leader to do so, for a couple of days later the coup plotters were behind bars. This left Gaddafi looking like the biggest chump since Elmer Fudd said “I hate that wabbit!”. Chastened by the experience, he vowed never again to suck up to the fickle Russians, and sucked up to the fickless West instead. To President Clinton, in fact, who was known to appreciate a bit of sucking up.

Almost two decades later, who can deny that Gaddafi has matured with age? Having renounced his military uniform, which made him look like a tin pot dictator, he now wears the more statesmanlike Ali Bongo costume (available at Hamleys Toyshop for 49 pounds sterling). Should I invite him to the jungle for a complimentary safari holiday? I think not. Gaddafi is a nervous, fidgety character who wouldn’t be comfortable near wild animals. The baboons would smell his fear and initiate stalking manoeuvres. It might end in an ugly incident.

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