You must like sugar in your tea…

Pleased to see that I’m not the only interviewer who has occasionally brainstorms. In this part of the world I can easily blunder into the “did you see the cricket last night?” mode. Even Edward Luce, the FT’s chief US commentator does it, rather brilliantly, here with Prince Turki al-Faisal, billed here as the most experienced spy on the planet….over lunch….

You obviously love sweets, I blurt out suddenly – you’re a typical Bedouin [the original desert nomads of the Arabian peninsula]. Turki looks puzzled at my observation and ignores it. I feel slightly embarrassed at having indulged a stereotype and then risk more by asking him whether he likes dates. Luckily this gets him back on track. “I love dates,” he says. He mentions that his name, Turki, was given because he was the youngest of eight sons. It means the “unripened date that is left on the branch”, which will be picked later in the season. “Yes, I love dates passionately. I eat them every day.” Are you proud of having been born in [the holy city of ] Mecca, I ask, now in full conversational risk mode. “Well, it’s a privilege, but not especially,” he says. “It’s fun to tell people that I’m a Meccawi.”

The whole thing is well worth reading,


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