Cup EN BREF
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the
SHOPPING FOR ABAYAS....
has to be said that this tournament has been really a great one
for me, in many respect. First, arriving one day early has made
a heck of a difference, allowing me to capture a bit of the town,
instead of staying in the hotel/venue quandra.
Then, the fact of being ill, then being wonderfully look after,
really makes you appreciate even more how great it is when you
have your health, and savour every second where you can breathe
freely and think fast.
yesterday - semis day - I was lucky enough to be taken back for
the third time to the Souk with Omar Khodeir, the
Egyptian director shooting his "Wallbangers", an ode to Egyptian
Squash that should be ready for the end of the year. Omar - like
Shabana - was raised here and even played squash for a few years
here as well, his mum and dad, both architects, still leaving
here since 1972.
That film retraces/follows the lives of the
Egyptian players of today.
You can follow him on @SquashRoyalty on Twitter, or
check his website.
Check it out, it is well worth it the 2 minutes of your life...
Anyway, back to the Souk Al-Mubarakiya, a gold mine for
shoppers. Honestly, it's a fantastic place, and if you ever come
to KW, of course, go to the Malls, they are huge and modern, but
if you want to see the Real Traditional Kuwait, don't miss that
for an abaya is a bit of an experience, as the shops are pretty
small, for one, two, you can't change anywhere privately, you
just put the abaya on top of your own clothing in the middle of
the shop - getting it on is not too much of a problem, it's the
getting it off without undressing completely that is the tricky
part - and three, no mirrors!
Ressourceful Omar had his camera with him, so zoom, took the
pics, and allowed me to check how I look like. "Sold" I said.
And basically, with him negotiating the price, I got two
gorgeous abayas exactly as I wanted them - not that I am
difficult or anything - for less than I paid for one in London.
But the best was when we past another shop, the man had
obviously gone for lunch or something. And the way he closed the
shop is just, well... imaginative, not to mention trusting...
Only in Kuwait.
Living Legends at work...
Chris Robertson, JK, Simon Parke, James Willstrop...
JK welcomes PSA return to Karachi
the Costa del Sol, a street away from the seaside, is
still one of the nicest hotels the Tour takes us to.
A buffet to make you put on weight at every meal - Wendy, do
like me, walk away from the dessert buffet now - superb suites
for Cubs and myself, with a lovely view on the sea and on the
swimming pool, superb service, not too freezing with the air con,
honestly, you would have to be pretty difficult not to like it
and thank the tournament for such a treat.
The added bonus is that we are pretty close to the venue as well
- the Green Island that we normally use but not this year being
a bit far off.
So, really a superb hospitality, as is always the case in the
Gulf countries I've been invited to...
One of the great advantages of tournaments like Kuwait or Qatar,
is that things are EASY for us media. We are asked, where do you
want to work from? "Here" we say, and a table and extension is
Where do you want to sit to watch the match Fram. "Here" I reply,
and a chair is brought in. With my name on it. Perfection.
Well, until some sweaty young Salmonlike player chsoses to sit in
the so called "reserved SquashSite" chair!!!!
Simon, move, now, you are playing with your life!!!!!!
NICK IS THE ONLY ONE
After doing a quick research - as in, sending an email to Howard
Harding, Mr Squash Press - we can now confirm that Nick is
the only ever 32 year old player to still be ranked 2 in the
"I checked the ages of world No1s" said Howard in his reply.
"Interestingly, three men topped the PSA world rankings aged 31
– Peter Nicol in 2004, Jonathon Power in 2006 and
Nick Matthew last year. Nicol was only 31 and 5 months,
but both Matthew and Power were two months older
But it seems that only one player ever won the world
championship as old as 31 – and that was Nick back in November
And he has the chance to set the bar even higher by winning a
third title in Manchester in September – by which time he’ll be
So there you go. And no, Nick, I'm not making you feel old. I'm
just stressing how amazing you are mate....
my driver Misha, we went on that first evening to a place called,
wait for it... Kowait!
It's an amazing place in my standard, as in, it's nested in the
middle of new, high-tech buildings, and it's what I keep calling
"the real life", with real people, that keep on living the way
they want to live, not just the way society is taking us to.
There again, lots of people, having a nice cool drink outside,
having a meal on tables with white paper, all the shops still
open rather late at night....
Rows of same style shops, abayas, then white fabric for the men
suits, dates shops, everything-you-can-think-of shops,
extraordinary perfume shops, you name it, they have it.
If the exchange rate here was not that high - 30 English pounds will
buy you like 13 KD, I would hit the place. But not this trip
Just a little abaya and a bottle of Kuwaiti perfume maybe...?
Then the next morning, with Steve
this time who had arrived on the same BA flight, but the next
day, off we went to the Harbour - which I saw at night - next to
the Fish Market.
And it just happened that there was a marketing day about the
Fire Department! Cubs was like a kid, he took pics of the
engines that were there bless him, and even told me to "put my
head in there", and as I always do what I'm told -you can stop
laughing - I did.
it's Princess Leia crossed with Chicago Fire! Not exactly
FLATTERING, IS IT.... Thanks Steve....
And of course, he had to go all the way to the end of the
peer, and did some really nice photos there I thought.
Then we walked all the way around the little harbour that is
next to the sea, to finish at the Fish Market, then went back to
Kowait to change some money, again, rows of them, then Misha our
driver actually offered us a cup of tea, never wanted us to pay,
This trip was started well... Or I thought...
MY GUARDIAN ANGELS
Started well until I realise I was bursting with fever when we
came back from our last trip. I had been poorly in London the
days up to taking my flight to come here, but thought, get on
with it, didn't go to a doctor - well, trying to see a doctor in
London is about as easy at having a root canal with no injection
- and thought it would go away.
It didn't, and came back to bit me in my lovely skinny backside
as we landed in Koweit City, as I was sick on the plane - when
that happened??? I'm never ever ever ever sick on a plane!
Again, you think, get on with it, if the players can play
injured or with severe jetlag, surely you can work with an upset
stomach and a little flew.
it was not a clever idea. Thank GOD I had Liz, who works at the
Sheikha's office downtown, who I met three editions ago, that
noticed that I was really not looking well.
She went straight to
the Twins, that delegated two adorable boys, Ali and Abdel Aziz
(one is a nurse, the other one a photographer) and off we went
to find a doctor on a Friday, not easy (it's like a Sunday for
the Christian world).
It was decided to take me to the big hospital not too far away
from the venue, and it was a good move. Within minutes, I was
seen by first a nice nurse, then a lady doctor that had done
like in all of the other hospitals in the world a heck of a lot
of hours, but was efficient, and adorable, not to mention a very
attractive young lady.
the nurses were mostly philipinos, everybody was speaking
English in there, which made my quick stay rather pleasant, and
not frightening at all.
While Ali and Abdel Aziz were being the window trying to find
out if I was still alive, I was prescibe an impressive list of
bits and pieces - which made me realised I really needed to see
a doctor - and off we went. The boys took care of the money side
of things, thanks the Twins, we went to the Pharmacy inside the
hospital, where a nice lady pharmacist explained to me what was
was, and back we drove to the venue.
Where the match between Kempy and Chris that I started watching
just finished, and Mathieu was in the first game...
How is THAT for quick service, people?
RADIO IN STEREO
As we are in a vast basketball
hall, we are all together in open space to work, including PSATV
technicians and commentators - as in Lee Drew and "newcomer"
Sir Simon Parke - and the Kuwaiti TV that are following all the
night sessions live.
So we can clearly hear Lee's voice, mixed with the Egyptian
commentator just sitting next to us.
It's a bit like having the little PSA earpiece radio, without
the little earpiece radio!!!
When was the last time that
happened, having 5 fellow lefthanders in one day!
We started the first session with three, LJ, Peter B and Kempy,
then went on with Shabs and Abdullah in the second one.
Which meant that I still managed to see quite a lot of action -
I had to drop my usual left front seat for a right one....
And tomorrow, Pete vs LJ, perfect!
ON THE TOWN
was very nice of the tournament to allow me to come a day early
this time round, as I never seem to get any time every to
actually manage to see anything of Kuwait but the hotel and the
So this time, arrived on the 6.40am BA flight on the 6th, went to take
some pics in the evening with a very obliging driver Misha that
showed me a few lovely places. It was really nice to actually
walk about where real people live, instead of just seeing cars in
First, off to Salmyia, lots of
shops/restaurants, but real ones, you know, not just mall or
super shopping malls.
There, I just couldn't believe the number of shoe shops there
were! Not only that, but the delirious shoes models they were!
Honestly, it's just magic/mad!
Well, you can take the girl out of the journalist, but you can't
take the Frenchgirl out of the girl...
And some nice clothes as well!
WHOSE CAR IS THAT???!!
to realise that I'm not the only blond in KW. As Steve arrived
early morning, he was delighted that he was going at last to be
able to do that famous photos he always wanted of the Qadsia
There was only one white car in the parking lot. "Can we move
the car", ask Steve to Khaled, of the the twins in the
office - surely you are now aware that the office is run by our
two favourite twins, Khaled and Majed Juma.
"Of course, Steve" says Khaled. And off he goes asking everybody
in the building "is that your car? Whose car is that " for about
5m before realising that "oups, that's mine" he laughs.
Actually, the tournament provided them with a car, and could he
remember that that was the one...? Beware, another blond in
disguise in the building...