Written by Roy Hall

“I don’t know why I am telling you this. “ said the large woman who a short while ago had hurriedly sat down beside me and fastened her seatbelt. She was hot, red-faced and breathing heavily. Moments later, the doors closed and the plane took off. I was flying home after visiting Creek Audio in London. I like to chat on planes and have noticed that people often reveal rather private details about their lives to me. After some time I started a conversation and she willingly and quickly opened up.

For years she thought herself unattractive; she was overweight, her skin was blemished, she wore glasses and to top it all, she was smart. Men had no interest in her whatsoever. Although successful in her career, she was lonely and depressed. Unloved and alone she had never slept with a man and somehow felt that sex wasn’t for her. One day, at work she met an older man who wooed her. A first she avoided him, but he persisted and even though he was married, she agreed to date him. After a few dates she went go to bed with him and to her amazement, thoroughly enjoyed sex. This had such an effect on her that she gained a new confidence in herself. She changed her appearance and all of a sudden was in demand. Sex was a drug for her and she experimented with multiple men. Her explicit descriptions were becoming too interesting, so I changed the subject and asked about her work.

She was a barrister for Amnesty International. She opened her bag and took out some photos. “Do you recognize this man?” I said he looked like a member of the Al Sabah family. She said, “Well done!” Identification wasn’t too hard as this was about a year after the first Gulf war when Kuwait had been invaded by Iraq. The Al Sabahs, notable for their long white robes called dishdasha, were the ruling family in Kuwait and then were often in the news. After the war started the whole family fled Kuwait. She then showed photos of a badly burnt and disfigured man.

A resistance movement had formed in Kuwait during the 7-month war. The leader of one of the groups had heard that there was a stash of arms hidden in one of the many princes’ house. The group broke into the house and located the arms. They took advantage of the luxurious accommodations and ate and drank. While there they also relaxed and watched videos. They stumbled on a video that showed one of the princes’ wives being forced to have sex with an animal. Stupidly, the leader kept this video and it was ultimately circulated in Kuwait. After the war was over, the prince wanted revenge. The culprit was finally found and was tortured nearly to death. After that they poured gasoline over him, set him alight, then threw him in the swimming pool. Miraculously he survived and once recovered, with the help of friends, left Kuwait and eventually made it to England. He subsequently reported his torture to Amnesty in the UK and they issued a warrant for the prince’s arrest. The warrant couldn’t be served as his highness was in Kuwait.

She went on to say that a few weeks ago a source told her that the prince was coming to London for just a few hours to visit his son’s school and watch him play soccer. She went to the match with the police and waited for him. The match started and he wasn’t there. She was frustrated by this and also nervous as she had to catch a flight to New York and time was running out. He eventually showed up. The warrant was served; she grabbed a taxi and barely made it to the plane. For the first time since she sat down, she smiled.

I don’t know why people feel so comfortable telling me things on planes. Maybe it’s the anonymity. Maybe it’s because they know I won’t ever see them again. And it’s not like I’m going to tell anyone.

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