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A place of refuge

The ongoing escapades of London's answer to Ally McBeal

14 June 2003

12:00 AM

14 June 2003

12:00 AM

There seems to be some question as to whether Saddam Hussein’s two daughters, Raghad and Rana, and their nine children aged between seven and 16 will be allowed to apply for asylum in Britain. Their sponsor is a cousin of the family, a Mr Izzi (Izzard)-Din Mohammed Hassan al-Majid.

This gentleman, who is a businessman, apparently lives in a bungalow in Leeds. If Saddam’s family were granted asylum here they would live on a council estate in the town at the taxpayer’s expense. It transpires that Saddam’s former wife would like to join them. Should she manage to smuggle herself into the country, the government has admitted that it might find it hard to get her out.

It is difficult to imagine the Hussein family living blissfully on a council estate in Leeds, even if it is free. After the highlife of Baghdad, Leeds would seem pretty tame. So, as a patriot who wishes to ease the burden of the British taxpayer, I have an alternative suggestion.

Why don’t the Husseins come and live in my house in St John’s Wood? (If they are not here already, for lately I have been hearing strange noises emanating from the attic at night.) At present we harbour two Hungarians, Katalin and Anna Maria. But it is easier for the family of a murderous tyrant to get into this country and stay here than it is for two peaceful Hungarians to acquire a permanent work permit, even though Hungary will be joining the EU next May.

There is a big Muslim community in St John’s Wood and a huge mosque. I am sure Rana and Raghad could be given suitable jobs to do around the house. Raghad should be good with a rag. After all, she must be used to the men in her family spilling things – mainly blood. Rana might try her hand at cooking. She might in time become a master of Hungarian cuisine. After all, the seven tribes who founded Hungary came from the East.


The children could take turns at answering the telephone. The former Iraqi minister of information wouldn’t get near to Katalin when it comes to giving out misinformation. Often, when people telephone me, Katalin will say, ‘She not here, bye-bye,’ when I am sitting in the next room. Occasionally she has uttered curious words which sound like ‘cull, cull’, leading the caller to believe I have been killed.

Saddam’s ex, meanwhile, would make a perfect laundress and lady’s-maid. After all, she must know about dresses having spent thousands getting dolled up in her glory days. Doubtless, though, she will view the clothes belonging to my mother and me with disdain. I can envisage her helping my mother out of her togs at night. ‘What ees this? Armani Collezione? This ees off the peg. All my clotheses from Saddam proper clotheses – he pay for couture. He bad husband but never let his wife wear dresses bought in shop. Your husband heap worse.’

As for my Joseph dresses and trousers, they might cause some trouble. ‘What is thees Joseph? Joseph a Jew. This Joseph must be shop for Israelis. I not soil my hands with filthy Israeli dresses. Pah!’

Of course there is always the garden. They must like gardens. Ours isn’t exactly on the scale of Saddam’s and it certainly isn’t guarded. During the cricket season (we live next to Lord’s) drunken fans throw beer bottles over the wall. ‘Far worse than people in Baghdad,’ I can hear Mrs Hussein complaining. ‘At least under Saddam no violence, except against bad men who oppose Saddam family and benign rule.’ I might try teaching her the rules of our national game and point out that countries that play cricket tend to be democracies. ‘But what about zees black man Mugabe? Hees cricket team just over here. He kill all whites except enough to make cricket team. You lie more than our minister of information.’

Yup, things may become a little contentious. The family might have to be locked up in the office from time to time to maintain discipline. It has barred windows and a naked light bulb, thus resembling one of Saddam’s torture or interrogation rooms.

‘Look here now, Mrs Hussein,’ I would say, pulling myself up to my full height. ‘None of this nonsense any more. And that goes for you, Rana and Raghead. My government and its heroic leader, Mr Tony Blair, are suffering great embarrassment because of your family.’

Mrs Hussein: ‘Why, cos they let us stay here?’

Me: ‘No, of course not. Everyone expects the British to be stupid enough to give asylum to any old criminal. I refer to the Weapons of Mass Destruction. No one can find them. This is making heroic Mr Blair look like a liar. You tell me where they are double quick or you spend the next month in here ironing clothes from Joseph and eating matzo balls.’

Mrs Hussein shrieks with terror. ‘I geeve up. I tell you everything. They all taken to Britain before war. First we give them to French, who think no big deal as we trade weapons with French anyhow. Then my husband used trained and devoted kamikaze swimmers to take them across English Channel. They now buried under your Houses of Parliament. Tee-hee. No one think to look there.’


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