My Life (*) With Adnan Khashoggi

36 Great Writing Conferences in July 2017

Fanfare! Putting the Science in Science Fiction

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Capo Famiglia
Full Member
May 19, 2014
London UK
(* More of a brief but extreme encounter in a gentlemen’s toilet, really)


So Adnan Khashoggi – self-proclaimed richest man in the world, immortalised by Hal Robbins in The Pirate, prolific party-thrower and Saudi arms dealer – is no more. Our time together was short, but all the more meaningful for that, I like to think.

It was a cold and rainy autumnal day, and I was having lunch with an American author in the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge. The dining room was mostly empty. On the other side of the room, three business suits were quietly grazing.

I paid no attention to them but my companion, far more of a social bower bird than me, gave a muffled shriek of recognition.

“That’s Adnan Khashoggi!”

I took a renewed interest. Sat between two fairly-expensive suits was a immaculately-expensive one – small, but indeed perfect in every detail. Yes, it was most definitely Adnan. And Adnan was looking frightfully bored.

Two grey men were pitching him some scheme, I guessed, and he wasn’t buying. My mind whirled, as agents’ minds tend to at times like these.

I might stroll over to him, casually throw down my business card among the petit fours, and brighten his day with talk of a tell-all autobiography. A little flattery – to which arms dealers might be particularly vulnerable, I suspected – and Bob’s your uncle. A no. 1 bestseller if ever I espied one.

On the other hand. Perhaps his companions were arms dealers, too. They looked dour enough. Ukrainians? Albanians? They would certainly hate me for interrupting, possibly terminating, their pitch to Mr. K. The consequences of upsetting two Albanian merchants of death might be profound. Perhaps best to bide my time.

I didn’t have long to wait. With a none-too-subtle yawn, Mr. K got to his feet and decided that emptying the AK bladder would make a nice change from the all the sales blather.

Here was my chance!

I would casually nod to him in the gents toilet*, chat affably for a few minutes, and maybe even shake hands on a book deal then and there. We might celebrate with a martini or two, and who knows where we’d end up that evening – his yacht, maybe? Good plan, now to work it!

The toilet was a lot further away than I expected. The corridor was long, lonely and extremely echoey. Each step I took sounded like a pistol shot. Increasingly unnerving. I started to think twice: maybe AK might have a bodyguard or three? Maybe they didn’t like their boss being accosted mid-flow? Maybe, like me, they were alarmed by the simulated rifle shots my shoes were making all the way here...?

At the end of the corridor, the toilet door beckoned. It was an old-fashioned hotel door, a portal of immense gravitas. As a fire door, it could have comfortably survived the great Fire of London, the Blitz and possibly the Rapture as well. I gave it a suitably hefty heave.

Turns out the door wasn’t quite such a heavyweight as it looked. More of a flyweight, really. The damn thing buckled as if made of cardboard, and banged against the wall with a fearful, explosive thud. Then it cunningly rebounding on me. Naturally, I pushed it back out of self-defence, and the accursed thing once again made a deep, percussive boom as it crashed against the wall. The sort of noise the citizens of Paris must have grown used to when bombarded by the Kaiser Wilhelm gun.

And there he was. All alone. In mid-flow. His neck craning at an extreme angle over his shoulder, peering at me in consternation.

I grinned - reassuringly, I hoped.

Then the thought occurred that I should really check my victim’s identify before we went any further. The small and clearly worried man in front of me didn’t really look like a merchant of death. More like some poor schmuck whose life’s curse was to be forever mistaken for a high-rolling international playboy. Best to be certain.

“Mr. Khashoggi?”

It was my voice - I sort of recognized it. But in that echoey vastness, it hardly sounded like me. I’d say it roughly struck the tone you would expect a contract killer to adopt moments before he administers the coup de grâce to a Camorra pentito. Just checking he’d shortlisted the right person, and not the pizza delivery boy.

“Mr. Khashoggi?”

Half way through his micturition, probably unable to halt his flow, Mr. K was what psychologists term at a vulnerable moment.


No doubt about it. Mr. K had just stammered at me.

I studied him. There was a look in his eyes I wasn’t ready for. It wasn’t the warm, twinkly look of a chap about to engage in a bit of social banter with another chap, as chaps sometimes do in the loo.

No. It was fear.

This was not going how I would have hoped. But how to take the tension out of the situation?

“I would like...” I paused. Best to be direct.

“I would like you to write your autobiography.”

I could tell that sunk in. Our eyes locked.

There ensued one of those awkward pauses when both parties reflect on the words just uttered, and whether they might have any meaning, significance or double entendre that transcends the superficial meaning of the sentence just articulated by the party of the first part.

“But...” – and his eyes were darting round the cavernous toilet now – “I am too young!

There was a kind of desperate emphasis on the last two words that I did not like. It wasn’t a jokey, faux-modest throwaway line. No, it was a plea.

Adnan Khashoggi was begging me for mercy.

This was all going horribly wrong. But how to prove my bona fides?

Instinctively, at times like these, a chap reaches for one’s business cards.

Mr. Khashoggi’s eyes followed the course of my hand as it made the long, languorous journey into my jacket’s inside pocket. The place where most contract killers keep their nail guns.

I withdrew my wallet very slowly. I felt any sudden move might send entirely the wrong signal.

We both studied my hand and its contents for quite a while.

I took out a business card.

He finished urinating.

Then he washed his hands.

And took my card.

We left in silence.

* I have some prior form doing deals in gents toilets. Just ask former C4 boss Jeremy Isaacs... but that’s another story.
Hahahaaaa.....he thought you were a hit man...

You were going to write his obituary and all.....

Honestly, Peter, scaring people :)
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36 Great Writing Conferences in July 2017

Fanfare! Putting the Science in Science Fiction