Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fighting The Press

One would think that, given the recent political situation in the country and the fact that late November really isn't high season for tourists, finding accomodation would be the least of my worries. However I am experiencing stiff competition for bedspace from journalists. Actually, that's not quite true. Proper journalists stay in hotels that are beyond my meagre means. Instead I am getting the squeeze from a more insalubrious breed: wannabe journalists.

Budget accomodation options in Tyre and Beirut are now packed with these odd specimens of humanity. They are easy to recognise by their Hezbollah T-shirts (their idea of trying to blend in I suppose) and their pseudo-intellectual conversations about world and Lebanese politics because they think that having read a book on the subject (usually the Ladybird guide to Lebanese politics) they are peerless experts on the topic. Nevermind that even politically aware locals have trouble following the convoluted histories and changes of allegiance of their own political parties. Some of these "journalists" actually do write for a living (though often for obscure publications such as the Buffalo Springs Socialist Workers' Weekly) and those that don't spend their time bombarding newspapers back home with spam demanding publication and press cards. I had a bit of a laugh this morning when two particularly zealous individuals got a tip-off that there would be a Hezbollah demonstration in town ... at 5 o'clock in the morning. So these two clowns stayed up all night so as not to miss the impending spectacle. Just listening to their plans on how to stay awake throughout the night, which mainly consisted of trying to find a pharmacy that would sell them some "uppers" or, failing that, getting a nutmeg (which has mild hallucinogenic properties) to chew on, was comedy enough, but seeing them passed out this morning after the inevitable no-show was just honey.

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