Between 1952 and 68,I spent many years in Muslim countries; the Middle East and Malaya. They were years of peace and fond memories. I picked up the language quite easily through early days in Egypt where I spent hours gossiping with locals. A little hashish on the coals of the hubble-bubble went a long way. My work brought me into contact with police officers and the Masonic-style of police relations helped there. In '66, I was in Bahrain and circumstances brought me into contact with Sheikh Isa, the then Ruler and I counted him as a friend. So, "If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch," obviously applied to me. In Port Said, we had a problem with young officers getting into trouble with giving rubber cheques to the main nightclub and risking their commissions and I was given authority to act as intermediary in dealing with such problems. The sums charged were often, in night club style, inflated and I could haggle with the club management to get reductions so I had good knowledge of the venality of some Egyptians. I also stood over the bodies of soldiers killed by the extremists there so it was not all blind friendship. I even got along with the Libyan Secret Police - though without the hashish!
There must have been some maggot in the apple given to me by any number of Fatima Eves. As things are now - especially in all the buzzing following upon the flotilla - I find it hard to have either sympathy or respect for the majority Muslim view. I do not know why I have changed my point of view.
Shame really as I truly enjoyed the life I used to lead.