WIZR - written by Keith Wells and illustrated by Peter McMahon - Kuwait

This blog is dedicated to Keith Wells, the late Peter McMahon and their creation: Wizr - Kuwait's greatest driver. Keith Wells worked at the Arab Times in Kuwait sometime during the late 70s, early 80s. His articles about life in Kuwait have been compiled in a number of books, that are very hard to come by. As there is almost no information on WIZR on the net, this blog will endeavour to be a reference point for all WIZR fans still out there.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Devil's Party

Written by Keith Wells

Illustrated by Peter McMahon

(Please click on the images to magnify them.)


There's one sure way to discover a secret enemy in Kuwait, you know one of those like Hamlet's uncle who smiles and smiles and hates your guts. Sooner or later they give themselves away by inviting you to a party. The invitation usually comes over the phone or via your wife to lull you into a false sense of humanity until you're well and truly committed to go. Then you innocently ask, ‘How do we get to your place?’ and they reply, ‘Easy, we'll give you a map.’
The trap is sprung. Your doom is sealed, you've stepped off the straight and narrow into a maze of impossibilities.
These deadly maps come in all shapes and seizes, but perhaps the deadliest of all are the ones drawn on special paper that dissolves as soon as it comes in contact with ordinary air. There you are, dressed to the very molars, toes twitching at the thought of a good rave-up and all of a sudden you can't find the bloody map.
There are only two solutions. Drive around the general party zone for a couple of hours effing and blinding your wife, or forget the driving and eff and blind your wife before she gets a chance to eff and blind you.
But there are other maps just as bad, like the ones full of reference points like ‘block of flats’ when you find yourself in a forest of flats, or to obscure landmarks like ‘where the fire station used to be,’ which proves to be a fire station that existed before the oldest inhabitant was even conceived.
The maps I have come to dread most are the ones which look plain and straightforward and lead you unerringly to a piece of waste ground where you're more likely to find a lunar module than a party.
Take last weekend for instance. My wife had met these ‘lovely people’, Fred and Nellie, who invited us to a party. God rot their cocktails! Of course, the sly swine had given us a map which seemed perfectly simple so the wife and I polished our kneecaps, shampooed our eyebrows and generally beautified the areas in between, got in the car and set off for Fred and Nellie's hoe-down.
It was when the map appeared to place the Hilton Hotel in Salmiah High Street that I began to suspect there was a plot. But I held my peace and followed my wife's directions in good faith until she announced proudly, ‘This must be it,’ and I looked round to find ourselves in the car park of Qadsieh Football Stadium.
‘Ummmm,’ said the wife cautiously, ‘Perhaps we should have turned round at the last roundabout.’
‘Of course,’ I replied merrily, ‘That's what roundabouts are for. Can I just have a peek at that map?’
She handed it over and I saw at once we were in for trouble. For a start, if you held the map one way up the party seemed to be in the general area of the Sheraton, but the other way up it was nearer Fahaheel. Held on one side it mysteriously moved towards Jahra and from the fourth point of view was either underneath the Kuwait Towers or a few miles past Ras Salmiah, heading out to sea.
‘Look, there's Salmiyah Roundhouse!’ my wife said, and sure enough it was clearly marked, right next to a Sea Club and the university campus out at Shuweik.
‘Did these bastards give you any clues?’ I asked, beginning to smoulder at the thought of imitating the Flying Dutchman.
‘Don't be like that!’ snapped my wife. ‘Fred and Nellie are very sweet and lovely people. They were very kind to invite us.’
‘All right, I'm sorry, I'll rephrase the question…Did these sweet and lovely cunning swine give you any hint where they might lurk?’
Not a word passed her lips, but I could see the sparks flying between her ears, so I drove out of the football stadium and headed back towards Salmiyah. Somewhere in the Palestinian Labyrinths my wife broke the chilly silence to offer the information that the aforesaid sweet and lovelies had mentioned that they were on the top floor and you couldn't miss it because the block was exactly the same as the one next door.
At the time we were driving through what is best described as Lower Salmiyah where all the blocks are exactly the same as the one next door, but I gritted, (or is it grat?) my teeth and kept going.
‘Turn left at the next traffic light. I think Nellie said it was near a mosque.’
Indeed, the map had mosques, like kids have measles, so I turned left and sure enough there were two identical buildings side by side.
‘This must be it!’ cried the wife. ‘We're only an hour or so late, the party will just have warmed up.’
Personally I didn't care if it had burned down, but I dutifully parked the car and we went up to the top floor, and rang the bell. An Armenian prizefighter opened the door and when I politely enquired, “Nellie?” he grunted like a Neanderthal with piles.
‘Must be next door.’ muttered the wife, waving the map at the Armenian.
Next block, top floor ring the bell, door opened by Arabic version of Mother Hubbard whose offspring could form a league of football teams and scrabbled round our carefully polished shoes practicing English phrases like, ‘Eeelo meester, very naice, sank you.’
‘Do Fred and Nellie run an orphanage?’ I enquired quietly, treading on one particularly insistent brat who kept dribbling on my socks.
‘Sorry, wrong house!’ my wife told Mrs Abdullah Hubbard and Sons and we fled back to the car.
Well, we tried. Believe me, we drove from one end of Kuwait to the other to find Fred and Nellie's den. At one point I thought we might be lucky but the map led us directly to a disused bulldozer beside a six foot deep trench. I know it was six foot deep because I fell in it.
By that time the only party I wanted to attend was a lynching party starring Fred and Nellie. I scrabbled out of the ditch, heroically resisting the temptation to kick the wife in, briefly considered hijacking the bulldozer and razing Fred and Nellie's building to the ground, but abandoned the idea as impractical since I couldn't find it. We got back in the car, made a swift tour of the shanty town beyond the airport before packing it in.
I turned for home and just by the traffic lights near the Fourth Ring Road my wife suddenly cried, ‘Look! There's Bill and Edith, by that car. Hallooo! Have you been to Fred and Nellie's? Where is it?’
Bill, looking extremely partied, lurched over to our car and delivered the immortal words, ‘The party's over. Why didn't you come earlier?’
Of course, my wife made a hell of a fuss when I ran him over, but the judge agreed it was justifiable homicide.
‘Do not worry, Mr Keith,’ he told me, ‘I went to a party myself last week with a map like yours. I ended up in the oil refinery.’
Pages 9-12
Transcript by 'EvilSanta'