On the corniche seafront where I live almost every apartment block is empty. These buildings are owned as investments by Iraqis and Saudis, while the poor of the Beqaa Valley live in shacks
I thought the days when I kicked burning tyres off roads had ended. I used to clear the road in Belfast in 1972. Then, often, I did the same in Beirut.
But there I was yesterday, as my faithful driver Selim waited patiently for me to shake hands with the local militiaman and explain why I wanted to get to Damour (about 12 miles south of Beirut) and wave my little Lebanese press card in his face, slowly using my best brown shoes to push his burning tyres off the highway.
They were hot. Just to look at the flames made my eyes hurt.
That’s what burning tyres are supposed to do, of course. And the Lebanese drivers, backed up behind us like rabbits, turned round and went home.
Well, we got through. And drove and drove and drove, and laughed that we had done so. But this was a very serious matter. The army stayed away; the police advised motorists to go home. Law and order – you remember those old words? – were less important than the lawful right of way. But, for several hours, Selim and I exercised our own right of way.
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