TOPICS: Dodging for a beer

LAST week we told you of a photographer’s standoff with Keanu Reeves, and asked if you’d had an encounter with anyone famous.

Ron Thomson of Salamander Bay has one that’ll be hard to top.

At the time, it was something of a world exclusive.

‘‘Mine might be better described as an encounter with someone infamous,’’ says Ron.

‘‘In late November 1979, after completing a gruelling six-week  business development trip to the Middle East for ‘Which Bank’, my colleague and I were waiting at Jeddah Airport in Saudi Arabia for a flight out which would get us to Hong Kong for a bit of R and R before returning home.’’

‘‘While waiting, I spotted a moon-faced black man in bright blue Arab dress, and there is no other way to describe him, striding confidently towards the exit.

‘‘I said to my mate, ‘Look at that, that’s Idi Amin’ to which my mate responded ‘No, it couldn’t be Idi Amin in Jeddah’, Idi Amin having disappeared several months previously and his whereabouts unknown. 

 ‘‘I  bet my mate a schooner of beer that it was Idi Amin, which was agreed.

‘‘Off we went to Hong Kong, and  back to Australia. 

‘‘About a week after returning, the news was out that Idi Amin had been located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.’’

The Ugandan dictator had secretly lived for years on the top two floors of the Novotel Hotel in Jeddah.

Unfortunately, by the time that emerged, Ron’s mate had returned to Melbourne and Ron had gone to Sydney. Ron never got the schooner, and Amin died in 2003 aged 80.

Questions on hardly anyone’s lips

MOST of us, at some point, will ask a rather silly question. Topics certainly has.

So let’s not be too harsh on a TV reporter sent out to cover yesterday’s wild weather.

Our correspondent’s question was addressed to a lifeguard at Nobbys.

‘‘So how big are four-metre seas?’’

One of our all-time favourite questions was asked at the conclusion of a tour of Lord’s cricket ground in London.

The blazer-adorned guide had led the group into the ground’s futuristic press box, and asked if there were any final questions before we said our goodbyes.

Everyone looked at each other. Silence. Abruptly, an Indian chap spoke up.

‘‘How long does it take to evacuate in case of fire?’’

A visit to jingle bell hell

TURNS out we’re not the only ones worried about the effects of store jingles on employees.

Mark Bowen, of Broadmeadow, sometimes shops at a certain hardware barn, and can barely stand the repetition of their jingle that plays instore.

‘‘A few months back I was at [the warehouse], the jingle was going, you know the line they finish every ad with,’’ says Mark.   ‘‘I got to talking with one of the staff there, she said it played ad nauseam – I wonder how many workers have been carried off in straitjackets after being subjected to that psychological trauma.’’

Maybe you just get numb to it.

Former Ugandan President Idi Amin went into hiding in 1979, but was spotted in Saudi Arabia by a keen eye (and still-thirsty) Topics reader.

Former Ugandan President Idi Amin went into hiding in 1979, but was spotted in Saudi Arabia by a keen eye (and still-thirsty) Topics reader.


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