I met a traveller from an antique land.
You meet people. You lose touch.
In December 2001, I met a woman: an Iranian who had moved to the UK in 1973. She had lots of money.
I met her about three months after the September 11th terrorist attack on New York, After 9/11, she had arranged to go to Afghanistan with help from the brother of assassinated Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud – Massoud had been assassinated two days before the 9/11 attack. But, after the recent killing of four journalists in Afghanistan, she was told the visit was too dangerous. So, instead, she went to recently war-torn Kosovo and Macedonia. The war in Macedonia had ended around four months before I met her. She came back to the UK with 12 video tapes and 2,600 digital still photos.
She could speak Iranian, English, Arabic, Armenian, Turkish and German.
She had hard eyes.
She told me: “I’m not rich. If I get £100,000, I spend £25,000 here and £25,000 there.”
She once had to go to China to buy a plane. She knew the general involved.
She had British and Iranian passports and was related to Shapour Bakhtiar – the former Prime Minister of Iran assassinated in 1991 by three of Ayatollah Khomeini’s agents in Paris. And to Mohammad Mossadeq – the Prime Minister of Iran overthrown in a 1953 coup organised by MI6 and the CIA to install the Shah.
She told me she was thinking of writing her autobiography but, if that news got around, she said, there would be panic calls from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia offering her millions not to publish. She told me she had lots of dirt on the Saudi royal family.
A former Swedish boyfriend found oil in Texas and she spent one year in Los Angeles. She had stories of the Playboy Mansion and Hugh Hefner’s parties. Once, she told me, she lost £5 million in a London casino. Her third husband was Lebanese, a professional tennis player, half French. There was physical abuse. She mentioned a knife.
“I always went for the wrong men,” she told me.
She lived alone.