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Ask Alice, with Alice McVeigh

Announcing a new book that is and yet isn't by
Classical Music Agony Aunt ALICE McVEIGH

Dear Alice,

I heard that you have a new book out -- but it's by Mahmoud Albayati. [Who he? Ed.]

J Greene

Dear J,

Thanks for asking -- not (I hasten to add) that there's any money in it (not for me, anyway!!!!!)

The book to which you refer is (and yet isn't) mine: it's a memoir that I ghostwrote for a wonderful Iraqi called Mahmoud, who hired me to tell his story. In other words, I've BEEN paid, and now we hope it sells, for HIS sake!!!!!

Here's what the publisher's blurb says:

Out of Iraq is the eloquent and moving story of Mahmoud Albayati, a worker in Saddam's weapons program, and his dramatic escape to the West. A story of passion and determination, deprivation and triumph, this memoir tells first-hand about fighting in the Iran-Iraq war and of surviving the bombing of Iraq during the Kuwaiti conflict. We witness Saddam's summary executions and feel the miasma of fear when schoolmates 'disappeared' overnight. We drive down the 'highway of death' and overlook the bloodbath in Saudi refugee camps. We return to Baghdad in the immediate aftermath of the liberation, where Albayati foils an attempt by insurgents to kidnap him. This book will change your mind about the Middle East forever. Read it, believe it, live it.

'Out of Iraq -- Escape from Saddam and Al-Qaeda' by Mahmoud Albayati. © 2006 PublishAmerica

The cover has a map of the Middle East, with Mahmoud (a very good-looking 30-something) bursting out of the Iraq bit and running towards the reader. (Don't know where they get the ideas for these things ... ) The ISBN order number is 1-4241-0231-6. and it's already available on Amazon.

So, in case you thought, from about last August to November, that my columns were a bit weird, now you know why ... This is a sample of what poor Keithie baby kept getting for this weekly column:

Dear Alice,

Hi, Mahmoud's publisher here. Can you read the latest version on Windows XP"%%&%&$%"!KE?

Margie

Dear Margie,

I'm sorry to hear about your problems with your lecherous conductor. Please try moving the verb from passive to active tense, stirring well and don't forget to add the paprika!

Cordially,
Alice

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

Mahmoud here. Don't understand the last paragraph on page 97, version 99, second to last word. What wand? Why grasshopper?

Your friend, Mahmoud.

Dear Mahmoud,

So sorry to hear about your tendonitus. In my opinion you'd better come clean with your orchestra, and contact the Musician's Benevolent Fund on ...

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

I have a terrible problem in my youth orchestra. My conductor really fancies me, and keeps asking me out to dinner ...

Dear Mahmoud,

SORRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a typo ... I've been ghostwriting a children's fantasy novel at the same time. Meant to put 'axed to death by Saddam' but inserted, 'waved wand and turned into a grasshopper'. It's been kind of a long day ...

Ask Alice

Dear Alice,

I don't know what to do about the torn muscle in my elbow. I can't afford to chuck my opera job, but

Dear anon.,

I can't read it in any format!!!!!!!!!!! The only clue I've got that it's Mahmoud's book proofs at all is the first page (by the way, slight typo there, title should be 'Out of Iraq' not 'Our Off Iran' -- otherwise perfect!!!!!!!!!! Looks great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to eat it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cordially,
Alice

Copyright © 5 May 2006 Alice McVeigh, Kent UK

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