There was a point in my life, about 26 years ago, when I knew David Cameron. He was a friend of a friend, but I never really liked him. He was aloof and arrogant, but even back then there was no doubting that he was destined for greatness.
Nearly 20 years later, when he famously made easy work of Tony Blair during prime minister's question time, I decided he was in fact a good guy after all. Because when you live in the Middle East, it's easy to like western leaders. By and large they are among the cream of their generation and are imbued with a sense of national duty, and when I hear friends moan about how useless Mr Cameron is, I have to remind them at least there are checks and balances to ensure he is held accountable. Those who feel they have been somehow let down should move to Lebanon if they want to see real incompetence.
I say this because on Monday night the lights went out across Beirut, and we were reminded once again of the chronic 20-year power shortage, which in my mind, at least, is the greatest ongoing scandal of post-civil war Lebanon. The country needs about 2,600 megawatts a day in the summer months, and production in its power plants doesn't exceed 650 megawatts. This is in a nation that makes the most of its locally generated revenue from tourism.
For more than two decades, the Lebanese have been denied a basic standard of living as well as the opportunity to maximise the country's economic potential. Not one of the 10 post-civil war governments has made delivering 24-hour electricity a priority. Corruption - there is a lucrative black market fuelled by kickbacks - and obstruction - plans to privatise the sector are always mired in partisan interests - are the main reasons. Now it appears that another lethal combination - sectarian industrial action and simple governmental incompetence - has taken the country to the brink of collapse.
The public reaction to Monday night's blackout ranged from resignation and seething anger to acts of public disobedience with the burning of tyres on Lebanon's main roads. The residents of Beirut who walked on to their balconies on Tuesday morning were treated to the sickly odour of cooked rubber. It is a smell we will no doubt get used to in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the government is setting new standards in the art of denial. "There is no economic crisis," said the economy minister, Nicolas Nahas, at the end of last week in an interview with a local radio station. "We are working to sustain economic growth."
Mr Nahas and his colleagues are clearly living in a parallel universe. What little industry Lebanon can boast cannot function without energy, and despite what Fadi Abboud, the tourism minister, tells us of bookings holding firm, the private sector is expecting a 30 per cent year-on-year drop in activity this season.
You would think, therefore, it was clear where Lebanon's priorities should lie, but clearly old habits die hard. On Tuesday, as the Lebanese were resigning themselves to a summer of extended power outages and public anger, Hizbollah's deputy secretary general, Sheikh Naim Qassem, was apparently convinced that we were still interested in the five-year debate over a "national defence strategy", which seeks to reach a typically Lebanese compromise solution on what to do with his party's weapons. "We want a strong Lebanon, and we are open to the discussion of the defence strategy," Mr Qassem said during the opening ceremony of a conference on Palestine.
Lebanon burns, quite literally, with internal discontent and economic meltdown, and Hizbollah, the most powerful party in the country, insists the priority is a debate on how to defend the country from the supposedly ever-present threat of Zionist aggression. The reality is that soon there may not be a country worth defending.
And you wonder why I dream of the Conservative Lib-Dem coalition.
Michael Karam is associate editor in chief of Executive, a regional business magazine based in Lebanon