x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

From the desk of Rupert Wright: Trunks of cash and willow bats

Focus: Rupert Wright gets a million-dollar offer he can refuse and bids farewell to a gentlemen's game.

Finally something new out of Libya, as Pliny the Elder predicted. Yesterday I received an email from Nabeel Ben Edward, a fellow I don't know from Adam, but I suspect he is about to become a close friend. His message was the following, typos his own:

"Download the attachment and reply urgently the fund belongs to a Libya citizen if you are interested to invest this successfully kindly reply, the 3 trunk boxes contained 150,000,000/150,000,000 and 80,000,000 total 380,000,000US$(Three hundred and eighty million US$). Reply with your private mobile number for mutual communication."

Best of all is the picture that goes with this note. It is of three trunks stuffed full of money with a dog beside them. It is hard to tell exactly what denomination or dominion the money comes from. And what is the dog doing exactly? Is it guarding it? If so, it looks a rather measly creature to keep all that cash safe. Maybe it thinks it is food, or it can use it to go buy a big juicy bone from the butcher. Anyway, soon the money will be coming to me. I'd rather the dog didn't come too, but am sure my children will be delighted with a hound.

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I can't imagine a more enjoyable job or a more agreeable group of companions to pass the working day with, but every so often my eye is caught by a classified advert promising a new position. Who doesn't dream of living in New York, Hong Kong or Shanghai? And this advert seemed to fit the bill rather well. It is looking for columnists for something called Street Fight and is based in New York.

"Are you obsessed with the idea of check-ins? With the developments in the daily deals markets? And with the way hyperlocal-anything is eroding the business models of major media, and giving new life to local merchant marketing?"

I have no idea what a check-in is if it's not at an airport, but even so am sure I could bluff my way through it. Last week I heard some people on the BBC talking about the global economic crisis and they didn't seem to have the first clue but it didn't prevent them from pontificating for hours. However, just as I was about to call over the editor and break the sad news to him that in future there would be an empty space in the desk normally allotted for me, I read on: "Street Fight offers exposure and options in exchange for this once-a-week column, with cash compensation to be discussed in early 2012 after the company's next round of funding."

What? Do they think we are all millionaires with nothing better to do than trot out articles on the promise of cash compensation next year? In journalistic terms, that's years away. Do they think we are too dim to remember the dotcom crash of 2000? Probably the sort of people who will apply were at junior school then, and now think that all companies that offer options will reward them as handsomely as Facebook has rewarded Mark Zuckerberg. Just as long as they can pretend they know what hyper-local is.

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I am saddened to learn that one of Abu Dhabi's most civilised activities is to cease. During the winter months one used to be able to drive up to the Emirates Palace Hotel and if you knew where to go amid the copious lawns you could find cricket being played on a square by the sea. Cricket is occasionally dismissed by those ill informed as too English. It is of course now a world game, loved in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka out of all proportion. Why, even the Welsh play it. Cricket is the most democratic of games and the most pleasurable to watch. No longer now will I be able to linger with a picnic under a palm tree and watch a perspiring fast bowler trudge up to the crease. No longer will the sound of leather on willow reverberate around the Corniche. A terrible shame. If this can happen, what hope is there for the euro?

rwright@thenational.ae