Born in London in 1982 to Lebanese parents. It was quickly noted by the nurses at Welbeck Clinic that I was a monster of a baby, leading one of them to remark that I looked like the other kids’ father. After living in London for the first 15 years of my life, attending a French Lycee, aspiring to acquire a Blue Peter badge and mastering the art of dunking a McVities chocolate digestive in a mug of PG tips, I moved to Beirut.
I promptly grew a goatee to fit in with the rest of the hairy adolescents in my class, and gave my eyes a few months to adapt to the unfamiliar experience of being assaulted by sunlight on a daily basis. After obtaining a dismal pass in my exams, I went on to the American University of Beirut, to learn the arts of socializing, partying and posing. Oh, and to study politics in my time off. After discovering a passion for women, nightlife and literature over three years, I somehow passed with Distinction.
This is where work begins. I worked at the United Nations Development Programme in Beirut, where I wrote tedious chapters of tedious reports that were mostly placed on shelves within the office to gather dust. At that point, frustrations with Beirut meant I promptly rushed back to my native London, and started studying for a master’s in International Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Once a training center for the administrators of the British Empire, it now seems to be populated by all its former subjects. Great minds, hippies and potheads. I quickly acquired the nickname “Le Bourgeois” for foolishly wearing a semi-tailored blazer one day and adorning my wrist with a Swiss watch. It was during this year that I developed a passion for Stephen Fry, beer and Scandinavians, and perfected my loathing of long distance relationships.
With the end of my second degree came the time to settle on a career. By some odd combination of events I ended up becoming an oil and gas analyst for two years. Finding out about the sulfur content of the latest Congolese crude oil wasn’t as fascinating as you might suppose. It was at this time, whilst I spent days writing things I would never want to read, that I decided I might want to spend days writing something actually enjoyable, like fiction or political analysis. The thought was hardly extravagant, given that my family is made up of writers, painters and designers. So inexplicably, but in keeping with previous disastrous decisions, my next career move was to go into the financial services sector.
I joined the private banking arm of a major Swiss bank, and quickly got big-headed and short-fused. By this time, I had been in London for a pretty decent 20 years, and had always been fascinated by the prestige associated with bankers in the city, their capital. As the months passed and the novelty started to wear off, and a little something called the credit crunch started slowly creeping up, thoughts of escaping again were filling the cranium beneath my sleazily gelled-back hair. So that is how, in April 2009, and amid a wave of redundancies, I chose to resign and finally do what I’ve always wanted to do. I realize there are currently a gazillion former bankers who claim to now be gleefully trying their hand at yak herding or busking on the underground. But they’ll all be back the second the banks start recruiting again. I wish them all the happiness in the world, but I’m staying firmly out here in the wild, skipping about at my leisure. Figuratively, of course.
A year after I quit the bank, I was offered a job with a major advertising agency in Beirut as a conceptual copywriter and social media dude, partly thanks to this blog. I have to say I loved it, since it allowed me to grow an ample beard, wear t-shirts to work and spend most of the day with my feet up on a desk trying to write something witty.
I left the advertising world, and its delightful mix of self-aggrandizement and insane working hours, to write on my own. That didn’t last long, and I got recruited by a company that does pretty much everything I love (web design, development, branding, mobile apps, publishing, etc), and is populated by a bunch of creative and loveable geeks. Pure bliss really. Oh and it’s based between Beirut, Paris and New York. You can’t really ask for much more.
The Our Man in Beirut book was released in December 2011, making me officially a published author. Although I really don’t think I deserve to call myself that until my novel is done and the digital publishing company I’ve got planned is set up. Watch this space. Keep watching. Keep watching. Ok, so you might have to do something until it’s done, so stop watching. Come back in a year.
PS: All views and rants expressed on this blog are my own. Unless I’ve stolen them from someone and cleverly plagiarized them.
Disclaimer: I may not have written the previous sentence.