Almost ten months after US Special Forces attacked the Abbottabad compound where the world’s most wanted man (though not in a George Clooney kind-of-way) was hiding, it seems that the building is now surplus to requirements as far as the Pakistani authorities are concerned. There will be no museum for day-tripping students from Islamabad to gawp at, no heritage centre selling fridge-magnets or tea towels with the “OBL” logo emblazoned across them, no tour of the compound and its surrounds with the option of an accompanying commentary (in French, German, Spanish, English or Urdu) via headphones. It’s not economically viable, I’m afraid to say. Not in what we must call the “current economic climate”.
The BBC News report of Sunday 26th February didn’t go into such details. Sensibly, it concentrated on scenes of bulldozers doing what bulldozers do, alongside familiar archive footage of the criminal mastermind trying, and apparently failing, to get his Playstation 3 to work properly. (No “Modern Warfare 3” for you tonight, Osama. You’ll have to watch Midsomer Murders instead). Strangely though, the report also brought us a world exclusive that it really didn’t trumpet as much as I feel it should have. A revelation that I’m certain wasn’t previously in the public domain. I refer of course (you’ll have guessed by now) to the startling fact that the man who was, until his death, a regular runner-up to Piers Morgan in “Most Hated Arsenal Fan” polls, had a plumber. Yes, a plumber. It’s the kind of thing the “Sun on Sunday” was made for. I can only imagine how distressing it was for the staff of that shining light of journalistic integrity that this tremendous scoop from northern Pakistan didn’t emerge in time for their inaugural edition. What awful luck.
Anyway, back to the plumber. Or, as the BBC report called him, the “unwitting plumber”. I’m not certain to what the “unwitting” tag refers. I’m guessing he is alleging ignorance (at the time) of the fact that he was replacing tap-washers for America’s “Most Wanted” fugitive, rather than being unaware that the tasks he was performing fell under the general banner of “plumbing”. It matters not, I suppose. With all of the millions of dollars to which the late OBL was alleged to have had access, I’m guessing that this man is now kicking himself that he didn’t charge alot more for that call-out on May 2nd last year. That was date on which careless US Navy Seals and their AR-15 assault rifles ruined not only bin Laden’s day, but also the cold-water pipe in the upstairs bathroom, not to mention a rather tense game of “FIFA 11”. Imperialist dogs!
It’s possible of course that it was the plumber himself who informed the Americans of the location of the world’s most evil man (calm down Tony Blair fans, I’m still referring to bin Laden). The internet has carried unconfirmed reports that there was a falling-out between the nutjob and his trusty part-time employee. Whilst OBL was trying to turn over a new leaf and put his past behind him, repeated jibes from the tradesman (“I’ll be round between 9 and 11, guv” “Flapper valves are compulsory now mate, have you been living in a cave or something”?) somewhat tested the patience of the bearded one. It’s quite possible he snapped and dismissed the handyman after one quip too many (“I’m flying down to the trade centre for a few supplies, fancy jumping on board”?). We will almost certainly never know.
Anyway, if you’re thinking of planning something on a grand scale and then laying low for a while, and you require my advice, “Plumbing for Dummies” is a great book. As for the PS3, try turning it off and then on again.