Driving the dictator
Another classic trip from 20 years of TG mag: delivering Admiral General Aladeen to a big telly interview.
Posted: 28 Oct 2013
The rear door opens, and in climb two very tall ladies in severe Soviet uniform, followed by the Dictator: Admiral General Aladeen of Wadiya. And it is the Dictator, not Sacha Baron Cohen. He is in full costume, in character, he speaks solely in a gabbling foreign tongue: Russian, perhaps? Arabic? One of the girls – who turns out to hail from the Midlands, not Minsk – asks him to “do the voices”. The Dictator barks something to the bodyguard up front. “No talking now!” the bodyguard admonishes the girl.
I swing out into the road behind a silver Mercedes S-Class with black windows. Another S-Class pulls tight on my tail. A convoy. We weave across London on a route I never knew existed, bullying taxis aside, barging across junctions. My feet shake, my heart thumps like a happy hardcore bassline.
I tell myself this is imaginary, just a stunt, but it doesn’t feel anything like it. I am chauffeuring a notorious dictator through London with armed guards fore and aft, and this feels extremely real.
“Driver,” the Dictator addresses me, crunching on an apple. “Where are you from?”
Bugger. I have no idea where I am supposed to be from. Presumably Russia, but the Dictator seems to speak Russian. I don’t. I opt for a respectful tilt of the head.
“Do you know this series, 24?” he asks, accent thick.
I nod, mutely.“Is it popular, this 24?”