Mustafa is stout, in his fifties, and limps. But he has lovely almond eyes and a nice smile and if he makes an effort he can be quite winning in his way. He is the night manager in my hotel – he comes in at 8pm every night and stays until 10.30 the following morning. He closes the main door at midnight, but only locks it at 3, when he can allow himself a short sleep until 5 – at which point he opens the door again.
With this shortage of sleep he is understandably rather grumpy at times. I had imagined that he would spend a lot of the daytime off asleep but no, he tells me he has to shop and cook for his mother (Mustafa has never married – he says this is because weddings are expensive and he is poor but I imagine the real explanation might be a bit more complex).
His mother is only 72, but she is diabetic and never leaves the house he says. He says he has to pay so much for her medication that he is never left with any money. I find it strange that a woman of 72 is so incapacitated and say that my father is 87 and goes out of the house every day.
Hmmmf, that´s because we work very hard in Maroc, it´s a poor country and we work much longer hours than your father, he retorts. I wonder how he knows how many hours my father worked, but decide to leave it. Mustafa is often, as I say, quite grumpy.
Well I am very sorry for her, I say. And very sorry that you have to pay so much for the medicaments. We are very lucky in England that we can have all this quite cheaply.
Mustafa looks even crosser. Yes, you people are rich and you don´t have to pay for anything!
But your King is so rich, I say. Do you not mind that? He doesn´t even pause to consider: ´no I love the king´, he says. And then, on considering, ´je l´aime beaucoup´.
Boy, does that King rock in Morocco …