Thursday, 13 August 2009


by Matthew Ward

from, 2005

"Trust the Iraqis to have marked cards," said foreign minister Alexander Downer today, after losing Australian captive Douglas Wood in a game of poker in an airport lounge.

The truth is a little less interesting, that Downer simply doesn't know how to play cards.

The foreign minister was walking Wood out through one of the really big Iraqi airports when he was approached by a charming Arabic man wearing a black suit, hat, a moustache and smoking a cigar. Downer was told he could "double his money", that he could take not only Wood but 5 million dollars worth of French cognac. Downer umm’d and ahh’d and finally said yes to one hand of straight poker, right there in the airport terminal.

Downer's hand was full of royal cards but he handed them all back and kept a 4 of diamonds. Well, the end of the story was Downer with head bowed walking into a Australian Hercules heading for Canberra and Wood being taken to the local Baghdad Cash Converters.

At hearing the news, John Howard was reportedly disappointed, but not as disappointed as he was for the Queensland State of Origin team who were trounced on Wednesday night by the New South Wales blues.

© Matthew Ward, 2005

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