Despite Libya”s vast oil wealth, Colonel Gaddafi purports to enjoy a simple lifestyle - and the proof was in the Christmas pud this week when the leader pitched a tent for his five-day official visit to France in the garden of the 19th century mansion which houses state guests, close to the president”s ”lys”e Palace.
The Colonel was born to a Bedouin family and at home receives his own foreign visitors in a similar traditional tent. Paris in December is perhaps slightly less temperate than Tripoli, but apparently the tent was heated, and anyway, it”s unclear whether he actually slept under canvas.
”I don”t think that Colonel Gaddafi sleeps in the tent, but conforming to the tradition of the desert that he follows to the letter, he always travels with a tent that he pitches as soon as he can,” said an ”lys”e spokesman.
A French magazine had another view, claiming that advisers to the 65-year-old Libyan leader had told Parisian officials he wanted a tent because he suffered from a phobia brought on by being confined indoors.
Wherever he did or did not lay his head, Colonel Gaddafi”s first trip to France in 34 years caused plenty of unrest with opponents to the state visit whose numbers included President Sarkozy”s own human rights minister Rama Yade.
But a number of big-buck deals were completed during the stay, including a ”10bn ($14.7bn) order for 21 Airbus for two Libyan airlines.
Back on the subject of accommodation, and ABTN is happy to point out that couples by the name of Joseph and Mary can claim a free night”s stay at any Travelodge hotel this Christmas ” the company says its offer is ”to make up for the hotel industry not having any rooms left on Christmas Eve more than 2000 years ago”.
Proof of ID is ” as you”d expect ” needed, and details should be sent to Christmas@travelodge.co.uk, and the freebie can be claimed from Christmas Eve up until the twelfth night”