That evening Toni had telephoned John Whittle, her late father’s ADC, and asked him to make the necessary arrangements. After a hurried late night departure from Marrakech, by dawn on April 29, 1998, they were landing at London’s Docklands airport. Sir John Whittle, her fathers former ADC eased their way through Immigration and Passport control and led them to a limousine where Lady Whittle was waiting to drive with them to Toni’s house in Eaton Square. A few hours later they emerged, Toni in a Hardy Amis frock and Radouan cautiously conservative in grey flannel pants and blazer - emerged and were driven to the Chelsea Registry Office in Kings Road where, after various formalities endured and papers signed, they were duly married- Sir John and his wife as the witnesses. 

          A drunken champagne lunch with the Whittles followed at San Lorenzo. Then carefully avoiding press photographers, the happy couple returned to the airport and in no time at all were taking off though a Turneresque London smog for Marrakech.

          Relaxing at thirty thousand feet, Toni went on about the day: ‘Don’t you think it was sweet?  Lady Whittle is so eccentric and shy, they’re such dears, they’ve been so good to me since father died and she... really she was very taken with you, habibi, very impressed... which is rather important because she is the one who tells John what to do. I loved it all... so different from my wedding to Rupert… awful affair… everyone sick with food poisoning... But this, habibi... it was...’ she sighed and smiled mysteriously, ‘Oh darling, WE’RE REALLY MARRIED! I can hardly believe it! It was all such a whirlwind aren’t you excited?  Don't you feel different?’

           Radouan yawned and closed his eyes, ‘Different?’

          ‘I mean not like before...’ she smiled tentatively.

          ‘Like before what...?’

          ‘Before our marriage, silly, are you still drunk? So am I... I mean we did just get married, didn’t we?’

           ‘These ceremonies... they’re nothing... In the eyes of God we’ve been married for many moons.’

          ‘From a romantic point of view I agree, but from the practical side I don't ... You are now entitled to a British passport and Sir John will see that you get one soon...’

          ‘What’s so great about a British passport... the English are hated around the world...’

          Toni’s neck stiffened. ‘Why, that’s absolutely not... I’ve never heard anything so absurd...’

          ‘Or laughed at...’ Radouan smiled sympathetically.

          ‘We are NOT hated we are LOVED and RESPECTED. We are certainly not laughed at... we give and give and do all sorts of good things around the world. Our passports are certainly not worthless!’

          ‘Go to any Black Market then, the true value market, and see the prices. The American and British passports are cheap...very cheap.  The most valuable one is Canadian...’

          ‘I don't believe it.’

          ‘Believe it or not it’s true...’

          ‘Anyway, you’ll be able to come to England whenever you like and live there or travel on your British passport with far fewer problems than you have with your Moroccan one.’

          ‘I’ve told you this many times before, ‘bibti, I’m not interested in going to England or ever living there even for a short time. The climate is too harsh.  It makes the people harsh and mean spirited... to us they are all barbarians and racist hooligans...’

           Toni glared, trying to get him in focus. ‘Am I so mean spirited then? Are you calling me a barbarian?’

           He gazed at her for a long time without speaking, ‘I said the people. You, you can afford not to be mean spirited because you have people workin’ for you who are: your Barristers, for example, your Prime Minister, your government officials. Their policy towards us Arabs has always been very arrogant, and condescending. Divide and conquer or conquer and divide. You cut Islam up into meaningless little states that never existed before... and took land from us and gave it to others... you have to face up to these things and not delude yourself.’

          ‘But we have a very large Islamic community in England. How can you say we’re intolerant?’

          ‘You have mainly Pakistanis, and Saudis – recent converts and tribal arrivistes. We say they are not the real Islam at all!’

          ‘How can you say that when Mecca... isn’t Mecca somewhere in Saudi Arabia, if they aren’t the real Islam, then who is?’

          ‘Yemen, Egypt, the Hijaz, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco. In these places you will find the real Islam.’                         

          ‘What about Iran?’

          ‘We say Iran is stranded in the tenth century. It is their version of Islam and their denial of Philosophy, which has strangled Arabs for the last thousand years.’


The sun was setting on the clouds below them. ‘You don't feel changed then?’ she said.

           Radouan sighed deeply and took her hands. ‘I’m happy that you are happy, my darling... May God make Paradise your abode... Believe me, your happiness is my happiness.  If havin’ this ceremony makes you feel more comfortable then I’m happy for that because I love you.  I really do.  Moreover, what is even more important is oheepouka, I like you and will always stand by you because you have always standed by me...’



          ‘Stood by me, not standed... you’re thinking of that Otis Redding, song “Stand by me”…’

           Radouan scrutinized her quizzically and after some hesitation he replied. ‘You have always stood by me, but I’m still hopin’ you will marry me again in Marrakech.’

           Toni smiled: ‘More ceremony blah blah blah...’

          ‘We don’t have a ceremony...we have a meeting to draw up the marriage contract in which we write down exactly what we expect of each other regarding money, property and rights - whether I allow you to travel alone, for example. And after that we party... the wedding party isn’t blah blah it’s excitin’music, wild dancin’, feastin’ and serious drinkin’. Finally I go up to the bridal chamber where you are waiting and take your virginity. You will see after that, you will really feel married...’

          ‘I’m hardly a virgin darling!’

           Radouan clicked his tongue, ‘Makayn Muchkill.  Widows are not usually virgins either but we marry them... the Prophet’s first wife was a widow.  Near the end of the party we are supposed to leave the guests and go up and make love. Then afterwards, more party. At a wedding party everyone relaxes... people do things they would not normally do, you will see, habibti, this English ceremony we jus’ had was boring.  I know you wanted it so people will stop talkin’ behind your back but now you’ve done it I think it might be worse for you... tha’s my opinion... Rupert is going to be pissed off.’

          She smiled icily. ‘Why don't you just go and visit Rupert if you think so much of him. Take this plane and go visit him wherever he is...’

        ‘He’s at Larache... jus' bought a large piece of pasture land there for his horses.’

          ‘How do you know that?’

          ‘He called me last week. He’s comin’ to Marrakech very soon to buy ponies, I’ll see him then.  He likes me. I like him too.’ Radouan stared at her impishly.

          ‘You mean he’s pissed off because I got you and he didn’t...’

          ‘You’re so crazy!’ Radouan exhaled. ‘You really think there was ever anything between Rupert and me...’

          ‘Sometimes it has occurred to me,’ she said. ‘Why didn’t you tell me you’d spoken to him?’

          ‘I forgot... he reached me in Ouarzazate when I was negotiating with Francesco. He’s comin’ down soon wants me to help him.’

          ‘And you intend to see him?’

          ‘Of course, why not?  Unless I’m in Paris...’

           Toni’s eyes opened wide, ‘PARIS!  For God’s sake, what are you talking about?’

          ‘Paris, France, mon cher azizati. I have to go to Paris in a few days. We discussed this just yesterday. This film deal.  Your friend Marty… he’s flyin’ over tomorrow. I’ll probably have to leave the day after...’

          ‘Then I’m coming with you and after your business in Paris is finished we’ll fly somewhere and have a proper wedding trip...’

          ‘No, No!’ He gazed at her sternly. ‘You must stay in Marrakech and supervise your architect, tend to business and get our house built. He’s drawn up the plans. Now you must look that he doesn’t cheat you, be very strict with him. Moreover, I’ll be workin’ very hard and won’t have time to be romantic... don't worry I’ll be back very soon and we’ll have a real vacation wherever you want...’

          ‘I don't trust you alone in Paris!’ she said grumbled, her face bathed in doubt. ‘

          ‘Paris, Marrakech, what’s the difference.’ Radouan replied, ‘if you don't trus' me there, how can you trus' me in Marrakech, the Paris of Africa, after all.’

           She gazed out a window at the first stars. ‘I’m still hopelessly jealous of you, I guess.’

          ‘I hope so!’ he grinned.

          ‘How can you say that?’

          ‘It means you still want me, oridouka, ahtajouka, still need me...’

          ‘But it drives me crazy when we’re not together... I begin... well, I start...’

          ‘You know you can’t own me, darlin’, I’m a flyin’ horse, not a share on the Bourse...’

           You know very well what I mean...  over the years, I’ve been observing you. You have this unnatural ability, this psychotic talent, for manipulating people; finding their weak spots... it’s uncanny.  You sense my nervousness, then exacerbate it... its very cruel, but I don’t think you’re aware of doing it.  Are you?’

          Radouan’s face drained of color and became a mask, ‘You have a cruel side too, you know. I’ve been waitin’ for you to soften... sometimes I think you enjoy seein’ me suffer.’

        ‘Ecoute moi, darling...’ Toni whispered, ‘We just got married, yes?  I want to come to Paris with you, is that so awful? Alone in Marrakech, I’ll be miserable...’

          Beneath the mask his eyes flashed implacably; ‘You’ll have Lahcen... I’m sure you see him when I’m not around.’

          ‘See... now you’re doing it again, right now... changing your face... trying to scare me... why?  You feel guilty about leaving me behind... you know very well Lahcen means nothing to me.’

          ‘I don't know...’

          ‘But you forbade me to see him... I only think of him when you suddenly desert me...  Really!’

          He gazed at her for a long time and then embraced her. ‘Listen.  Please... This is something I need to do on my own... understand?  If you come along... if the people involved, if they see you or even think you have anything to do with this, every one will think it is you who is doing it... that I’m just your pantin... what you say... your puppet. Prices will go up and my leverage will be gone. Trus' me, I know what I’m doing but I have to do it myself.’

          ‘Look, we don't have to go back to Marrakech at all.’ She kissed his neck and murmured, ‘I’ll just tell the pilot to turn around and go back to Paris. In three hours we can be in my suite at the Ritz.  Really, darling, don’t be so insensitive.’

           He kissed her forehead. ‘You’re not listenin’ to me, habibti!   It’s very important for me to do this on my own!’

          ‘Well, you’re not doing it entirely on your own,’ she said testily, ‘Martin Segal is my friend after all...’

          ‘Don’ worry I could have got someone else... he’s jus' advisin’ me.  Jus' try... TRY to understand... Be happy that this thing is happening that I’m really doing something on my own. We never know when fate will come and snatch away our happiness... Don’t ride me.’

          Toni smiled grimly and after a long silence replied, ‘You’re right, I suppose... I try to hide it, but if I’m honest I have to admit that I would like to possess you... totally... lock you up in a castle some where. Locked in the tower of love...  ah yes, I would like that,’ she smiled, 'better watch out! I have just the right place.’

          ‘You have a castle somewhere with a tower?’ he said, pretending to be amazed.


          ‘We mus' make love in one of those towers sometime,’ he murmured huskily, ‘I would like that... on the cold stone floor... maybe when I’m finished in Paris we could...’

          Toni closed her eyes. ‘Darling, be serious. We have a lot of time invested in this relationship of ours, nearly twenty years... We must nurture it carefully, guard it ... that’s why I’m possessive, I guess.  If you ever deserted me I’d feel all our time together had been wasted, it would be like death!’

          ‘A friendship is not a commodity or the product of some company,’ he replied quietly, ‘time can’t be wasted. Our life together; our passions, our jealousies, our fights, our reconciliation's, these things, believe me, they are outside of time.’ He ran his hands through her hair and kissed her, ‘If from tomorrow, for some reason, we never saw each other again, do you think it would all have been for nothing? Believe me, THE SECRET MARRIAGE VOW IS NEVER SPOKEN, NEVER CAN BE BROKEN!  Great moments live on’j

           She rested her head on his chest, ‘I don't think I could go on living without you...’

          ‘Don’t worry, you won’t have to. I’m here... I will always be here for you and we will keep building our life together... not tear it apart or destroy it.’

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©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006