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Saturday, 2 January 2010

New Year's Day Games in Kabul - from a marketer I REALLY admire

I somehow doubt whether all that many able copywriters are currently serving as soldiers of fortune in Afghanistan, but Greg Waggett is.

These photos were taken by him in Kabul on New Year's Day. They show the players and spectators of a game called Bushkazi which has been been played in Afghanistan for hundreds of years. It's bit like Polo, except the ball is a headless dead goat or calf, and the players (and spectators) are not at all like the ones Prince Charles used to play with.

I have met some interesting characters in my time, but none to compare with - or whom I admire more - than Greg, who was introduced to me by David Ogilvy (who else?) and who ran an agency in Cambridge - graveyard of many a hope - where his talents were entirely wasted on the local business population.

Here are some of Greg's notes on this quaint local sport. "Forget health and safety for the horses - and riders. It makes polo look like something for Goldilocks and it makes horses as Ascot knows them look like Bambi. These are war-horses. In short, a savage and thrilling spectacle. Even the spectators get a whipping if the 'ref' thinks you are getting too close. And if you are in the way of the horses when they unexpectedly change direction, then tough!"

What I particularly love is Greg's first shot of what I presume is the Official Photographer standing taking shots with his phone at what seems to me a range entirely too close to the action for comfort.

Next time you're agonizing over your adwords, spare a thought for Greg. And next time you're wondering whether we should have got involved in Afghanistan, remember what the locals do for fun - then compare it with golf, and take note of what the spectators carry.

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