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Virgin in Kenya

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Richard Branson has been in town a bit lately. He’s launching Virgin airlines in Kenya, setting up in competition to BA and Kenya Airways. His first visit was about a month ago when he threw a drinks party for the high rollers of the business community. Amazingly enough, Mr W snagged an invite. Whilst I was surfing through my wardrobe selecting a killer outfit, I was informed that partners and wives were strictly not invited. Hrrrumph.

The drinks was interesting I gather, although the hotel venue kept experiencing power cuts throughout the evening, which perhaps was an inauspicious start for the billionaire entrepreneur who was venturing into uncharted territory in Kenya.

The latest excitement was that he was back again on June 1st, booking out all seats on the first Virgin flight into Kenya, for him and his entourage. Into the bargain, free three day return airline tickets to London were given to anyone who claimed to know the right people in ‘Virgin’. A handful of fortunate housewife friends set off on a UK shopping trip during the half term weekend, leaving husbands to cope with the kids, with the help of various ayahs. However, this was not all. The icing on the cake was Rich’s rumoured plans to be travelling with Brad and Angelina Jolie-Pitt amongst other celebrities. They planned to arrive in Nairobi, then go off on safari to the Masai Mara, then be back again for a huge Sunday night bash, to be held in our Karen suburb of Nairobi no less! (at the Marula Manor, same venue as the Kiss 100 wedding – see previous post).

Well, being celebrity obsessed and devourer of Hello, OK and the E! Entertainment channel, I hoped we might be in line for an invite. After waiting, none was forthcoming. Mr W got a three line whip to procure a ‘golden ticket’ (ie phone up Virgin and beg), because the thought of Brangelina partying down the road, with Karen cronies and within reach, was more than I could bear! Anyway, all failed. Apparently numbers for the party were being very strictly monitored. Only the most favoured were able to bag invitations for their wives (plus Mr W didn’t have one anyway - though he did say that he fouled up when introducing himself to MR B at the previous drinks party by introducing himself as Mr B’s new landlord. Apparently his jokey repartee fell flat amidst the power outages and bevy of attractive girls).

Gutted, I listened to the not so distant sounds of party music blaring last night. Today I rushed to get a text update from a friend whose husband was luckily invited (but she wasn’t, so she also spent her Sunday night stewing). It read; ‘Not a celeb in sight! He (ie her husband) was home by 11pm). Phew, that was a close call! But also lesson learned in how rumours fly in these small expat communities! Perhaps it’s better to focus on a real social life, rather than an imagined one - involving celebrities…

p.s. I stand corrected - apparently Ewan McGregor was at the party - although that may be just another Karen rumour...

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