I’m sharing an apartment in Beirut with a lovely American called Courtney, and really she deserves the credit for this blog post. Because it was Courtney who discovered that you can buy pepper spray at the shop downstairs.
This is the shop, and from the outside it looks as though it just sells general electronic stuff – sim cards, sat navs, mobile phones, and so on.
But when you step inside and look under the glass counter this is what you find:
There was a time when I quite wanted some pepper spray. I was 19 and I’d just been mugged in Manchester. I had fantasies about how it could all have turned out so differently – me walking away laughing and the balaclava-ed arsehole who nicked my phone, my cigarettes and my last fiver lying crying on the floor. However, in the UK pepper spray is classed as a firearm so it’s a good job I never pursued that line of thought.
The cigarette pack and mobile phone are actually electric shock devices, and see that in the top right hand corner? That’s a set of brass knuckles.
The girl behind the counter was a little fuzzy about the legalities of the things she was selling, and kept insisting that she “just works here”. In fact she was a bit unhappy about me taking photos in the shop, so to placate her I bought a Kalashnikov shaped key ring, which I’m very pleased with indeed: