To Doha With No Dollar

To Doha With No Dollar

Margot Blackman and Jordan Poulos recount their Jailbreak success just for your delight.

This is a story about how a pair of incompetent guanatanamobabies made it to Qatar with no money, all in the name of some good old charity.

It had taken months of extensive planning, overly-demanding emails to family friends begging for air mile donations, and considerable canvassing of “1p per mile” pledges for the most noble of causes, but at last the day was here. Over £1000 raised, and some air miles in our pockets, we were ready to shred some international borders. Pulling on some child-sized orange jumpsuits which really brought out the best of our posterior assets, we braced ourselves for the long road ahead. Everyone in the UCL Raising And Giving Society (RAG) knew we were up to something big in this year’s Jailbreak competition, and we could feel the inquisitive looks following us everywhere as we dragged our fluorescent tuchuses across the North Cloisters floor at 6am. The challenge was simple: get as far away from UCL campus as possible in 36 hours with no money, and try to raise a tonne of money for charity in the process.

The day began in predictable fashion, Margot rocking up late and Jordan being embarrassingly punctual. After signing away our souls to the insurance devils, we nonchalantly strolled away at the starting gun whilst the other teams bolted faster than a bunch of jackrabbits with surface-to-air intercontinental missiles in their rectums (we could see the same sense of defeat in their eyes). Charm levels were turned to the max as we managed to shimmy onto the 168 bus towards Waterloo. Penalty fareless, we headed to the promised land of Twickenham for some much-needed breakfast and the chance for Jordan to hold a conversation for longer than five minutes with Margot’s mum. Just for kicks, RAG sends you off on your merry way with a scavenger hunt list in-hand, amongst which are several hugely ambitious challenges. As a result, we spent most of the morning scouring Twickenham for famous people and seeking a suitable place to streak without getting arrested. Cue a chance encounter with Milton Jones in a cul-de-sac, and a “When Adam Met Eve” styled naked photo well within the clutches of a leafless tree. Post power nap we decided it was time we partook in the challenge, so got some free transport courtesy of the parent taxi company to Heathrow Terminal 5. Miracles of all miracles, the Konvict Kiddos managed to make it through airport security, despite being told by a BA attendant that we looked old enough to be arrested. Whilst Margot decided to dish out way more kisses to strangers than mandated by our scavenger hunt checklist, Jordan called his family who were undertaking the annual Maidenhead Synagogue Quiz and was promptly hung up on due to abhorrent accusations of cheating.

The air mile donation-funded overnight flight was an absolute delight, and we arrived in Qatar with bated breath and apprehensive optimism. Ignoring the advice of the beloved BA attendant, we decided to continue to don our costumes in the middle of the airport along with our “we’re escaping for charity” sign. What we did not realise was that rocking up at an airport looking fresh out of Guantanamo with a sign in a foreign language wasn’t the most sensible of ideas. Qatar police confiscated Margot’s passport for a short while (she kicked off), and a huge, un-Boris-Johnson-esque diplomatic effort was made to avoid arrest. After agreeing to change out of our costumes we then proceeded to talk to the entirety of the airport staff about the possibility of getting onto a flight further East to break the all-time jailbreak record. Elbow-rubbing sessions with the manager of the airport proved fruitful in providing a phone number for further escape. And so we ended up in a hotel lobby awaiting a call, running on no sleep, no food and a rather unpleasant bout of the runs that made the prospect of sitting on a flight that evening far less exciting. Qatar Airlines eventually failed to pull through, leaving us stuck in Doha – a physical representation of an overcompensation contest crossed with a large scale, disorganized display of wealth.

We were 200 miles short of the all-time record, but only a few miles short of the Hilton Hotel where we managed to stay for free, courtesy of some sweet talking and street walking. A real life of luxury was lived, with sauna sessions, water fights in the Persian Gulf and people-watching experiments of bummed-out British expats beachside, smoking shisha like nobody’s business. Hay was to be hit, and it was hit hard.

A fifteen-hour power nap later, eager to gorge on the rich cultural flesh of Doha, we hit up the beachside boardwalk for what became a two-hour gander to the Museum of Islamic Art (big up the desk lads for saying it would take twenty minutes). Aesthetically pleasured and culturally enriched, we arrived in the old town sweaty, hungry and confused (Jordan could have sworn he was a policy advisor to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani). On the way into the suq we met some camels and, after commenting on their poor conditions of living, papped some pics. Haggling to our hearts content proved dangerous in the suq, where some bargaining with a fruit seller quickly blew up into a full domestic (he changed his prices after dragging us to an ATM, what a heartbreaker). Later, we discovered that Qatar’s biggest export was, in fact, not sugardaddies, after we stumbled across a huge date festival in the middle of town.

A torrent of tinder date jokes later, anticipating another round of the runs, we headed to the airport to catch our flight home. Fears of a snowstorm in the UK were confirmed by a phone call to Jordan’s father who was in the process of clearing the Heathrow runway. A new nightmare dawned upon us – permanent exile in Qatar. Luckily for us, Jordan’s father single-handedly cleared the runway in a heroic, global-warming-esque effort to allow us to make it back in time for Monday lectures with a juicy dose of deep-vein thrombosis and a potentially melanoma-inducing sunburn.

If reading this has given you an inner tingle, paralleled only by your year nine maths teacher, and you’re keen for a similar adventure, you can follow RAG UCL on Facebook to see how you can get involved. RAG Week will be starting on February 25th 2019. Konvict Kiddos will be back on the 2nd and 3rd of March 2019 to reclaim our Jailbreak trophy (although hopefully not going back to Qatar). You can follow our 2019 adventures at @KonvictKiddos on instagram. We will be bigger, faster and further than ever before.