Talk of the Town: Everest hero shows his head for heights

HE HAS spent the last few years climbing the world's highest mountains, being bankrolled by King Abdullah of Jordan.

Now Mostafa Mahmoud, one of the first Arabs ever to climb Mount Everest, is back in Edinburgh, where he worked as a food and drinks manager at the Sheraton Hotel.

Mostafa, whose wife is expecting their first child, is something of a national hero in his homeland after his mountaineering exploits, and so fond is he of heights that he has taken a new job at the Hub restaurant, one of the Capital's uppermost buildings.

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Mostafa almost died in his bid to climb Everest, but altitude sickness won't be a problem in his new role.

Ref is showered with gifts

RUGBY-refereeing reverend Howard Haslett, whose retirement from the pulpit has just been announced, married and, sadly, buried many of the Capital's oval ball fraternity since arriving from Ireland.

And who could forget his brilliant eulogy at the funeral of Edinburgh's former British Lion Bruce Hay in 2007?

Recalling Bruce's down-to-earth roots, Howard told of how a refereeing assignment at the same Liberton club had given him the chance to see, in Bruce, the glorious talent everyone was talking about emerge.

"Hospitality was tremendous which told you a lot about the generous spirit of the people Bruce mixed with," he said. "The ref's changing facilities were in the groundsman's bothy and so there were people coming and going. But when I was offered a post-match beer and pie, what I didn't expect was the shower curtain to be drawn back and my refreshment to be handed in while I stood under the spray."

Who's laughing now?

THE best April Fools' pranks are always the ones which are teetering on the edge of the believable.

One school head thought he would try his hand at a joke for staff and pupils – by pretending they would be charged 50p for filling up their water bottles at the school's dispensers.

Jack Hamilton, head at Boroughmuir High, included the information in yesterday's daily school bulletin, putting it down to budget cuts.

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But what Mr Hamilton failed to see was that this move was perfectly believable given the amount of cuts which have been forced on schools.

Only a few months ago, schools were told that they will now have to pay water bills themselves, forcing one to consider turning off drinking fountains to save money.

Nothing illegal in free food

IT IS known as Illegal Jack's, and now the Lothian Road Tex-Mex eatery is set to live up to its name by encouraging customers to run off without paying on 13 April's Party Night of Mayhem.

Jack said: "The crew and I have decided to give away over 1,000 free burritos – just for the hell of it. It's going to be quite a day!"