Me, you and Julio

Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan, a country that once formed part of the Soviet Union but has been independent since 1991. It has a population of approximately 33 million people and shares a border with five countries all ending in 'stan' and beginning with an interminable and largely unpronouncable list of consecutive vowels. If you need to call someone there, you'll need the prefix 0098 and, if you ever visit, be sure drive on the right or you'll be more than likely to be involved in a head-on collision with an Uzbekistani truck which is not something any right thinking person would want on their CV.

Now unless, one day, you take part in the most difficult pub quiz in the world, you're unlikely to ever need any of these facts but I thought I'd share them anyway having just had a quick shufty at the Uzbekistan Wikipedia page. (By the way, if you put the name of the country into Google and click on 'images', there are some pretty cool photos to be perused as well).

"Why are you banging on about Uzbekistan?" I can hear you all (both?) yelling, simultaneously spitting cornflakes at the dog. Well, it's because Julio Iglesias has just played the first concert of his fiftieth anniversary tour in Tashkent which, you'll remember, is the capital and the whole concept inexplicably piqued my curiosity. I've always quite liked Julio Iglesias; even as a recalcitrant youth when most of my chums were wearing Black Sabbath patches on their far-too-small denim jackets, I held a secret admiration for the exquisite timbre of ol' Julio's voice. True, his records were always pretty dreadfully produced, bathed in Casio keyboard soundscapes and dripping with a saccharine-sweet atmosphere that made your back teeth stick together but no one could reasonably argue that Iglesias's voice itself isn't a thing of rare beauty - you don't sell 250 million records around the world by having a rubbish voice. (Well, unless your Madonna, obviously).

Anyway, there goes Julio, still touring at 74 years of age after various health problems and a resultant hiatus away from the stage of two years or so. We wish him well and also the good people of Uzbekistan whom I've never met but look jolly decent in the photos.

This article is brought to you by the Uzbekistan tourist board. Possibly.