Monday, November 30, 2009


Ah, St. Andrew's Day.

And that's it really. The Patron Saint of Scotland gets a brief mention and that's it. Nothing. Not much in the way of celebration or anything. Not even a day off. It does strike me as a bit weird that this happens. In fact, does anyone even bother about it? I guess the entire universe tends to 'celebrate' St. Patrick's Day but I suspect the vast majority of those do, are sucked into the marketing that comes with it. So, to not have St. Andrew's Day celebrated in a similar manner is actually something of a plus point.

This will be in complete contrast to the United Arab Emirates 'National Day' on 2nd December. Flags will be flying, a national day off called and a number of events planned, including fireworks and a flotilla of boats up the Creek. It's a real show of unity. Unlike 'ours'. The Government would get lambasted for wasting money on it. It's a no win situation.

Instead, I'll have a few moments of pondering what it means to be Scottish. Ok, I just did. Feeling better for it. Now, where's the nearest Englishman so I can lamp him...?

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Another day off. Yes, what's that now, number 4? I'm not quite sure, it's hard to keep count. I think there is 1 more day to go; Monday, then back to work on Tuesday.

Anyway, I had the guys from the office over at the apartment last night. They come over every couple of months for food and beer. The food is all cooked by our resident chef who is of Indian origin which means curry and spice. Just what you need when you are boozing. It's quality. I always end up munching too much but why not. It only happens every so often. This time, 2 of our crowd will be married by the time we all meet up again. In fact, I will be the only one of the crowd who isn't married. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

The chat then mostly centred on weddings and stag nights and the like. There would be loads of place to go drinking here in Dubai and certainly a lot of 'available' women should people be interested in that kind of thing but we wouldn't be able to strip the guys naked and tie them to a lampost, that's for sure. Instead, we'll need to think about what to do. It'll probably be beer and pizza at my place again. Unless we can all get standby flight tickets for Thailand - which might not be all that difficult to do. In in the morning, hit some bars, then back to the airport for the night flight back to Dubai. It might just work?!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Oh the joys of Christmas shopping. Hours of walking through shopping malls, into random shops, browsing shelves, taking things of hangers, looking at price tags and sizes, thinking that's a 'maybe', that's a 'probably' then thinking 'hmm, probably not'.

One thing I will say is that it keeps me fit. Not mentally but physically. Who needs to go to the gym when all you need to do is walk around. The irony being that I'm not even finished it yet. What a pain in the bum.

Then there is the small question of getting it all home. I'm sure it will be OK. Actually, I'm not totally sure about that because I don't know what I'll be taking home with me. Perhaps I'll have to have a trial run to see what fits and what doesn't. I've got 3 more weeks to do that though. 3 more weeks!

Friday, November 27, 2009


So, Dubai is skint.
Well, not really.
We kind of thought so. Whisper's had been around suggesting this, that and the next thing. True to form, the 'government' decided to release the 'truth' just when Eid starts. A time when people are away or aren't really bothering about news or business. It's very interesting to read different media outlines talk about it. Here in Dubai, the media are nearly reporting that restructuring if ongoing so that debts and repayments can be made in due course. Nothing to worry about. A number of U.K based media are painting a very different picture. It's a very serious and we could be heading for another global crash. For me, the truth of the matter is somewhere in between.

Yes, Dubai has grown hugely and it really couldn't continue to do so. Something has to give. All these developments just couldn't be made. It's that simple. New 'neighbourhoods' being built. New skyscrapers. New apartments. There are too many. I suspect a lot have been mothballed for now. Indeed, I had heard that the 'World' has been quietly canceled. I don't know if that is true or not but it really was a silly idea to begin with. And what of all these Palms? Another silly idea. They are forcing it and that is not how cities evolve. Soulless and dare I say cultureless vacuums. It's a pity really. Had they got the infrastructure developed first then they could have evolved and added piece by piece.

The irony is that Abu Dhabi is now taking over. It may not have the same 'name' as Dubai but it appears that they are going about their business just fine. I guess oil plays it's part there. They are getting culture in the form of the Louvre. But can you simply through money at 'culture'? I doubt it. It will have to through money at Dubai however, to prop it up. Indeed, it was rumoured that Emirates or part of it had gone to Abu Dhabi in exchange for propping up. Oh well. It's funny because Emirates is actually making money, unlike some airlines.

I think the best thing is, at my level, not to worry about it all. There is no point. Whatever does happen, will happen. Prepare for all eventualities. If things go pear shaped tomorrow I have made some money and I've enhanced my CV. That is all I was concerned with when I arrived here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I am quite liking at the moment.

Perhaps I'm a bit behind the times and or because our internet access is blocked to certain sites but this is a music streaming thingy. Type in a song, album, band and off you go. It even has stuff that I listen to. In fact, it has the Daft Punk remix of Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand which is one of those songs that you know exists but have never heard. It's on right now!

There is an irony at having so many songs at your finger tips; when you actually want to search for something, you can't think of what you want to listen to. It's a pain in the bum. I've been keeping it simple however. A bit of DFA - isn't the DFA's remix of Slide In by Goldfrapp astonishingly good?! - some Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Hives, Artic Monkeys, the Rapture, LCD and all the Kitsune's. If I get a bit cocky, I might try for Kid A era Radiohead, TV on the Radio and my current guilty pleasure, Little Boots. I might need some more inspiration.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Coming up are 5 days off - 3 extra days plus the weekend. It's Eid which is a big Islamic Festival. Again, we knew it was coming but we didn't exactly know when because it's called when the moon is sighted. As it turns out, it means we are off Thursday to Monday, back in the office on Tuesday then off again on Wednesday as it's National Day, back in the office on Thursday then off for the weekend. Basically, we have a heap of days off which is great!

I would have preferred to have headed home but given that we couldn't really plan anything, it was always going to be a bit of a long shot. Instead, I'll be floating around Dubai doing my Christmas shopping and getting myself organised for heading home at Christmas. Sounds easy but it's sure not to be. I'm not good at Christmas shopping at all. I have a few things but certainly not others. I do have Christmas cards though. In addition, I definitely need to get a winter jacket and gloves for going home. It is funny to be shopping for a winter jacket given that I'm walking around town in my shorts and t-shirt. Funnily enough, I can get them. All the 'Western' shops have their winter stock in as they would back home. Makes things easier.

As for the rest of the time off. Hmm. Not sure. I don't exactly 'need' all those days off but I'm sure that I'll find something to do even if it is just catching up on sleep.

Monday, November 23, 2009


I share an office with the Health and Safety. Don't ask, it's a long story. Well, actually, it's because next to their office is a classroom and since I teach, that's where I've been put since I joined.

Anyway, being the in the Safety office can be quite an experience particularly as you come to find out about all the accidents and stuff that happens. Often, it's nothing exciting; mostly people not thinking or cutting corners or not following procedure.

This week has seen one of the funniest accidents I've heard even though it could have been fatally very, very serious. It's a secret so don't tell anyone. I might get into trouble.

In the Airport we have a bus service that is for all airport staff and runs between different areas of the airport itself. The bus is essentially a mini-bus which can seat perhaps 20 people. There is one particular area called 'Gate 3' and it is where most of the airport staff access the airport. Once inside the airport they can get a bus to their respective areas and vice versa after their shift. The other day, one guy had finished his shift and was heading towards Gate 3 on his way home. I'm not entirely sure how he had got there but wanted to cross the little road to get to Gate 3. He was in a bit of a hurry to get home, I would imagine. Just as he was planning to run across the little road a bus was leaving the Gate area. The bus was empty and as it had just pulled away, was not going quickly. As the man was about to run across the road, a gust of wind blew. You might not thing that was anything significant but it is. As the wind blew, his wig moved. Yes, his wig. He managed to grab it before it flew completely off but because it moved, it had covered his eyes. He couldn't see because of it yet continued to run across the road. Since he couldn't see, he slammed into the bus. The shocked driver of the bus knew that he had hit the man but didn't know where the man had landed. Onlookers shouted to the driver. The driver thought perhaps the bus was on top of the man, so moved forward a bit. Thankfully though, the man was not under the bus but was on the road. Even more thankfully, he had managed to hold onto his wig!

The man was taken to hospital but was discharged as he had suffered only cuts and bruises. The bus driver was arrested and questioned. The police later released him. As the man was one of our staff, the Safety team had to get involved. They interviewed everyone involved and some things aren't adding up. The man with the wig is saying that he was dragged along the round by the bus. The bus driver says that he didn't drag the man along the road. I'm not in a position to say who is right or wrong but what I do know is the man with the wig has gone back to India on emergency leave so that he can 'get himself checked over' by Doctors over there.

I find that excuse hard to swallow. I would suggest that the man with the wig is so embarrassed by the whole episode that he has essentially ran away back to India to save himself being ridiculed by everyone. We all now know that he wears a wig. And we now all know that he doesn't attach it very strongly. We know also that he is a very silly man. I'm so looking forward to his return because I know for a fact that he will be asked to come to our office for questions. I'll be able to see this now infamous wig, exhibit A! I might just slyly try to pull it off or bump into him by mistake just to see how strong the glue - do they actually glue it?

I must say, I laughed so hard when I heard all this. The Safety guys were totally serious when they explained the situation. You just couldn't make this up! When they finish the report they have to include some kind of recommends. I can't wait for that. That'll be the best bit. 'We, the Safety team, recommend that wig's or hairpieces are formally banned from the Airport'. Or something like that!

Be that a lesson to you. Just go bald. It's not worth it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I'm quite intrigued by this new Rupert Murdoch idea that he has had enough of 'giving away' free news via his multiple newspaper titles' websites. The website in question include such high-end journalism seen at The Sun, The News of the World and U.S stuff that aligns with Fox News. At present, just type in their addresses and off you go. It's quick and it's easy but seemingly it doesn't pay. For him, that is.

Instead, he is planning to make it all paid. If you want 'his' news, then you should pay for it. Furthermore, he is going to try to block google searching for articles. In addition to this, he wants everyone else to join in.

Well, off you pop is what I say to him. I have no inclination to pay to read whatever drivel appears. What would be the point in that? I mean, I could just go elsewhere. I suspect I would not be the only one. If he thinks that this will become the 'norm', then I would be very surprised. The internet may not be perfect and there is a lot of junk on it but in some ways, it has opened things up. You are not limited to 4 TV channels for instance and by the same token, you are not limited by just a few news outlets. One 'closes', you find another that fits the bill. To think that 'all' of them will do so is highly stupid and hints at a lack of understanding of how 'it' works. Does he and his cronies really believe that he has that much influence or power? I fear that he may actually, particularly with certain political parties.

Of course, his 'enemy' is the BBC. It's free and it will continue to remain free. Unbiased, it could be argued and just 'reports'. It doesn't especially have an agenda unlike his titles. It has been said that he needs the BBC to be reigned in or clipped. Indeed, it is rumoured that if the Tories get elected, that might be on the cards. And just who has come out and backed them, oh The Sun.

It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out. I for one will not be paying anything.


All that 'chat' of best albums of the 00's has really worked me up. For some inexplicable reason I failed to mention Burial. I said a couple of years ago that it had been my album of the year so to omit it is nothing short of scandalous.

It is dubstep which will probably mean nothing to anyone but it almost has a dream like quality. It is essentially a journey home after a night out. It is quite hard to fully describe. It is quite desolute at times but has these chopped up, spoken lyrics which simply add to it's dream like quality.

The reason that it has had such an impact, is that it is quite unlike I had ever heard before and to me, that is a means of rating whether an album can be classed as something other than good. The almost absence of hype, promotion and available interviews with the 'composer' adds a certainly amount of mystique to it all also. This is in stark contrast to the times in which bands stream themselves or publicise themselves endlessly on myspace or something similar.

No doubt some other album will pop in there but in the meantime, this has to be 'in'.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I don't often believe what I read in the 'media'. It's best not to believe everything. If you did, then how would you know if something was a lie? You wouldn't. You'd just believe it.

I would say there is a sliding scale of news outlets that I believe. Some, like the BBC I do tend to believe and perhaps I'm being naive but I think that they are mostly on the ball and do not necessarily have an agenda. It tends to report the facts and that is all I want. The facts. There are other outlets that I frankly, do not believe wholly. The one that most bothers me is the Gulf News. You can just tell by reading it that you are being played. It's like all is well in the city and the emirate and you just know that it's a load of nonsense.

Take this example

I understand that morals need to be kept and I have no particular issue with it. The issue I have with it all is the last 2 paragraphs. "The families [involved] were pleased with the measures taken by the police." In addition, "The families said that the manner in which the authorities handled the situation has been extremely helpful"

What utter nonsense is as polite as I can muster. There is absolutely no way that the families involved would be 'happy' or otherwise with their kids getting arrested and having to sign some legal document. Is someone having a laugh? You can just hear the dad saying "Now son, come on, you can't do that again or Mr Policeman will not be happy." Whatever! You can bet that dad would be livid. And how can you possibly use 'extremely helpful' and 'authorities' in the same sentence without having a large laugh to yourself?

Do the people who write this, think we're all stupid? Do they think we'll just read it and accept it as 'fact'?

That's all it is.
No doubt I'll get arrested and there will be a story in the coming days that will say something like "Expat, initials PF was delighted at the way he was bundled into the back of the police car and was thankful for the size 9 he received to the side of his face". He continued by praising the police officers for there word by word translation of the confession he subsequently made.


Thursday, November 19, 2009


What a mess. What a big fat mess.

It can only be football. Yes, the France Vs Ireland game. It should have been a good game with Ireland requiring to win by 2 goals against a pretty average French team. Despite the French winning in Dublin, the game certainly wasn't over.

What followed is nothing short of a farce. Henry magically moving a ball in a way that would defy the laws of physics had he touched the ball with his foot. Alas, it was his hand that moved it. Not once, but twice. Such exquisite control lead to him passing it to a team mate who promptly scored the winning goal.

One on springs to mind. Cheat.

That's it really. Cheating, pure and simple. Yet, the goal was allowed to stand and that's it. I'm not sure how Henry will ever recover his 'legacy' from that. He will always be remembered for this now instead of his Arsenal goals. The French should be embarrassed as a nation. The Irish have every right to moan and groan. Hell, if it was me I would. FIFA and UEFA should do something yet, we all know they won't. They got what they wanted - a 'big' nation at the World Cup. It's good for business, you see. Platini and Blatter will be laughing and congratulating each other on a job well done. I can certainly say that I have lost all faith in those organsations. They don't do things for the benefit of football, that is for certain. They are only thinking about the money and the sponsorship that can be generated from the World Cup. Without the biggest names, how can they generate the money for themselves?

There does seem to be a definite 'big nation' bias. Perhaps that is simply me being from a small nation. I do remember a time when Hearts were playing Real Mallorca in Palma. Hearts had complained that the goalmouth was even; even in the sense that one side of the goal was the regulation height from bar to ground but the other side was actually shorter i.e. the ground was higher making the height from bar to ground smaller. The outcome? Hearts got fined for complaining!

If there is any decency or moral fibre in UEFA or FIFA they will learn from this and take the necessary steps on this so that it does not happen again. We both know that is unlikely however. A sad day for football.

Monday, November 16, 2009


The NME best 50 albums of the decade makes very, very interesting reading. It could be classed as somewhat biased but then aren't all lists like this objective and prone to getting slated by those who disagree with them. Granted, NME champion guitar and indie bands but who is to say that the albums that are listed are not vital in their own little way?

The ultimate question is though, can you encapsulate a decade in 50 albums. Not really, is what I would say. Can you definitely say this one ranks higher than this one. Of course you can't. It is all subjective. What works for you and what works for me are not the same. Fact. I'm not even sure you can rate them in a ordinal way.

It's interesting to see the Strokes at 'number 1'. In 2001, I literally only bought 3 albums. I bought the White Stripes 'White Blood Cells', the Avalanches 'Since I Left You' and this one - 'Is This It'. I hadn't heard anything from the album, I had just heard the name. With my hard earned £12 - and it was hard earned in those days - I went upto Camden and got it. On the walk home, I tore off the plastic wrapping and opened the CD up and took out the inlay card. I just couldn't quite believe what I was seeing when I opened it up. It was full head shots of the band members and one of their manager. The manager gets a full photo? The thing that struck me was that I hadn't seen their 'style' before. It was t-shirts with suit jackets, torn skinny jeans and converse shoes. What the hell! Check out the group shot! It was like the future had arrived, or at the least the 21st century. Brit-Pop was done and something needed to come in it's place. This did. This look. And was the title not meant to be a question? Where was the question mark?

I got home and played it. The first song was 'is this it'. The initial part of the song sounded as if the singer couldn't really be arsed. It was so 'uh, do I have to sing?' The song continued and you feel the hi-hat and the gangling guitars, the bass strumming away. Then, the Modern Age. It was so retro, so late 70's garage but then it wasn't at all. It was short, sharp and to the point. The rest of the album just flew past. It was an album that you just wanted to jump around to, to shout to, to sing along with, to hum the guitar parts. Revisit it and see what you think.

Number 1? Of the decade? I'm not sure. In terms of it's impact, perhaps so. It did mean that rock was back and sent a template that was to be replicated by others, the Libertines, Yeah Yeah Yeahs for example.

Of the other 49. It really is hard to call. I'm not sure I'd have both Libertines and a Babyshambles in there. No TV On The Radio is shocking. At the very least, Dear Science should be there and there is a case for Return to Cookie Mountain also. I would have Xtrmtr by Primal Scream in, not because it is necessarily a brilliant album but more because it was a modern era protest album. It was a rage against Right and how it effected everyone. Both Street's albums? I'd question that. Think Tank? Spiritualised? Arcade Fire certainly deserve a mention also.

I was very happy to see the Rapture mentioned. Echoes opened up a lot of new music to me. The rock, disco, dance hybrid that I had been searching for if you like. I first heard House of Jealous Lovers and thought it was all bit strange. I hadn't heard much like that before. It was all screams hi-hat and seemingly random guitar. Now when I hear it, I just get all hand clappy and shout 'House OF...!' The rest of the album certainly is fantastic. With the dark overtones of Olio to the glorious cry of '1, 2, 3, 4 Kick that f*cker out the door' on the Killing. The album lead me to DFA and with it LCD Soundsystem and that movement. That 'movement' have basically influenced everything I've listened to since.

Speaking of LCD, Sound of Silver is included. It certainly has it's moments but does it have the same impact that the 1st album had? I'm not so sure. You listen to 'Daft Punk is playing in my house' or (admittedly, it wasn't on the original, original) 'Losing My Edge' and tell me if North American Scum has the same rawness, wit and humour? In addition, I would have included the Juan McLean but what do I know.

Elsewhere, loved the Avalanches album which is mentioned. It's a shame they decided not to return with a follow up. In fairness, I think they used a lifetimes worth of samples to make it. Perhaps there are no samples left. Interesting to see Crystal Castles also. I took a while to appreciate it but I do think it is a standout album as nothing had quite sounded like it before.

I have ended the decade with hardly getting any albums. Shocking. I am more interested in compliations which is surprising. I do like my Kitsune and for some reason the albums they bring out have a bit of everything in the areas I like. It's funny how things turn out.