Thursday, September 30, 2010


I do enjoy what I do; getting students in and trying to point them in the right direction. I can't say that I'm a decent teach exactly. Facilitate, perhaps, but not teach. No way.

I also like it when my students pass. It kind of makes me feel as if I've done something good, even though, in most cases, I've not really done anything and it's been the student's efforts that have got them through. I don't particularly like telling students that they have failed however. Generally, I can 'get away' with passing the results onto the respective departments for dissemination or I can update training records by computer. But, sometimes I'm compelled to do it face-to-face.

This week saw such an occurrence.

In total, I only had a small class of 4 people. All of them needed to pass in order to be considered for promotion. To add to the 'stress' of it all, 3 of them had been told previously that this was their last chance to pass and if they didn't, no promotion at all. Not great management but there you go. They weren't all that strong, in fairness, but they seemed to be getting the concepts and appeared to be taking things in. I wanted them all to pass but I just had a feeling that perhaps that wasn't going to be the case. And so it proved. One of them passed by the skin of his teeth, the 3 others weren't particularly close though.

I called them into the office and sure enough, they all arrived within the hour. The first person to come in had failed. He wasn't best pleased but seemed 'O.K.' He listened to what I recommended and appeared to accept what I was saying. The second guy had passed and my god, it was almost like he wanted to kiss me. Eh, no. I'm not having that, thanks very much. Not ever. Let's just say he was pleased and why not. He needed to pass and he did. It didn't exactly matter how he did it but he did. The third guy knew already the outcome and he said before I had said anything that it was too hard and that he had failed. That didn't really make it all that much easier breaking the news. But, the 4th guy was the worst. When I told him, it honestly looked like he was close to tears. Seeing a grown man close to tears is hard enough and being the one making him close to tears, is not pleasant. He had tried his best and for that he should be congratulated. The bare facts though are that he isn't at the level required and there is no amount of window dressing that can hide it. It's not nice. All I can really do in that kind of situation is be honest and give him options on how to get to where he wants to be.

And for the remainder of the day, I felt fairly lousy. In such circumstances, you do question yourself and your methods of teaching. In many ways, you learn as much as the students. Learn from the experience and try to make things better for the next batch of people. I guess though, it just comes with the territory. Not everyone can pass no matter how much time and effort you put in to it.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Finally, it's time for a holiday, albeit for 3 days.

The last holiday I had was back in March which is a long time ago. I've managed to survive an entire Summer here in Dubai; 45C + for the majority of the time. I'm not quite sure how that has happened nor how I have survived going to work each day without wanting to punch someone's head in. I got through it though.

Alas, it's time for a holiday. I'll not be jetting off anywhere exotic, in fact, the closest I'll get to an airport is driving past it on route to a place called Fujairah which is on the Indian Ocean, next to Oman. It's perhaps a 2 hour drive from Dubai, through the desert and through mountains apparently. We're going to be staying at a beach resort. Perhaps not the most exciting thing to do but I don't much care. It's just going to be good getting away from the city and lazing by the pool or heading down into the ocean for a little paddle. Nothing overly hardcore at all really. I'm quite looking forward to sitting out and reading or heading over to the bar which is located in the middle of the pool. I'll get bored but I'm not caring all that much. My aim is to relax and perhaps finish 'The Man in the Iron Mask' by Dumas all without getting sunburnt. Let's see. I might even take some photos!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Two car crashes outside the house in a single 24 hours!

The first was yesterday afternoon. I was in the bedroom when I heard a screech and a loud bang. I run through to the living room to find 2 cars. One, a Nissan saloon and a taxi which is a Hydundai Sonata or a Toyota Camry. The taxi rider was out of his car looking a bit confused but with no obvious signs of injury. The driver of the other car though was holding his forehead. He was walking over to the pavement but before he got there, he slumped to his knees. Onlookers went to his aid however.

The taxi was facing the same direction as it had been travelling in though was a bit close to the centre line. The Nissan looked as if it was about to turn and go across the opposite lane to park. The taxi's front bumper was hanging loose whereas the Nissan had a big, big dent in the front. It looks as if it was hit head on. All the air bags had been deployed. I wouldn't be surprised if the driver of the Nissan was injured by those. Plus, 'fluid' was seeping from under it.

Anyway, the incompetent were on had quite quickly but instead of directing traffic and taking control of the situation, they were faffing about. They didn't even have the sense to turn the Nissan's engine off! Eh, hello! Then they were playing about with the air bags. Sort it out guys!

An ambulance came and the cars were moved and everything was fine.

The 2nd accident was on the other side of the building. Missed it completely but saw the debris of it. It seems a taxi (yeah, another taxi!) had mounted the pavement, hit a lamp post, then a couple of pillars, taking the marble cladding off. By the time we saw it, the car had gone and there was no one around but the taxi most have been travelling to have knocked down a pole and whacked a couple of pillars.

The moral of the story is, don't drive. Don't get in a taxi either.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Oh what a bloody day.

Thursday afternoon's are generally good. It's almost the end of the working week and for the last few hours it's generally quiet and you get a chance to sort things out, clean up and get organised for the following week.

This Thursday was different though. A couple of people were leaving the department and to celebrate, the whole department were asked to come together and their would be food on the go as well. A share fire way to ensure everyone's attendance is food. So, we're sitting waiting for it to start. And waited. The food was already there but we couldn't get stuck in. I was dying to tuck in. But, before we could the 2 people who were leaving had to say a few words. Urgh.

The first guy went on for ages and it was relatively heartfelt. It was fine until he started going on about how I had improved his English and had given him confidence to speak and to speak well during the interview he had previously had. First of all, it's really nice to get positive feedback. I do tend to take it with a pinch of salt. But, the bit that I truly dislike is the attention being on me. It just fills me with dread. I try to laugh it off but I don't like it. At the end of the day, I was just doing my job with this guy. That's what I am paid to do but to get that in front of the whole department. No thanks.


I must say, I take great satisfaction from seeing people from my 'childhood', who have let themselves go or have become prematurely old. Yes, it's not a nice thing to come out and say but take this as an example:

Smarmy git, we'll call him Exhibit A. He could have been described as handsome in his youth. Good skin, no spots, nice hair and had a bit of 'chat' which the ladies quite enjoyed. In other words, one of those knobheads that were primed for a punch if I ever had the courage to do so. I didn't, incidentally.

Anyway, through the wonder of facebook, I came upon a profile picture of afore mentioned Exhibit A and low and behold, he's currently as bald a a coot. Yes, hairless. Fantastic. Do I not feel bad about that at all. I may not have all my hair but compared to Exhibit A, I am a hairy bloke. Wonderful.

Just thought I'd share that.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I didn't pass my driving test until I started living here in Dubai. It was August 2008 which means that I've officially been driving for 2 years. Well, kind of. I passed a driving test when I was in Australia 10 years ago. They give a years probationary licence then, once that time has passed, you get a full licence. The problem was that I no longer lived in Australia. In order to get the full licence, you needed to have an Australian address which sadly, I didn't. That particular avenue was closed to me unfortunately.

I didn't have a car until January 2009, so perhaps I haven't been driving for more than 2years in total. My car is a small one. A Toyota Yaris. Not the coolest or all that sporty but it serves my needs. I need it to get to work and to do the weekly shop. Nothing more, nothing less. Plus, it's my first car!

Now that I've been driving for almost 2 years, I've been looking around and thinking that maybe it's time for another car. Something a bit bigger and a bit cooler as well! Here though, most people have 4x4's. I don't think I'm ready for one of those beasts. I don't even need one like that in all honesty. A big 5 litre Chevy or Toyota Landcruiser. No need for one of those at all. However, I have grown to like a certain Dodge. Yes, I know, a Dodge. But a Dodge Charger. Traditionally, I was more 'into' Ford Mustang's although I think I prefer a late 60's model rather than the 90's edition. But, a Charger would do me. Silver Dodge Charger. That's what I quite fancy. Not a new one but maybe a 2 or 3 year old one. Whether or not that would even be likely is up for debate but when I get overtaken by one on the road's, I do think 'nice'. Actually, I mostly get overtaken by everything on the road but I don't always so 'nice'. It's usually a swear word...

Anyway, that's what I'd like for Christmas, thank you.

Friday, September 17, 2010


So I thought my teenage years were behind me and in many, many ways they are. Whether or not I'd want to return to them are another matter entirely. That is a discussion for another day. But, what I did get when I was a teenager was girls. Eh, no, not really. Not at all in fact!

Actually, I got more spots than anything else which isn't such a shock. But, the shock is that I still get them now. Not just little ones that you burst and they go away after a day, oh no, not those little ones. Instead, it's big ones. Big mingin' ones that are mingin' and big and don't go away even though you squeeze the life out of them. And they're sore. And they look stupid. I don't like them.

Now if you were a woman, I would imagine it would be relatively easy to apply a bit of make up to disguise them or cover them up entirely. Or, for these Islamic ladies simply stick on your abaya and off you go. But, us poor blokes can't do that. We could (well, apart from the abaya bit) but which is worse - having a big spot or people noticing that you wear make up to cover up and spot that they will probably see anyway?

It's a lose-lose situation. Thankfully the weekend is nearly here and that means I don't need to see people. I can hide in the house and wallow in my spot's ugliness and how everything is crap. Yes, that's it. That's the solution!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Oh man, this is going to be a long month.

I've got this class at the moment. There are actually only 4 people in it so in many respects I should be thankful for such a small number. It means I can spend a bit more time with them and in some ways get to know them better. It can also mean you get get through things a bit quicker because less time is spent 'firefighting' and on crowd control.

But, they aren't close to the level that is being taught. Sadly. And because of that, they are finding it tough and that means we are going slower than we need to. It's a bit of a catch 22. You want to get through the material and have a time limit on doing so yet you want them to understand and iron out any problems that they have. It's not an easy thing to balance. Take for example something that would have been taught at a much lower level like regular and irregular verbs when used in the past simple tense - yes, ok, not exactly rivetting - but an essential part of language. Now, some of my guys don't really know how to do that. The implications being that they can't really do more complex things because the fundamental's aren't in place yet.

It's a challenge but fingers crossed we'll get through.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


It seems that if you aren't of a particular ethnicity, it is assumed that you cannot cope with 'spicy' food. What a load of b*llocks if all I can say to that!

When living in Korea, that's all you were told and or asked: 'Isn't it spicy?' 'No, not really' was the usual response. I grew tired of such mindless, inane questioning. Since when did being either Korean or non-Korean have anything to do with the amount of 'spice' that one can tolerate. Is there a correlation at all? If there is, I must have missed that memo. I thought that it was simply a 'Korean' thing. Yet, similar questions persists here in Dubai. If I go for a curry in an 'authentic' Indian restaurant, more often than not, the question of 'hot' and 'spicy' is brought up. Just the other day, it was the same.

It a nonsense. One guy in my office is from Pakistan. Each time we have something remotely hot and spicy in the office, he sweats. All over. I bet no one informs him before he has something hot and spicy that what he is ordering is hot and spicy!

Note to restauranters: I'm a man and I can take it.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Ok, I've given it a couple of days before I write about the latest debacle to beset the Scottish football team.

There are two possible ways of looking at it. The first and perhaps the most positive is the fact that we are sitting top of the group in the race to Euro 12. Top after 2 games with 4 points in the bag. Below us sit World Champions Spain and a pretty decent Czech team; indeed, Lithuania don't actually look too bad at the moment. Had 4 points and being top was on offer, I suspect most people would have taken it. In those terms, all is well. Job done.

Those are the positives out of the way.

Now, for the moan. One word: Lichtenstein.

Yes, the might of Lichtenstein. Located somewhere next to Germany or something like that and with around 35, 000 Lichtensteiners. Is that a word? Official attendance at Hampden Park during the game: more than 37, 000. The entire population of Lichtenstein was at Hampden and some. Their ranking in the world according to FIFA: 141. That is 100 places below Scotland who lie in 41st place. The facts point to a home win by a couple of goals. Scotland being Scotland couldn't manage it. At half-time it was 0-0 and the players left the field to boo's. By the 47th minute, it was 0-1. Yes, to Lichtenstein. By the 68th minute, it was 1-1. By the 90th minute it was still 1-1. Cue glum faces and the worst result in the history of Scottish international history. Let's face it, we've had a few duff results in the past. Iran in '78. Costa Rica in '90 and the Faro Islands in 2002. One crumb of comfort being that all those matches were abroad. This one however, wasn't.

Levein in the dugout was stunned and trying to get the players up for one final push. The crowd were 'anxious'. The Lichtensteiners were timewasting and hacking down Alan Hutton. The referee was not doing much. In the 97th minute, redemption of sorts. In came a corner and it was headed home by McManus. Celebrate? Or simple relief? By the time the ball got back to the middle for the restart, the game was over. Full time.

Lucky? Or something else. 'Crap' would be one particular word to use. Shocking would be another.

Let's go back to the positives. Top of the group with 4 points. That's about it really.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Sitting at home on Wednesday night wondering. Wondering if I'll have to go to work the next day. This is generally a no brainer. Wednesday is a weeknight and Thursday is our last day of the working week. However, it's Ramadan. Not only is it Ramadan, it's the end of Ramadan. Though, we don't actually know the exact date that Ramadan will end. It might be tonight, it might be tomorrow. We don't know.

Instead, it's all to do with the sighting of the moon. Scientific, huh?

So, it could be called tonight which would mean that tomorrow is a day off. Not only that but we'd get the following 3 days off as well. But, if it isn't called tonight, we have to go to work tomorrow. And if that's the case, we'll get Friday to Monday off. Clear?

It's a pain because you can't actually organise anything definite. It's all maybe. I have class each day and I can't say to the students 'don't come tomorrow' because I don't exactly know.

In the end, I got word that the moon had not been sighted and that we do have to go to work on Thursday. And when do they announce this? 9pm. So if we were off tomorrow, the evening would be pretty much over anyway.


Anyway, religion. Gotta love it. Some random, no-descript bloke in Florida is on his own personal crusade against Islam. Oh for the love of God. No pun intended. Yeah, let's burn the book. The holy book. That'll sock it to them. Big time. Great idea mate. Even the right w(h)ingers aren't touching this one with a barge pole!

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Interesting. But not really in a good way.

This jumbo jet that went down yesterday here in Dubai...well, there really seems to be a distinct lack of information about it. When the news was breaking, CNN et al were running the story, and trying to find eyewitnesses to it. It was definitely newsworthy. Yet, today, 2 days later, it doesn't seem to be newsworthy at all. It's not on the front page of the BBC website. It's hardly even noticable on the Middle East subsection. It has been reported in the Gulf News but that hardly counts because the Gulf News is crap. Even the people at work haven't said that much about it. I was speaking to one guy who was on duty at the airport when it crashed. He was aware of it. He called the Civil Aviation to find out what was what but he was told that they didn't really know anything about it at all. Indeed, it was reported that Dubai Airport was running 'as normal' yet I know of 1 flight into to Dubai that was definitely canceled.

Hmm. It all seems somewhat strange. If I had a suspicious mind, I might come to the conclusion that news of it 'may' have been supressed. As I don't have a suspicious mind, then I don't really know what has happened. Maybe there are more pressing stories at the moment. Or, 'Dubai' doesn't want any bad publicity. Who can say.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


I got a phone call last night about 9pm. I'd just arrived home from one of the shopping malls not far from my place. It was my Dad called from Edinburgh. 'That's unusual', I thought. So, I answered it and he asked if I had heard anything about a plane coming down in Dubai. I hadn't at all. It was the first I had heard of it.

I then went to the TV and switched it on. I have CNN so I turned that on. 'Breaking News: Cargo Plane down in Dubai'.

I was in a bit of shock. I work at the airport for an airline. Was it one of 'ours'. What happened? Landing or taking off? Injured?

CNN weren't much use to be fair although, there didn't seem to be much information on any of the other TV channels. They essentially said that a cargo plane had clashed coming into land and that it had crashed on to Emirates Road which is essentially the main highway in Dubai. Emirates Road passes the end of the runway. It's literally 200 metres from the boundary of the airport.

Yesterday afternoon I had driven there as I tend to do my weekly shopping near there. I was driving along and a Cathay Pacific cargo plane was coming into land - a 747. We passed right under it as it was about to land. All that came flooding back to me. My goodness, I was there today!

News then filtered through that it was a UPS cargo plane. I often see that arriving each day. It tends to land at the airport at around 3 or 3.30pm. I know that because that is about the same time that I leave the airport each day. I had my doubts then as to whether the crashed plane was actually coming in to land or not. Seemingly it is quite unusual for a plane to crash on take off.

Further news filtered through that the plane had come down near Silicon Oasis which is an area of Dubai, perhaps 20 minutes or so drive from where I live. Yet, I hadn't seen or heard anything at all. It is definitely the closed I've ever been to a crashed plane. I had absolutely no intention of travelling up to the crash sight to 'have a look'. No thank you.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to hear over the coming days the reasons why it crashed. Mechanical? Due to the Cargo on board? Any non declared dangerous goods on board? Or other? 'We' load all the aircraft that come into and out of Dubai so I hope to god that 'we' didn't in any way cause it or had a hand in it. I guess rumours will be abound when we get back to the office tomorrow. Let's see.

Let us not forget that 2 people died, however. It appears that they both my have fought to prevent the doomed plane from landing in a residential area. RIP is all that can be said. 

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I've not really been listening to much music of late. I feel about upset about that actually. I wonder if it's a sign of getting 'old'. Perhaps it's more of consequence of not really finding the time to do so. Or maybe I'm losing my edge.

That said, when I do put some on, it tends to be The XX. I don't quite know how or why but my goodness. It has a haunting quality to it. It's relatively minimalistic and does not have layers and layers of excess 'noise'. The boy/girl essentially spoken lyrics are fantastic and it's not often that you hear both singers singing didn't lyrics at the some time. It's unusual in that respect. I guess it could be described as downbeat but not necessarily by me. I just find myself hum parts of it when I least expect it. I'm not sure there is a 'standout' track but one that I keep coming back to is Infinity. It's certainly evokes the spirit of Wicked Game by Chris Isaak. That may sound rather horrific but it works. And well.

They are up for the Mercury Music Prize also. That's not a big surprise. Will it win? Who can say. After all, it's an unpredictable thing. 

Elsewhere, I'm still trying to listen to LCD's This Is Happening. Time has tended to dictate that I get to the 2nd song and nothing more. Disappointing! But, I have got Kitsune Maison number 9. I liked number 8, particularly the Drums, Delphic and Memory Tapes. On number 9 is Jamaica and Holy Ghost. It's been quite hard to find songs by them but let's see. It could be the soundtrack to the Summer. Belated but there you go.

Any others I should be looking out for?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Ah, Mr Tony Blair. What a waster, to coin a Libertine song. He's back. Kind of. This time, he has released his memoirs. What has the World done to deserve such a treat? It was 3 years in the making which leads to the question, why did it take so long dear Tony. How we've waiting patiently for them. A day has not gone by without the masses wishing, beholding such a day.

Yer arse.

Perhaps he wanted to put his side of the story. Dear Tony, we know enough. We can see what you did and what has happened. Do we need your justifications for cozying up to the neo-cons across the pond? Do we need to know why you sent our troops to Iraq, under prepared and ill equiped? Do we need to know what you thought of Gordon Brown? Do we need to know what you tried to do to make Britain better? Not really. We wanted an apology. We wanted you to say, "yes, we lied to you, we didn't listen to everyone and we made a mistake".

Needless to say that was not forthcoming and I don't expect that to ever come.

Oh course he's pledged the proceeds of the book to some charities etc which, credit were credit is due, is a noble act. I can't help but thinking that it was rather a matter of good 'PR' and not a heartfelt gesture. But that is me being cynical. I suspect I'm not alone in thinking that however.

Perhaps I'll write a book - my memoirs. Hahah! In it, I'll make some stories up to make myself sound really super interesting and intelligent. I'll spin some yarns and make a million. 'All these things I've done'. Watch out for it; it'll be topping the charts soon. I'll not put my real name on it but don't be alarmed, it's actually me. I don't want the publicity. Oh the irony.