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Breaking Radio Silence

Please accept my apologies for my recent and somewhat lengthy absence from the airways but I have been frantically and furiously digging The Camel Land Escape Tunnel.

Yep, as this mad Arabian Adventure draws to a conclusion and my two year sentence (with time off for good behaviour) is nearly up I have been contemplating my future.

Actually I have been thinking very hard about how best to combat Nibs’ ‘suitish’ tendencies. Cos as you may have guessed he has, predictably, been seduced (poor lamb!) by all the love and adulation he has received as the ‘Big Daddy’ of the Camel Land entrepreneurial development world.

And as such he has been doing his very best to persuade me to be his Moll (the Bonny to his Clyde?), his Madam (Bovary?) his Mad-woman (Macbeth?) as he attempts the daring transformation into a beer-swilling, perma-tanned, BBQ-attending, Camel-Land-residing-Ex-Pat….for ANOTHER freekin’ year!!!

Now just in case you have been sleep-walking your way through the Trailing Trials and Tribulations of the last 22 months and just in case I haven’t been quite crystal clear about my views on life over here amongst The Brethren and The Blighty Zombies, then for your edification and delight let me make it perfectly plain:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY.

FOR…..GET IT.

OVER MY DEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAD BODY.

Of course this has led to much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, hours of discussion (accompanied by fish-cakes and other flying objects) and the speedy and critical development of The Mad Muscat Madam’s Master Plan to Save the Hannah Clan from Destruction.

Let me explain.

The MMMMPSHCD, devised by yours truly, is a simple yet cunning plot whereby an experienced, capable and highly recommended teacher (aka MM /moi) quickly and easily secures a modest teaching position back at the Blighty chalk-face, thus leading to the successful recapture of one errant husband who, reassured and confident that enough pennies are thus likely to be earned to put humus (or the NY equivalent …mashed pots /chips / Yorkshire pudding) on the table, sees the error of his ways, relinquishes his desire for world domination and the aim of becoming the next Richard Branson and heads peacefully back to Blighty and the NY sunset to indulge in retirement hobbies and Parish council politics!!!

Ta-dah!!

Simples eh!?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

But 5 Application Forms and 5 Individual Personal Statements (Respect eh?!); 1 4,000 mile plane ride; 2 train trips; 3 car journeys and a day-long interview later, having come runner-up to an inexperienced young woman (totally fluent and completely unintelligible in ‘Ungrammatical Broad North Yorkshire’ and most importantly) considerably cheaper than this ‘Pidgin-English’ speaking Madam…
….I am still no nearer to securing my place at the chalk-face, teaching the children of this country to sing their Doh Re Mes, and saving the Hannah Clan from another Camel Land Ramadan.

My plan is in tatters.

But no matter, because the 7 week enforced separation alone has caused a wondrous change to occur; the 7 weeks Nibs has spent talking to the wall/the dog/the water-delivery man (Way Number Building Number); the 7 weeks of having no sensible, sane, intelligent, English conversation (welcome to my world darling!) seems to have wrought a miracle….

And Nibs has had a change of heart!

NIBS IS COMING HOME.

Tomorrow!!!

(Allbeit only on a 3 week well-earned holiday this time.)

But he is coming home FOR GOOD at the end of August when this endurance test will be over.

When we can all be reunited as the Hannah Clan.

When we can reflect on the achievements (his successes and my survival) of the last 2years.

And even if we do have to eat beans on toast everyday from now to the end of time and I have to write my meanderings with a pencil on the back of an old envelope by candlelight, at least we will be together…
…and happy!

So hurry back Nob (oops Nibs!!!)….we love you….very much.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Our Day Out

“I’m taking you away from all this….” said Nibs.

“Whaaaaaaaaaaaat??????”

Could I believe my ears?
Did I hear you right??
Has somebody heard my prayers???

“Let’s go down the coast.”

Moment of high excitement evaporates to be replaced by the Blighty stiff upper lip.

“Sounds great!” says I.

So yesterday, determined to have a splendid day out, I donned my best dress, grabbed my twinkly parasol (aka a child-size brolly ‘made-over’ with bits of mirror and tinsel resembling a cross between a disco ball and a Christmas tree bauble and sold to me for 300 rupees outside the Taj Mahal) packed up the swimmers and sunscreen and together with Nibs set off down His Maj’s Highway in search of a taste of the Camel Land seaside.

An hour and a half later having passed through the Arabic equivalent of the East End inhabited by the Camel Land cast of ‘Shameless’ we arrived at the ‘Resort’ and purchased a day ticket to ‘enjoy’ the facilities.

In desperate need of a long, cool drink after our journey we headed for the bar.

Now maybe it was the sight of Nibs resplendent in Panama, dark glasses ‘n’ Linen or maybe it was the mesmerizing effect of my newly affixed sunglass-dislodging lashes and shiny pint-sized parasol that caused the customers to stop their glugging and fix their gaze on the pair of us. But whatever it was it made us feel like Han Solo and Princess Laya arriving at the Inter Galactic Star Wars Cantina after a helluva journey from outer space.

No smart dresses and linen here – no siree! – this was the Camel Land equivalent of a windblown promenade café in Skegness on a damp Bank Holiday weekend. So after supping my Mocktail Mojito that looked (and tasted) more like a sugary spinach soup we beat a hasty retreat to the dining room to make the best of the fly-covered buffet. Moving swiftly on to the Weston-Super-Mere-like beach (ie a mile long walk before you can swim in the sea) we proceeded to spend the next three hours, like Darby and Joan, dozing on two deck chairs under a rustic looking sunshade, constructed of tubular steel and fake date palm fronds, until the beach-bar-DJ-from-hell decided that he really needed to sound check all his equipment and proceeded to bounce us off the beach with his bass-rich version of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. (Note to self: can they find nothing more contemporary to play than that?!!)

So at that point we admitted defeat and decided to head for home: passing herds of goats chewing lino and old tyres in the middle of the road; bare foot kids playing footie in the sand; groups of dishdasha clad men sitting in the dust drinking coffee and chatting; a young boy driving a motorbike along the road (without a helmet) and ….a camel on the end of a leash running alongside a pick-up truck being taken for a walk!

Honestly you couldn’t make it up – not in a month of Fridays!

So after our ‘interesting’ day out we retired to the comfort of the settee in search of sanity and familiarity, and getting out the elastic band, the hamster and the thunderbolt, and praying for the wind to be blowing in the right direction (which it was) we watched the Blighty FA Cup Final start to finish on the telly – an amazing feat given the unreliability of the Heath-Robinson style set up we have to devise!

Perhaps we just struck lucky!

Perhaps it was because someone (God /Allah??) was looking down kindly on us last evening?

Or perhaps it was because as we had decided that in spite of everything we would root for the Underdogs and pray that their Camel Land goalie would keep the ball out of the net (he didn’t play in the end but the Underdogs still won so I’m not sure how to interpret that!)!

Whatever it was it was the perfect end to our (‘shameless’) day out!

(Camel Land) Fortune Cookie…

Who wants to go to an Award Winning Camel Land Chinese Restaurant where…

…you order your food from an Ipad? (hmmm noodles and wonton soup in a ‘cart’ ???)

…you aren’t served what you order? (waiter tells you it’s not available)

…when you’ve eaten what you didn’t order (ie your husband’s order)

….they bring you what you did order!

…the soup tastes like dishwater,

…the seafood looks cat sick,

…and the service is c**p!

So what’s the solution?

…a vow (NEVER to go there again)

…a stomp round to the local supermarket to stock up on supplies (shoulda done that in the first place)

…and a lick of a rapidly-melting-chocolate-Cornetto all the way home!!

Trailing Spouse (unlike Confucius) She Say: A Cornetto In The Hand Is Worth Any Amount Of Award Winning Chinese Food In A Camel Land Restaurant.

Lovely!

Getting things straight…

Madam: “So let me get this straight… the weekend is Saturday and Sunday right?”

Nibs: “Wrong!”

Madam: “Oh wait a minute…silly me…sorry…the weekend is Thursday and Friday right?”

Nibs: “Wrong again!”

Madam: “Whaaaaaat???”

Nibs: “The weekend is Friday and Saturday – starting tomorrow!”

Madam: “Noooooo! It can’t be! It has taken me 18 months to get my head around it not being the same as everywhere else in the world and now as I’m kinda getting used to it they have changed it to something else that isn’t the same as the rest of the world. Why????”

Nibs: “His Maj has decreed it….”

Off stage ‘thud’ of a lifeless body hitting the floor….

Only in Camel(ot) Land.

Going to ‘Extremes’

I have just been to the beauty salon and had 16 extremely long false eyelashes attached to each eyelid!!!

(Whaaaaat???)

They are so long I can’t blink without dislodging my sunglasses!!!

All I need now is Big Hair to complete the latest ‘look’ and given what the crazy Camel Land humidity level (still raining) is doing to my curls that is not gonna be difficult to achieve!

Bring it on!

I laugh in the face of your manis and your pedis and your body scrubs and your massages, they are yesterday’s treatment.

Any REAL Madam these days goes for Extreme Lashes.

Too much time on my hands…..moi?

Ha!

Son et Lumiere

For several days now we have experienced unusual amounts of rain and abnormally cool temperatures and for the last three evenings Nibs and I have played a willing audience to the ‘Camel Land Son et Lumiere Show’ as epic rain storms have swirled over the city in spectacular fashion.

Torrential rainfall has flooded the wadis, created rivers in the streets and made roads impassable. Some districts of the city are washed out and without electricity. Schools have been closed, many normal everyday activities have been suspended and getting to work has become a work of art.

So where are the headlines?

Where is the reporting of this amazing and unheard of phenomenon?

Why, when there is a flood of Biblical proportions in less than 3 days in a country where in the not so distant past not a single drop of rain fell for almost three years, isn’t it front page news?

Let me tell you a story….

it’s because his Maj has been busy receiving credentials (diplomatic)!

It’s because his Maj has been occupied meeting the latest Ambassador (from La-La Land / Toy Town / Ruritania)!

It’s because his Maj has been delightedly receiving the latest visiting chinless wonder from Blighty (who by the way made a shed load of money selling airplanes and guns and dirty deals before joining his Eton chums in cabinet).

It’s because the papers are filled with lovely, fluffy pictures of men in Dishadashas and Khanjars receiving awards for yet another competition that has been invented to make us believe this country has joined the 21st century.

It’s because the Camel Land papers never carry a single word of analysis, discourse, dissent, argument or worthwhile facts and by comparison make the ‘Malton Gazette and Herald’ look positively intellectual with Pulitzer Prize winning reportage.

It’s because living here is like living in the Truman Show or Camelot.

It only rains at night. The sun comes out each morning and all things are well – no matter what.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out In the Mid-Day….

…RAIN!

I am delighted to announce that it is raining!

Not a few pathetic spits and spots but the Moors and Dales/ Cats and Dogs/ Thunder and Lightning variety!

So the overblown-testosterone-pumped-anti-deluge-device that Nibs purchased for his Madam whilst on a fleeting visit to London a lifetime ago – nearly 2 years to be precise – has now had an airing (see post November 13th 2011)!

I’ve got a brolly and I KNOW how to use it ….properly!

The Brethren have been zooming up and down, splashing thru puddles in their monster 4x4s like 2 year olds on speed… and we have done what all good Blighty dwellers do when the weather is ‘good’*

• taken the dog for a walk,
• enjoyed a celebratory G and T
• eaten our supper outside

Cos to quote a famous song…

‘The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow’.

That kid knew a thing or two!

*(good weather here is known as the cool and wet variety!)

I want…

to watch the telly…without a VPN, a mile of cable, the wind in the right direction and a hamster on a wheel

to listen to a radio station…that isn’t either playing techno or bagpipe music

to use the internet… without it stopping, breaking down or sending me crazy (just for once)

to talk to my girls… at the same time of the day for them as it is for me

to do my own housework…without feeling guilty

to wear my own clothes…boots, tights and cardigans

to drive my own car…on the right (left!) side of the road

to walk my dog… in the wind and the rain

to speak to my neighbours…about nothing much

to have my mail delivered…through my own letter box

to wear a dress…without my legs being being stared at

to speak to a workman…without speaking pidgin English

to use the telephone…and for it to ring the number I dialled

to read a newspaper…where at least some of the facts are true

to eat nice food

to see my friends

to visit my family

to come home.

I want….

…never gets.

(PS I’m having a baaaad day…)

Earthquake , War and Plague…

…but not in that order.

Nibs has contracted The Plague.

Following the extraction of his much-beloved and deeply-filled pre-molar the medics think Nibs’ immune system may have been compromised – hence the swollen throat and hacking cough.

What with daily visits to the dentist and/or doctor over the last 10 days (£85 for extraction; £200 for emergency treatment in Blighty; 57 OMR for emergency dental treatment in Camel Land and 10 OMR for every visit thereafter; 20 OMR for doctors consultation and a small fortune on pills and potions of every variety from the pharmacy) I know that his bank balance has definitely been compromised.

Poor Nibs. He has been very stoical. Not a whiff of ‘man -flu’ or ‘dying swan’.
Just endless sweating, sleeping, sucking and coughing…coughing…coughing…coughing…

And now I’m certain that something has been compromised in me….
…my patience.

“Did the earth move for you Nibs?”

“Yeah! And you?”

“Yeah…”

And the earth moved for thousands of us.

In fact the pictures wobbled, the walls wiggled and the sofas shook! And no it wasn’t the effects of some drug-induced, mass Camel Land orgy that that rocked our world the day before yesterday, but rather the tremors of a 7.8 earthquake whose epicenter was situated only a few hundred miles away.

So Nibs, Little Madam (on an Easter break) and me hightailed it out of our 4th floor ‘penthouse’ apartment dragging our stair-phobic-expatriated-dog with us and stood outside the building wondering and worrying about what to do next.

Until aforementioned mutt broke the tension and proceeded to express his (and our) fears in his own unique, yet strangely eloquent way…

…by pissing on my foot!

I know how you feel boy!

We are living in bellicose times.

I truly have absolutely no desire to add to the war-torn landscape of this poor beleaguered world but I’m afraid that the battle lines have been drawn, the gauntlet has been thrown down, and if I see that fat, little, mustachioed f**k-wit around here again anytime soon, he is gonna get it (again) hook, line and sinker!

And what’s more he will get it in scouse from Nibs!! And THAT is scary!!

So what / who has rattled my cage so severely you may be wondering???

I will enlighten you.

We live in a (so-called) ‘penthouse’ ergo we have no garden, only a balcony. Dog and Balcony do not a happy partnership make especially when it comes to doggy bathroom duties.So, quite literally, morning, noon and night we must make the trek to the little enclosed, private garden that is part of this residential apartment block to allow the mutt to do his business.

He is very good and always obliges on time and we are very good and always ‘pick-up’ and never outstay our welcome.

But some other people are not so thoughtful and there is one visitor to this pretty facility who treats it like a doggy playground, letting his dogs (three little ankle-biters) feed there, run around off the leash and dig holes. I’m not entirely sure he always ‘picks up’ and what is worse – he doesn’t even live here!!!

He ‘visits’ a woman who is resident here and they hang around together sometimes for 3 hours or more each day doing doggy things!!!!!!

He even knows the security code to access the private (and in his view) doggy playground.

So last night, in no mood for him, her and their foul yapping dogs, I took my mutt for his nightly bathroom break and lo and behold…. there they were.

Their dogs spotted us and headed full pelt for me and my silent, lovely and long-suffering Labrador. But this time I was ready for them. No more nipped and bleeding ears for my boy. And in the wink of an eye I transmogrified into a snarling, barking Hound of the Baskervilles, ordering the yappers back to their owners, issuing instructions and flailing my walking stick around for good measure.

This alarmed the little fat f**k who retrieved his yappers and what then ensued was the piece by piece annihilation by me, of him, his dogs, his behaviour and his unwanted presence in our private garden, whilst his little bit on the side stood watching open mouthed.

And it didn’t end there.

Because then I informed the security guard, his manager, the facilities manager and Uncle Tom Cobbley and All (in a voice loud enough for all the residents in the block – nay the district – to hear) that he was an objectionable and vile little man who, having clearly lost the argument, had resorted to telling me to f**k off and get a life!!!

(Believe me I’m trying!!)

Nibs was narked, to say the least, when I regaled him with this story – hence the promise to show him the ‘Scouse’ way of doing things – and Little Madam corroborated the story and reassured me that as a silent eye-witness the little FF had been well and truly ‘teachered’.

Ha!

At last!

Twenty five years of blood sweat and tears have finally come in useful!!

He had better not be back in a hurry.

A Scrum, a Bunfight and a Moment in the Sun….

The Scrum
Nobody can beat the Brits for queueing.

So maybe that’s why after 50 years of patient queueing (from waiting for a bus to buying a pair of shoes) anything that doesn’t involve an orderly line and the examination of the back of someone’s head for at least 15 minutes just seems like a scrum to me.

Or perhaps it just IS!!!

But everyone was polite and warm and welcoming to me (the trailing-gate-crasher) so the two words ‘happy’ and scrum’ are the ones that I would pick to describe the launch of Nib’s project last week.

In that order.

The Bunfight

Nobody can beat the British Gliteratti of Camel Land for knowing how to behave nicely where Royalty is concerned. Especially when the instructions are so clearly explained on the party invite….

We respectfully request that you do not approach or crowd Their Royal Highnesses. If you are invited to meet them you may wish to observe the traditional forms of simple courtesy.
The formal initial address is ‘Your Highness’ and subsequently for The Prince of Wales, ‘Sir’ and for The Duchess of Cornwall, ‘Ma’am (as in ‘jam’). If Their Royal Highnesses offer their hand, a light handshake is all that is required. Gentlemen may bow slightly and ladies may curtsey. To curtsey it is recommended that the right leg be placed behind the left before slightly bending both knees, then returning to a normal stance.

But that didn’t stop many of the other partygoers from engaging in an undignified bunfight which saw his ‘Royal Nibs’ mobbed for 40 minutes by an assortment of Khanjar carrying locals, Ambassador’s and WAGs!

(Note to self: isn’t a Khanjar a long spikey /curly object that most people would call a ceremonial KNIFE????!!!!!)

(Interesting to note that the Royal Trailing Spouse gave the shindig a miss preferring to don her slippers and put her feet up. Shame ‘cos we could have passed a few minutes together bemoaning the (trailing) cross we both have to bear – but that is where the similarity ends as I am not remotely interested in gee-gees or being a queen.)

Anyway I was NOT going to enter into that kind of unseemly affray just for the sake of being a hair’s breadth away from his Royal Nibship. Especially as my Nibs was in line for 30 minutes of unadulterated hobnobbing the very next day.

So content with a couple of glasses of wine, eating my own bodyweight in canapés and triumphant in the fight against a lawnfull of midges and mosies through the prophelactic use of a pair of tights (in 30 degrees of heat that’s like wearing a suit of armour replete with chainmail)….we minced home as soon as the HRH cavalcade had departed.

A moment in the sun

So after a bit of a wobbly start that saw Nibs being verbally beaten up by HRH’s PPS (OMG it sounded so C**P I thought he might be headed for the Tower) for things totally beyond his control (ie the Camel Lande Paymasters decide at the 11th hour to do everything completely differently from what had already been agreed with the Royal Nibship’s minders!!!!) things eventually went swimmingly.

Nibs and Royal Nibs chatted away, laughing, joking and generally having a right royal gas!

In fact everyone seemed to get what they wanted.

The Camel Landers looked pleased that their investment had got the Royal seal of approval; the visiting Suits got what they travelled 4,000 miles to achieve (a Royal handshake in the line-up) and as for me….

Well I battled my way through the Royal scrum and ended up at the front of the Royal bunfight to get the photos of Nib’s Royal moment in the sun.

So I was happy too.

He didn’t bring me 4,000 miles not to pick up a few tricks eh???

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