AOB – 2010

31 December 2010

Last day of the year. Strange year. In many ways I am glad it is over. Need to get on with making things better in 2011.

I did not get a mention in the new year honours list but Roger Carr is now Sir Roger Carr – knighted for flogging great British company Cadbury to foreign owners, and jacking up gas bills 7% last month. Ridiculous.

Emirates from 01JAN11 to 15JAN11 operates 3 Daily A380 service on Dubai – London Heathrow

30 December 2010

1 in 6 Britons alive today will live past their 100th birthday. Now that is an alarming thought. The social fabric of Britain and other western nations is still not ready for this.

Pensions, retirement ages, nursing care; all will need a radical rethink. And quickly.

A typical Dubai moment:

Tour operators in Dubai have been forced to scrap a string of New Year’s Eve parties after the emirate’s tourism body rolled out new licensing laws for desert events featuring live music.

Many operators have cancelled or relocated their events after the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing last week moved to clamp down on parties featuring live music.

The decision, finalised at a meeting on the 23 December, said any New Year’s Eve desert parties featuring music, DJs or dancing would need an additional licence.

I dont mind – it does not affect me. But these parties have been held for years. Why change the rules 7 days before the year end?

Honestly – it is better that they make lots of noise in the desert rather than near my apartment or in my building!

28 December 2010

Immaculate conception …. Elton John has a baby son on Christmas day!

England will finish the Aussies off today at the MCG to take an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the series.

And the Poms have won: From the Guardian OBO:

“Twenty four years of hurt are washed away by Tim Bresnan and Matt Prior. Hilfenhaus snicks one down the leg side and Prior – whose keeping has been so good all series, especially to his left – takes an acrobatic catch. The team charge straight into a big dumb group hug, jumping deliriously up and down on the spot. Matt Prior, having picked himself up after taking the catch, can’t penetrate the huddle. He decides not to ruin the moment by punching someone in the face and just jumps up and down like a madman on the back of one of his teammates. Wonderful stuff. England have retained the Ashes, and they have done so with their biggest win over Australia since 1956.

There’s much to do for the paper, so I won’t hang around. Congratulations to England. We all want to support a winning team, but so often winning teams aren’t actually very likeable. That’s the game. This lot are. This is a team we can all be so proud of; a resourceful group of likeable, humble, good-humoured fellas who wring every last drop from their talent, who have an equilibrium that allows them to meet with innings victories and thumping defeats and treat those two imposters just the same. They have a great backroom team, led by the incredibly impressive Andy Flower; watching him hug Andrew Strauss a moment ago almost brought a tear to the eye.”

26 December 2010

Time to pension off Mr Boycott:

Boycott: “I can’t see any way England are going to win this” @Aggersashes “we’ve only had 12 minutes .. how can you say that?” ….

Boycott to @Aggersashes : “I’m supposed to know what I’m talking about – that’s why I’m the expert and you’re commentating”

25 December 2010

A very Merry Christmas to everyone except for the truly miserable and incompetent people who staff immigration at Gatwick’s south terminal.

23 December 2010

Tai has to stop doing impersonations of yesterday’s Prague tour guide. Though it has to be said she (the guide – not Tai !) did have an accent that sounded like she was from a bad, old Swedish porn movie! Not that I ever remember watching any of those!

Prague is a very pretty city. Not sure I would want to live off Czech food though.

20 December 2010

The Thai PM revealed that politicians want reporters to have professionalism, ethics and morals in their work. Maybe he could suggest that politicians display the same in return.

RIP BBC correspondent Brian Hanrahan, best known for his coverage of the Falklands War, has died after a short illness at the age of 61 – he counted them all out and counted them all back again.

19 December 2010

New to Thailand – SolarAir (now long gone – Dec 2019.)

There was a guy in Plug-Ins in Dubai mall abusing this poor Filipino sales guy as a racist – are you a racist – are you discriminating against me – because no one had run over to help him.

Me I am happy to be left alone by sales people until I want to ask them something or make a purchase. But some people need attention.

Predictably the guy complaining was from a nation that seems to want to continually try to assert superiority over perceived smaller people.

It was very sad to hear. So I interfered. Suggested that his accusations which were loudly made were unnecessary and not in the spirit of the season. And that maybe he was not ignored – it was just that he did not look like he needed attention and had not asked for help.

17 December 2010

Emirates is facing significant problems. The ‘record’ profits are being used to sure up the crumbling economy. Much of it is paying for or guaranteeing government debts on completed projects all around Dubai. We can all see the incomplete road projects that have stopped pending payment. 50 sub-contractors for example are owed money on completed works at the airport alone. Some are owed hundreds of millions, one over half a billion, and Emirates, the airline, is being used as a guarantor. If they default another financial earthquake will follow.

16 December 2010

Just in time for Christmas in Hong Kong – Juno Mak’s psychosexual thriller “Revenge: A Love Story” is one of the most talked about Hong Kong films in cinemas now.

The story is about a guy who goes on a vengeful rampage after his girlfriend gets raped by policemen. Starring Mak as the protagonist and Japanese AV superstar Sola Aoi, the film contains scenes of slashed pregnant bellies, gang rape, bloody violence, and all the gory spectacle you can expect from 852 Films Ltd, which just produced slasher cult success “Dream Home”

Strange – the rest of the world produces family friendly holiday movies !

The moment of the Ashes so far: from the Guardian OBO

“WICKET! Ponting 12 c Collingwood b Anderson (Australia 17-2) He’s gone. Ponting has gone, caught at third slip. Brilliantly caught at third slip. And I mean brilliantly caught. By Paul Collingwood. Of course. He didn’t leap to his right so much as explode as though he had trodden on a pin. He shot off the ground and plucked the ball from the air as it whistled past his head. It was like the old bullet-catching trick that the sideshow conjurers do. Australia are 17-2 and I’m too giddy to type. It was a poor shot by Ponting, playing away from his body and misjudging the bounce of the ball, but had it not been for that superb piece of fielding he would have gotten away with it.”

Ashes 2010: Paul Collingwood catches Ricky Ponting

Simply brilliant!

15 December 2010

Mark Zuckerberg is the Time magazine person of the year – in a much more interesting contest than for many years – why – ““Connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them. Facebook is now the third-largest country on earth, and probably holds more information than any government about its citizens.”

Top five TIME’s person of the year..1. Mark Zuckerberg, 2. Tea Party, 3. Julian Assange, 4. Hamid Karzai, 5.The Chilean miners

Newsweek journalist Jonathan Alter stated today that “Hey, soccer fans: a great source says that most members of the FIFA World Cup Selection Com got a (legal) bribe of $10 million from Qatar.” Adding that “Soccer scandal exclusive cont: That’s the inside word: Qatar paid $10m for each FIFA vote. Only reason it got World Cup.”

It is almost surreal how twitter is abuzz with stuff about Thai cables released on Wikileaks but official news outlets are silent…of course the international media is not so silent…

Sopon in the Nation today “It has become a general perception that the current administration stinks, probably to the same degree as the Thaksin governments. Ministries have become personal fiefdoms for politicians of different parties. Each treats its ministry like a personal wealth-creating entity funded by taxpayers.

What’s more, Prime Minister Abhisit is perceived as a politician increasingly addicted to power but is at the mercy of party hotshots and coalition partners. Whatever is left of his good standing continues to be exploited by those around him for self-serving gain.

What we can also expect is a resurgence of the red shirts. It will not be a surprise if we have to watch in horror similar political riots and bloodletting as happened in April and May this year, now that the red shirts see Abhisit as a wimp and at the mercy of the military.

When that time comes, the mayhem of earlier this year will look like a Sunday picnic. If the red shirts decide to test their potential and go all out for power, the victims will include the Democrats and the crooks who will have no politics to play or exploit for fast wealth for some years to come.

Then people will say, “See, I told you that a military coup was still possible.””

And this in a newspaper that is notoriously pro the existing government….the implication being that even the establishment is assuming there is more violence to come.

14 December 2010

So far, WikiLeaks has published 1,344 of the quarter-million State Dept. cables now in the group’s possession;

Just another 248,000 plus to go!

13 December 2010

Doubt we will see this is the UAE media – but from twitter today : EK 602 missed the routine runway of KHI airport ,was starting descend at PAF base faisal 2 -3 KM away from KHI airport ,ATC did a good job and it went for go around and then landed back on routine runway.

I played golf on Saturday and for the first time in many tears did not have so much as one par in the round.

And then I played today – and made my pars – but the rest of my golf was horrible.

And I felt and feel out of sorts.

Liz Hurley and Shane Warne – who would have thunk it !

In town for DIFF: Carey Mulligan. Wonder what she is doing for dinner. I am home alone again !

10 December 2010

Welcome to the world: “China must be prepared for criticism and regard it as positive, as an opportunity for improvement” – Nobel chair

Trouble is China has not realised that yet. And it has the economic clout to make the rest of the world dance to its tune.

9 December 2010

Latest on the Qantas 380 from Singapore – there is discussion in engineering circles that the damage to the main spar may be such that the aircraft may be a write off.

Guess who is back in Dubai: this was a photoshoot for Vogue Korea. But the poor girl has a bad back and her golf is struggling.

7 December 2010

And England win the second test to go 1-0 up in the Ashes series in Australia. And it was a bit more than a win – it was a thrashing.

One day back in Dubai and I get rear ended at a junction by a guy who is not looking at my car in front of him. Some big scratches on the rear bumper – it was a bit of a shock.

It was great to see Alex at his school in Switzerland. He is happy. He is busy. He is challenged. And he is learning well. At 13 he can seem so mature and sensible. And then he simply becomes a big kid again. I miss him.

Switzerland is shockingly expensive – the Swiss Franc is simply too strong against I guess every currency except maybe the Yen ! But SF7.60 for a tall Starbucks coffee? Criminal !

Tough drive on Sunday night in the dark and driving snow from Lausanne to Zurich. They do just about manage to keep the roads moving with salters and snow ploughs but it was a tough and slightly scary drive. The Swiss roads are cleared better than those in France where we were staying.

The Sunday farmers market in Divonne-Les-Bains is worth a visit. Big and very popular.

Watched too many episodes of Dexter on the two flights – gives me some strange dreams.

4 December 2010

FIFA’s 22 strong executive rejected the English 2018 bid mainly because they were protective of their own after English media revelations of corruption within FIFA. Lets shoot the messenger rather than get our own house in order. Instead we will give the Olympics to two nations who have zero claim to press freedom and who will only print what they can.

Investigative journalism in the UK is alive and well while in Russia it gets the journalist assassinated. Meanwhile the Press Freedom Index, which lists England at 19 in their carefully compiled rankings, has Russia at 140 and Qatar at 120. Sad.

3 December 2010

It is very cold in Switzerland !

And Avis stuffed up bigtime yesterday. An upgrade to a nice BMW523 was great – except that the windscreen washer pump was broken. With two feet of snow and plenty of slush I had to stop every 30kms to clean the windscreen while driving the highway to Geneva.

On the World Cup:

From the Daily Mirror: Fifa just awarded the 2022 World Cup to an oil-rich version of Bognor Regis. Do you really think they did that for football reasons?

The Montreal Gazette: But the process of awarding the hosting rights to the World Cup is such an opaque, murky mess that it’s precisely the environment in which corruption and bribery thrives.

1 December 2010

New Emirates cabin crew in Madrid showing where the emergency exits are:

This looks likely to be a source for WIkileaks revelations concerning Thailand. ThaiCables.

Denial of service attacks on Wikileaks appear to originated today from Russia and Thailand. Interesting?

Faye Wong is back – but finding that modern audiences are tough to please; she is in the middle of a series of 10 concerts in Beijing and Shanghai that have been setting records for all the wrong reasons. What should have been a cause for celebration – the return of China’s top diva to the stage after a hiatus of more than five years – has turned into a chorus of disapproval over price gouging.

Her management company has been accused of colluding with scalpers to drive up the price of what were already expensive tickets to absurd heights, as much as 5,000 yuan (S$977).

According to a Fazhi Evening News article, the “scalper marketing strategy” hurt Wong’s credibility as she didn’t offer new material at the shows, went off-key and appeared panic-stricken at times. As such she stands accused of just cashing in, at a reported 6.5 million yuan a concert.

30 November 2010

Guess this was not in Economy ! From Graeme McDowell

“DBX to LAX 17 hours. Got to be one of the longest non stops in the world??? Great flight though. #Emirates are a quality airline. Feel great.”

29 November 2010

Honey tongued former PM Chuan Leekpai ended his summing up today expressing sympathy for the Constitution Court, which he called the country’s “last resort” for justice and integrity. “This isn’t meant to please the court, but let me express my sympathy for one of last remaining institutions that people can rely on,” he said.

Can be relied upon to avoid any decision.

Constitution Court President Chat Chonlaworn was among the two judges who voted against the Democrat Party in the dissolution case.

4 of the other 5 washed their hands of the whole affair.

Dubai Holdings watch: Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group, a real estate and hospitality group owned by the emirate’s ruler, is seeking a one-month extension on a $555m revolving credit line, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The loan will be extended until December 31 from November 30 and then rolled over into a new medium-term facility, the terms for which are still under discussion, the people said, declining to be identified because the negotiations are private.

Dubai Holding Commercial already received two extensions on the loan this year. Citigroup Inc, Royal Bank of Scotland Group and Standard Chartered provided the loan.

A spokeswoman for Dubai Holding declined to comment.

Sadly the Times – once upon a time the newspaper of record – the thunderer as it was known – had this to say about the Wikileaks disclosure through columnist, Libby Purves – who is daughter of a diplomat:

“Despite sharing the general taste for freedom of information, transparency and honesty, I am on the side of the horrified Washington diplomats and US government now faced by Wikileaks’ disclosure of thousands of diplomatic cables.”


Just amazing stuff from the Gabba in Brisbane. England were 281 behind after the first innings and then:

Eng 2nd inns. 517-1

Strauss c Haddin b North 110(224)
Cook 235* (428)
Trott 135* (266)

Hilfenhaus 32-8-82-0
Siddle 24-4-90-0
North 19-3-47-1
Johnson 27-5-104-0
Doherty 35-5-107-0
Watson 15-2-66-0

Wisden record books have been rewritten!

28 November 2010

Late night viewing in Bangkok is Wimbledon vs Stevenage in round 2 of the FA Cup.

Robert Karlsson wins in Dubai in a weird play off result with Ian Poulter who was penalised a shot for dropping his ball on, and moving a marker.

England had a stunning day in the first test at Brisbane with centuries from both Strauss and Cook.

25 November 2010

First day of the first test of the Ashes cricket series in Australia.

This should be a great series between two evenly matched teams.

Day One momentum is with the Aussies. And how they love it. Strauss goes third ball. And later this (from the Guardian):

WICKET! England 197-7 (Broad LBW b Siddle 0) PETER SIDDLE HAS TAKEN A HAT-TRICK! This is astonishing stuff. He speared a superb swinging yorker onto the toe of Broad, who was trapped in front of middle and leg. To add to the drama, Broad then decided to review the decision – but that was plumb and replays confirmed it. This is utterly astonishing: Peter Siddle, who many felt would not even play in this match, has taken an Ashes hat-trick.

WICKET! England 197-6 (Prior b Siddle 0) Matt Prior has gone first ball! This is sensational stuff from Peter Siddle, who is on a hat-trick. That was a beauty to get first up: full, straight, and angling in through the gate to smack into middle stump. That was a definite plan for Prior, and it worked perfectly.

WICKET! England 197-5 (Cook c Watson b Siddle 67) This is a huge wicket for Australia, and Peter Siddle has done it again. That was a good delivery, slanted across Cook and forcing him to play. Cook pushed forward firmly and the ball flew off the edge to Watson at first slip. Siddle has three for 33, deserved reward for pitching the ball up since lunch.

This was a good toss to lose. Strauss won the toss and had to bad first – but the ball has been swinging and seaming all day – and the English bowlers would have enjoyed these conditions as much as the Aussies have.

Emirate has apparently applied for a daily flight to Geneva. Details as follows: now airlines apply for rights all the time – they don’t always start to fly the route.

(local time at GVA)

Effective June 1st, 2011

DXB-GVA EK 089 arrive 14h30
GVA-DXB EK 090 depart 16h00

with 772 (77W on Tu)

24 November 2010

BBC Entertainment just introduced Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes by warning us that this show includes nudity – viewer discretion is advised – whoever thought that a dull cooking show could be that much fun !

There is an important new skill being learned by Emirates crew: Tai’s latest appraisal commented favorably that she “did origami with the toilet paper.”

Sounds rather unpleasant !

But a quick google on toilet paper origami will take you to this web site. Better still – you can buy the book.

22 November 2010

Update to the Twitter joke trial: Paul Chambers to take his appeal to the UK’s high court.

So the UAE collected its first medal at the Asia Games in Guangzhou – a silve in a shooting event – but as someone asked on twitter – I wonder if Emiratis find it a bit strange that all their medal winners at international sporting events tend to be royal family members?

20 November 2010

Krispy Kreme in Thailand gets Royal Approval:

The picture is Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at the Krispy Kreme store with the local franchisee Ausanee Mahagitsiri.

I hate feeling sick….and could someone take the serrated knife out of my throat.

18 November 2010

I am still fighting a flu bug which does not want to go away…

Though I did try to get some fresh air on Tuesday and played some golf at Al Hamra.

Funny old game. My driver is usually decent – but I was really struggling with it – while my approach irons into the green were very good. Great control over direction and distance – and my putting was solid. But when the wheels come off on a hole they come off in style !

From today’s Guardian on how India can help Burma:

“The question whether India can come up with a new Burma policy, worthy of its own traditions and values, as well as its legitimate interests, is a vital one for the future of Aung San Suu Kyi’s beautiful, martyred land. It is also important for the shape of the post-western world. We talk all the time about China, but in India’s policy towards its unhappy neighbour we shall glimpse the true face of Asia’s other emerging great power.”

16 November 2010

The Chief sporting correspondent of The Times of London, Matt Dickinson, has written a scathing indictment of a would-be Qatari World Cup.

The Times site is behind a paywall but there are some quotes below.

The real issue for The Times is that the World Cup is an event for real football fans. And real football fans would have a miserable world cup in a Qatari summer.

On December 2nd FIFA will announce the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 world cups. The World Cup is always held in June and July and as the Times said “anyone with money, sense or opportunity flees Qatar in June and July. Or stays indoors…The heat makes the place unbearable, with temperatures at 50C (122F)…They say it is possible to overcome this furnace. Hundreds of thousands of fans can move from air-conditioned hotels via air-conditioned trains to air-conditioned stadiums. Relaxation will be found in air-conditioned shopping malls.”

How is a mall going to be fun for your average football fan who wants to be outside partying.

Australia is one of the rivals for 2022. It is a great sporting nation and has all that fans need.

Doha (which is the only town in Qatar) lacks just about everything, including the stadiums, the hotels, the fans and the climate.

It would be good to see a Middle East world cup. But it would need to be a winter event and either in a larger nation or shared between nations (Korea and Japan in 2002 comes to mind)

But however strange a Qatar would cup sounds we the voting process is farcical enough that we have had to start taking it seriously.

“While in England we are understandably preoccupied by the 2018 race, the greatest injustice of all could be played out in the 2022 vote if a combination of Qatari oil money and collusion secures victory for this little emirate over Australia or its main rivals, the United States…It is the collusion that has the most potential to warp the process.

Qatar and Spain-Portugal deny any collusion but they could start with seven votes each, potentially taking the World Cup back to Spain for 2018 and to Qatar in 2002.

15 November 2010

We went to the Dubai International Cricket Stadium today for the fourth day of the Pakistan vs South Africa test. The first ever test match to be played in this new stadium.

It is a terrific stadium with great sightlines for all 25,000 seats. The trouble is there were only about 500 spectators.

And it was a holiday in the UAE.

The biggest pain is the stadium security; there must be as many security as spectators.

Firstly there is the body pat down on entering the stadium. And the bag search.

They took away my pen. My pen !! What kind of violent instrument is that? A poison pen?

They leave anything they confiscate on a table at the entrance. As we left there were pens, nailclippers, combs. Of course, someone had already taken my pen !

Inside the stadium are the don’t put your feet on the seat in front of you police. I would not mind this but no one had bothered to clean the seats in the weeks before the game so we were already sitting in a dustbowl.

And the Pakistani crowd that was there were there to have a good time – to stand and cheer and chant – and rather bizarrely to wave around large cuddle toys !

Until the security guys told them to sit down !

Time to lighten up and let people enjoy their day out.

And can I have my pen back please…..

12 November 2010

Another Brit has been sentenced to jail after giving an airport worker “the finger” in Dubai.

The difference in this case is that the Mr. Anthony had only just stepped off the airplane.

He apparently got into a row with a female airport employee when she refused to let him use a customer services desk phone.

A Dubai court heard he “cursed” the Muslim woman in front of colleagues then thrust his middle finger in her face as he passed through border controls.

He has pleaded not guilty and launched an appeal. He faces a month awaiting an appeal against a two-month jail term and deportation order.

He was planning to stay in Dubai for six days after working for the UN in Asia. Looks like his stay may be rather longer.

You have been warned !

11 November 2010

Wow – this must be serious – QANTAS cancels A380 service until 25NOV10

Quirky brilliance from Next Media Animation: The US-Sino Currency Rap Battle, featuring Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao, who says: “China’s in the house. We own your ass biaatch!”

10 November 2010


Students rioting in London – ‘Nobody will listen to us, there’s nothing we can do,’ bleats student given 6-minute platform to say what he likes on live TV.

Boeing said Wednesday it has canceled tests flights of its 787 Dreamliner after one made an emergency landing in south Texas.

The new 787 made an emergency landing at Laredo after reporting fire in the cabin.

Will this delay the 787 programme and for how long?

“Dubai is unsustainable. In 50 yrs time we’ll visit it like the pyramids – the sand will have blown back in.” Peter Rees – City Planner. I don’t agree – somewhere has to be a long term international center for businesses and services in the middle east. But it is a warning to take heed of – and shows why long term planning is so much more important than short term profits.

9 November 2010

There are some depressingly selfish people in Executive Towers:

Drilling at 11.30pm.
Leaving your garbage on the emergency stairs – there are two garbage shutes on each floor.
Letting your dog crap all over what little grass we have on the podium level and leaving it there for the kids to play in.

Stickman in Bangkok writes a weekly column on life in BKK and sometimes Pattaya – including obeservations on what is happening in the nightlife areas of BKK. No surprise – the column is now blocked in the UAE.

Guess the four plane loads (some 2,000 passengers) a day heading from Dubai to BKK will need to find another way of keeping up to date on where to go and what to see.

Signs that it is winter in Dubai: Global Village, the premier culture and entertainment destination for families, will open its doors on 10th November for another season that will last for 111 days.

I only cut and paste the following because it is sad to see a Thai company, with strong government connections, so happily putting business before principles. Of course it it was not a Thai company then the Chinese would be building the port – but this is the price for Thailand’s silent support of Burma’s sham election:

Bloomberg reports that – “Italian-Thai Development Pcl, Thailand’s biggest construction company, signed an $8.6 billion contract with Myanmar’s government to build a deep-sea port and industrial estate, Vice President Anan Amarapala said.

The project will be located in Dawei, less than 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of Bangkok, offering another route for exporters to ship goods to Europe and the Middle East. Financing for the agreement is still under discussion, Anan said.

“Thailand’s government has said they want to support the project, so Italian-Thai will discuss details with them,” Anan said by phone. “There have been no official talks yet.””

7 November 2010

Election Day in Burma today – but Reuters reported that the main evening national news is over with no mention of the election. Main stories were on engineering projects, the opening of a library, and updates on a typhoon in the Bay of Bengal.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the vote would go down in the annals of Myanmar’s history: “By voting en masse, the election will meet with its success and we will reach the era we have expected. As the people are casting their votes with nationalistic fervour, they will soon be on the road to democracy.”

Golf today at Al Hamra – played like a donkey !

5 November 2010

Only in Thailand: The Bangkok Post warns us today that “Two cabinet members disqualified this week from holding parliamentary seats are expected to seek re-election while still in office.”

Only in Thailand -2: Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai declared five districts as disaster zones affected by cold spell after temperatures dropped lower than 15 degrees Celsius for more than three days.

Cool maybe; cold – not.

4 November 2010

Only in Dubai: An Emirati motorist racked up speeding fines of AED42,000 ($11,437) in just one hour of driving on the Sheikh Zayed Road, according to reports.

The driver, who was caught by 12 radars, was driving 60kph over the speed limit but was able to avoid confiscation of his vehicle by paying a fine in addition to the speeding fines, said Gulf News.

“Usually we don’t accept individuals paying in order to avoid the confiscation of their vehicles, but this particular individual had difficult circumstances which allowed us to accept his payment” Lieutenant Colonel Saif Al Mazroui, deputy Director of the General Traffic Department at Dubai Police, told the newspaper.

The man was caught driving at 3.05am in May and claims he was trying to reach home because his daughter was ill.

Yeah, yeah ! And we all believe that one!

3 November 2010

Just out of curiosity are all Indian cars build without indicators?

Sign of the times? There is a sale at Dubai Golf Club this weekend of pre-owned boats. Err – Used or Second hand.

2 November 2010

Emirates Airline posted a profit just shy of $1 billion for the first half of its financial year which runs from end of March through September.

This represented a 350% increase in profit in the first half and puts the airline on course for a $2 billion profit in the present financial year, unless higher fuel prices intervene or the world goes back into recession. Emirates carried 15.5 million passengers in the six month period, another record, and achieved a remarkable 81.2 per cent load factor.

Now I do have suspicions that Emirates accounting policies may be “generous” compared to other listed carriers from Asia, Europe and the USA. But that does not matter so much as long as Emirates applies its accounting policies consistently from year to year. The interesting comparison for Emirates is against previous years not against other airlines.

So whatever way you look at it – the improvement over 2009 is staggering.

1 November 2010

News from Dubai Properties that they are carrying out a full safety audit on the Executive Towers elevators – shouldn’t this have been done before the building completion certificate was issued.

31 October 2010

Back in Dubai. And not a lot to report. Tom Cruise is here saving Dubai with Mission Impossible 4.

Caught up on episodes of the good wife and 2 and 1/2 men. The good wife is so shakespearian. With misplaced messages and jilted star crossed lovers ! And people checking eachother’s sms and voicemails – isn’t modern romance wonderful ! Guess it really has not changed in hundreds of years – just that sms replaced letters!

Who will she choose? Me thinks by the end it will be neither!

28 October 2010

Bad mistake – booked myself into Citadines on sukhumvit soi 23 in Bangkok – and this is the view from my hotel room – they start early and finish late under floodlights:

25 October 2010

25 years ago today:

Maiden flight

EK’s first flight to Karachi – 25 October 1985.

24 October 2010

A few bits and pieces from the last few days:

Was in London from Tuesday evening to Thursday afternoon. Lovely sunny cold weather.

I do stay in some dumps! The Darlington at Paddington is an OK hotel but the single room is so so small. You can stand in the middle of the room and touch all the walls.

And dont get me started on the Comfort Suites at Heathrow. I felt unclean!

Came to Bangkok this morning – bad news on arrival – should have stayed in Dubai !! Bad timing !!

On the flight back from London – before the IFE broke down – I watched – “The Special Relationship” – Michael Sheen again as Tony Blair and Dennis Quaid as a rather over the top Bill Clinton – though he did get some of the Clinton mannerisms perfectly ! Interesting movie – the suggestion being that over time Blair went from junior to senior partner in the relationship.

How bad is Thai Airways now. The flight from Dubai was 1/3 full – or for the airline accountants 2/3 empty! It is a fairly new 777-200 yet they put no IFE in the plane – just main screen video. Big mistake.

And the catering. Oh dear.

21 October 2010

Emirates Airline Barbie – everyone will want one:

Doing the rounds in London today – What is blue and screws grannies? The Tory Party.

George Osborne’s massive cost cutting exercise may simply be too much and too soon – double dip recession here we come….

Am trying to get back to Dubai – but still stuck at LHR.


20 October 2010

On Emirates 29 to London. 24 hours in the UK and back to Dubai.

18 October 2010

I take this Big Mac to have and to hold…….in sickness and in health….till pickle do us part? As Hong Kong MacDonalds starts to host weddings!

Enlightened times we live in:

AFP reports that – “The Federal Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates has ruled that a man can beat his wife and young children as long as no marks are left, The National newspaper reported on Monday.

The court ruled that “a man has the right to discipline his wife and children provided he does not leave physical marks,” the Abu Dhabi-owned newspaper reported in its online edition.”

17 October 2010

OK – I am back – sorry I was quiet !

Still recovery from being accused of being a Dubai Properties plant at a meeting of Executive Towers owners last week. Too funny. Though the “we are smarter than you” arrogance of some people is simply breathtaking.

In addition it was loudly repeated that stay at home husbands are apparently too stupid to be entrusted with responsible work !

Anyway – on a cheerier note it was our second anniversary on Saturday – ok – old cliché – time flies! So we went to the Meridien at Fujairah for a night. Nice room; nice dinner; sat by the beach. Took some pictures. Got some sun. Did some reading. Very nice.

Lunch on the way back to Dubai – the Lulu Fujairah coffee shop: a bargain ! And a decent cappuccino for aed6. Take that Starbucks.

14 October 2010

If you are in Washington DC on 30 October 2010 this is the place to be.

The Rally for Sanity

We should all be there !!

13 October 2010

Rescue pictures from the Chile mine.

Seems to put everything else into perspective.

The contractors were in our apartment all day yesterday. Trying to fix the air conditioning units.

And they were back again this morning to finish.

11 October 2010

Hawaii Five-0 is back on US television Thank you CBS. The same theme music as well. And filmed on location.

And the best reason to watch – US born Korean, grew up in Canada, Grace Park – not the golfer, the actress…

10 October 2010

OK – I know it was childish but I sent myself an mail at 10.10am on 10.10.10.

Bad exes – not ex-spouses but a feature in Foreign Policy magazine noting that while some ex-presidents and former prime ministers devote their lives to making a positive difference in the world, or at least fade away into obscurity.

9 October 2010

Ok that was weird. Nice dinner last night with friends. Then slept from midnight until 4.30am. Woken by the loudest snoring that I have ever ever heard.

Got up at 5am. Brain unstoppable. Back to bed at 8.30am. Slept until 4pm. Bizarre.

8 October 2010

I wrote the first in a series of personal essays this morning. Entitled “Places” the essays are meant to reflect my connection to some of the places that have been part of my life.

Inevitably the first essay is on Hong Kong.

Others will follow when I am inspired.

Just 2 and 1/2 hour sleep last night. Should try and sleep again – but brain is racing and I cannot sleep. The bedroom aircon smells badly of rotting vegetable again and the building is making its strange noises – which seem to happen as the building warms up – like something banging hard on the side of the building. (Expanding and contracting facade cladding apparently.)

Just fyi – Couples the world over are rushing to marry on the triple digit date 10-10-10. There are only 12 such dates every 1,000 years.

Of course a better date would have been 10 October 1010. But then you might have ended up watching the Normans 56 years later at the Battle of Hastings!

7 October 2010

David Cameron – the UK Prime Minister gave his speech to the Tory party conference yesterday: He presents well but it was still a speech of soundbites that left a lingering impression of a sunny headmaster of a privileged school addressing bright eyed boys and girls before they all went off somewhere nice for the summer. Overshadowed by the looming spending review, it was low on substance and offered nothing more than exhortation.

Cameron’s recent economic history of Britain can be summed up simply. The mess we’re in now has got nothing to do with bankers – who got barely a mention in the speech, apart from a plea to them to lend more. The debt is all because of feckless Labour – whose economic policy David Cameron actually supported until the winter of 2008.

And the bankers of course are almost always Tory faithful.

Somehow a massive failure of the private sector has been made into the fault of the state.

Well, we were all there when Lehman Brothers fell over, and that’s certainly not how I remember events. And if voters can’t trust Cameron to be straight on how Britain got here, how can they believe his justification for the cuts?

Cameron was trying to be Mr. Nice Guy – but it will not work – There is no way to implement huge cost cuts and create a gentler, more community-spirited nation. Because this will be about survival of the fittest.

6 October 2010

My sleep patterns are all messed up. Slept for two hours yesterday afternoon; then from 1.30am to 4.30am and then from 7.30 am to midday. Weird.

I actually had to explain baby brother’s birthday card (see below) to Tai. I guess they don’t play Charades in Thailand.

Donald Trump might run for US President in 2012. If you thought the US$ was the US peso already – then wait for it to get worse. Scary.

3 October 2010

They really are prima donnas driving the Oxford buses to and from Heathrow. “No mobile phones unless it is an emergency as I have to concentrate. And if using personal stereos please keep the volume low so as not to offend your driver.” Really. just drive the bus.

Jon Stewart on President Obama – “He ran as a visionary, and he’s led as a functionary.”

It is a happy birthday to my brother – who turns 50 today !

And the perfect card:

And also to the show Les Miserables – which turns 25 this weekend – it has now been seen by nearly 60 million people in 42 countries in 21 languages.

And I have just been to Blue Rodeo concerts in Bedford and London. Reviews on the Blue Rodeo page of ths site.

1 October 2010

Best story today from the Ryder Cup is that the US waterproofs are not what they are supposed to be –

From the Guardian – “Officials from the PGA of America had to be dispatched to the merchandise tent at Celtic Manor to buy some new suits.

“They absorb too much water, which means they are too heavy. The American caddies have been complaining about them all week and so have the players,” said one source inside the European camp.

Ian Poulter looked delighted at seeing the Americans re-emerge in different rain gear. “I can see them on right now. Ours are keeping us nice and dry, that’s all I am going to say,” he said.

The uniforms, which are dark blue with two whites stripes and the player’s name emblazoned across the back, have already been widely criticised this week on fashion grounds, with unflattering comparisons being made with basketball tracksuits.

Corey Pavin, the USA captain, can probably live with such criticism, but to have made such a mistake with such a crucial piece of equipment is embarrassing, to say the least.”

Oops – but then buying waterproofs from a company called Sun Mountain must be a risk !

30 September 2010

Ryder Cup alert: I have WAG exhaustion – they should all be left at home or left for the next 3 days in Offa’s Dyke.

In the UK the Ryder Cup is on pay tv not terrestrial – so the audience numbers are going to be low despite the hype in Mr Murdoch’s newspapers….sad because it means that there is far less interest.

The event has become an expensive corporate expense account bore. Sadly.

It was gbp80 (US$ 140) just to watch today’s practice.

This event needs to be given back to the people – terrestrial tv and sensible pricing – and a golf event not a circus.

29 September 2010

Oh yeah – its the Ryder Cup this week – but the event has become bigger than the sport – and Monty (remember the Indonesian Open) is the European champion. So the game has lost much of its dignity and decency.

Will I watch. Only if I have nothing else to do.

We made it to London this morning. Thank you Air Canada.

Air Canada sits 9 across on its 777s. And that feels crowded. Just how does Emirates get 10 across?

Air Canada IFE is OK. A bit cumbersome to navigate but at least they dont bleep out all the swear words. But you cannot fast forward through the ads. And there are far too many ads.

Food – basic. Simple.

Gum chewing flight attendants. A bit tacky. Most have been flying for so long that no one dare tell them not to !

London Terminal 3. Immigration is a disgrace. The building is old, the staff are surly, the queue for non EU/UK was 45 minutes, not all the desks are staffed. Just an awful and unwelcoming place. The new third world.

Students entering England were being told that they had to complete a health form if it was there first visit. But not if you are from the USA. Are US students supposed to be healthier? Strange.

Tai has headed back on EK to Dubai. It is quiet and a bit strange without her.

28 September 2010

Miserable wet day in Ontario – good day to be leaving Toronto – outbound on Air Canada to London.

27 September 2010

Last night was the coldest night I have spent for a long time. Our cottage has a wood fire and hot water. But it was only 2C last night – and everything including my nose and toes felt cold.

Our cottage is north east of Huntsville – well away from the upmarket resorts that now line routes 60 and 35. Huntsville has become a big town – some 20,000 people. Too many smart resorts and private golf courses.

The real Muskokas were for people to escape city life – not to remain a part of it.

A lady in a gift shop on Huntsville High Street insisted that growth was bad for the town – too many box shops and box restaurants. She said that the old country town feel and atmosphere had long gone.

And she is right – too many ugly box like malls with the same old shops. And the malls are always bad news for old style high streets. The car and then the mall have killed small town Canada life.

We walked today – through the autumn colours. And took lots of pictures. Some of which you can see on Google Photos.

Air Canada or Toronto handling managed to break my camera for the second time.

When we came to Toronto last year the UV filter was smashed – fortunately it did enough to protect the lens. This time two of the three lens threads that attach the lens to the Nikon mount have been broken off. Something must hit the lens hard through the bad and the camera case.

Now to take a picture I have to hold the lens in place against the camera body.

After three years is it time for a new camera – or should I just buy a second hand lens?

No where else in the world has damaged my camera. What do they do with bags in Canada. They also removed the padlock from the camera bag.

25 September 2010

Reasons to listen to old folk – courtesy of the Canadian Museum of Civilization:

We came to Ottawa via a night in Toronto.

The original plan was to fly from Calgary to Quebec via Montreal. Our bags did just that.

But there were no seats to Montreal so we flew to Toronto instead – where there were no seats to Quebec. So stayed overnight near the airport until we could get our bags back the following lunchtime and then head off for the long drive to Ottawa.

Took the 407 across the top of Toronto. Years ago when that road opened it was in the country. Now it feels like it is in the city. The growth of Toronto is amazing; too much probably as the basic infrastructure of roads and transport simply cannot cope.

21 September 2010

The reason Canadians fly is to avoid getting stuck behind truck convoys on the Trans Canada Highway !

It was 2C by the time we were at Lake Louise and there was snow last night at the Lake and in Banff.

20 September 2010

Oh dear – “Though the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has already received autopsy results of the 89 people killed during the recent political unrest, it has yet to decide if the information can be made public, DSI chief said yesterday” – The Nation

Made our way to Kelowna in the Okanagan.

From Whistler to Pemberton and onto Lillooet. There is not much of anything at Lillooet – a very different world from Vancouver!

Originally a gold rush town there is not much evidence that any of that wealth stayed in the town.

There are a number of Japanese-Canadian families in Lillooet today who are descendants of those who remained in the area after their forced relocation to Lillooet and other nearby camps at Shalalth, Minto City and McGillvray Falls during World War II.

Ken Adachi was one such internee who wrote : “Born in Canada, brought up on big-band jazz, Fred Astaire and the novels of Henry Rider Haggard, I had perceived myself to be as Canadian as the beaver. I hated rice. I had committed no crime. I was never charged, tried or convicted of anything. Yet I was fingerprinted and interned.”

It was not until 1988 that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney gave a formal apology and announced the details of compensation to the affected citizens.

From Lillooet we drove down to Merritt and then onto the Coquihalla Highway – when it started to throw it down with rain – and as reported in one local newspaper today: “Slippery road conditions may have contributed to multiple crashes on Highway 97C near the Pennask summit Sunday afternoon.

The first collision, near Sunset Main Road at around 4:30 p.m., involved a truck and a car, both of which rolled.

Both vehicles appeared to have been traveling eastbound toward Kelowna before crossing the median.

Additionally, two other vehicles were involved in a rear-end collision at the scene.

Emergency crews making their way to the initial Sunset Main crash came across a second two vehicle rollover collision.

One of the vehicles involved, a truck, had plunged down an embankment near Brenda Mine Road.

The extent of injuries in the crashes is not known at this time.”

We saw both accidents. And people do drive too fast and without lights – which with lousy visibility from heavy rain and road spray makes no sense at all.

19 September 2010

It was the fourth anniversary of the 2006 Thai coup today and the red shirts were back in Bangkok as several thousand gathered at Rajprasong Road in the heart of Bangkok’s commercial district and the scene of May’s bloody crackdown to mark the coup of September 2006 and four months since the crackdown.

18 September 2010

Starting last night on Global TV across Canada – Ice Pilots NWT – a reality series on flying for Buffalo Airlines in Canada’s North West Territories. With a fellt of DC-4, DC-3 and Curtiss C-46 these guys are flying 60 year old airplanes in the most hostile climate.

Now that is flying !

Check them here at

More rain in Vancouver. Think it is set for the day.

Cricket: There are more spot fixing allegations against Pakistan’s one day cricket team – these were revealed by The Sun – and show how the Pakistan team set to fix the number of runs scored in a ten over block – a common bet in the one day game.

Yet the ECB is allowing the tour to continue.

The Cricket World Cup is just a few months away. If the tournament is to have any credibility the match fixing allegations need to be fully investigated and exposed.

That means simply that the current tour must end now. Not one game or result is believable anymore.

17 September 2010

From the site that gives you everything – a basic bagel recipe: makes about 12 bagels.


1 teaspoon active dry yeast 1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F) 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened 2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1 egg yolk 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour


In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the butter, sugar, salt and egg yolk; mix well. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Shape into 12 balls. Push thumb through centers to form a 1-in. hole. Place on a floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes; flatten. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Drop bagels, one at a time, into boiling water. When bagels float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon and place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

16 September 2010

Pet hate – momentarily – we will be departing momentarily – translates to going soon.

Unnecessary and over-used word in the USA.

How hard is it to make coffee in the morning!?

Woody Allen on ageing – from an interview in today’s New York Times:

“Q. How do you feel about the aging process?

A. Well, I’m against it. [laughs] I think it has nothing to recommend it. You don’t gain any wisdom as the years go by. You fall apart, is what happens. People try and put a nice varnish on it, and say, well, you mellow. You come to understand life and accept things. But you’d trade all of that for being 35 again. I’ve experienced that thing where you wake up in the middle of the night and you start to think about your own mortality and envision it, and it gives you a little shiver.”

Tai and I made it to Vancouver – but it was a long haul. The flight from Dubai to Houston is over 16 hours. One night of jetlagged rest in Houston and then a 4 and 1/2 hour flight to Vancouver on Continental in the morning.

And of course it is raining in Vancouver. I have not been here since Asia Pacific days in 2006. In the meantime Vancouver has grown; maybe too much.

The west end and Yaletown are now condo towns. Most of the developments around Coal Harbour are finished – there is little room to add more. It already feels over crowded. But there is a lesson for Dubai here. The condo developments have decent road access; they are well landscaped; they are secure; they have all the necessities of life around them from coffee shops and stores to schools and medical facilities.

Dubai Properties could learn a lot but there is little evidence that they care to.

The Shangri-La hotel and apartments is complete – it is too tall and ugly. But it has led to a transformation of Alberoni Street from something of a ghetto into another smart street. Even the local liquor store got a facelift.

As has the Safeway store at Denham and Robson.

The Asian influence may be even stronger than ever. The bottom end of Robson is now a sea of Japanese and Korean food with the occasional Thai.

Now all it needs to do is stop raining !

12 September 2010

There is a 2 hour delay tonight on EK 373 – so it will be a very late return to Dubai. This is when flying to airports with no curfew is such an advantage.

Could have checked before I left the hotel. Was no need to rush to the airport so early.

And BKK airport food and drinks are shockingly overpriced. Double what you would pay on the high street.

Very sensible:

“There will always be people on the fringe of society who believe that the only impact they can leave on humanity is death and destruction. History will remember these criminals for who they are. To hasten this process, we must move forward together with love and respect and not regard those who are different from us as enemies.”

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is a non-resident fellow at the Dubai School of Government

10 September 2010

I told my wife I had a job in a bowling alley…

“Tenpin?” she asked me. “Nah” I said, “It’s permanent.”

And then I had to explain the joke!

9 September 2010

Bad news for visitors to BKK: Thai baht smashes 13-year record in closing at 30.85/ US dollar. Strongest rate since 1997 financial crisis. When will it break the 30 baht barrier?

Now in Bangkok – a land run by the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation – maybe they can remind us what the ‘Situation’ is and where they’ve got to in resolving it?

Oh yes. Not far!

Yesterday was a long day.

I was up at 6.20am and out of my prison cell/hotel before 7am. Good news. The local patisserie in Duvonne-les-bains is open before 7am. And can there be anywhere nicer than a french bakery in the morning. The smell of fresh bread and coffee, wonderful.

Cafe and pain au chocolate to go.

Drove to Rolle and left Alex’s passport with him. He was off to breakfast and then an 8.15am french test!

And then a 3 hour drive to Zurich Airport. It started well and easy in sunshine. But by the time I was near Berne the rain was fierce. And every highway in Switzerland appears to be under repair with all traffic on one side of the highway. Very slow and needed to concentrate.

And then a bit rushed around Zurich Airport – but calm descended as I boarded TG971 – for 10 hours and 10 minutes from Zurich to Bangkok.

The flight was quiet. How does TG make money? I forgot; it doesn’t.

Decent meals; wine poured from a full bottle. The A340-600 is fairly new; and is one of few Thai long haul planes with back of the seat IFE. And I actually watched three movies.

No sleep.

Landed in Bangkok at 5.20am. Too slow with the baggage; but still beat the rush hour traffic into the city this morning.

8 September 2010

Three hour drive in the rain to Zurich – and traffic was heavy.

My BKK mobile is out of battery.

My Dubai mobile has no credit.

And if you try to log onto Etisalat to recharge your mobile this is the message that you get:

Dear Customer

Our system is currently busy. Please try again later or call 101 for any assistance.
We apologise for the inconvenience and looking forward to meeting you soon on


And now I have lost my wireless – Swisscom connection. This is useless.

Meantime Tai is sending me where are you – why are you quiet messages. Grrrrr.

5 September 2010

I am heading out to Zurich – overnight near the airport and then down to Geneva to see Alex start in his new school. Big adventure for him.

Although apparently lost his bags in transit through Paris. Not good.


Golf yesterday at Al Hamra. Far too hot.

Dinner in the evening with some old friends – my past catching up with me !!? But a very enjoyable evening.

Time Out’s Dubai magazine is such a disappointment.

When Time Out was first published in London in 1968 it was an alternative magazine alongside other members of the underground press.

Now it reads more like Tatler or Vogue.

The Dubai version is an appalling example. With the tv listings replaced by pictures of boring people at posh parties.

Worst of all last week’s edition has a feature on must have sunglasses. The cheapest pair is over US$200.

1 September 2010

It was a mere 46C today as I was driving !

But this one message on twitter sums up the meeting: “The irony of Thaksin meeting a guy who did 27 yrs in jail just to prove he was stronger than his enemies makes my head hurt.”

It is embarrassing how docile the Thai media can be.

The picture of Thaksin and Mandela created mass speculation in Thailand. Most of the Thai media would like to think that Thaksin is seriously ill. Most immediately said that the picture must be a fake.

The editor in chief of the Nation Group went on : “We don’t know why he [Thaksin] met Nelson Mandela. Whether he was invited, whether he asked to see Nelson Mandela and what was the whole purpose behind that – that is the mystery that a whole lot of people will try to solve in the next few days.“

Suthichai Yoon, editor-in-chief Nation Group. Taken from: “From the newsroom“, August 31.

So why not just call Mandela. A Thai blogger did just that: The Mandela Foundation replied that they did have a private meeting; and as a private meeting no official pictures were taken or media release issued.

30 August 2010

Guess whose ears were burning today. No, not me. Mr. Thaksin. As Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic met with Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in Podgorica today. Kasit met today with high-ranking Montenegrin officials offically “in a bid to boost bilateral cooperation and relations.”

29 August 2010

A sensible thought on what the Pakistan Cricket Board should do next from CricInfo:

“The PCB must suspend the tour and get on with the business of finding the truth. Among other things, there has been talk of matches in the ODI series being fixed. Cricket can’t be played in an atmosphere where even a fair result will be doubted. It’s terrible for the fans and even worse for the players.”

On Sky TV – Michael Holding, an ex ICC sub-committee member, has just said he he “no faith whatsoever, none” in the ICC being able to do anything about all this. He has also accused pretty much everyone involved in cricket of obfuscation and hiding the truth.

From today’s Guardian OBO cricket commentary:

“Robert Scott writes, and he’s right: “The ECB should refund all ticket money for today’s test. It is no longer a cricket match and even if it does start it will be over quickly. There is no way the Pakistan team(or England) can focus on cricket. The ECB, PCB and ICC have no balls of their own. If proven guilty there should be life bans on the players concerned. But it wont happen; they will get a ban and then get re-instated in 12 months. That is the history. The whole summer series looks tarnished : For instance how about the 11 dropped catches at Edgbaston? Most if them easy.””

Welcome to golf on a rainy day in Winnipeg: “I have to say of everything, the mosquitoes (made it) the hardest to concentrate”

28 August 2010

How good was the cricket yesterday: From the Guardian: “As exciting a day’s Test cricket I’ve seen along with all four days of Edgbaston 2005 and the Friday of the Lord’s Test against West Indies in 2000. I think Jonathan Trott and Mohammed Amir are shoo-ins for two of the five Wisden Cricketers’ of the Year now and I was mightily impressed by both.

It was a wonderful day of cricket as England went from 102 for 7 to 334 for 7 at the end of the day – and carried on the morning, breaking almost every record for a 9th wicket partnership.

Felt a bit sorry for Trott – he did not get the ovation that Stuart Broad got – but he came in at 31-1; batted through by far the toughest part of the day; survived and thrived and made 184. Broad made 169 and the next best score was 22 from Prior. Bizarre.

Embarrassing stuff in the Khaleej Times – as one twitter writer said earlier: “Khaleej Times hires partially brain dead sycophant to write editorial.” This is the article. UAE signposts good news.

27 August 2010

A word of warning on aircraft deliveries – which could significantly impact Emirates: Airbus SAS has slashed its A350 production targets, according to French source Les Echos reported.

The world’s biggest commercial-aircraft maker now plans to make 10 A350s in 2013, compared with a previous target of 18, the newspaper said. Airbus cut forecasts for 2014 and 2015 to 40 and 60 from 51 and 83 respectively, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said that unidentified sub-contractors think the targets could be cut further and that the goal for 2013 may be reduced to three or four planes, the newspaper said.

Those old A330s will be flying for a few more years.

25 August 2010

Here is something to look forward to: it doesn’t look like Tiger got much of a non disclosure agreement!

There I was thinking where to stay in Vancouver – and I spent a few months at this apartment hotel in 2003 when I was helping to sort out Asia Pacific Potash – but now it is gone: from their web site:

“On April 30, 2010 the Pacific Palisades Hotel and Zin Restaurant will say goodbye to our last guests as we close our doors permanently to make way for an apartment building.

Over the past 41 years we have welcomed thousands of guests from all walks of life and many countries including prominent celebrities.”

Sad. It was a nice place to stay and I enjoyed by wet and windy walks from the hotel to the office – which was my other home for at least six days a week at that time.

23 August 2010

The sign at the end of the corridor in my hotel said – “This Door is Alarmed.” Have to agree – it was quite a scary place!

21 August 2010

This site is too funny:

Talking of cakes – the latest fashion – divorce cakes: this is a favorite:

The icing on the cake: Mrs Millar’s quirky designs are based on traditional wedding cakes

Yesterday marked 70 years since the end of the Battle of Britain. The BBC has this tribute page.

And this is Churchill’s famous finest hour speech.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,”

20 August 2010

Nick Clegg – a true Tory – clearly believes in fair tales: he has rejected concerns that the Liberal Democrats are being damaged by their alliance with the Tories – insisting no one would be taking “any notice” of the party if it was not in government.

I should be on my way to a funeral: instead I am stuck at Plymouth Airport – have been here for about 6 hours already – fog.

This is my Air SouthWest flight – still sitting on the ground.

18 August 2010

Silliest pr message of the day:

“More than 20 destinations in Europe with Emirates from LA, San Francisco, Houston & New York via Dubai ”

Why on earth would you fly from the USA to Dubai to get to Europe?

Rolling Stone magazine’s cover for the month: Tai will like this:

15 August 2010

Message to American golf crowds – please please stop shouting “get in the hole.”

Message to American golfers – read the local rules. If you are in raked sand – it is likely that you are in a bunker!

Just like Mao in the Yangtze River: President Barack Obama went swimming off the coast of Florida on Saturday and declared the Gulf area’s beaches “open for business,” trying to show by example that a region hit by the BP oil spill was safe for tourists to enjoy.

A note in the Nation newspaper today: “Thais pay to get their children into good schools, to avoid military draft, to breach some construction rules, to avoid bigger traffic charges, to win government concessions or contracts, etc.”

Yep. Great place to do business!

You don’t see a company this diverse every day:

“Vertical Expo Services Co., Ltd is an innovative exhibition organizer that has staged various international conferences and exhibitions covering a variety of industries such as adult entertainment, agriculture, elderly care and funeral.”

And in Dubai:

Sheikh Mohammed affirmed that the concerned authorities in the UAE do not impose any restrictions on information or news about economic and financial issues.

“My directives to these authorities are clear and beyond any questioning, as we rely on candour and transparency. We strongly believe that media is the mirror of the nation. It has a noble message to disseminate and to enlighten the public, away from exaggeration, bias and distortion of facts. Media is the nation’s voice. The sun cannot be blocked by a sieve,” he added.

So if that is the case – just why does the media fail so miserably to do its duty to investigate and report wrong as well as right!

13 August 2010

David Beckham has been written off by the clumsy England coach as being too old at 35 for international football. No one told Beckham instead it was announced on TV.

Now Beckham is a guy who wants to play for England. He is not a fringe player who announces that he is no longer available for England in some fit of misplaced petulance – Brown, Robinson and Heskey please take note.

And there was a nice tribute to him as an editorial in the Guardian newspaper today:

“Famous, beautiful and very, very rich, David Beckham has travelled easefully from global celebrity to national icon. So his rude dismissal from international football by Fabio Capello, in a TV interview this week, provoked not surprise (he is 35 and injury-prone after all) nor particular regret, but the kind of outrage reserved for foreigners who are offhand about the Queen. Like the Queen, there have been moments when his public lost faith. There were the dog days after his sending-off in the 1998 World Cup, his public spats with Alex Ferguson, the times when he was lost behind the sarongs, ponytails and tattoos. And despite sublime moments, the football has not been as consistently wonderful as it promised to be. His career reflects the 20-year transformation of football from beautiful game to global product. Yet the more soulless his sport, the more down-to-earth Beckham himself seems to be. The physical beauty has inspired artists such as Antony Gormley and Sam Taylor-Wood, while the football inspired verses from the poet laureate, films and countless books. But what marks him out is the slow revelation of an engaging decency, an invigorating lack of self-importance unknown in celebrity-land. If he was fit, he was available, even for England’s less glittering fixtures. Unfit, he travelled to South Africa as support staff. He fronts the English campaign to host the 2018 World Cup and he goes to Afghanistan to salute the troops. Today at least, praising Beckham could be England’s common cause.”

12 August 2010

There is a picture from an report of an EK flight from Sydney to Dubai. An economy class breakfast mixed grill. Who on earth would want broccoli with a breakfast sausage !

EK A380 deliveries in the remainder of 2010

Hamburg Production (Outfitting and Painting):

MSN042 – Emirates #13 – Delivery planned for Sept 2010
MSN056 – Emirates #14 – Delivery planned for Oct 2010
MSN057 – Emirates #15 – Delivery planned for Dec 2010

Hamburg Cabin/Flight Testing for Delivery Shortly:

MSN046 – Emirates #12 – Delivery planned for Aug 2010

11 August 2010

Am very confused by footballers saying that they have retired from international football – while they still play for their club.

You are talented enough to be chosen to represent your country. Should be jumping for joy! Not saying no thanks. Very strange. There can be few greater honours whatever the sport.

Here is the head of cabin crew training at Emirates, Catherine Baird, explained how new recruits are put through their paces in everything from serving food to saving lives.

A decent PR piece carried on BBC World.

You will have to search for the video.

Tai is in Perth. I have had a house full of contractors fixing our air conditioning.

10 August 2010

The people who live above me seem to get noisier by the night.

At what point and at what time is it right to tell them to keep the noise to themselves.

The building does not appear to be that well sound-proofed and I am sure that the stone floor to not help. Every heel banged on the floor and every piece of furniture moved is noisy. Add that to music and loud voices. It is already 11.10pm – Tai has a 3am flight. Hope she is sleeping through the noise. If I was working tomorrow I would be pretty angry.

11.30pm and they are singing happy birthday…..sounds like a large gathering…many clunking high heels.

Depressing note popped up on tweetdeck: Dubai exodus on hold as expats feel heat: Job fears, legal disputes and debt woes are curtailing the summer getaway for many.

Sums it up pretty well.

9 August 2010

Why oh why do people do these things: Cathay Pacific Airways passengers regularly take life jackets from the Hong Kong carrier’s planes, causing economic losses and potential safety problems, a media report said Saturday.

About 100 life jackets disappear each month, the South China Morning Post reported.

Another night sleeping on the sofa. It was too hot and I did not sleep much; big headache this morning.

8 August 2010

I do not often flag something as a must read but The Crisis of Middle Class America by the FT’s excellent Washington bureau chief, Edward Luce, is a must read.

7 August 2010

Thai Tiger Airlines (TTA) is expected to start flying in the first quarter of next year with five new Airbus A320s leased from Tiger Airways before another five joining the fleet a year later.

TTA plans initially to operate eight routes out of Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phuket, Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Macau, Chennai, Shenzhen and Phuket-Chiang Mai.

Except for Chennai these routes are all well served by LCCs already. Expect a fare war with Air Asia.

(This never got off the ground!)

6 August 2010

Google has finally confirmed that it has acquired social widget company Slide, a headline that first surfaced in the blogosphere earlier this week.

The company didn’t give up any details on its plans for the product and how it will incorporate it into existing products, nor did it share any of the financial terms of the deal. TechCrunch, citing unnamed sources, reported earlier this week that the deal carried a price tag of $182 million, plus another $46 million in employee retention bonuses.

Did The Sun get the wrong donkey? Did some one make an ass of them?

Totally depressing: Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto’s “1945-1998” is an animated map of the 2,053 nuclear explosions took place around the world during the 20th century, from the detonations at Alamogordo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998.


The Thai CRES says the rally in front of Govt House tomorrow will not violate the SOE as the government will listen to all. Unless of course you are a red shirt. Sad.

5 August 2010

Boeing revealed today that customers canceled 26 new commercial aircraft orders this week, according to the Chicago manufacturer’s Website on Thursday. Those cancellations included the loss of one 737 jetliner, 10 777 and 15 787 orders.

Earlier media reports stated Dubai Aerospace Enterprise may be forced to cancel aircraft orders because of growing financial difficulties. Its orders for 15 787s are no longer on Boeing’s order book, though the company denied to comment. Further, its 18 777 orders has fallen to 8. No one was available at DAE to comment.

The last line is typical Dubai – no one available for comment. DAE is a white elephant.

And it appears that the Emirates order for new 777s was not enough to make up the DAE shortfall.

Golf this morning at Al Hamra. It was so hot. About 46C. Playing on my own I finished in 2 and 1/2 hours; but 12 hours later I still feel like I am over heating !

7 pars and 2 birdies so I played decent golf. But am still drinking as much liquid as I can !

Tai is on her way to New York, again !

Charles Taylor, the ex leader of Liberia is on trial for genocide. Yet, Naomi Campbell describes giving evidence in his trial as a big inconvenience.

Better an inconvenience than being one of the thousands that he killed.

Bizarre hearing really – at the International Human Rights Court. She said she was sleeping and answered the hotel room door to two men who she had never seen before who gave her a bag and told her this is a gift for you.

I don’t believe a word of this. Ms Campbell would not be answering her own hotel door. If she did there would be an army of paparazzi there. And she certainly doesn’t take unexplained packages from strangers.

4 August 2010

This is wonderful: A visual diary documenting a flight from New York to Berlin (with a layover in London).

He is nothing of not prolific – here is the latest from Robert Amsterdam on Thailand’s state of emergency.

And in more fun news from Thailand – Police get tough on Pattaya’s criminal migrants.

That could remove most foreigners from Pattaya. Pity they don’t also get tough on Thai criminals there as well !

The new online Emirates 24/7 has some weird stories – this is a good example:

“Majority of bomb threat calls are made by drunk men and mostly relate to their girlfriends, a top Dubai Police official said….Brigadier Al Mansoori added that almost all the suspects were Asians. “Majority of them do this for love. For example, many of them call the airport and claim a bomb to be on certain flights.

They do that to delay the flight and get more time to keep their girlfriends in town. Some of them do this to get more time to reach the airport before the flight departs to plead with their girlfriends,” he said.

Brigadier Al Mansoori said that all the suspects were under the effects of narcotics or drunk.

“I haven’t come across any normal person who did such thing.”

The Asian Human Rights Commission has a new web page of the State of Emergency in Bangkok and across Thailand.

MCOT – the Thai Ministry of communications sent out this little gem this morning:

“Suthep: Intelligence reports indicate possible sabotage in August, integrated intelligence works needed to prevent incident, ask public not to panic.”

If that is truly the case then other governments should be issuing travel warnings discouraging travel to Thailand.

Of course all Suthep is really doing is scare mongering to support the continuing state of emergency and the continuation of the evil CRES.

Useless info for the day – There are 5 Sundays, 5 Mondays & 5 Tuesdays this month. Apparently this happen only once every 8 centuries.

Not too much else to report. Quiet. Tai was in London. I was here.

31 July 2010

Tiger is coming back to Dubai – Tiger Woods has confirmed that he will be returning to Dubai to compete in the 2011 Omega Dubai Desert Classic to be held at the Emirates Golf Club, the promoters and organisers of the event have announced.

It will be his first visit since the 2008 tournament.

New in the bookshops – Layover in Dubai – and no it is not a book about over sexed airline crew:

29 July 2010

Pakistan’s 18 year oldfast bowler, Mohammad Aamer, has rapidly become one of the world’s must-watch cricketers; on of those players that excite no matter which mast you’ve got your colours nailed to – Tamim Iqbal, from Bangladesh, is another who has shone in England this summer.

Aamer is by far the pick of a good Pakistan bowling attack.

I don’t know why it is but I have always enjoyed watching Pakistan play cricket; perhaps due to the history of great fast bowlers.

Perhaps because they seem to enjoy their cricket and really worry more about natural talent than coaches and fitness regimes.

Apparently, the end is nigh – or where is Bruce Willis when you need him: a massive asteroid might crash into Earth in 2182, scientists have warned.

The asteroid, called 1999 RQ36, has a one-in-thousand chance of actually hitting the Earth at some point before the year 2200, but is most likely to hit on Sep 24, 2182.

27 July 2010

Thank god for The Sun:

The Sun – 23 July 2010

26 July 2010

A subject on my mind at the moment: a joint study in May 2010 by the LSE and Nottingham Trent University found that 14% of wives read their husbands emails, and 10% checked their browsing history (for men, those figures are 8% and 7%, respectively).


25 July 2010

Landed in Dubai at 1.40am. Immigration was fast. Bags were not. Out of airport about 2.55am – into 36C heat and a huge taxi queue.

Unusually for this flight most passengers got off in Dubai – huge number of people coming back to Dubai at the end of the weekend from holiday. And the number of bags they have with them !!

And before 8am the contractor was on the hoist drilling outside our window. Impossible to sleep through that noise.

And at 2.30am the upstairs apartment wants to have a Madonna disco. Have these people never thought about their neighbours ?

In England rare pictures of the Royal family have been posted on the internet after Buckingham Palace opened an account on photography website Flickr.

The images of recent royal events, archive pictures of the Queen, Prince of Wales and other members of the monarchy can be seen from Monday.

Of course you cannot see those pictures if you are in the UAE as the Flickr web site is blocked.

24 July 2010

Totally depressed. Long story. Not one to bore my dear reader with.

But if my dear reader is an Emirates Airline fan or staff they might like this article from Forbes: Emirates: How One Airline Drives Profit And Passenger Growth

23 July 2010

Today cannot go by without a hap-tip to one of the great cricketers – Muttiah Muralitharan, a spin bowler with a disability who survived years of allegations that his bowling action was illegal to become the most successful Test bowler in history, has become the first bowler to take 800 wickets in Tests.

Ball-by-ball commentary on the CricInfo website recorded it like this: “115.4: Muralitharan to Ojha, OUT, 800 it is! The wait and the tension is finally over! Tossed up outside off and the four men around the bat wait in anticipation! Ojha lunges forward, edges it and Mahela falls to his left and takes the catch at first slip! No need to look anywhere for confirmation, straightforward and Murali is ecstatic.”

He finishes his test career with 800 Test wickets at 22.72 in 133 Tests. He took five in an innings on 67 occasions.

What will Sri Lanka do without him?

Strange goings on in the nanny state of Singapore – where British journalist Alan Shadrake has been charged with defaming the country’s judicial system.

How do you defame a system?

The background: Alan Shadrake’s new book is called “Once a Jolly Hangman — Singapore justice in the dock.”

The analysis covers cases from the early 1990s to nearly the present, many of them ending with the prisoner meeting Darshan Singh, Singapore’s hangman for the last half-century. But some of them do not meet this fate, and therein lies the twist.

The book compares how one case was handled with another that had similar circumstances or gravity. What emerges is a very unflattering but not unusual pattern of inconsistent “justice”.

Many nations have identical issues. Particularly in how justice is served differently to simply the rich and well connected as oppose to the poor and “low-class”.

It is almost four years ago that I finished working in Bangkok. And it is both strange and familiar to be staying back on Saladaeng.

So little has changed. There are new condo developments. Some new offices. But the infrastructure has not changed. The roads still flood as soon as it rains. The traffic is worse than ever.

There is much to like and much that is simply annoying.But best of all I can walk out of the hotel and walk to a 7-11 or a coffee shop or to the local park at Lumpini. I cannot do that in Dubai.

20 July 2010

A day in Hua Hin – 18 holes golf – market – 2 hr massage – dinner – karaoke – shower show – street food. 4.00am it is time to sleep!

My caddy was a Tom. My masseuse was her grandmother ! Do I detect Tai’s influence !?

Oil massage in HuaHin – she was trained at Guantanamo – and combined brutal thai massage with liberal use of cooking oil !

By the end I smelled like I had been deep fried.

19 July 2010

Dad would have been 77 today. Happy birthday. Miss you.

Tai, Bam, Tu, Apple and I drove down to Hua Hin for two nights. It is Monday; it is out of season; Thailand is not on everyone’s must go list now. And it is rather quiet.

But it is good to get away and be here.

Actually the order was for 30 – of which 18 had already been ordered anonymously at least some months ago.

Emirates now have the following fleet (and orders)

A330-200 – 29
A340-300 – 8
A340-500 – 10
A350-900 – 0 – (50)
A350-1000 – 0 – (20)
A380-800 – 11 – (79)
B777–200 – 3
B777-200ER – 6
B777-200LR – 10
B777-300 – 12
B777-300ER – 52 – (79)

Total – 141 – (228)

Complete speculation from – but in 2018, when all those A350-1000’s are delivered, EK’s fleet might look something like this (unless further aircraft are ordered or leased, which of course they will):

A340-500 – 10
A350-900 – 50
A350-1000 – 20
A380-800 – 90
B777-200LR – 10
B777-300ER – 131

Total – 311

The A340-500, and even the B777-200LR, could also be replaced by the A350’s too.

18 July 2010

Emirates airline is set to place a $5 billion order for 20 Boeing (BA.N) 777 wide-body jets, aviation sources said on Saturday.

Sounds about right. And some will be for early delivery as EK takes over other airline’s delivery slots.

The order will be placed in the opening days of next week’s Farnborough air show.

16 July 2010

A quick note for friends at EK – EK Staff Travel department have apparently stated that they are putting an Embargo on staff travel on the DXB-SFO flight with immediate effect due to Payload Restrictions.

No great surprise after EK225 had to put down at Seattle this week to refuel en route to SFO.

The wind is blowing at St. Andrews today, big time. And that will sort out who can play links golf!. The golfers look unhappy; but the sun is shining. St. Andrews was benign yesterday. It is a very different course today.

And McIlroy, so inspired yesterday, looks totally out of sorts today. And he should know how to play links golf – he is 6 over today after 11 holes compared to 9 under over 18 holes yesterday. He will struggle to break 80 today.

What you do discover back in BKK is just how pervasive internet censorship has become.

Heaven forbid that you want to read anything pro red shirt or that questions the government’s actions in killing at least 90 people back in April and May.

Links from this web site are blocked. Including Thai Political Prisoners, New Mandala and ThaksinLive.

If you are Thai (or I guess even foreign) media, you are expected to believe all and every statement from Suthep – the unelected Deputy PM; from the all powerful CRES and from other government sources.

“Together we can” trumpet posters around the city. It is depressing.

15 July 2010

It is the 150th British Open and here is a guy who can play at St. Andrews – Rory McIlroy’s last 9 rounds on the Old Course: 69, 69 (both as amateur), 67, 68, 67, 68, 65, 69, 63.


Tai and I are in BKK – for Amp’s wedding this weekend. A collection of friends all flying in from Dubai and trying to get on using standby tickets on flights that are already full. Challenging!

11 July 2010

Tai is back from Houston and a 48 hour stop in the rain. And when Tai goes to Texas the question is Who is JR? rather than Who shot JR?

And no visit to the Houston Space Center either – why go to Houston and not go to the space center?

9 July 2010

Scary headline – Goalkeeper’s lover ‘fed to dogs’ – it was in Brazil!

The UAE has just announced the levying of a 30 dirhams fee on each traveler (land, sea and air) leaving the country.

It is a tax. And just makes travel more expensive. It will not apply to transit traffic. But presumably will apply to passengers on UAE stopovers.

Maybe 20 million passengers at AED30 each is AED600 million for the UAE annually.

8 July 2010

At 11.30pm Skype is showing 19,856,418 online users. I wonder what is the number on MSN at peak times. !9 million users Impressive.

7 July 2010

A British man imprisoned in Dubai for kissing a woman in public has spoken about his experience in jail.

Ayman Najafi, 25, was sentenced to a month in prison after a local woman accused him of breaking the country’s decency laws by kissing on the mouth in a restaurant.

Najafi, speaking to BBC Radio 5 live’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, claimed even Dubai nationals thought the case was “strange”.

Officially it was up to 48C in the UAE today – add some high humidity and it was hot.

Even at 6pm with the sun going down it is still 42C.

And I tried to play golf today – it was way too hot to play – and a 7.00am start after 3 hours sleep did not help.

The birdie on the 16th was spectacular – drive, 9 iron and a tap in putt.

Tai by the way is on her first trip to Houston.

6 July 2010

Air Berlin from 03NOV10 launches 3 weekly Berlin Tegel – Dubai service with Airbus A330-200. Schedule below:

AB7318 TXL1845 – 0335+1DXB 332 357
AB7319 DXB0520 – 0900TXL 332 146

How long can Germany keep Emirates out of Berlin? (at least a decade – Dec 2019.)

5 July 2010

Move over James Bond – here is real life. Anna Chapman – my kind of spy !

Photos of Anna Chapman (Anya Chapman) that appeared on her Facebook page.

The local press noted that today’s Emirates flight 901 from Dubai (DXB) to Amman (AMM) returned to Dubai this morning when the first officer was unwell, a responsible source said.

The flight landed in Dubai at 10:15 and re-departed for AMM at 11:15. It is scheduled to arrive AMM at 13:23 local time. EK 901 operated an A330 with 12 passengers in First Class, 42 in Business and 183 in Economy (total of 237 passengers).

”The first officer is in stable condition, and has been transported to the Welcare Hospital in Dubai for further testing, source added.

Here is an EK rumour for you – which I cannot verify. So we will have to wait for an offical announcement – a meeting was just held between Australian/Indian/Dubai officials and Emirates has received the rights to fly from BOM to MEL starting in NOV. I have been told DXB KUL MEL will be axed for DXB BOM MEL. (Never happened – Dec 2019.)

Meanwhile here is a pilot’s view of life now at Emirates: “We are all lab rats in the great ‘work ’em til they die’ experiment.”

2 July 2010

We started to move Tai out of Millennium Tower today. someone has to explain to me why girls like to hoard and keep everything and anything !

There must be something other than empty shoe boxes that can be thrown out !

1 July 2010

Golf today as Al Hamra. It was so hot. And after a while it gets unpleasant as a mixture of sweat and sun tan lotion gets into your eyes! And then the glare makes it almost impossible to look at the ball as it sits in yet another bunker.

Though the two shots into the green on ten were two of my best.

Tai has 10 days to move out of Millennium Tower and into Executive Towers – after 20 months of married life we are officially about to be living together !

Madam Tussauds has a new David Cameron waxworks – the way you can tell it is a wax model is that the real one has Nick Clegg hanging on to his coat tails.

29 June 2010

Significant common sense from Sultan Al Qassemi in The National newspaper. Judicial reform will make the country stronger

He is correct on every count and it is good to see The National sewing the seeds of change. (That did not last long – Dec 2019.)

27 June 2010

1966 and all that. Which of course has to be in black and white – which is how we all watched it at the time.

And that is why today still matters !

Why do people still do this in Dubai: from The National – “A British DJ was this morning jailed for four years after being convicted of consuming hashish.

The man, identified as 30-year-old AY, was arrested after anti-narcotics officers received a tip off. He was arrested in March in Jumeirah.

At a hearing earlier this month, AY denied the charges at Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance and claimed he consumed the drug at home at Christmas. A blood test, however, showed he consumed it in while in the UAE.”

Sorry – but how dopey (pun intended) can you get.

England expects. I dont really care. But the media seems to think we are still at war and that saddens me.

Meanwhile in another bout of euro hate – the Mail is upset:

“British shoppers are to be banned from buying eggs by the dozen under new regulations approved by the European Parliament. For the first time, eggs and ­other products such as oranges and bread rolls will be sold by weight instead of by the number contained in a packet.”

25 June 2010

I need to tell you about the Mirdiff City Center Starbucks store where the manager single handedly has ensured that I will never revisit his store and ideally never set foot in a Starbucks again. His attitude of personal or company gain before customer does not deserve my business.

They are outrageously up-selling anything they possibly can.

We entered the store and ordered a tall low fat cappuccino and 2 x tall caramel frappuccino.

He immediately says to my two companions why not have the dulce leche (??) frappuccino Of course he forgets to mention that this is more expensive. They say no. He then says “caramel top and down” – omitting to mention that this increases the price of their drink from aed16 to aed 24. They assumed it was just part of the standard drink.

He looks at me and says – yours is a latte. No I ordered a cappuccino. He then says something like “with vanilla cream”. No I said – I ordered the drink I want – you do not need to keep trying to sell something extra.

“I am doing my job” he replies.

I said that his job was to serve us the drinks that we asked for not something we did not ask for.

At which point he sneered and ignored me.

His job is not to up-sell presumably for whatever commission he can. His job is to make sure that the customer is happy enough to want to return to the store and to Starbucks.

I really do only want what I ordered.

Classic Dubai – selling something that you have no interest in.

24 June 2010

But the weather in Dubai is miserable – grisly, hot, humid – and with sand and dust blowing at low levels and messing up visibility. Not weather to go out in.

Stunning insight from the awful Khaleej Times – “Hot and humid weather will prevail in the country in the coming days, which is usual this time of the year in the region.”

No water in Executive Towers this morning. But calling the Facilities Management is a waste of time – no one answers. 30 minutes on hold being told by a recording that my call is important to them and will be answered shortly.

23 June 2010

Double standards in Thailand – not a surprise – but no wonder the red shirts feel persecuted. And it tells you all you need to know about the government’s real intentions:

This is from the Bangkok Post:

“The prosecution on Wednesday deferred until Aug 4 a decision whether to indict nine People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders in connection with the 193-day occupation of Government House in 2008.

The nine PAD leaders have been charged with illegal assembly, causing unrest and inciting the people to break the law in violation of Articles 116, 215 and 216 of the Criminal Code.

The prosecution has postponed many times its decision on indicting the nine suspects.

Kaiyasit Pitsawongprakan, director-general of the Criminal Litigation Department, announced the latest delay on Wednesday. He said police have not yet completed their examination of additional witnesses as requested by the suspects.”

Why hurry – it has only been two years. Meanwhile their are red shirt leaders and supporters already detained in jail across Thailand. Such a disgrace.

Commentator – “not unused to changing partners John Terry has his third partner in as many games….”

Dubai’s ruler says the city-state’s fast-growing Emirates airline is planning a large aircraft order at next month’s Farnborough International Airshow.

Etihad landing incident from a few days ago at JFK. Crosswind landing with the A340-600. A few damaged runway lights – nothing too serious.

Bloomberg on the impact of Emirates growth.

22 June 2010

New airlines have often used images of sexy flight attendants to create an image. Southwest Airlines launched in the 1970s with women in hot pants and leather boots. There was Braniff Airlines, Virgin Atlantic. Even Hooters Air.

Singapore Airline still uses the image of its Singapore Girl in its advertising.

So it is surprise that a Russian start-up airline, Avianova, has eye-catching ads with its planes being washed by bikini-clad models.

Avianova, which started flying in 2009, is backed by Russian investors and Indigo Partners, a U.S. firm that invests in low-cost carriers around the world, including Tiger Airways in Asia, Wizz Air in Europe and Spirit Airlines in the U.S. Indigo is run by William Franke, the former chairman and chief executive of America West Airlines.

The Russian airline has five A320s, at least two of them were once flown by US Airways, according to news reports of the airline’s launch, and is based in Moscow.

But you don’t want to know about the airline – you really want to see the advert….now if only Emirates or SQ produced a similar advert. Enjoy !

21 June 2010

From November Air Berlin will start flying 3 flights a week from Berlin to Dubai. Can access for Emirates be far behind?

Stopped on the motorway yesterday – M$ – for coffee – and to fill the car with unleaded – and the gas station is BP only.

To be honest even I felt a but guilty about buying BP fuel the day after Tony Hayward had made it completely clear that he has not got the message from the USA – and while the people of the US Gulf are busy fighting his oil spill he was out sailing off the Isle of Wight. Poor judgment.

Summer solstice – the longest day of the year today in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day in the south.

With more scandals from the Lib Dems the Tories must wonder who they jumped into bed with – forgive the pun !

The Mirror (well it would!) gleefully reporting that : “Senior Conservatives are ­apparently livid over revelations of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne’s affair with former aide Carina ­Trimingham, which have led him to end his 26-year marriage.

They blame Deputy PM Mr Clegg for not vetting his frontbenchers properly as it’s the third Lib Dem humiliation just weeks since the coalition took power.”

Emirates Airline appears to have cancelled planned flights to Baghdad, Iraq. It is believed lower than expected bookings caused to make the decision. The flights are no longer available for booking. Emirates had planned to launch the flights on 1st July.

Disclaimer : Notice this is not a yet publicised decision and the airline might or might not decide to make flights available again.

20 June 2010

The first aircraft to touch down at Al Maktoum International – Dubai’s second airport – will arrive later on Sunday as part of the facility’s preparations for an official launch on June 27.

Leaving Devon today to head back to Dubai. Such a lovely sunny morning it is a shame to be leaving.

19 June 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi is 65 today.

17 June 2010

RIP Andy Ripley – former England international Andy Ripley has died from prostate cancer at the age of 62.

Back row forward Ripley won 24 caps for England in the 1970s and was part of the successful British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 1974.

He did some remarkable charity work – even when his illness was well advanced.

More lectures from Americans on taking responsibility – not exactly a strong point of their own.

Louisiana Representative Joseph Caotold told one of Hayward’s colleagues this week that even the resignations of BP officials would not be enough.

“In the Asian culture we do things differently. During the samurai days, we just give you a knife and ask to you commit hara-kiri,” he said.

I guess he has conveniently forgotten Bopal and Exxon Valdez then ?

Also on TV – this 43 minute offering from Al-Jazeera – though I suspect there is nothing new here:

The Rageh Omaar Report: Thailand: A year of living dangerously can be seen from Wednesday, June 16, at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 1900; Thursday: 0300, 1400; Friday: 0600; Saturday: 1900; Sunday: 0300.

Tonight on Channel 4 – the rise and fall of tiger woods. Bet that will tell stories that the US media has avoided.

16 June 2010

Had to fly to London Heathrow today – as Tai was not back from Bombay in time for us to get the Birmingham flight.

It was OK – but the flights was packed and sometimes I do feel like I need a shower after an Emirates flight.

15 June 2010

It was 40C at 9pm tonight! Summer is here.

14 June 2010

Midnight and its 35C in Dubai. Too hot. Am sure that is why I feel tired !

Deleted someone from facebook for the first time today. Feels both powerful and strange; suddenly disconnecting with someone is verging on the traumatic.

But the good part is you don’t need to say why – and you don’t need to argue about it. Just do it.

13 June 2010

Paranoid Nation – the Nation newspaper still cannot get Thaksin out of its head – reporting that “Concern is growing in the ruling Democrat Party that ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra is offering money to “buy” MPs to vote down the 2011 fiscal budget bill – a move that could threaten the Abhisit government, as the government has just a slim majority according to a count of MPs.”

Missed this a couple of days ago – in the Queen’s birthday honours list there was a knighthood for Maurice Flanagan, CBE, executive vice-chairman, Emirates Airline and Group, UAE. For services to the British aviation industry and British exports.

This is the guy who was given US$10 million in 1980s Dubai and told to build an airline; and that the airline would be the catalyst to build a city.

12 June 2010

True joy in South Africa at the start of the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Had a fun dinner gathering at home last night. Always good to catch up with friends that we have not seen for too long.

11 June 2010

Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia – The Gulf News is reporting that “A Saudi court has convicted a man and sentenced him to four months in prison and 90 lashes for kissing a woman in a mall.

The government-owned daily Al Yom reported on Thursday that Saudi religious police arrested the man and two women after they were seen on mall cameras “engaging in immoral movements in front of other shoppers”.

The report says the man, who is in his 20s, was seen with a woman “sitting on one of the chairs, exchanging kisses and hugs”. It’s unclear what the other woman was doing.

The kingdom bans unrelated men and women from mingling.

The paper says the man is to receive three batches of lashes and is banned from malls for two years.

The women will be tried in another court.”

I know they are entitled to their laws. But does the sentence really reflect the crime. And if this was on CCTV how about someone issuing a warning first?

The US breast beating over BP is getting too much for me – not only do I find myself nodding in agreement with Norman Tebbit and Boris Johnston, I am also finding myself defending a major oil company.

In Thailand a least 417 people have been detained for violation of a state of emergency – red shirt protestors and leaders.

And how many people were detained after the yellow shirt PAD shut done Bangkok’s airports in 2008. None.

No wonder so many Thais are alarmed at double standards.

10 June 2010

Lord Tebbit on his web site today noted: “The whole might of American wealth and technology is displayed as utterly unable to deal with the disastrous spill — so what more natural than a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan, political, presidential petulance against a multinational company?”


Rumour has it that the old Hualumpong rail station in Bangkok is to be closed and turned into yet another unnecessary air conditioned shopping mall. Such a shame. I arrived here in 1984 in my first ever visit to Bangkok. Probably got to the hotel in the rickshaw pictured above !

The pursuit of Thaksin by any means possible continues – from the Bangkok Post today “the Thai government said it was reopening an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings of 2,500 people during former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s “war on drugs”.

Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga said the probe could lead to the prosecution of the fugitive ex-premier through the International Criminal Court, but he denied the move was politically motivated.”

Gotta love that last sentence!

Golf today – eight hours later and I am still cooling down. It is hot out there.

8 June 2010

What sort of strange threat is this from the Nation’s editorial today:

“The government needs to prove beyond reasonable doubt Thaksin’s involvement in the arson attacks. And if other countries continue to permit him to stay, let them do so at their own peril. The payback could be nasty.”

Are foreign nations being threatened by this rag of a newspaper?

Tim Clark, CEO of Emirates Airline, has said that a rebound in demand for air travel is expected to help profit this year to exceed last year’s level, Bloomberg has reported. The airline posted net income of $964m in the 12 months ending March 31. “We’re bigger than that this year,” Clark said in Berlin. “We’re well ahead already. Unless something goes wrong, there won’t be a problem.”

I might have missed this before – a commentary on Thai politics after the crackdown – published in the Sydney Morning Herald. Contains some history and sensible commentary.

I have my world cup tv access. But only because I went to the Du shop at the Dubai Mall. Waiting for the call from Du’s customer service is a waste of time.

7 June 2010

“The Year of Living Dangerously” is on TV tonight – with a very young Mel Gibson as aussie journalist Guy Hamilton in pre- revolution Indonesia. And Sigourney Weaver as well.

Still feeling distinctly crook. Maybe too much sun while I was golfing on Saturday.

5 June 2010

Noisy party above me – I hate condo living when neighbours think that late night partying is OK. F***ing awful music as well.

If it goes on past midnight……

Not feeling well. So will not be writing much here. Nasty little flu like bug.

3 June 2010

How to make that the new airport does get some use. You ban some planes from using the old airport! Brilliant!

Dubai International, the busiest airport in the Middle East, has announced two measures to contain noise. First, it announced the phased withdrawal of older generation aircraft that do not conform to international noise and emission standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. ICAO classified Chapter 1 and 2 aircraft will be banned from operating cargo flights at Dubai International from October 31, 2010 and passenger flights effective March 27, 2011 consistent with the International Air Transport Association’s seasonal schedule change. However, these aircraft will be allowed to continue operations at Dubai World Central-Al Maktoum International airport until April 1, 2012.

2 June 2010

Heading back to Dubai in the morning. Not sure what to expect. Been stressful recently.

A word to the wise – do not have the chicken, mozzarella and pesto sandwich at Au Bon Pain – the taste of the pesto will stay with you forever !

1 June 2010

Must be an escapee from the BKK red shirts? Or maybe just Alex at AirSoft in HKG.

30 May 2010

There are many wonderful bits of information floating around on Twitter – but this one caught my eye – Only 15% of males shave their privates. Girls should demand better or at least equal treatment!

I flew from Bangkok to Hong Kong last night on Thai Airways. It was good to be back in a 747 again. But sad to see such a light load – maybe 15% or 20%.

No IFE other than main screen; pleasant if aging crew. Chicken with yellow noodles. Wine from full bottles into a real glass.

And it is (as always) nice to be back in HKG.

Alex and I tool the ferry to Lamma Island for the afternoon. And the thunderstorms started minutes after we arrived there! We took cover – but it was still wet. So rather than hike over the island we went back into the village for lunch and then back to central.

I never expected to find black ink fettuccine with seafood in a wasabi and cream sauce in Lamma!

29 May 2010

It took less than two weeks for sleaze to hit the ugly couple – the UK alliance of Lib Dems and Tories. The Sun#s headline summed it up – “Lib Dem Minister claimed £40k to live with gay.”


This is the man appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. A man in charge of cutting government expenses. Yet he was busy paying rent to his male partner. His only good fortune is that the media is basically pro Tory and pro this government.

If he had been a Labour MP……..

But the allegations must mark a serious setback for the new government, which has pledged to clean up politics in response to the expenses scandals that overshadowed the last Parliament.

27 May 2010

More than a few years ago my poor mother was lying in a maternity ward underneath the runway for Birmingham’s Elmdon airport – and waiting for me to arrive. Bet that was painful !

26 May 2010

Happy birthday Ms. Ong.

Not everyone is happy with the big winner at the Cannes film festival: “‘Uncle Boonmee’, Palm of Boredom” was the headline on Monday in French daily Le Figaro, which called the slow-paced examination of reincarnation by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul “dull, incomprehensible and hallucinatory.”

25 May 2010

There has to be more to life than breakfast cereal for dinner!

The media muzzling in Thailand brings to mind Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous:

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Golf yesterday and it was good to be playing again – I still know how to! Not consistently – but well enough to think I can still play OK. It was a fun day out.

22 May 2010

Funny old game golf. Certain that he has missed the cut Robert Karlsson heads home from the PGA at Wentworth near London on Friday night. He gets within 500mtrs of home in Monaco before finding out he’d made the cut last night. Spins around and heads back to airport

Could only get as far as Orly, stayed o’night then a taxi drive with a sleepy driver to a private airport for a flight to the UK that cost $11,000

After 3 hrs sleep he arrives at Heathrow at 0620, was at the course at 0645 and teed off at 0820. Then he shoots a course record 62 to go from last to 1st

That could have been me this morning Not asleep until nearly 1am. Woken about 2am by the Mrs clunking home from Beirut. Awake until 3am while she plays computers, showers and clambers over me into bed – you can get in on your side ! And up at 5am to get meet with friends at 6am to drive up to Al Hamra for 18 holes. I was seriously looking forward to getting out – it is months since I played.

But at 6.05 they call – only just woke up. They were not up to golf – late night and hung over. Did me a favour.

I want to go to Saturn – look at these pics.

Some comments about events in BKK are not really for the news page – yet are worth reporting as they give an indication of future expectations – there are some comments here that ring very true:

“Thailand has been feeding off a false illusion of tranquility for years now. The current situation its about many things including: urban versus rural, Isarn versus Bangkok and the south, Thai versus Chinese, poor versus rich, haves versus have nots, the monarchy, who will succeed the king, corruption, lack of representation, dysfunctional institutions. That isn’t even half the list and all these issues are coming together is spurts and creating divisions in Thai society. Problem is the divisions are real, people are taking sides and things are getting worse. This weeks events events will be swept under the rug for now but will resurface as another uglier explosion in the not too distant future.”

And this tell you all you need to know about old style Thai politics:

“Currently, much of rural Thailand is “owned” by powerful local families who supply MPs, obtain government construction contracts etc and hand out cash come election time. If you look at the average old guard politician, he (and it is mostly he) has been a member of several parties in his career but his interests have always been principally looking out for himself. If he has the misfortune to be suspended then his proxy (ie father, brother, son, wife etc) gets to stand as MP in his stead.”

21 May 2010

Not a lot to report. Tai is on her way back from Beirut. I have to get an early night – need to get up early to play golf in the morning. And it was 44C today. Summer is here.

19 May 2010

Long day following events in Thailand.

Good lunch with a friend and ex colleague – KK – smart guy – he will go on to achieve great things.

And in the UK they launched the Olympic mascots – Wenlock and Mandeville. The names are clever. The mascots, though, look like psychedelic tellytubbies.

18 May 2010

Two least favorite care drivers on Dubai roads – Maserati drivers and Sunny drivers.

So there I was driving along Shiekh Zayeed road expecting to take the exit at Millennium Tower – down the Emaar road to the Old Town and to park at the Souq Al-Bahar – and the exit has been blocked and the road dug up – no warning that the road had been closed.

And for anyone living in the Old Town this was an efficient way to get home.

Strange. Why build a road – open an exit of Dubai’s main highway – and then close it?

An unusual visitor to Dubai yesterday – A Qantas Airbus A380-800, registration VH-OQC performing flight QF-9 (dep May 16th) from Singapore (Singapore) to London Heathrow,EN (UK), diverted to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) due to a medical emergency on board. The airplane dumped fuel and landed safely on Dubai’s runway 30L.

The airplane could not continue right away and is now expected to continue early Tuesday (local time) and to reach London Heathrow with a total delay of 24 hours.

Normally the routing from SIN to LHR would be much further to the North – presumably Dubai was used as the diversionary because of the experience of and facilities for handling A380s.

17 May 2010

Emirates US ad for its 777 services from JFK, Houston, SFO and Lax to Dubai:

Tai’s mother has been staying with us for four nights.

In these days of easy travel we do take so much for granted. Tai’s mother had never flown overseas before. Her longest trip was a bus ride to Malaysia.

But the UAE is truly foreign to her, and I suspect, she will land with some relief back in BKK.

Air travel is easy. But not if you are 60 something and have never done it before. And it is not easy if you dont speak or read a word of English and you don’t recognise roman characters. Airports are intimidating places if you are unsure where you are meant to be.

We arrived back in Dubai on Thursday morning. Tai’s mother got to see her daughter at work – and at the end of the flight visited first class. The crew were very sweet and took some pictures with her.

We went to the Creek, to assorted and numerous Malls, to Souk Madinat, the EKHQ and to Fujairah for lunch at the Hilton – and a drive through the desert. Though the only camels we saw were scavenging the garbage by a truckers stop.

She never changed her watch to Dubai time; and seemed surprised that the time would be different !

But Tai is her mother’s daughter – they shop for hours without deciding on anything !

16 May 2010

Woody Allen on ageing –

“I’m 74 now and you don’t get smarter, you don’t get wiser, you don’t get more mellow, you don’t get more kindly – nothing happens.

“But your back hurts more, you get more indigestion, your eyesight isn’t as good and you need a hearing aid. It’s a bad business getting older and I would advise you not to do it if you can avoid it.”

15 May 2010

More depressing news from Bangkok. It is very hard to see where and how the current troubles end. Clear the red shirts out now and they will re-gather elsewhere.

Don’t take action and the yellow shirts will start their campaign.

13 May 2010

So on the day we left for BKK their was an election in the UK and the day we get back to BKK from Sydney a week later – we get a coalition government of the most unlikely bedfellows.

The Guardian’s summary of the new arrangement is likely to be prescient: “The first days of a new government are rarely typical. For the moment, goodwill, good sense and good grace are much in evidence. Reasonable people will rightly accentuate the positive while remaining watchful. These are hard times and Britain faces hard choices. Inevitably the hard pounding will soon chip and bruise the new coalition’s shiny novelty and generous intentions. Then the world will turn and things will get harder. Right now, however, the new government deserves its chance and the new politics its moments in the sun.”

Emirates inaugural flights was on October 25, 1985 when a Boeing A300 flew from Dubai to Karachi.

Wonder how they will celebrate their 25th anniversary?

9 May 2010

Sorry I have been quiet here. I have been traveling through Bangkok to Sydney and hotels do not seem to embrace internet access

A big thank you to the crew of Emirates 418/9, Chris, Andrew, Nassim and all the team, who have made me feel very welcome through the flight.

It is so nice to be back in Sydney – 26 years since I first came here.

The winter weather is stunning. Perfect blue skies and highs in the mid 20s.

Pity about the lack of sleep. Don’t know how the airline crews work on so little rest.

Saw my dear old friends, Noel and Jane yesterday afternoon – I have known Noel for over 30 years now.

5 May 2010

This is the third day of drilling in the apartment below us What the f*** are they doing? This is not the contractors. It is the owner or tenant. Two nights ago they were drilling at 12.20am. When I suggested that they might want to stop they actually seemed surprised. At 12.20am.

Some people simply have no manners or consideration. Just a simple note to their neighbours saying that we will be doing some work between say 10am and 4pm for the next two days and that we apologise for any inconvenience.

But no – they just keep on going. Will have to see how much we are expected to put up with tonite.

Their apartment is 3301 by the way. Just in case anyone else is fed up with the noise!

3 May 2010

Photographer Gerald Donovan just published 4250 photos, stitched together, of Dubai, creating a 45 gigapixel image. The photos were taken from the Ubora Towers on 29 April. The site allows you to zoom in on sections of the photo, similar to Google Maps. This is probably a new world record for gigapixels. The existing record seems to have been a 26 gigapixel image of Paris.

Its a great picture – looking over Business Bay – you can see Executive Towers and Millennium.

One recurring theme I get from talking to my Thai friends either in BKK or here is Dubai is that the red shirts are dangerous and despised.

An Al Jazeera blog this week said that “This ongoing crisis has been dominated by misinformation, rumours and speculation.”

Bangkok’s Chinese Thai middle class office workers and professionals appear to regard the ‘red centre’ as a dangerously violent place. This is fuelled by the government media and the typical prejudices of their class.

They pee anywhere I am told.
They don’t shower.
They stop and search people.
They beat people for not co-operating.
They don’t speak properly. They use bad words.
They are uneducated.

Social media works well for the anti-reds. Thailand’s online community is inevitably dominated by young, professional city based people who openly talk about the Reds as dirty, ugly, vulgar, low, inferior people who belong to the “bannok” (rural class).

They quickly spread through email and facebook many of the worst rumours about the red shirted protestors.

The Thai media such as the Nation complains about foreign reporters and news organisations. But they do offer some much needed balance and objectivity.

The government’s shocking complicity in the propaganda war is depressing. MCOT being especially guilty. Their latest – suggesting that the H1N1 virus is spreading through the rally site.

2 May 2010

How good is Rory McIlroy – 62 on Sunday to win at Quail Hollow! 128 over the weekend ! Finished 3,3,3,3,3,3. Wow !

Phil Mickelson second, Tiger Woods did not make the half way cut.

I so dislike David Cameron. No sincerity. Just trying to get elected at any cost to the truth.

At some stage even this site should come out with its own vote of support; like all the UK press has been doing relentlessly over the weekend.

It may end up being – I really dont mind who you vote for just dont vote Tory; and of course never ever vote National Front. That way it is just possible that the system will change and a party that gets 1/3 of the votes gets to have an representative voice in government.

Snooker Ace and current world champion John Higgins gets filmed on a News of the World entrapment – looking like he is willing to take money to throw a frame – there is so much money in sport that the betting syndicates will try anything.

He claims he is innocent. The funniest and saddest thing is that he argues that the meeting was intimidating and he was just saying what he needed to say to get out. He says he was in Russia. The meeting was in Kiev in the Ukraine.

In the NoTW video he looks and sounds quite relaxed.

Damning. Time to put your hand up and go into damage minimisation.

The allegations – seen by a mere few million people – are damaging to him and to the sport recreation of snooker.

Tai is in Johannesberg. It has been a quite weekend. Trying to keep up with events in Thailand and also the UK election campaign.

Nothing else to write about. Sorry.

1 May 2010

The international crisis group ( a Brussels based conflict resolution advisory) has now had its say on the situation in Thailand.

One telling observation:

“While some blame Thaksin for the stand-off, the protests have moved far beyond his control. Many Thais are deeply disillusioned by an elite that denied them the fruits of development for decades and then ousted a government elected mostly by the rural poor. Thailand is a country prone to violence, with a history of bloody insurgencies and authoritarianism – an uncomfortable reality for most Thais to accept. Violence in Bangkok could spread if there is a crackdown.”

Quote from Richard Barrow at Paknam Web: “I am not a thrill seeker and will most definitely leave at the first sign of danger, but up to now I have been met with nothing but kindness and warmth from the Red Shirts.”

I really do want to see this for myself.

30 April 2010

Had a nice unexpected dinner at home last night with friends – good to sit around the table and just talk. We dont do that often enough.

7 Dubai metro stations opening 2pm today: Emirates, Airport Terminal 1, Karama, Emirates Towers, Dubai Internet City, Marina and Ibn Battuta; that makes 18 out of 29 open. But not Business Bay.

29 April 2010

The best political debates are inevitably fictional, and this is the best: Jed Bartlet with rousing oratory, witty asides and unfalteringly moral rectitude – isnt this the leader that we all want !

Thailand’s tourism industry is dieing again:

Britain’s Foreign Office has warned citizens to avoid all but essential travel to Thailand because of “increasing tension” in the country and because of a risk “that violence could break out without warning”.

28 April 2010

Well that’s it then – the election all but decided as the Mail breathlessly reports a – “Coup for Tories as knife victim’s sister, former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, backs Cameron.”

Err – Who ?

Even the vegetables are in danger: The Nation is reporting that: “TNN 24 reported that a vegetable was injured by a stray bullet while driving his pick-up truck to the Thai Market.”

They mean a vegetable vendor – but it is a surreal mistake ! Unless it was a tomato.

27 April 2010

A UFO over Dubai – hard to imagine why aliens want to come to Dubai – maybe they want to see if there is any progress on their off plan Dubai property purchases.

Case Number: 22986
Log Number: AE-04272010-0005
Submitted Date: 2010-04-27 05:49 GMT
Event Date: 2010-04-11 00:00 GMT
Status: Submitted
City: Dubai
Country: AE
Longitude: 55.28
Latitude: 25.23
Shape: Star-like
Distance: Over one mile

The good news. The link is no longer available.

There are some interesting recent posts at New Mandala on the crisis in Thailand. “The deep political crisis within the Royal Thai Army officer corps” (27 April), and “The betrayal of human rights mandarins” (26 April). The latter takes up some of the issues related to human rights agencies operating in Thailand, noting their poor track record.

Now we know why the Emirates A380 planes have a shower on board – because the crew cannot shower at home.

The National is reporting that hundreds of Emirates airline employees in staff accommodation at Dubai Silicon Oasis have been without water for more than 24 hours.

Residents of Semmer Villas – used by Emirates to house employees including pilots and engineers – said they have been unable to shower, wash clothes or flush toilets since their water tanks ran dry.

Some said they lost their supply on Sunday while others discovered yesterday that their taps were not working. Some took the matter into their own hands and ordered their own water from private suppliers.

26 April 2010

How do people survive living on their own I have not talked with anyone all day. I have not left the apartment. And its not like I can walk downstairs to a store or a coffee shop. This is a wasteland and I need to drive to get anywhere.

The other risk is that if I lived on my own I would starve – cooking for myself is a bore! I would have to live next to a takeaway.

Have not talked to Tai since she left – the time difference is not good for us and she is busy in SFO.

Just remind me – why did I come here ? I know the answer. But I feel life is going backwards and not forwards.

25 April 2010

“Any hope for a peaceful resolution to this crisis appears to be fading fast”- Rachel Harvey for the BBC from BKK tonight.

Classic commentary in Bangkok from the New York Times: Oops.

“The antagonism between them was displayed by a pro-government protester who made a rude gesture toward the red shirts on Thursday as she stood in front of a misspelled placard in English reading “Uneducate people.””

Tai is on her way to San Francisco. I am stuck in Dubai and bored.

The contractors were in the apartment all day today from 9am til 5pm. It is almost four months since we took ownership of the apartment and they are still finishing work that should have been done before we moved in.

And the apartment smells. A mix of oil paint, oil stripper, and contractor sweat

Another grotty day.

24 April 2010

The UK Daily Mail is as subtle as ever.

“Like ‘the last days of Saigon’: Angry and stranded, 350 British tourists cause near-riot at Bangkok airport.”

You know there is something wrong with Thailand when the country is being lectured on democracy by Singapore of all places – a country where hard line one party rule is ensured by control of the media and legal action against just about anyone who might be a dissenting voice.

The Straits Times today tells Thailand what it needs to do. There is something about getting the log out of your own eye first.

But this quote is relevant:

“This is Thailand’s biggest challenge. For a long time the so-called ‘prai’, or commoners, that the red shirts and Thaksin represented, were kept in their place in a rigid hierarchy where the king was at the apex. Close to this seat of power was a coterie of the aristocratic, bureaucratic and military elites. The Thaksin years began to change all that. Now the red shirts are bent on deepening the change, besides recognition of their newfound political influence, if not power. A rallying song sung in the Red Zone goes, ‘We are human beings, not water buffaloes.'”

Did have a nice lunch and afternoon at the beach at Snoopy Island, Fujairah with Bam, Tu and Tai. Lots of pictures !

22 April 2010

Leaders’ debate tonight. Gordon Brown much stronger this week. Clegg held his own Cameron is still struggling.

It is actually true – Nick Clegg could be a PM?

At Jumairah Beach today – Tai got told she could not take photographs on the beach – of her handsome husband !! How bizarre! There is a no photo policy on the beach – even if the only person in the pictures is your nearest and dearest.

I do have a real problem with Sky News anchoring tonight’s leaders’ debate.

Sky News is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch also owns the Sun, NoTW, Times and Sunday Times.

The Murdoch owned media has already come out on favour of the Conservative Party. Their independence is compromised – totally.

“All nations have a cross to bear, and none more so than Germany with its memories of Nazism. But the British cross is more insidious still. A misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off.”

21 April 2010

I am stuck in Dubai – was meant to fly to BKK and onto HKG tonite – but volcano-gate has put a stop to all staff and family travel until Sunday midnight.

The 2009/2010 EK bonus announcement and annual results due on 6 May. After the ash crisis it may not be good news

The Gulf News has a story in today’s newspaper from the rape trial of an Emirati policeman. In summary the defence argues that the student victim was too fat for the alleged attacker to have raped her and that “the way she was dressed showed that she was willing to have consensual sex.”

Such a defense in a western court would be an outrage – but this is Dubai. Be careful. Be sensible.

20 April 2010

Who is going to rescue Bond. The 23rd James Bond film has been stopped indefinately.

MGM Studios has no money – it has been up for same for months. The studio has debts of US$37 billion.

Is this the end of 007? Or is someone going to come in and snap up the Bond franchise – maybe FOX – I could see Rupert Murdoch taking this on.

Happy birthday Alex.

Not much progress on the Ashes cloud.

Quiet day in Thailand – was this a lull before the storm? This makes fairly depressing reading as the government maintains its propaganda efforts. Government anti-red shirt propaganda intensifies

19 April 2010

MMX looks so much nicer than 2010 – the Romans were onto something !

No wonder there is a water shortage in the desert – how long can one person spend in the shower !

Silom has effectively been sealed off by the army and police.

Lots of security around one of Bangkok’s red light districts at Thaniya and Patpong.

Question – would you fly into Europe now?

What is the price of safety? Massive commercial pressure from the airlines to start flights again.

18 April 2010

TV tonight was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

Maybe it does sanitise history. Maybe it does become a tragedy about a Nazi family. But the message is strong enough anyway. The acting is strong The two eight year old boys are believable in their innocence.

Yes it is fiction. But the history is perhaps too hard to bear. Learn from the message; and let it give you as much hope as sadness.

Friendship, childhood, innocence, evil, humanity, history. I am a bit shell shocked. I didn’t cry. I just did not know what to feel.

Please remember in Thailand that your fight is not worth his or anyone else’s death.

Reuters cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto, killed in bloody clashes in Bangkok, was cremated in Tokyo on Sunday after a service attended by about 500 family members, friends and colleagues.

Fashion alert: what colour shirt is safe to wear to BKK now to avoid provoking anyone – not black (3rd party) not red, not yellow, not pink.

I wish the dust on my car was from a volcano Then I would know that it is only temporary. Instead the Dubai dust and sand is everywhere. Especially on the Dubai Properties building site known as Executive Towers.

Don’t do this in the UAE! Great picture.

Photograph: Paul Thomas/Action Images

Messrs Scholes and Neville celebrating Man U’s 93rd minute winner against Abu Dhabi owned Manchester City. I like the closed eyes!

17 April 2010

One casualty of the ash clouds – John Barnes – who was meant to be on tv in the Middle East this weekend as the football pundit for Orbit Showtime.

Must have gotten a speeding ticket yesterday. We were heading up to Dragon Mart. Left the 311 turning up Manama Road – big empty four lane highway – and got flashed by a speed camera. I was doing about 105kmh. But the speed limit there is only 80 – not 100 Makes no sense. There was not another car for hundreds of yards and it is empty – no housing or any construction around.


16 April 2010

Sadly the volcano story has taken over any news of yesterday’s China earthquake in Yushu, Qinghai. There the death told is at least 760 and over 8,000 are injured and many more homeless.

We seem to have got our priorities very wrong.

The first UK leaders tv debate is over; the consensus is that Nick Clegg was the strongest performer for the Liberal Democrats.

It will be interesting to see if Brown and Cameron turn their combined guns on Clegg at the next debate.

The TV debate was necessary but not enjoyable.

The audience are not allowed to applaud, cheer, heckle. They sit on their hands and do not participate other than to ask questions.

The leaders used first names. It was all too British; too clubby; too nice.

It should be a bear pit.

15 April 2010

Emirates from 02JUL10 operates 2 weekly scheduled charter service to Madinah in Saudi Arabia. Service operates with Airbus A330-200. Schedule below:

EK3807 DXB0115 – 0300MED 332 57
EK3808 MED0435 – 0815DXB 332 57

14 April 2010

If I lived alone I would starve. I really cannot be bothered to cook for myself.

More building chaos. A 1.00am fire alarm. We were awake as Tai had a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

And later in the day I got into the elevator on the ground floor It did not move. And the doors would not open.

I pressed the alarm. After ringing for a while it said your call has been disconnected.

Then I banged on the door. Someone outside says is anyone in then. Who did they thing was banging the door.

A guy from Du prised the door open. Not the security guard. He just looked confused.

13 April 2010

Here is a tragic story from Abu Dhabi in the National – but it is the first paragraph that says everything about living here:

“Abu Dhabi // An Emirati woman was sentenced to two months in prison for negligence leading to the death of her child, and two years for having sex outside of wedlock.

DS left her son with her maid late at night so she could leave to meet her lover, TA, an Emirati man who was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison for having sex outside of wedlock. While DS was gone, her son fell from a 13th-floor window and died.

DS said she had left the house to buy medicine for her child. The incident occurred on January 20.

The maid, NT, of Indonesia, was sentenced to one month in prison followed by deportation.”

12 April 2010

One thought from the day. I was in Waitrose – my regular supermarket stop, The girl at the check out was quite striking. So I politely asked where she came from – Myanmar…Yangon.

Her English was good. One of Yangon’s brighter students I suspect. But working as a cashier in Dubai?

Its a funny world. Are there recruitment agencies actively recruiting in Myanmar to bring people to the Middle East. Is it cheaper to bring people from Myanmar then say the Philippines?

How does someone get a passport to leave Myanmar. What does she have to pay to come here. How much does she have to remit back home? What would happen if she did not go home? Can she vote in the Myanmar elections. Does she know more about her country now that she has left it. What does she think about Aung San Suu Chi?

It does seem strange that such a secretive and controlled nation is sending its people overseas. But then again so does North Korea. It is all about hard currency.

Have to like this – the new guide to Emirates recruitment:

Put about 100 bricks in some Particular order in a closed Room with an Open window.

Then send 2 or 3 candidates in the room and close the door.

Leave them alone and come back After 6 hours and then analyze the situation.

If they are counting the Bricks. Put them in the accounts Department.

If they are recounting them. Put them in medical claims .

If they have messed up the Whole place with the bricks. Put them in engineering management.

If they are arranging the Bricks in some strange order. Put them in crew planning.

If they are throwing the Bricks at each other. Put them in flight operations.

If they are sleeping. Put them in flight planning.

If they have broken the bricks Into pieces. Put them in Emirates Group IT.

If they are sitting idle. Put them in human resources.

If they say they have tried Different combinations, yet not a brick has been moved. Put them in cabin service management.

If they have already left for the day. Put them in marketing.

If they are staring out of the Window. Put them on strategic Planning.

And then last but not least. If they are talking to each Other and not a single brick Has been Moved. Congratulate them and put them In senior management

Probably applies to may companies ! Not just Emirates!

11 April 2010

I think my lovely wife may be turning into a closet yellow shirt.

The reds going home and stopping their protests is not a solution if nothing else changes and Abhisit and his elite backers remain unmoved and unrepentant!

10 April 2010

Alex left to go back to HKG tonite

I have the Merc back after AED15,000 of repairs; over US$4,000. Thank goodness for insurance.

Very sad events in BKK tonite. A Reuters photgrapher killed. At least 10 others killed and over 600 injured; and this is Thais killing Thais.

6 April 2010

At lunch in Hydra today – the menu was in three languages – Greek French and English. One of the dishes was Coq au Vin in French. In English it was Cock in Wine. Alex wondered if they served Spotted Dick to follow. Funny !

Alex and I are heading for Hydra this morning.

And it is the first day since we arrived that Athens has been awake. The city has basically been closed all weekend.

ID cards in Dubai will become compulsory for the following services according to the Ministry of the Interior.

Driving license application
vehicle registration
vehicle registration renewal
certificate of good conduct from the police
licensing of private security companies
issuance of arms licenses
certificate from civil defense
4 April 2010

Alex and I are in sunny. cool Athens. Only 10C this morning. Easter Day here.

Had a goof light over. The April movie and TV choices on Emirates are so much better than the last few months.

This is just one of many reports on the red shirt rallies in central Bangkok yesterday. With pictures and links to news reports.

2 April 2010

Avoid Dubai Mall on a Friday night – the car parking is a nightmare – 40 minutes to get out of the car park – horns blaring – 4x4s driven by the usual suspects trying to barge their way ahead of the queues….so rude – and gauranteed to cause people to rage…..

Alex arrived last night. Good to have him with us in Dubai.

And the cooker hood is now installed.

1 April 2010

I would like to welcome Tai to my world. Because today she should understand better just how frustrating it is to get anything done here.

Just the simple matter of installing a cooker hood.

Buy on Tuesday – confirm for delivery and installation on Thursday.

Thursday 3pm. No delivery. Tai calls EMax. We will call you back in 5 minutes. No call. One hour later she calls EMAX again. They will be there in one hour. 6pm. My turn to call EMax. You need to call Mr. Salim at Bosch. Call Mr. Salim. We are closed now. No record of your delivery. Dont know when we can deliver. I will call you back. Write down my mobile number I tell him. I no have pen and paper he says.

Call EMax. We will call you back in 5 minutes. They call back. We cannot find the order. (They only confirmed the order number, name and delivery address a few hours earlier). OK. We will call you back.

7pm Still waiting.

Totally effing useless.

And this is after a day of contractors working on the apartment still doing work that should have been done before the handover.

And despite repeatedly showing them things that should be done – they were not touched. So they say they will be back on Saturday. Who knows.

Tiger Woods used to be just a great golfer. Masters 2005.

April Fool’s today – but not for Tiger Woods – who foolishly thinks he can keep misleading the press and his fans.

Vanity Fair magazine for May 2010 has interviewed four of Tiger Woods’ girls and is reporting that his closest advisers were fully involved in and aware of his affairs.

The report in Vanity Fair paints Woods as a man who expected his best friend and his agent to organise his affairs and cover them up when discovered.

The claims, picked up by television across the US yesterday, heap further embarrassment on Woods as he prepares to face the press and public for the first time in five months on Monday. He is due to attend a press conference that day in Augusta, Georgia, before the Masters.

The trouble is the same people are advising Tiger now as were involved with him before. He needs to fire them all including his boorish caddy, Willliams, and start again.

According to Hollywood Gossip Looks like reports that Rachel Uchitel received a seven-figure confidentiality settlement from Tiger Woods were only partially true. She received that and more.

The first of many Tiger Woods mistresses to be exposed, and the one with the most dirt on the golfer, was rumored to have received $1-5 million to hush up.

But sources now say Tiger was so concerned with the depth and detail of information from Rachel Uchitel that they “folded like a cheap suit” right off the bat.

Therefore, they made an initial offer of $10 million in return for an ironclad confidentiality agreement before she could expose any details that could ruin him.

30 March 2010

Hours of fun – a dictionary of phobias…no link.

Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere in the world, there is a duck watching you, Quack !

29 March 2010

I was up until 3.30 am last night watching series 2 of Mad Men on DVD. And then got woken up by my favourite contractors at 7.30am.

And it is getting warm in Dubai now; and humid. And it is only March.

Two days ago it was 43C in the middle of the day. We had visitors in from Singapore and took them on the around Dubai tour: Madinat Jumairah; JBR; the Creek and Dubai Mall.

I still like wandering by the Creek and taking the Abra – it feels so much more real than the rest of Dubai.

Meanwhile in Canada the magazine, the Beaver, has changed its name after 90 years, because its content was getting blocked by spam filters. It is now known as Canada’s History.

The Sun newspaper reports that another british citizen is facing six months in jail in Dubai after being accused of “flicking the finger” at an Arab.

Simon Andrews, 56, is said to have lost his temper during a heated row with aviation student Mahmud Rasheed.

The Iraqi complained to police who immediately arrested Simon for public indecency. He has been banned from leaving the country since the incident last August.

Simon again protested his innocence before a judge examining evidence in the case yesterday. The hearing was adjourned until April 4.

A court source said: “Mr Andrews says the offensive gesture never happened. The Iraqi has never appeared in court to testify against him and there are no witnesses.

27 March 2010

Talking of cars – and mine is a wreck thanks to the car park moron – maybe it is time to look at Ford: the Bangkok Motor Show is now under way – until April 6th.

The latest update on Sammy the Whale Shark is a statement from the Atlantis hotel on Thursday which said that the animal’s release had been documented by photography and video, but, added the National, the Atlantis has so far failed to respond to requests to release images or footage.

Until there is evidence that the hotel is not lying through its teeth everyone should boycott this monstrous carbuncle; without question the ugliest building in Dubai.

25 March 2010

The big question – will I be able to get onto the flight – the joys and uncertainty of traveling on standby.

The fight with Sky continues – they appear to have outsourced their customer support to India – all the replies are from Amit and Kumar – and they arrive in the middle of the night. And none of them answer the simple question of why there is an amount outstanding on my mother’s account.

Honestly it would be easier to pay the gbp 22.53. But why should I? A one year contract paid in advance comes to an end. There really should be nothing more to pay. Very odd.

The new Vauxhall Insignia was designed by someone who does not drive. The rear and blind spot visibility is so awful. Reversing is a matter of luck. The ride is OK. But why produce a car that is dangerous.

And the gas consumption. Ouch. The fuel for London to Plymouth and return – gbp98.50 (say US$150). I fill the car in Dubai for US$20. Apparently 2/3 of the gas price is now fuel tax.

And taxes in England are truly scary. Individuals are faced with Income Tax, Capital Gains, VAT, Inheritance, Sin taxes, Fuel taxes. Even the airport tax to leave the UK is getting close to US$100.

24 March 2010

It was Budget Day in England today – and it was as damp as the weather.

The better off got penalised – there were a few goodies dished out – and the real pain – how to cut the deficit – is being left until after the election.

It was safety first – doing as little as possible to attract attention.

It was as dull as he wanted it to be!

Rain all day; cold and miserable. Maybe it does this just so that the few good days in England feel that much better.

Maxim magazine seems to have used the red shirt rallies for some additional publicity. This page is in Thai – but I wasn’t trying to read it – just enjoy the pictures.

Total nonsense in the National newspaper in Canada. The article argues for protecting Air Canada and leaving the poor Canadian consumer with no choice and expensive fares.

The article is by Fred Lazar, an Associate Professor of Economics at the Schulich School of Business at York University. Makes me glad I never studies economics there! The economics of protectionism based on innuendo and misleading information.

23 March 2010

England on a wet cold day is miserable. Maybe Dubai is not so bad after all !

Sky Customer Service – now there is a name that needs to change. Sky Customer Incompetence. Negligent. Lazy. Incompetent.

Is there now a rule that says we cannot be flexible or creative in finding solutions to problems. Is there now a rule that says we are too f***ing lazy to look at the details of an account to check its payment history and who has been responsible for payments.

As far as I can tell Sky are trying to get paid for something that was not contracted for. A one year contract was paid in full in advance. Why is there anything more to pay?

22 March 2010

Wet and miserable in Devon until late in the afternoon. And when it is wet and miserable Plymouth is a fairly dismal place.

I did have a walk around town – still more stores closing in the city centre.

WH Smiths is always fun to visit. The British do like their magazines and they have magazines for everything; collectors of everything; modellers; computer geeks; old folks; young folks; farmers; cooks; historians. Everything is there.

21 March 2010

Dubai is a strange place.

Innocent public displays of affection are an offence yet prostitution is a well known part of city life.

There is a dress code yet the malls are full of people in clothing of dubious taste and judgment.

Nightclubs are full of people dressing for attention. There is no other polite way to write it.

Alcohol is legally available in hotels and certain clubs. The Friday booze brunches are legendary. But you can be jailed for drinking alcohol.

The international airline serves alcohol on its flights.

Different policy and different enforcement exist in each of the seven Emirates.

All of this has to be sorted out. The UAE has to clarify the situation for expats and visitors but, more importantly, for Emiratis.

20 March 2010

Hallo from Newton Ferrers.

It is nice to be able to wake up in big city Dubai, and finish the day in very quiet Newton Ferrers – after a 7 hour flight and a 4 hour drive.

The flight was OK – packed. And the lady in 35A went through 8 bottles of red wine – I make that 1.4 litres.

I am glad she was sitting in the window seat. Had she been in the aisle seat and we had an emergency she would have been unable to move.

Am I the only one who thinks it odd that Emirates serves alcohol to its passengers, who as soon as they clear immigration in Dubai, could be arrested for alcohol consumption.

And serving 1.4 litres of wine to one person on a seven hour flight is irresponsible to her health and the rest of the passengers.

18 March 2010

The jailing of the Emirates cabin crew for sex texting has gone viral. The international news agencies are running the story. It is also all over Twitter.

The New York Times has the story. New Zealand TV has the story.

An Emirates spokeswoman declined to comment on the case as it was still ongoing. The publicity is not very good for Dubai or the airline.

The point you all need to get is that Dubai is not Ibiza. Dubai’s PR promises sand, sea, sun, nightclubs, shopping, food etc etc.

But Dubai is not Ibiza. As soon as you leave the hotel bar or club after a drink and you are walking on the street what you are doing is technically illegal.

It is unlikely you will be challenged – unless you are behaving inappropriately – but inappropriately in Dubai is very different from a Spanish resort.

17 March 2010

Another fight at home this evening. Am I so hard to live with? And another night on the sofa.

That wonderful sense of joy and opportunity that we had seems to be slowly seeping away….and I don’t know how to get it back.

This Executive Towers apartment does not help. Almost every day the last two weeks I have been at home waiting for contractors who may or may not appear.

And they come not in battalions but as single spies. There is one team that polishes the door frames. Someone else to do the bathroom fittings. Someone else for electricals. Someone else to scrub the paint off the spare bedroom floor. And you have no idea when they will turn up, if at all. All I know is that if you are not there when they do turn up you lose your place in the queue and may never see them again.

The building also has building sickness. I have not felt 100% since we moved in – blocked sinuses since we arrived here. And I think it is the building dust from constant continuing construction. It cannot be healthy.

In court on Monday this week lawyers representing Yong Vui Kong, a 22-year old Malaysian (see the December 2009 news archive), argued that the mandatory death sentence violates international standards and human rights laws.

After hearing submissions from Mr M Ravi, representing Yong, and the response from Attorney-General Walter Woon for the prosecution, the Court has reserved judgement for a later date.

How important is this case in Singapore. Well, Attorney-General Walter Woon, flanked by seven prosecutors, argued the case himself; this was a very rare appearance for the A-G.

Yong’s lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, had a three- man research team from London, led by a Queen’s Counsel, which flew in specially for the hearing. They are doing the case pro bono.

16 March 2010

I feel another rant coming – against stupid rules and the jobsworths that enforce them. The good news is that I am too tired to write it now.

From the Dubai Statistics Centre – which means the numbers should be treated with some caution: there is no detail on how these numbers are sourced and calculated.

Total Population Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4
Total Population (000) 1,676 1,707 1,739 1,771
Male 1,289 1,315 1,342 1,370
Female 387 392 397 401

Bizarre place to live – almost 3 and 1/2 men for every woman in Dubai.

15 March 2010

Becks is probably out of the world cup after an ankle ligament injury. I feel sorry for him. He so badly wanted to be a part of the England set-up. Forget about the image and everything else – he is a hugely committed footballer.

Peter Graves died last nite. Best known for Mission Impossible and as Clarence Oveur in Airplane. Here are his scenes in one of the greatest comedies of all time… AIRPLANE!

14 March 2010

The Kiss and Cell story has been picked up by the international media – not just the UK but widely – and it can only damage Dubai’s image. Jailed for a kiss. A court case that has gone on for four months. An Emirati woman who has her daughter out in a restaurant at 2am and was somehow offended by a foreign couple kissing?

Just a few comments from on line webs sites:

I can’t understand why Dubai continues to be promoted as a holiday destination, it obviously is not. It must be like walking on eggshells, horrible atmosphere for a relaxing holiday.

Complete madness, I didn’t like it when I went the first time and have no intention of going back.

Why do people on vacations(holidays) continue to visit and support this ridiculous country with its ridiculous laws?

Incidentally – the same law clearly does not apply to kiss and make up footballers who come to Dubai to appease their cuckolded wives – with the press all around them !

13 March 2010

As the red shirts battle their way through deliberately slow government road blocks towards Bangkok it is Not the Nation that sums up the futility of the whole exercise:

“The DAAD, a loose coalition of supporters of ousted PM Thaksin Shinawatra, socialists, progressives, and the rural poor, has rallied against the army-installed coalition government for over a year, demanding new elections in the misbegotten hope that Thailand will be a functioning democracy in their lifetime, and that equitable distribution of wealth and development is a remote possibility under Thai culture.”

“Wearing red shirts and headbands and carrying banners and foot clappers, the multitudes appear ready for a prolonged rally of chanting, speeches, and demands to be ignored by the actual power brokers of Thailand who will soon decide the fate of the government in a series of hidden back-room meetings.”

Emirates still has a keen interest in the larger version of the A380, the A380-900. According to the airline’s calculations, it could operate the aircraft in a 647-seat, three-class configuration.

With a range of around 4,500 naut. mi., the A380-900 would typically operate eight-hour sectors and could thus mainly be used for destinations in Europe and Asia up to Beijing, but not Tokyo.

Clark believes Emirates could accommodate up to 20 A380-900s and would immediately order the aircraft if Airbus was prepared to build it and Dubai airport can handle the additional aircaft. Emirates is already the biggest A380 customer with 58 on firm order. It has eight flying and will receive seven more this year.

12 March 2010

Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, a member of the Board of the Dubai Council for Economic Affairs said “we are always behind Dubai World,’ according to a Bloomberg report.

Mixed messages – the issue with Dubai World is that lenders thought that the Dubai government was behind Dubai World only to be told in November that it was not !

11 March 2010

EK watch – Emirates is to add another 517-seat Airbus A380 to services to Dubai from Heathrow from July 1.

Bad mistake. There have been some boxes covering the entrance to the small washroom in the lobby. Cleared the boxes and opened the door this morning. Smells. Bad.

And there is a bad leak from the water spray/bum cleaner. What do you call those things?

10 March 2010

EK’s new routes summary – for Tai’s upgrade course:

Tokyo – 28 March
Amsterdam – 1 May
Prague – 1 July
Madrid – 1 August
Dakar – 1 September

As Bangkok gets ready for the red shirts it is time to dig ou the soundtrack of Les Miserables:

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

One of my friends – yes I still have a few – will be happy with this story:

Former Indian captain and all-rounder Kapil Dev was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in Dubai on March 9, 2010 for his contribution to world cricket with the bat and the ball.

He was the highest wicket-taker in Test matches at one stage with 434 wickets and had also scalped 253 ODI wickets.

Apart from his bowling, he had also scored 5248 Test runs, including eight centuries and 27 fifties, at an average of 31.05 and 3783 ODI runs.

Kapil Dev said that he was happy to be named along with so many cricketers in the Hall of Fame. The others who are a part of the Hall of Fame are Sunil Gavaskar, Wasim Akram, Clive Lloyd, Richard Hadlee amongst others.

8.15am – knock on the door. We are here to do door frames.

So some 10 weeks after moving in there are 2 guys who will clean, polish and repair the door frames. They wont do the doors. They wont do the wardrobe doors. They wont to the window sills. All of which have the same wood finish.

Someone else sir.

I guess something is better than nothing.

8 March 2010

Here is the woman who should have gotten best actress – but Ms Bullock has been around rather longer and Hollywood likes her !

Carey Mulligan-

The Hurt Locker won best movie; but I need to start a campaign against the excessive editing of movies to be shown on board airlines.

I watched The Hurt Locker on Emirates. Every swear word had been edited out….the worst word used was “flip”.

This is not a kindergarden movie. This is a movie about an army bomb disposal team in Iraq. I think they are allowed the occasional fuck and shit and jesus christ……..

Emirates over censors its movies – to the point where they sometimes make no sense. I am sure many other airlines do the same thing.

Yet a bit of blood gore and violence is not an issue. Strange.

6 March 2010

The reds are coming to BKK. It wont be a million. It probably wont be 500,000. But it is enough to have the government and army in apoplexy. The scare mongering being undertaken on their behalf by the media is predictable.

5 March 2010

A bit of history – this was Blue Rodeo’s first ever TV appearance – probably 1985. The voices have not changed so much. But streuth, they look young !

Red-shirt demonstrators cannot protest by closing roads in Bangkok and paralysing traffic, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday.

How does he take himself seriously. The people that put him in power closed the international airport for 8 days !

Meanwhile the government has instructed relevant departments to follow up the Thaksin court ruling with more prosecutions but continues to ignore the airport closure and government house damage issues.

Judicial credibility. Hardly !

Interesting connections are now available if you fly on EK into Malta as Ryanair will open a base there from May 2010.

This is the airlines’ 41st base across Europe.

There will be six new routes, bring the number of total routes to/from Malta to 19.

New routes are:

Malta – Seville
Malta – Valencia
Malta – Marseilles
Malta – Bologna
Malta – Billund
Malta – Krakow

Lots of questions as to whether EK will announce a staff bonus this year – the company is obviously trying to prepare people for the worst – this is from

“There is not yet any determination on a bonus or salary rise for the next financial year as the financial year does not end until March 31st. Final profit or loss figures can only be established at that time. Additionally, the world-wide economy is yet to show a sustained period of economic robustness and that fact may weigh heavily on the eventual decision as to whether any profit, should there be one, is to be shared with employees or retained to provide for operational integrity in the case of a further delay to the global economic recovery. No management person or any employee for that matter received any type of additional payment, bonus or extra salary for the holidays or at any point this past year.”

I am sorry – but by 6 March the company knows full well whether there will be a profit for the year ended 31 March – and can pretty well tell you what that profit will be. How dumb do they think people are !

I now know what an “IFB” is on board an airplane – wonder if I have ever been one – or whether Tai has ever had one !?

From Fly Girls – premiering in the USA on 24 March. That Richard Branson does enjoy his work !

From the useless information department – The Economist has a smaller percentage of female readers than does Playboy.

Tai is back from Frankfurt. And immediately reminded me of my place as the maid by berating me for not rescuing the laundry from the washing machine.

I think the maid may get fired.

4 March 2010

Really fed up today – so the best I can do is a really old joke- “I went on a trip to a postcard factory last week. It was OK. Nothing to write home about.”

You can read on the Executive Towers update about the latest fiasco with the apartment and why I still don’t have internet or tv.

And other things have either stopped working or cannot be found.

My back up hard drive is not working.

The hoover gave up on Wednesday.

The paper tray for my little canon picture printer has gone awol – I have no idea where it is and it probably got lost in the move – together, and rather strangely, with the laundry basket.

3 March 2010

Such an irritating visit from the Dubai Properties maintenance people today – do they have any idea how frustrated people are!

2 March 2010

Dubai recorded a total of 22.2mm of rain, while Abu Dhabi and Sharjah received 43.4mm and 35.6mm respectively leaving much of the UAE in the cold on Tuesday.

Ridiculous – 2 centimetres of rain and the city comes to a grinding halt. The mud tracks around Business Bay are all flooded.

This is when you really need a 4×4.

Dubai police have now added a 27th member of the team that killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh last month in his hotel room. How many does it take….?

Apparently there are folks at Emirates pilot recruitment who think that the Pilots Rumour Network Forum is damaging the recruitment process.

As one poster reminded the airline – Emirates Airline’s “arrogance, systemic dishonesty and total disregard for their employees, ranging from incompetence to casual neglect, to targeted abuse….is damaging the recruitment process.”

I dont in any way think that Emirates is unique in this regard. But what is different is that the airline is based in the UAE where there is no pilot representation and where labour rules can be changed irrespective of contractual commitments.

The forum is useful for anyone coming to Dubai. It does show the difference between the sales pitch and the reality.

In my sleepy state coming back from Dubai I watched the BBC film from 2009 – “An Education”. Nice easy viewing at 2am.

Witty, observant, wise; and despite dealing with potentially creepy Lolita like material – a very adult film.

Carey Mulligan is very easy to watch – although I do think the 24 year old actress was maybe just a little too old and poised to play a 16 year old schoolgirl.

The film tells the story of Jenny, a very smart, rather frustrated, 16-year-old London girl who is the target of a sophisticated seduction by a 35-year-old man. This happens in 1961, when 16-year-old girls were a great deal less knowing than they are now. Yet the movie isn’t shabby or painful, but romantic and wonderfully entertaining.

As for David, the older man; he is truthful in part. He enormously enjoys this smart, pretty girl. He loves walking along the Seine with her. He knows things about the world that she eagerly welcomes.

But we all know that he is a scoundrel. But a charming one; an early day Lovejoy! Jenny probably recognises this but to some degree she welcomes being deceived.

Education can be found in many forms.

Yes, David does get to bed with our heroine; but when shes chooses and how she chooses. Afterwards, she remarks, with more curiosity than regret, “All that poetry, and all those songs, about something that lasts no time at all.”

1 March 2010

2010 Winter Olympics lessons for London:

Do: Try to capture the spirit of Vancouver over the past 16 days. The streets were packed, the mood was festive, the venues were full and the food was reasonably priced.

Don’t: Be so thin-skinned in the face of justified criticism.

Meanwhile – only in Aussie – Some 5,200 Australians posed naked in front of the Sydney Opera House on Monday for a photo shoot by New York-based artist Spencer Tunick for another signature installation of nudes against urban backdrops.

That wont be happening in Dubai !

28 February 2010

I met John the Bangkok taxi driver today; what a nice man. He drove us from Sukhumvit 22 to Chinatown. Longer would have been interesting. He is 63; he graduated from High School. He learned English from watching movies. His favourite – Mary Poppins – and anything with John Wayne in it.

He is the first (and only) taxi driver I have ever met in BKK who can do a passable Cockney accent – copying Dick Van Dyke.

He has views on Australian convicts. He thinks the rich have forgotten the taxi drivers. And that someone is pulling Abhisit’s strings.

Such a character. He also volunteered that I am 42 – so while his judgement may be good; his eyesight may be fading !

We are heading back to Dubai tonight – EK3373. 1.45am.

Tai has given up her April vacation – more work – and the optimistic hope that Emirates will make good her vacation in the second half of the year.

Alex flew back on Air Asia; his first trip not flying as an Unaccompanied Minor. He was fine. Easy flight to HKG. I miss him. He does talk a lot – and is warm and engaging – and sometimes very funny!

The Thai newspapers got all excited this morning – not about Thaksin – but because the King left hospital yesterday. There excitement was a little over done as King Bhumibol returned to Siriraj Hospital early Sunday after a brief outing to Chitrlada Palace.

He has been in hospital since mid-September.

28 February 2010

I met John the Bangkok taxi driver today; what a nice man. He drove us from Sukhumvit 22 to Chinatown. Longer would have been interesting. He is 63; he graduated from High School. He learned English from watching movies. His favourite – Mary Poppins – and anything with John Wayne in it.

He is the first (and only) taxi driver I have ever met in BKK who can do a passable Cockney accent – copying Dick Van Dyke.

He has views on Australian convicts. He thinks the rich have forgotten the taxi drivers. And that someone is pulling Abhisit’s strings.

Such a character. He also volunteered that I am 42 – so while his judgement may be good; his eyesight may be fading !

We are heading back to Dubai tonight – EK3373. 1.45am.

Tai has given up her April vacation – more work – and the optimistic hope that Emirates will make good her vacation in the second half of the year.

Alex flew back on Air Asia; his first trip not flying as an Unaccompanied Minor. He was fine. Easy flight to HKG. I miss him. He does talk a lot – and is warm and engaging – and sometimes very funny!

The Thai newspapers got all excited this morning – not about Thaksin – but because the King left hospital yesterday. There excitement was a little over done as King Bhumibol returned to Siriraj Hospital early Sunday after a brief outing to Chitrlada Palace.

He has been in hospital since mid-September.

27 February 2010

Meanwhile – the Guardian on John Terry – “Terry seems like a peculiarly English streak of odiousness; the sort who, despite being guilty of some palpably indefensible behaviour, is able to ignore all logic and manufacture their own grievance so that they can behave like they have been wronged. All very strange.”

Just have to hope that the whole Manchester City team ignores a John Terry handshake – who knows where it has been – and just for fun kicks some large lumps out of him on the pitch!

So the Thaksin verdict is in. It was not exactly Robin Hood. This was more like the rich taking from the rich and giving back to the rich !

We have been staying in BKK at the new S31 hotel – at the entrance to Sukhumvit soi 31. The room is a duplex with a downstairs living area and an upstairs bedroom and bathroom.

The design is clever, creative and attractive. The furnishings and decoration are good quality.

It makes me even sadder to think of how poor the work is in our Dubai apartment by comparison.

26 February 2010

Emirates Airline will hold an Open Day in Thailand on March 6 at the Tawana Ramada on Surawongse Rd. from 9- 4pm to recruit the air crew.

And talking of EK crew – a very happy birthday to my lovely wife!

We are back in BKK after three nights in Chiang Mai. I do like Chiang Mai but after Bangkok it feels very small and very provincial. The evenings there are perfect at the moment – nice and cool.

25 February 2010

How many does it take? Dubai is hunting for at least 26 people over the killing of a Hamas commander in a Dubai hotel.

23 February 2010

The original extreme winter sport – ski jumping has been in the winter olympics from the beginning: this is one of the Austrian team jumping at Whistler yesterday – on a perfect blue sky winter’s day….

Thomas Morgenstern of the Austria competing in the team ski jumping finals on Monday.

21 February 2010

We are staying at the S31 hotel in Bangkok and have a nice Duplex suite; the only thing they get wrong his is having two large flatscreen TVs with nothing at all to watch.

No BBC, CNN, no sport, no movie channels, no cartoon network.

But if you like Russia Today or CCTV9 you will be happy. And there are the Thai domestic networks for a dose of Lakhorn.

But what has really made me sad is how much thought has gone into the hotel design and into the quality of the product. The materials used are classy throughout. The workmanship or high standard.

If just 1/10 of that care and attention had been used on our Dubai apartment we would be living somewhere that does not make me upset every time that I think about it.

My lovely wife thinks this is cute ! She would be upset if it was her face being licked !

25 years ago this would have been fun – now it is more like a visit to the Natural History Museum –

“Veteran rocker Rod Stewart is to play a ‘greatest hits’ show in Dubai this spring, it was announced today.

Stewart, who has sold more than 160 million albums in a career spanning five decades, will play at The Sevens on May 7.

It will be the British star’s first appearance in Dubai and promises to treat crowds to renditions of ‘Maggie May’, ‘Tonight’s the Night’ and ‘Forever Young’.

His support act will be Spandau Ballet, who had hits in the 1980s with ‘True’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Through the Barricades’.”

19 February 2010

Two inches of snow brings Birmingham to a halt and diverted Tai’s flight to Manchester for the night.

The local press is reporting traffic chaos and that flights out of Birmingham International Airport were suspended at 5pm because of the weather. Some flights were diverted to Manchester.

18 February 2010

A guy sacked from the dodgems is taking his
employers to court.

He’s claiming funfair dismissal.

There are some very serious allegations about the design of the bobsled and luge track in Whistler being used for the Vancouver Olympics. The latest are in the Wall Street Journal.

One of the responsibilities of sports administrators is to save athletes from themselves. To build facilities that are as safe as they can be. And to allow the competitors full practice access.

An inquest into the Vancouver Games will be needed to see if commercial interests are being put ahead of safety.

15 February 2010

As the Canadians go slightly loopy having won their first Olympic Gold on home soil (remember Ben Johnson blew it in drugs) this is a great time to celebrate Australia’s first winter olympics gold medal – Stephen Bradbury! – 2002 at Salt Lake City.

Scare tactics in Bangkok – this is a picture of the alleged bomb!

These bombs never seem to go off: a bag containing 1.3kg of C4 explosive, which was wired for operation and packed inside a fruit juice box by beside the fence of the Supreme Court’s compound, about 250m from the court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

The Nation reported that a security guard alerted police at 9.30am that a box wrapped with electrical wire was found inside the court compound. Police rushed to the scene and sprayed water on the box, which contained some three pounds of C4 explosive.

Poured water on it ???

The explosive was said to be big enough to bring down a building had it been detonated, police said.

Is it real – or just a smear campaign in a bitterly divided nation?

Meanwhile at a hotel in Ikeja Lagos there were a few gunshot outside the hotel yesterday. Apparently in front of sheraton which is opposite protea. The crew who was in the room facing the Sheraton saw a few police was chasing a guy and shooting!

My Valentines Day dinner – some salted almonds, a marathon bar, two glasses of red wine.

And the last episodes of True Blood series 2 on DVD. I bet Eric has had Bill kidnapped? You wont be able to see series three until June 2010…….in the meantime:

Sookie to Eric: “He’s your maker isn’t he?”
Eric replies: “Don’t use words you don’t understand.”
Sookie: “You have a lot of love for him.”
Eric: “Don’t use words I don’t understand.”

Eric: “You’ve killed a man.”
Sookie: “That was for self-defense, not for lunch.”

Sophie-Anne: I haven’t enjoyed sex with men since the Eisenhower administration

14 February 2010

Tai has gone off to Lagos – her first Lagos flight after 3 years at Emirates.

And it is Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. A good day to be home alone !

I could celebrate with the sms that I just got from Pizza Hut – ” For the first time Pizza in a sandwich” Try the new Pzone from Pizza Hut”.

Pzone. Such a dreadful name. Sounds like a high tech lavatory!

13 February 2010

Lots of rain in Vancouver – and possibly fog in Whistler. They should have been racing in Washington after last week’s snow storms – 140cms of snow in Washington !

But the Games were off to a subdued start after the death of a Georgian luge rider in practice.

The bobsleds race at up to 150km/hour or a track that is considered very fast and technical – and in this case is now lethal. The luge may not be as fast but offers much less protection.

Which sadly is why we take part in and watch some of these winter sports – they are fast and scary.

The Winter sports and very different to the Summer Olympics – these sports (except curling !!) are for thrill seekers – the original extreme sports.

Some of the teams have already complained about the limited training access they have had to the track.

The Canadians need to do a bit of soul searching here – the only host country never to have won an Olympic gold they may be going too far to win at any cost: according to the British Olympic Association’s chief executive, Andy Hunt, the British skeleton sliders have had just 10% of the practice time on the stretch that the Canadian team has enjoyed. Similar complaints had been voiced by the Americans. “I think it shows a lack of sportsmanship,” Ron Rossi, the executive director of USA Luge, told the New York Times

12 February 2010

From another commentator on current affairs in Thailand:

“These are dangerous and confusing times. Talk of coups, new governments and so on are everywhere and it now seems almost inevitable that something will happen. There are more signs than just the reported events. There are threats against activists seen as pro-red shirt or anti-monarchy. Academics are being watched and some have been intimidated.”

The following was recently posted on an Emirate Airlines forum –

“Can anyone here help? Willing to purchase the entire uniform even if it is the old one (to roleplay with my new BF who is flying into CDG for a V-day rendezvous). Please help with ideas. Thanks!”

What does she have in mind – and can we have pictures !

10 February 2010

Bizarre reports in the Nation newspaper in Thailand – a paper that makes up its own news and then tries to justify it as fact.

The latest:

“The government is checking for a flow of funds allegedly destined to finance the violence-prone red shirts, but there has been no confirmation of any transfers so far, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday.”

Meanwhile PM Abhisit and the giovernment smear by innuendo and create this atmosphere of alarm and uncertainty:

“Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said the government was not accusing anyone in particular over alleged funds to finance red-shirt rallies, but information suggested the reports were true.

“There is no reason to make false accusations. But officials are checking the details to confirm this” and working to verify the source and purpose of any funds, he said.”

Of course yellow shirts are not violent or prone to taking over airports!

There was lots of security around the not yet completed Burj Khalif as I walked around at lunchtime today.

And now I know why:

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov toured the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa on Wednesday.

The Gulf News reports that he is the first world leader to visit the iconic tower. You have to love the paper’s use of adjectives!

9 February 2010

Tai is in Sydney – once again escaping the hard work in the apartment. More painting today – and the curtains were installed as well. Maybe a good night’s sleep at last.

Looks like our planned South Africa trip will need to be postponed. That is sad – I was in the modd to do something and to go somewhere different.

8 February 2010

Through friends of friends we had a visit yesterday from a Finnish journalist and photographer – working on a magazine feature on post financial crisis Dubai ! They had seem some of my pics and comments on the apartment and Dubai properties and I think enjoyed the view!

And they must be the only thing that is “Finnish – ed” in Dubai !!

Anyway they stayed for an hour – took a few pictures and we had a good chat – i tried (really, really tried) to be balanced !

Three nights together in the new apartment and I have already spent my first night sleeping on the sofa. That did not take long.

7 February 2010

How about this wonderful note on the Etisalat price list –

“Installation: Installation of the service is within seven working days, depending on the waiters.”

By popular request an update on Executive Towers.

Well I have painted walls in the living room and main bedroom and put a bit of colour in the place.

And made far less mess in the process than the contractors.

The floor tile grouting is cleaned easily using spare hotel toothbrushes – just don’t ask Tai to get any for you. Because she may give you toothpaste instead. It remains unclear to me how to use tubes of toothpaste to clean the floor tiles.

The bathrooms were all designed by very small people. A dwarf’s bathroom. Which makes little sense in a 1,550 square foot apartment.

The bath is so small that it does comply with Dubai’s rules on conservative behavior. Because there is no way in the world that you could get two people into the bath or shower.

The built in wardrobes in the spare bedroom have been finished (again) – but they have taken tiles off the skirting board and plaster off the surrounding walls…..more work for the working men to do – if anyone remembers old Flanders and Swann songs.

Still no working cooker….though update from later on Sunday is that this has now been fixed after some gentle persuasion.

The Afghani kebab takeaway meal from Friday night kept us going to 36 hours…..

I did get out yesterday to play some golf at Al Hamra – it was seriously cold there – and the thunder and lightening over the last few 7 holes was alarming!

Hit some lovely iron shots yesterday – and the 5 wood was working well – even the putter behaved. Was not driving as well as I like to – and not consistent. But close……and after so much rain the bunkers were almost unplayable….

Tai was back on 5th from MEL and SIN. But had to sleep at Millennium during the day while we wait for curtains to be dleivered.

Meanwhile in football fantasy land John Terry has signed up to star in a new TV show. It’s called Other Footballers’ Wives.

4 February 2010

The one advantage of moving and unpacking while Tai is away – I get first go at all the storage space – for a big two bedroom apartment there is a woeful lack of storage space and the built in cupboard units were obviously designed by a man who has only one suit and one pair of shoes….and must have been designed by a man – a woman would have known better.

This afternoon this guy walks in with a jacket that says Dubai Security – just walks into the apartment – who are you I asked – I am security – he is clearly checking on my friendly labouring team – so I had a go at him – telling him he had no right to simply walk in to a private apartment…and that next time I expect the courtesy of a font door bell and he waits til I invite him in.

9.30pm – I have been going flat out since 7.30am – I need a break. As long as someone does not come back and say why didn’t you do this – or why did you put that there or I though you were going to do it this way?

My humble view – after only one day it really does not look bad at all. If only I had internet and tv I could put my feet up and have a nice rest and a glass of wine.

Two days already without internet access – only another three weeks or more to go.

Last night I had to go to bed listening to the Fillipino rythm on Dubai One radio – 103.8. Not much rythm – so many sad sounding songs…it was suitable music for me!

I will get online – but that will mean hiking to Millennium Tower or to a wired coffee shop.

Someone has to explain to me why a building that is two years late has not already been wired by Du.

These were apartments that were supposed to “come equipped with modern amenities, high-tech facilities” according to the Dubai (take your money and run) Properties.

There is only one elevator operating in the building. Which is a real problem for removal and delivery people. But it is leading to some fun conversations with other owners and tenants in the elevator. No one has a good word to say about the building or DP.

Anyway someone must want an update on my move – though judging by the number of phone calls and SMS I have had (precisely none) most people dont give a flying fig !

The movers did the best they could in the circumstances – given dodgy elevators. I have no idea what they did with the laundry basket – though I did find the dirty laundry!

But when they finished at 6.30pm yesterday I was left unpacking what it had taken 4 guys to pack!

The cooker and washing machine were both delivered – one Italian and one Korean. It was the Japanese who screwed up. A call from Hitachi said they would deliver between 4.30pm and 5pm. She called 15 minutes later to say they would deliver the next day instead. I gave her an earful. She said I will call you back and never did – and three calls to there office went unanswered.

So it came today instead. After I had thrown out a collection of rotten fruit and veg. Useless.

And I already have a spectacular orange wall in the living room. Two coats of paint.

The contractors are proving to be highly entrepreneurial. They seem to have a period of overtime that starts at 5pm precisely.

My favorite curtain contractor was in this morning and will deliver new curtains on Monday. Expensive but I think he does a good job.

But – the contactors are still here rebuilding the spare bedroom. The closets have all been taken out and rebuilt. They were crap. But they should have been finished before the move and are still working away.

And they are not going to finish tonight – too busy earning their overtime doing things that they get paid for ! As tomorrow in Friday I guess it will be Saturday before the second bedroom can be used….

And the cooker has no switch yet. So I cannot cook.

And they are supposed to clean and polish all the door frames and doors. One day!

My cleaners also came in today. They cleaned all the surfaces and scrubbed the floors and bathrooms and cupboards etc. Good job. But there will be more for them to do on Saturday.

Still it actually does feel like it could be home for a while.

But for the moment – not much privacy – the contractors come and go when they want….lunch breaks, tea breaks, and a burst of activity when it is time for overtime!

And who put the toilet roll holder the far side of the bidet rather than next to the toilet – you need extra long arms and the flexibility of a contortionist to get anywhere near to it.

3 February 2010

Concerned at his declining popularity President Obama has entered the second year of his term with a presidential makeover:

2 February 2010
This will be my last night in Falcon Tower. I was meant to be here for a year – and have been here for 33 months.

It is a nice, well finished apartment. But the building still has no road access and there is a permanently leaking sewage pipe at the back of the car park.

The area has been transformed with new buildings all around.

The movers will be here in the morning – the new apartment is not really ready to move into. The fitted wardrobes in the spare room have all been gutted to be re-installed. And hopefully they will make a better job second time around.

There will be no internet or tv access until at least the end of the month. Bizarre really. The building is two years late. So Du – the sole telecom provider should have got the fibre optic network installed.

Guess I will be doing a lot of reading. And start listening to the radio again.

Will be able to use the wireless access at Millennium. But dont seem to spend much time there now.

Meanwhile there is hope for the over 50s. Emma Soames, the editor-at-large of Saga magazine, insists that 50 is the new 34.

31 January 2010

Tai has gone for the week – to SIN and MEL. We really do not seem to have much time together.

And can someone please define for me the difference between reminding someone and nagging somone……

We did see “Up in the Air” last night. Interesting; very topical. But for a smart guy Bingham must have known that his girl had a family and that Bingham was just for fun….it is the weakest part of the whole plot.

30 January 2010

A final note on Blair’s performance at the Chilcott enquiry – from Simon Jenkins in the Guardian –

“Chilcot did finally ask Blair if he had any regrets. It was an invitation to humility. Blair blew it, spoiling a near faultless performance. No, he had no regrets, not for toppling a vicious dictator and not for bringing a better life to the Iraqi people. He would do it again, and even let slip the word Iran.

For an audience which he knew included bereaved families it was too much. The room lost its self-control in boos and tears. The ghost face returned, and it stormed grim-faced from the room chased by bodyguards.”

29 January 2010

Old Jokes Home:

I went to a casino last night and was stood next
to a guy playing Blackjack who kept having win
after win after win. I couldn’t believe his luck,
then saw he was stood on what looked like
a bit of bread.

I asked him, “Mate, what’s that under your shoe?”

He said. “Shhh! I’m on a roll.”

28 January 2010

The constant debate in the Thai media of a potential coup makes for depressing reading – the old adage of no smoke without fire seems appropriate – something is going on but what ?

The Nation’s take on this is simple: Why, by who, against who:

“If you want an ulitmate “yes” or “no” to the question whether a coup can happen, here’s my take: So many questions are still up in the air. By whom? Against whom? On what grounds? To help Thaksin? To pre-empt possible return of his assets? To destroy the reds? To destroy the yellows? To destroy them both and risk the birth of a united front against the military?”

The Bangkok Post sees the coup as a coup against the opposition (Thaksin) rather then the Abhisit government that the army installed to deal with Thaksin!

The paper optimistically opines the “bottom line is that the military, the Bangkok elite and intellectuals must learn to respect the will of the people. Power must be shared. They must trust the people’s judgement and learn to live with the result of what the majority of the people want.”

Dreamers !

Riddle time: she flies; she shops; she sleeps. Who?

27 January 2010

Why does David Miliband sound so like Hugh Grant?

Its an I-Pad. It may also be known as the iSolate – for reading alone in cafes & avoiding human eye-contact.

It appears to be a large sized I-Phone – so works well for people with very large pockets or bad eyesight.

The stats:

– 0.5 inches thick
– weighs 1.5 pounds (0.7kilos)
– 9.7 inch multitouch display
– 1GHz Apple A4 chip (built in house)
– between 16GB and 64GB of flash memory

Rumours of another coup have been spreading like wildfire after 22 armoured vehicles rolled on to the streets of Bangkok on Monday night.

This is the Bangkok Post’s history of coups:

26 January 2010

Crystal Palace football club heads into administration. There will be others that follow. Maybe including Watford.

Funny para in a Dubai article in the Wall Street Jounal:

“Ahmed Al Sheikh, the head of a new media affairs unit set up earlier this month to coordinate the emirate’s communication’s strategy with the press, was unreachable for comment and didn’t reply to phone messages.”

He is only the head of the media affairs unit. In the middle of a financial melt-down in Dubai I think he might want to talk to the WSJ. He can ignore the Sun if he likes – but not the heavyweight press.

24 January 2010

We went to Executive Towers to day to see if there was any progress on our apartment. Sadly the answer is none. In 16 days they have done no work since the handover.

It is a continuing charade of broken promises. Pathetic.

Tai has me watching episodes of True Blood every night. On DVD. Which is good because at least 10 minutes of every show would be censored out on Dubai TV !

There are few happier occasions that reuniting a sock from the drier with one that has been in the drawer for a week waiting hopefully for its partner to return! An unmatched sock is a sad sight.

So the Thai courts are prosecuting Thaksin and his family for the gains that they made from holding shares in family businesses while Thaksin was Thailand’s PM.

It is just worth a note that in the last 6 months, Charoen Foods PCL stock has gone from 5.25 to 11.8. Current PM Abhisit’s father is a Director of CPF.

In addition another minister is the former son-in-law of CP’s major owner and according to one Dem MP, CP made an 80 million Baht donation to the Democrats; so should anyone be investigating whether there is policy corruption?

22 January 2010

These guys are worth a listen and probably great fun live – The Heavy

The Heavy web site

There are so many great American speeches: ‘Four score and seven years ago,’ ‘Ask not what your country can do for you,’ ‘I have a dream,’ and now from Scott Brown the republican elected senator for Massachusetts – ‘My daughters are both available.’

It was the weirdest of acceptance speeches.

Mamma Mia on TV for the hundredth time. Chick flick. But just caught the end – and the credits at the end are seriously funny. Pierce Brosnan in the 70s Abba outfit singing Waterloo. A classic.

21 January 2010

Outbound on EK 373 from Bangkok to Dubai – a half full A380. It really is a nice airplane to fly on – quiet, spacious, no silly boxes under the seat in front of you.

It has been a rather strange few days in BKK. A bit purposeless. But it is always interesting to wander Bangkok’s streets – though around lower Sukhumvit they appear to have become rather lawless. Every street and sidewalk is now littered all day with carts selling everything. And this goes on all day – with a change of shift later in the evening from food stands to streetside bars.

Tai meanwhile is in Mauritius – and having a beach BBQ.

20 January 2010

Had a very enjoyable dinner with Dennis and Edward last night – so good to catch up and talk and talk !! MiniBar at Citardines soi 23 has a nice patio that you can sit in for dinner or drinks – or both. And they serve a very nice chardonnay by the glass.

19 January 2010

Sign of the times _ Gatwick airport has a “Passenger shoe repatriation area.”

Meant to write more – but went for a 2 hour massage instead. Sorry.

Once upon a time – in fact only about 10 years ago, Hangzhou was a nice provincial Chinese town famous for its lake. Now it is a busy city, home of Alibaba among other new hi-tech businesses and this year will get three flights a day from Amsterdam on KLM.

Other airlines need to think about expanding beyond the big three of Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

So Orbit and Showtime – the UAE based TV company is to be renamed OSN – it will be launched next month with new channels and high definition offerings.

The network carries some 75 channels – with nothing (except some if its sport) to watch.

18 January 2010

Emirates is developing its A380 plans for 2010 – now take thes with a pinch of salt. Plans can change – and so can delivery dates – but there is an interesting focus on China.

The following routes are currently planned to be served by Airbus A380-800, replacing 777-300ER:
eff 01JUL10 Dubai – London Heathrow EK003/004 (Previously planned Daily A380 in W09 but postponed)
eff 01AUG10 Dubai – Beijing EK306/307
eff 01SEP10 Dubai – Manchester EK017/018, First Class offered
eff 31OCT10 Dubai – New York JFK EK201/202, this marks the return of A380 service to JFK
eff 01JAN11 Dubai – Shanghai EK302/303

I think it is the 18th ?

Nice to be back in BKK in January – the weather is fabulous. Would be happier if Tai had some time off and could be here as well. A holiday would be good for us.

15 January 2010

I am on my way to Hong Kong and then onto Bangkok. The flights are so full to BKK that it is easier on standby to go through Hong Kong and onto Bangkok tomorrow.

There is a huge Russian guy in the seat in front of me. He cannot have washed for weeks. Every time he moves the smell floods back down the airplane. It is not good.

And the guy sitting to my left – fortunately there is an empty seat between us must be a heavy smoker. The joys of travel.

Awful pictures on TV from Haiti; and CNN has provided some good reporting from there – helped by the short distance from the USA. But it must be hard to anchor the news programmes without getting emotional about some of the scenes. The trouble with Haiti is that it is such a poor nation in the first place.

The airport is so small and the damage so widespread that the relief agencies cannot get planes and equipment into the airport. The solution will be to transport through the Dominican Republic which share the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and appears shaken but unaffected by the quake.

14 January 2010

This is a bit obscene – A man named Said Abdul Ghafour Khouri has agreed to pay AED 52.2 Million (US $14.3 Million) for Abu Dhabi license plate labeled “1” at an auction at the 7-star Emirates Palace Hotel here, making it the world’s most expensive license plate .

Would be nice if that money was quickly diverted to Haiti…

More trouble on an EK flight – this one on Monday on the flight from Glasgow in the UK to Dubai.

Terrified passengers said that the cabin was filled with screams during a bust up between passengers and that the flight crew battled to restore order.

A passenger told The Sun newspaper in the UK that it started two hours before the plane landed.

“One man attacked another. One elderly woman nearby was so frightened she burst into tears,” a passenger was quoted as saying.

An Emirates spokesperson confirmed there had been an incident involving two passengers on flight EK0028 before arrival on Monday.

13 January 2010

Golf today at Al-Hamra. My game is slowly coming back and I played ok today – especially over the front nine holes. My short game is still poor. But it was a lovely sunny 25C day; a little breeze and a deep blue, cloudless sky. Very nice.

If ever a country needs help and sympathy – Hiati is it. What have those people done to deserve this ? Terrible earthquake – which may have killed hundreds of thousands.

One thing the world does well is disaster response. To their credit the Americans are always there. They were for the Tsunami. They are in Haiti. So are the Brits and Canadians.

You have to admire the Search and Rescue teams from around the world which head to these disaster zones – real heroes !

SkyNews says that the gritting trucks have been out in Birmingham England for 28 nights in a row! I guess that may be some sort of record.

Problems in the UK with more snow. Gatwick seems the worst affected airport. The overnight Emirates flight to Gatwick diverted to Heathrow and the morning flight EK15 diverted to Manchester due bad weather at LGW. The flight terminated in Manchester and will return back to Dubai as a ferry flight – with no passengers. All passengers from EK16 will be transfered by road to London Heathrow to fly on EK30/13Jan LHR-DXB.

That’s an example of the sort of chaos that the weather causes the airlines. And extra cost.


11 January 2010

EK cabin crew rant – brilliant! I get this every month when the roster comes out – although in Thai !

Chang Noi in the Nation (Bangkok) today:

“Will there really be a general election? Why would the military brass allow another election when they will then want to overthrow the outcome, exactly as they have done on the last two occasions – first by a coup, and the second time by a parliamentary manoeuvre? A third demolition might be technically more difficult, and politically more risky. A safer route might be simply not to allow a vote to take place. This will take some effort in coming up with the pretext, but several scenarios can be imagined.”

10 January 2010


Great film review quote –

“Avatar is a phenomenon you can’t ignore, monumentally imposing and done with extraordinary expertise – but the same could be said of the Dubai skyline, and I’m not sure that represents any future worth investing in.”

8 January 2010

Very nice indeed – the 787 in flight: from Boeing:

This is the sort of story that Dubai tourism does not need. The story came out in today’s Sun newspaper but has been picked up and confirmed by all the serious UK press as well.

Sydney Morning Herald on Tiger Woods – “he was helped in that by a golfing establishment that colluded in ensuring news of his girl-in-every-clubhouse habit did not get wider circulation. The game’s journalists, entrepreneurs and administrators alike shared a mutual interest in maintaining golf’s image of decency and honour, one that urgently required its leading practitioner not to be revealed as a serial philanderer.”

5 January 2010

The visitors gallery will open today at the Burj Khalifa – but not much else – the Armani Hotel Dubai announced today that it will open its doors to guests on March 18.

Given the renaming of the tower isn’t it just a little strange that Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed himself wasn’t there.

The Wall Street Journal’s speakeasy column got to the viewing gallery –

“After taking the brief ride to the 124th floor in one of the smoothest elevators I’ve ever travelled in, visitors are met with a bird’s eye view of the sprawling city – patches of desert, skyscrapers that appear tiny from such a height, unfinished buildings, the city’s Sheik Zayed road and interchanges – and perhaps the most impressive view of all – the Burj’s own shadow stretching out to the sea. “It’s like a huge sundial,” I heard one reporter say.

Even though you’re almost 2600 feet in the air, it surprisingly doesn’t feel that high. Despite my own fear of heights, I felt more grounded than I have done on other vertical tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. Perhaps the dirty windows helped. I was told that they had been cleaned just days before but that given their height they are prone to attracting dirt. I was also told that it takes six months to clean the towers windows from top to bottom so I couldn’t complain too much.

Inside the skydeck, there isn’t much to see. There is the obligatory souvenir shop and some trick viewing binoculars which allow you to see the view by day or by night, or in a live shot, but little else. Some information on what you can actually see from the viewing platform may be welcomed by the untrained eye, but like most things in Dubai, I put the lack of information down to the fact that the building is being opened when it’s not 100% complete.”

4 January 2010

Must remember – BK is Burj Khalifa and not Burger King ! That was a last change – the building has been known as Burj Dubai for six years ! But I guess Abu Dhabi’s support does come with a price.


Here’s the pitch on the way, a swing and a belt! Left field! Way back! Blue Jays win it! The Blue Jays are World Series champions as Joe Carter hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning and the Blue Jays have repeated as World Series Champions! Touch ’em all, Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!
—Blue Jays radio announcer Tom Cheek on the same moment as McDonough above.

Cape Town looks beautiful on TV – stunning blue sky over Table Mountain and Newlands.

Today is the big opening day of the Burj Dubai. As always Dubai is going over the top with its celebrations!

Some interesting graphic/art pictures of Dubai and its major buildings can be found here.

3 January 2010

It is almost 2am – and the folks preparing for tomorrow night’s Burj opening party are clearly determined to impress the neighbours. So they are practising. The water fountain is going full blast – it sounds like cannon being shot !

Alex left yesterday – and as he left for HKG Tai came back from Beijing for 24 hours before heading off to Moscow.

Tiger watch has been quiet – but this is fun: the National Enquirer claimed a further “scoop” with the revelation that the FBI and IRS are considering launching an investigation into his finances. Agents wonder if the golfer’s company or charitable foundation illegally used funds to pay for his girlfriends to travel around the world with him.

Quick update on Cadbury:

Kraft Foods is preparing to sweeten its hostile 10 billion pound ($15.9 billion) takeover bid for British confectionery maker Cadbury, reported the Sunday Times.

Irene Rosenfeld, chairwoman and chief executive of Kraft, will raise her offer in the next two weeks in a final attempt to persuade Dairy Milk-maker Cadbury to succumb to a bid, the newspaper said in an unsourced report, though it did not say what the bid would be raised to.

No-one at Cadbury could immediately be reached for comment.

The maker of Dairylea and Oreo cookies’ cash-and-share offer currently values Cadbury at 736 pence a share, 8 percent below its closing price of 797-1/2 pence on December 31.

There will be a price where enough of the shareholders will take the money and Cadbury will no longer be a British company.

Strange – 2 British companies that have dominated my life – Cadbury – my Dad’s company and Reuters (where I had 16 years) – will both be foreign owned.

1 January 2010

Alex’s last day in Dubai – and a quiet day after a late new year’s eve.

We went out to the mall of the emirates for dinner – and who should walk into the Butcher’s Shop and Grill – Thaksin Shinawatra and entourage! As we left he was gracious when we interrupted their dinner – shook hands and had his picture taken with Alex!

Think I should try and write up the last year – maybe even the decade – lots of thoughts – but not really crystallized yet.

Alex and I had new year’s eve turkey with friends in Millennium. It was one of those nice relaxed sociable evenings….though maybe I had one glass of wine too many !