Monthly Archives: November 2012

108. Environment

Fullard is his name eh? Eliminate him. But be sure to dispose of the body in an environmentally friendly fashion…

The planet is a moody thing.  No matter what we seem to do we are always being accused of polluting lakes, killing Arctic wildlife and leaving massive carbon footprints behind once we die.  Really, the planet is pathetically weak and if it can’t deal with a teeny tiny amount of carbon dioxide then we may as well move to a planet that can, like Mars.

Seriously, Earth is so temperamental.  I am getting increasingly cross with being made to feel like the bad guy every time I turn on a light or put an empty yoghurt pot in the bin.  Who do you think I am, Ming the Merciless?  Those of a left-wing persuasion love nothing more than a good moan about the environment, none more so than the prominent and highly regarded George Monbiot.  But every time I read his column I can’t help but feel like I’m being bullied or spat on, its mean, and in essence, hypocritical too.

I hate being told that just because I like cars I am the spawn of Satan and that because I also enjoy having lights on at night-time I should be hung, drawn and quartered without trial.  In the 1990’s the term “Global warming” was retracted and replaced with the term “Climate change” instead.  This was in response to the light-of-day fact that the planet wasn’t getting any hotter at all, it was simply fluctuating.  The science that alleges that mankind is to blame is highly flawed in my opinion, for one simple fact:  the planet is billions of years old and records only began in 1850.

Over the course of time the planet has undergone massive changes, it is only inevitable then that there will be cold years and hot years.  In fact, it is believed (not proved of course, because it can’t be) that the planet has enjoyed the most stable climate it has ever known over the last 14,000 years or so.  This in turn has made it far easier for the human race to develop into the supreme super-species that it is today.  I’m sure that over those 14,000 years there were 100 year long spells where it was a bit damp and other long periods where it was t-shirt weather for Johnny Caveman.

Since 1850 the technology for monitoring the weather and climate has improved drastically.  In those days a man would simply stand outside and look up, these days there are 1000’s of satellites orbiting the Earth letting us all know what’s going on not just at home, but in North Korea too.

Anyway, the Western powers have been barking on about this for some time, thanks Al, and as a result everyone in Europe has 5 different bins in their kitchens: one for food scraps, one for paper, one for glass, one for baby mess and one for goldfish.  What a disaster and perish the thought of accidentally dropping a tea bag in the goldfish bin by mistake.  And what do you do with half eaten food in plastic packages?  Scrape it all out and then realise you can’t throw the plastic tub away because you can’t remember which bin to use?  It’s a veritable nightmare.

The crusade of extremist environmentalism has finally hit the Middle East, with the UAE being noted as the big pushers.  I don’t mind recycling, in fact I feel quite smug when I use the paper bin, but I don’t like to brag about it, I just get on with it quietly without causing a fuss.  But the whole recycling issue in the UAE is biblically flawed, chiefly because it is as convenient as not having a head.

The way to get people recycling is to make it as easy and as convenient as possible.  I promise that only a tiny minority of people will make the effort to drive out to the outskirts of town to visit the massive recycling centre, and then only those that have cars will do so.  80% of the UAE population don’t or can’t drive so what do you think they are going to do with all the aluminium cans and stool ridden nappies?

No, this won’t do at all.  You can’t have a big place in the middle of nowhere and expect people to make the effort to take their bin fodder there in person.  There are two options as far as I can see to really get people recycling here and to do our bit to make Al Gore and George Monbiot wealthy and smug: either people are employed to go picking through the waste sifting all the recyclables or we just give up and hope for the best.

I know that sounds dreadfully crass but a plan aimed to achieve recycling has to be realistic and enforceable.  How in gods name can an offender who put a nappy in the paper bin be traced from the dump site?  We all live in blocks over here so how can the rubbish men determine who threw out what?  And would they even care?  It can’t be done.

But that’s recycling, what about energy conservation?  Air conditioning units are alleged to be “exceptionally harmful to the environment” and as such have been put in the same category as the atom bomb.  Ok, I’m sure we can save a little bit of localised air pollution by turning the air conditioner off, but then we would all be too hot and thirsty, so we would need to buy more water and then we’d be stuck with the plastic bottles and no way of getting rid of them.  Yes we could turn the lights off but then we would stub our toes on the table in the dark and require the use of plasters and that won’t help because there isn’t a bin dedicated to medical waste.

I yearn for simpler times I really do.  But the whole environmentalism issue needs urgent review and reform.  The mad West has already gone too far down an insane path with its EU legislation and taxation, but the UAE has an opportunity to do it right.  What that is I don’t know, but it must be convenient, free and enforceable.  I have no interest in spending my own money on it, nor do I want to make any effort.  It should be as simple as throwing something in the bin.

Now, I have 63 empty wine bottles on the living room floor, does anyone know what I can do with them?

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107. Beckham

Publicity is a curse upon this world.  In the good old days when the world was powered by steam and swords the only celebrities were the ruling monarchs, a few Generals and the odd playwright.  It was simple.  If you saw a gold carriage being towed by a white horse towards St. James Palace then you knew who was inside.  However, since the moving pictures were first invented things started to get out of hand.  All of a sudden Charlie Chaplin was famous, then Clark Gable and before you knew it Eddy the Eagle was selling us 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.

Fame and publicity are very highly sought after commodities.  Once upon a time they were difficult to come by.  In the same way that an Elizabethan groundskeeper dreamt for electricity, fame was something most of us could only ever imagine.  These days we have The Only Way is apparently Essex, Jersey Beach, Big Brothers, I’m a Jungle and of course, Made in Fulham Broadway.  Then we have the Twitterists, one goofy teenager says something mean to Cheryl Tweedy and its front page news, pushing the Syrian crisis back to page 24.  Alex Reid…need I say any more?

Of course then there are sports stars.  99% of athletes just get on with it and kick balls, jump fences or drive cars in circles.  There are those that have a certain appeal and become simple marketing tools, or brands.  The faceless corporations who all bathe in gold bullion find someone they like the look of, whether it is a beard, a chest or funny temper and mould them from a sporting hero into a logo, but there’s nothing new there.

These heroes’s can be used in great ways.  They can be used to sell shampoo, trainers, renewable energy or cheese.  They can also be used to raise the profile of something, like say, a sport in a developing country, most commonly this happens in football…  They are called “Franchise players”, designed not to help a club on the pitch, but for the club to build an image around.  They are worth billions.

Do you know how much stick I got at school after that goal?

You may have read this week that metro-sexual footballer David Beckham has tendered his resignation to his current team; LA Galaxy.  In case you don’t know who he is, David Beckham is an English footballer who is also as globally recognised as Coca-Cola, McDonalds and the moon.  Becks is a former Manchester United and Real Madrid player who also made 115 appearances for England, the second most.  He also enjoyed kicking Argentineans.  He shot to fame in 1996 when he scored against Wimbledon from the halfway line – I was there, my school life was ruined for there on in.

Anyway, his resignation from LA Galaxy has sent the footballing world into a Beckham bidding frenzy with top clubs from all over the world throwing their hats into the Beckham ring.  Of course through all the English Premier League, the La Liga, Bundesliga and other top European league clubs in the mix, there in the middle of them all is the UAE Pro League jumping up and down waving its arms in the air.

I despise franchising; its so fake and plastic it completely misses the point.  In football especially it has no place.  But my idealism, it seems, is old fashioned.  These day’s the whole artificial orchestration of top flight football is acceptable.

David Beckham, at 38, is coming to the end of his career.  He was a decent footballer by all accounts in his day, but then Jimmy Saville used to be a popular TV personality too, not any more.  There are apparently several UAE Pro League teams interested in hiring the services of Mr. Beckham, notably Al Jazira, Al Wasl and Al Ain Club.  But will Becks be wooed here?  And what will Victoria think?  Has the UAE got enough shops?

Can you imagine David Beckham playing in the UAE?  Now forgive me, but the standard of football over here isn’t great, Mark Lawrenson said so, and he’s right.  It’s a bit fumble-rumble, un-fancy and route one.  But the lads have pace; I fear that David won’t gel very easily.  But how do you think he would feel in the dressing room?  Knowing that the only reason he is there is not because of his current football abilities but because he appears on the Head & Shoulders bottles and Pepsi cans.  He would have to play each game, pushing a UAE star out on to the substitute’s bench and that is going to cause problems.  What if David isn’t playing well and the guy he has replaced could turn a match around?  Will he be left on the pitch to flounder?  What if he gets hit by a bus and breaks his legs?

Using David Beckham as pure publicity for the UAE Pro League is scandalous in my opinion.  They would be better off in investing more money in creating their own national heroes as opposed to trading off one of ours.  I wish that’s how we could do it in England.

My advice to David – and I hope he is reading this – is to stay away from the Pro-League, retire gracefully and be a family man.  Thanks for the memories, apart from that halfway line goal of course and we look forward to seeing you on Celebrity Jungle in a few years time.

Go back to England and teach our future players to kick like you.  You can still sell us Pepsi.

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106. Mistake

What are the odds that it will burn me twice?

Do you remember that time when you were about 6 years old when you wondered just how hot the iron was?  Do you remember touching it and experiencing a pain of such magnitude that disembowelling seemed like a preferential option?  After the blister had gone down do you remember telling yourself that, under no circumstances, would you ever touch the 7 trillion degrees iron ever again?  I bet you do.

Touching the iron was a mistake, and it’s a good thing I did it too otherwise I’d be sitting here, aged 28 and a bit, wondering just how hot it is really was.   Oh how the doctors would laugh at me as I pathetically explained that I was curious.  We all make mistakes and they really are the best things in the world.  Without having made an error then we would have no reference, no experience and no right to pass on knowledge.  I warned someone the other day not to change a lightbulb that was still hot, why?  Because I made that mistake myself once.  It is a right of passage.

Of course what separates the wise from the… err…not so wise…is the ability to learn from ones mistakes.  If you make a mistake you learn from it and don’t repeat it.  If you keep making the same mistake over and over again then frankly you’re not really showcasing yourself very well.

I want to make it absolutely plain that I am no economist, nor am I business man.  In fact, I’m a narrow-minded idiot who kids himself that he knows far more than he actually does.  But I have some questions about a recent announcement that was made.

In light of a recent decree by a top official from a certain country that shall remain nameless I am sitting here in fear that the Apache helicopters are going to start circling and a SWAT team are going to burst through the door and take me downtown.  As a result I cannot afford to be too open about who I’m talking about in the following paragraphs.

Do you remember a few years ago when Fred and Bob Lehman collapsed?  It was all over the news.  Anyway, there was a city called…Mubai…that was hit pretty hard.  In a nutshell they were royally f…screwed.  Such was the economic devastation that thousands of skilled workers lost their jobs, big companies folded and the city remains a half-done building site to this day.  It was only thanks to a $44 billion bail out from neighbouring Babu Crabby that stopped it going completely bankrupt.  You see, Mubai was built on credit.  It never had the starting capital to build tall skyscrapers and things; it was relying on future investment and tourism.  Oh how it learnt the hard way.

It came as a complete surprise to me this week that a raft of projects worth billions of Wirhams was commissioned in Mubai.  The projects include the expansion of something called the Wadinat Pumeirah and the construction of a pedestrian bridge over Mubai Creek, which is really a river.  Also, a multi million Wirham residential complex is planned for public sector law enforcers and of course the widening of a canal.

It all sounds great and there are no problems with the projects, but they are all jolly expensive and I can’t help but worry that Mubai hasn’t learnt from its past mistakes.  We’re in 2012 and the global financial meltdown was only in 2008, 2009 before it really took its toll.  That is still very recent.  There is no way that the $44 billion loan has been repaid to its neighbours so really, what’s going on?

The old saying of you have to spend money to make money is lovely, but it’s meant in context.  You can’t afford to spend beyond your means.  Mubai already has enough attractions and gimmicks to raise its profile.  Yes, more fancy hotels and bridges would be lovely in the future, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Don’t forget that the Wirham is pegged to the Dollar and the USA has trillions worth of debt.  If the unthinkable happens and the Dollar goes for a burton then Mubai, like a house of cards in a force 9 hurricane, will we wiped off the map completely.  Then the bailiffs will be around with their vans…who the bailiffs will be remains to be seen.

Just remember the parable of the Martin and the iron.  Burn yourself once out of curiosity, burn yourself twice out of stupidity.

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105. Teenagers

Do you remember being aged around 15-17?  I do, vividly.  They were some of the best years of my life yet also some of the worst.  You’re at that age when you’re old enough to go out by yourself and pretend to be a cool adult, but too young to actually do anything or go anywhere.  My friend’s and I would spend all week at school planning our Friday and Saturday nights.  We’d get a smart pair of jeans ready, a decent shirt, get some polish on the shoes, spray the Lynx, a splash of Joop and head out to town in the same direction as all the lovely girls.  Within 8 minutes our hope had been neutered by a big man in a doorway asking for a form of ID other than a library card.

It was a hopeless time, there was only one pub in the whole of Kingston-upon-Thames that would serve us; The Albion.  The reason being, I suspect, was that it was so crap and inhospitable that the owners just didn’t care.  And there were never any girls there.  Girls don’t need ID at that age anyway.  Sexist bouncers.

ID please. Says ‘ere that you’re name is Colonel Mustard and you were born in 1954. Where would you like to land, sir?

Usually what would happen is that we would go to one of our houses and deplete a father’s beer supply or take a bottle of mixed death to a park, sit on a bench and pretend to be vagabonds.  Upon turning 18 however, that was it, victory.  You would march up to the same bouncer who had been turning you away for a year with a smug grin, show him your driving licence and you’d be in, alone, because you’re friends don’t turn 18 for another 8 months.  Pathetic days, they really were.

Not much has changed; there is nothing to do for mid-teenagers anywhere in the world.  They are old enough to be pitching woo to the opposite sex, old enough to wish to adopt a lifestyle of partying, DJ-ing, dancing and drinking but too old to be stuck inside on a Friday night playing Cluedo with Grandma or watching Jim Davidsons Generation Game, if that’s still on.  Here in the UAE however the problem of occupation is ten time’s worse.

Growing up in hopeless Kingston there was always a chance you could get in somewhere, particularly at the end of the month if the brewery needed to push for its target income.  The worst that could happen is that you would get kicked out, no matter; you’d simply try somewhere else.  Here, can you imagine what would happen if an underage reveller was caught stumbling out of Barasti at 3am?  Worse still, the legal age for drinking is different.  You have to be 18 to drink in Abu Dhabi and 21 in Dubai.  I always thought that 21 is too old an age but that’s for another day.

Now then, as I wrote last week, the UAE has a tendency to come across as a confusing place for tourists and even expatriates.  Is it the country that will send you to jail for vomiting in the back of a taxi that you read about in The Daily Mail or is it that hedonistic party land where everyone wears swimwear and drinks Campari that you saw on TV last week?  It’s a nightmare to know what to expect.

The UAE, as we know, is an Islamic country and that’s great, their rules apply and we all abide by that.  We expats and tourists are allowed to quaff lager so long as we don’t create a pubic disturbance.  But we’re all old enough to do things and go places, think of the poor teenagers at home with Grandma and Colonel Mustard and his candlestick.  Well, an enthusiastic Irishman called Westleigh Flynn has come up with a solution.

He has started running teenagers only nights at his hotel, The Grand Midwest, and it all sounds great.  The ethos behind the move is to “treat teenagers like adults” and as such the strict, Blue Peter like motto is “No kids.  No adults.”  I confess I did snigger when I read this. It all sounds so dreadfully tedious.  I’ve had the misfortune to go to an under 18’s disco before an honestly, it is the worst thing in the world.  The music, the attitude, the suspicious looking DJ in a shell suit, the lack of booze…

Anyway the point of the whole thing is that it is supposed to be a place for “teeny-boppers” (cringe) to go and hang out and get a taster experience of what it is like to be an adult.  Stop right there, that is false advertising.  How does going to a nightclub where all you can drink are Banana Smoothies and 7-Up and play Fifa simulate adult life?  Where is the debt?  Where is the anxiety?  Where is the disdain for ones job?  Where is the fear that your wife will run off with the postman?  Where is the dread of the inability to deal with the hangover?  The car registration is up for renewal too.

All its doing is making these young teenagers believe that when they turn 18 in Abu Dhabi or 21 in Dubai their life is going to be one great big party.  Furthermore, when you go out to Barasti Bar or the 360 place there will not be Fifa X-Box games, there won’t be a piñata nor will there be pass the parcel.  No, there will be pretentious morons that you will want to hit, there will be people who will look at you like filth and there will be tequila to consume, and believe me that will likely put you off ever wanting to drink again.  There will be rejection, there will be self-loathing, there will be incurable hangovers and carrot chunks and you just wait until you see your bill at the end of the night.  You talk to a pretty girl about how good you are at Fifa on the X-Box and I promise you that you will be given the wrong number…

No, there is nothing to do for teenagers for a good reason.  Fluffy nightclubs with their computer games, lemon squash and CCTV do not prepare you for a real night out.  It all sounds like a paradise, and in essence it is.  You will be disappointed when you reach 18 in Abu Dhabi or 21 in Dubai when you go out, get laughed at by the regulars because you can’t neck a pint, get laughed at by the barman because you can’t afford the round and get laughed at by the girls because you’re wearing black shoes and they’re covered in sick.  No, the teenage years of hopelessness and failure prepare you for the day you’re old enough to hit the ground running and can learn for yourself.

Enjoy being a teenager and don’t waste time pretending to be an adult because honestly, it’s overrated.

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104. Cyber Crime

Ever since I started UAE Uncut I have always been very mindful of where I am and have always tried to avoid biting the hand that feeds me.  I think I do a good job.  Ok, some of the stupidest things in the world happen over here but they are to be laughed at and shared as witty yarns in company.  It’s not my fault that these things happen.

Stand up for what you believe in!

It is a fact that those who drive Land Cruisers are terrible drivers who spend their entire day just driving around trying to park in other peoples boots.  No one likes to queue because everyone has “wasta” and is therefore above the orderly peasants that surround them in McDonalds.  People over here think that wearing a seatbelt is weak and pathetic and if you are caught in one then you are obviously bent.  These quirks of UAE life are not stereotypes nor are they defamatory, slanderous propaganda.  It’s all true and is all very funny.  It can be considered in the same vein that all Brits complain about the weather, or all French complain about British, or those American states that think it is Austria that has all the kangaroos….it’s a light hearted quirk.

Here at UAE Uncut we enjoy a good laugh and like to make a mockery of our surroundings, not for any other reason that there is nothing else to do because Al Ain is boring, and it helps keep us sane.  At no point have I ever tried to defame the UAE, what you read between the lines is your interpretation.

This week four of the world’s biggest global franchises have been under threat.  First there was Amazon who were charged with tax evasion.  Then there was Google, charged with tax evasion.  Next there was Starbucks who were charged with tax evasion.  Finally there was UAE Uncut, not charged with anything but the cause of much sweating on account of a recent decree by a very important official who shall remain nameless for reasons I will now explain.

It has been decreed (a word previously heard in Star Wars) that a raft of jail sentences are to be dished out for the following “Cyber Crimes”:  Forging credit cards or ID cards, blackmail, incitement to carry out an “act”, eavesdropping, receiving emails, human trafficking, dealing with human organs, peddling narcotics, doing terrorism, explosive manufacturing, those who damage the reputation of the UAE, it’s institutions or its high ranking officials, organising demonstrations, stream videos or radio, intent of treason, threats to national security including the publishing of cartoons, abusing holy shrines and finally those caught being a paedophile.

A lot of this stuff appeared in the Magna Carta or has since been added to the law book in recent years, especially since the invention of the internet.  I agree that villains who abuse the interweb to incite hate and do naughty things should be punished and the subject needs no further debate.  The only part of this that made me gulp was the damaging the UAE COUNTRY X reputation part.  I have never done that.  Land Cruisers do that, not Martin’s.

Upon reading the decree I had to quickly trawl the UAE Uncut archives looking for any potentially dodgy material.  It all seems fairly above board and I’m confident that you won’t be reading about a “British Blogger sentenced to death by Land Cruiser” any time soon.

Freedom of speech is a good thing, except when it is about controversial issues that we don’t want to talk about.  Freedom of speech however is usually hijacked by the moron classes, like that twit who was burning poppies the other day.  That’s not freedom of speech, that’s just letting us all know you failed school.  Most of us rational writers try not to come out and say “it’s shit, it’s a joke”, but try to develop a case to convey an opinion.  The problem is where do you draw the line?  When do you stop being a writer with integrity (I wish I knew what that felt like) and start becoming a hate preacher destined to share a jail cell with Abu Hamza at the Guantanamo Heights Hotel by Rotana?  It’s a bit harsh, I think, to be put in the same band as Jimmy Saville.

What to do?  I’ll be honest; I cocked an eyebrow this week when I saw the headline “Blogger killed in jail.”  I had to slap myself hard to ensure it wasn’t me.  It turns out in fact, despite the best efforts of the headline to make me believe otherwise, that it happened in Iran.  Still it doesn’t change the fact that this region of the world gets very funny about blogging.  It’s not like the West where every day without fail the ruling governments are ridiculed and chastised.  Have you ever read Jeremy Clarkson or Charlie Brooker?  They’d both be jailed indefinitely over here.  What about poor old George Monbiot?  He would be killed for some of the guff he comes out with.

UAE Uncut would very likely suffer a readership decline if all I did was turn up here, make a joke about someone who keeps losing their keys, sneeze on the keyboard and then leave.  No, this can’t be allowed to happen.  So in true UAE Uncut style I have hatched a plan, which I shall share with you, my loyal readers…

…I shall henceforth continue as normal.

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103. Car industry

I was born in 1984, slap bang in the middle of Thatcherism.  I may have missed out on the milk, but I didn’t miss out on the legacy.  Whilst my respect for Thatcher is high (sorry Guardian readers) I can’t help but feel that sometimes I missed out on Britain’s finest years.  Ok, ok, I know that us Brits aren’t the most popular peas in the pod, sorry Scotland, but we are a tremendously proud nation, or at least we used to be.  Before the Big Brothers, the Strictly Come Make an Arse of Yourselves and the Essex way people, we were a proud, manufacturing nation that enjoyed the fruits of two century’s worth of imperial dominance.  Today, we lay broken on the floor.

I’ll be honest; I was born at the wrong time.  I always felt that I should have been launched in the 1940’s.  I carry a tremendous pride about historical Britain, not the invasions or the pillaging, but the engineering prowess and the never-say-die spirit that so genuinely defined us.

The closest I ever got to owning a British car were the ones that were made in China

I was watching a documentary about Britain’s fallen motoring industry the other night and it hit home the point that I, along with anyone else born from about 1975 onwards, missed out on Britain’s last hurrah.  We were to the development of the automobile as the Japanese were to the punctual train.  We invented the classic car, we put the soul into the motor, we inspired generations.  It was our greatest moment.

Think back to Formula 1 racing in the 1960’s, the big Italian and German manufactures such as Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz, they were the big players on their automotive pedestals.  Then along came a bunch of lads from their British sheds; Chapman’s Lotus, Tyrell, Cooper (their garage of which is literally 200 yards from my old house) and BRM… it was a renaissance of innovation that put the big boy’s noses out of joint.  Enzo Ferrari for one was a vehement critic.

Britain’s automotive legacy is astounding.  Lotus, TVR, Jaguar, Jensen, Aston Martin to name but a few, I am so gutted I missed it all.  My dad used to own a Triumph Spitfire which today is an equivalent of the Mazda MX-5.  How jealous am I that all I have to my own car history is an Astra, two Escorts, a Saxo, a 306 and a Focus…the latter I can’t even drive because it’s parked in Surbiton and I live in Al Ain.  No, to me it is all a proud history, a history that I was unable to be a part of.

Today we make nothing.  Just 8% of the UK’s work force is in manufacturing and cars are all outsourced.  Britain is littered with deserted warehouses that only serve as a reminder to those who know about the great nation that we once were.  To others, they are just derelict, soulless Brownfield sites ready to be pulverised into rubble and then redeveloped as a fancy accommodation complex intended for a market that will soon no longer exist.

Is nothing sacred?  Britain’s car industry was poorly managed; accepted.  British Leyland was a constant joke throughout the seventies and the private manufacturers, for all their engineering brilliance, were generally poor businessmen.  But their legacy of some of the finest cars ever built still lives on.  The sense of pride, I feel, is lost amongst people today.  It’s a sorry shame that Kim Karwhatatool and Amy Childs are revered as Gods and the likes of Colin Chapman and Keith Duckworth aren’t even known by distant fact.  I will quite happily sit their listening to an angry Argentinean give me the verbal’s about the Belgrano and the Falklands, or to an American repeatedly make me listen to the misplaced clap-trap that they “saved our ass in World War 2”, hell I will even entertain someone babble on about how Made In Chelsea is the best thing in the entire history of the world, but I cannot tolerate anyone who slags off or doesn’t appreciate our former car industry and what it gave the world.

Ok, forget British Leyland, but the AC Cobra, the Jensen-Healy, the iconic Aston Martin DB5… go on, what have you done?   So what they broke down all the time and were as reliable as a Virgin Train but they had soul, they had character.  They were – are – romantic, beautiful and all possessed a certain je ne sais quoi yet to be found with anything else.

Britain’s car industry is woven into the fabric of the land and that’s why we love it, it’s serves as a reminder to us of a time when we made a difference, a time when we fended for ourselves and that we could be – and were – the best innovators in the world.  The difference is that in those days Britain was flush.  Yes there was the intermittent recession and the occasional Labour government to deal with, but they were just short term nuances.  We had money unlike today, where we have nothing, not even enough to pay for the stamp for the letter we need to send to the IMF apologising for the cock up.  Today we import more than we export and that is a sum that equals loss.  If you don’t make your own stuff then you cannot sustain yourselves.

The UAE, unlike the UK, has money.  It seems a dreadful shame that they are spending it on farmland in Serbia and football clubs in Manchester when they could be hidden away in garages designing their own automotive classics.  We had to conquer the world to get all the money we could, the UAE doesn’t even have to wake up in the morning, the black gold is already under the ground.  My message is don’t waste the opportunity because one day the money will dry up.  And what will you have to show for it?  You can’t sell a Burj Khalifa or a Ferrari World as a collector’s item or take them for a cruise along the French Riviera.

Young Emirati aspiring engineers have a golden opportunity to design and create their own automotive legacy and should not waste the moment.  Stop importing all the Toyotas and Nissans and build your own.  Once the opportunity has passed it won’t come around again.  Us Brits will always have something that defined a golden generation of innovators, something that will always be worth something to someone; the British sports car.

Just don’t be like me and regret not being born 40 years earlier and missing it all…

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102. Fashion II

A while ago I decided that it was time to branch out and join the popular fold of beauty/fashion blogs.  In all honesty it didn’t go very well.  I was unable to differentiate between nail polishes and was certain that anyone who dressed like Justin Beaver was clearly a sandwich short of a picnic and had no worthy stake in society.  Living in the UAE for nearly 5 years has resulted in me losing touch with what is hot and what is not in the fashion world but I’m not one for giving up.  So, I’m going to give it another go and see if all my talk of fashion and eye liner can win me favour with the cool kids.

In the UAE there are indeed many different people who, when on a night out, dress like imbeciles.  Last night my fiancé and I were out in a reputed Al Ain bar when our evening was interrupted by a group of people making a dreadful din.  One of their party was a child and was promptly turned away, and two others were wearing shorts.  Shorts are not allowed in this bar yet the ringleader of the ensemble persisted to argue.  He lost his battle and the inappropriately dressed males in their shorts were asked to leave.

Curiously, the ones wearing “trousers” were, as far as I was concerned, 10 times more offensive than those in shorts.  I am not making this up, one guy, who was plainly a lifetime member of the Association of Utter Morons, was wearing a tight fitted pink t-shirt that looked as if it had been purchased from Mothercare.  He twinned this with a pair of exceptionally tight fitting trousers that looked like flowery wallpaper ripped from the walls of a 1930’s middle class home.  And sandals!  Sandals!  On the left steroid enhanced bicep there was a tattoo of some pretentious Japanese writing that probably didn’t make any literal sense in actual Japanese and of course his haircut was embarrassing to look at; shaved on both sides with a tuft running from bow to stern on the top.  By all accounts he looked absolutely ridiculous.  Oh, and we could see his underwear too.

He was the worst example, the rest of them were similar.  I have never been so angry just by looking at people.  How can two lads wearing plain shirts and smart shorts be turned away, yet this buffoon be allowed inside?  This is the kind of person who thinks that he rules the roost and that his inane plumage will attract him girls and money.  No, my friend, anywhere else in the world and it will attract bits of broken glass, snooker cues and some very mean words.

Of course though, what right do I have to judge someone by what they choose to wear?  Every right as far as I’m concerned, but my arrogance of what a real man should be wearing was today completely blown out of the water.  I sit here well and truly humbled.

…Darling this colour is just all wrong! She is the bride of Satan.

Today I was fortunate enough to have lunch with the UAE’s answer to Trinny and Susannah.  They spent quite a lot of time explaining to me how I could improve on the whole fashion lark and increase UAE Uncut readership at the same time.  Wow, fashion brilliance and viral glory, double bubble.

Sadly it would seem that my flippancy does not win me any fashion credits as I was charged with the most heinous of crimes; an innocent intention to wear black shoes.  It would appear that black shoes are like, so last century, and for a man to wear them with a suit is akin to some pious z-lister wearing fur to a PETA meeting.  No really, wearing your grandmother’s curtains to a fancy bar, that’s ok, wear black shoes to a wedding and you’re tarred with the same brush as Jeffery Archer.

They both got very cross with me when I innocently stated that I would be wearing a pair of black shoes to both my best friends wedding next March and my own wedding next July.  Honestly, I would have received more favourable glares from them both had I come out in support of the late Jimmy Saville.  No, black is out.  Brown is the new black.  I have nothing against brown shoes, in fact, I already own brown shoes.  I prefer them, but I assumed that they would be a bit too loud for a formal occasion such as a wedding.  I am wrong on every level apparently.

I totally understand that some colours shouldn’t be mixed; I for one would never wear a pair of orange shoes with my pink trousers, but black, I thought, was a guaranteed winner every time.  It got me thinking, what else am I doing wrong?  I look around and I see every conceivable kind of style on display.  No matter where you are in the UAE there are jeans, shirts, dresses, skirts, baseball caps with labels on worn at obtuse angles, curtains, feathers, jars of mustard…it seems that just about anything goes.  So how can we determine what is right and what is wrong if you can smear a jar of Colemans over your chest and call it an office shirt and still be accepted as normal?  It’s a veritable smorgasbord out there, who’s in charge?!

If anything goes with anything then why can’t a pair of black shoes be worn with either a grey or a navy suit?  Is it just too far out there?  No, apparently it just doesn’t “go,” a misappropriated verb that has seemingly lost its meaning.

I may understand Middle Eastern politics, the social effects of the Eurozone recession, what really happened to Coventry in the Second World War, know how a server infrastructure works and how to make the perfect scrambled eggs, but I just don’t understand how the world accepts flowery skin-tight curtain trousers and has turned its back on black shoes.  They are the fallen giants of gentleman’s fashion, gone the way of the pocket watch and the bowler hat; relic’s of a forgotten time.

Still, I don’t like black shoes anyway and the silver lining is I don’t have to buy them now.  I just need to smear some mustard on my brown ones and I’m lit.

There, can I be a popular fashion blogger now?

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101. Grand Prix

You are reading the words of a man who has been obsessed with Formula 1 since 1991.  Ever since I was a young boy I have followed the likes of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell through to Damon Hill, David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen to Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.  I have books upon books and magazines stacked to the ceiling going back to the early 90’s.   I therefore consider myself very F1 savvy.  Go on, ask me anything.

I have not missed a Grand Prix since Monaco 1998; I have been to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone twice and now the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the fourth year running.  Unless you have been yourself you will never understand how loud the cars are or how fast they actually go.  It is a great day out by all accounts.  The Yas Marina circuit has received very negative reviews since its inaugural race in 2009.  Oh there’s nothing wrong with the facility, that is world class, but the circuit design has not permitted overtaking and the first 3 races were, in essence, pretty damn boring.  This year though there was a German child who started from the back twice and came home third, a wannabe rapper was leading but then his car broke so an angry Finn grumpily took the lead.  Then there was a mono-browed Spaniard driving fast as well as my boy, Button, who got passed by a German finger-wagger at the end.  There were expensive German cars trying to decapitate Indian drivers, a Mexican lad facilitating war between a Scotsman, a Frenchman and an Aussie… the action was just non-stop.

A Formula 1 Grand Prix is a prestigious event to behold and across the world the races can be broken into two distinct categories: first there are the traditional European races that are designed for motorsport enthusiasts.  They are all about the race because they have been hosting it for anywhere between 20-60 years.  The circuits will possess unique characteristics and have a strong place in the history of the sport.  The second category of circuit is the advert circuit.  Mainly, these are the newer Asian circuits.  They have built a circuit and been awarded a Grand Prix (for an eye-watering fee) simply to showcase their city/country to the world.  They are no different to the tacky poster of an Airbus flying over a beach that you see in the window of your local of Thomas Cook.

There is nothing wrong with that at all.  All of these category 2 circuits are built by the same bloke; a German called Herman Tilke, and all possess very similar characteristics.  You basically receive your circuit and facility in the post and just like what you buy from Ikea, you throw it together yourself.

So Bernie, what are you going to do here in Abu Dhabi this weekend? “I’m off to 49ers”

Of course what we’re all waiting for is the race itself.  The average Grand Prix will receive anywhere between 80-140 million viewers around the world, all of them will be watching you.  Before the cars start their engines the cameras will do some wonderful panning shots of the fans in the grandstands and so on, and maybe what’s happening in the public areas too.  All those millions of viewers will be there, taking it all in and judging your country deciding whether or not to book a week off work.

The question is what did all those viewers see?  Did they see the UAE, no wait; it’s a showcase for Abu Dhabi, not the country.  Obviously the first thing the people saw on the TV was a jaw-dropping, no expense spared venue with its real grass and space-age hotel.  People look at that and think “wow” and who can blame them?  Whether you like the Yas Marina circuit or not you cannot knock the facility.  It has raised the bar for sure and I doubt there are many other countries around the world that can rival it.  But all the glitz, glamour and Heinz baked beans blue paint is only detracting the audience from something alarming…

I was in the Marina Grandstand on Sunday and once the race had started I looked around and do you know how many locals I saw?  In a Grandstand of 10,000 people I saw two; who left after 15 minutes.

I looked down the track to my right at the South Grandstand, expecting to see a sea of white kanduras, but no, it was all Westerners.  I looked to my left, at the West Grandstand, it was the same.  There weren’t any locals anywhere.  It was all expatriates and tourists.

Those of you watching it at home may have seen the odd local on TV, but I bet the cameraman had a tough time finding them.  And there’s more…

Around the back of the grandstands are obviously social areas where you can spend AED 450,000 on a baseball cap or AED 6 million on a cheeseburger.  There is also a bar where you can stock up on refreshing beer.  Modesty in dresscode also fell below conventional UAE standards.  Whilst I’m not complaining about it, (sorry Mel) there were lots of pretty girls wearing next to nothing and walking around most provocatively.  And (I am complaining about this part) lots of men walking around topless; drunk.

Whilst this kind of behaviour is perfectly normal anywhere else in the world, the UAE is a conservative place where people have been in trouble with the law for a lot less…  Honestly walking around the place on Sunday I could have sworn I was in Malibu, Miami or Melbourne.  The TV audiences must have been on Google Maps trying to pinpoint where this paradise island was and who and where the natives were.

The people at home watching all this must have been scratching their heads thinking “is this the same country where that British couple got jailed for kissing in public?” No, that was Dubai, Dubai is much worse.  Same country though.  It is no surprise that expatriates and tourists are always getting into trouble over here; the UAE is being advertised as a hedonistic party land where the liberal and the orange can live the life of the jet set.  This is in stark contrast to the reality…or is it?  Nobody knows!

If you came over for a holiday with the intention of getting paralytic each day because that’s what you saw in the advert, but you got nicked for it, wouldn’t you want your money back?

You should call Watchdog. 

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100. Century

UAE Uncut thanks YOU! And the UAE, without the UAE this would just be a blank, pointless website.

Well, we did it.  We got to 100 blog columns.  In just 9 months I have strung together nearly 100,000 words about all things UAE.  When I first started ranting in my own little corner of cyberspace I envisaged posting one missive of thoughts each week.  Before she was launched, I scribbled down a few areas that I could cover in what is now called UAE Uncut.  I struggled, but I got as far as 23 subjects that I felt I could write about.  For a start I thought that that would be suitable; 23 weeks worth of guff that should cover 6 months.

But no, every morning I opened the paper there was something else that grabbed my attention that required instant ridicule or discussion.  Over the last 100 blogs we have examined many, many different things.  We have spoken of acrobatic plumbers who twirl and dance whilst installing boilers with boot laces.  We have identified that the Apple classes have too much money to spend on what is basically the same product as the one they are replacing.  Tables and chairs not making sense, music all sounding the same and the need to use the hot water tap for cold water and the cold water tap for hot water.  We have compared Emirates Road to communism and have identified the Toyota Land Cruiser as perhaps the greatest threat to mankind since the invention of the nuclear weapon.

Most of the writing I produce is rubbish.  Hatchet job scribbles with spurious connections laden full of poor factual references, sloppy explanations, flawed solutions and highly questionable conclusions.  But now and again sometimes a good one slips through the mill and makes its way through some cables to your computer.  These are usually the ones that do the worst on the stats page, unlike the rubbish ones, which seem to be the most popular.  It is clear, then, that I do not understand my target audience at all.

Every now and again I get to a stage when I think that I have bled the land dry in terms of subject matter.  In the same way that the UAE is worried about the oil running out, I am worried about the blog matter running out.

But no, all it takes is for a mad law to be passed that bans the use of air conditioning between noon and 3pm or for a story about a man who claims to the courts that he was tricked into mainlining heroin into his veins by some children, and bang, we’re back in the game.

Of course without my readers I would just be an angry man shouting at his laptop whenever the mood struck.  Yes I have offended a couple of people, but it’s not my fault that you’re thick and don’t understand irony.  The rest of you guys have been very loyal to UAE Uncut.  For that I am truly grateful.

So, then, 100 down…we’ve barely scratched the surface.

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99. Weatherman

And today there will be some unsettled tractors falling on Manchester…

It was my third birthday.  I was supposed to be having a party, nothing ostentatious, just some fellow 2-3 year olds doing what we did best: passing a parcel, eating jelly and sandwiches and deciding like Caesar and his thumb what presents were keepers and what was bin fodder.  But no, instead of being showered with Lego and Ghostbusters figurines I was showered with rain, wind, trees and anything else that wasn’t made of titanium alloy and welded to the floor.  It was the great storm of 1987.

It has gone down in history as one the worst storms to batter Britain in recent times.  One of the reasons why it was so memorable was that Michael Fish – a prominent stalwart of British weather forecasting – told us all quite clearly that there was nothing coming.  A woman rang the BBC meteorological office and claimed that she had heard that something was brewing over the Atlantic, it was dismissed as codswallop.  Oh how the BBC blushed as the rain beat down harder and every tree from Penzance to Port Vale became horizontal.  Although these days I guess inaccurate weather forecasts are the least of the BBC’s concerns…

It was, however, a turning point.  Ever since then the Met office has made considerable efforts to take old ladies more seriously and provide the British public with far more reliable, accurate weather updates.  The UK tax payer pays millions each year to ensure that they know when to take a brolly or when to take the sun lotion.  Still though, they get it wrong.  But it is not wrong in the common sense of the meaning, they are very careful with their syntax and discourse.  “And over the south east we expect some clouds and for it to be unsettled.”  Unsettled?  What the hell is “unsettled?”  Unsettled what?  Air pressure?  Is the ambient temperature going to fluctuate between freezing and 35 Celsius at sporadic intervals?  Is it going to start fighting itself?  It’s very clever, pretending to be smart by just using vague and general terminology, but you’re not really helping us; Pac-a-mac or factor 15?

The charade that is the British meteorological office however is nothing by comparison to the NCMS; the UAE weatherists.  They are without any shadow of a doubt the most incompetent of them all.

I work at an outdoor sporting arena – if you like.  Knowing what weather to expect is crucial to my work.  If it is raining or there is some “unsettled” weather coming then I need to take precautions and implement procedures.  In some cases people’s lives could genuinely be at risk.  One pleasant evening back in 2009 I enjoyed a warm, sunny day at work.  By mid afternoon and out of nowhere a sandstorm of truly biblical proportions ambushed us.  It was joined by perhaps the heaviest and most violent wind/rain combination I have ever experienced in all my life.  1987 seemed like a mild breeze by comparison.  I could not see 2 feet out of the window.  It felt like a bomb had gone off, or that an articulated lorry had crashed, repeatedly, into the fascia of building.

During the bedlam I hopped onto the internet and to my surprise was being repeatedly told that outside the weather was “sunny”, that there was a 4 M/Ps breeze and that it was 35 Celsius.  I looked out the window, between the cars, camels and mountains that were flying past to double check and to make sure that I wasn’t imagining it all.  Sure enough, I was right.  I relentlessly searched the internet looking at articles or updates that I may have missed warning us about the impending typhoon; nothing.

It lasted only 20-30 minutes and upon its conclusion revealed what I assume the world may have looked like after the Moses and that whole flood/Ark story.  It was just total devastation.  My entire facility was ruined.  Outdoor structures made from both wood and steel that weighed close to a ton had been obliterated, the perimeter fence was gone, windows blown in.  Nothing was left.

The next day there were 3 articles across all national media saying that Al Ain had experienced a drop of rain and some “unsettled” weather.  What did the NCMS have on their website?  It had that bloody sunshine symbol, the word “clear” and a nice balmy temperature printed in a bold Ariel font.  Did it say that we were expecting rain again?  No.  Did it rain again?  Yes.

Now I understand that 99% of the year it is indeed very warm and very sunny here in the UAE and it can be easy to get complacent.  But when it rains, or indeed when a sandstorm comes, it brings the entire country to a complete standstill.  People don’t leave the house, youths go out to power-slide on the roads and children don’t go to school.  We need to know what is coming so that we can take precautions.

Although the UAE isn’t as flush with cash as it makes out to be it is still doing a damn sight better than most other countries around the world.  Do you think that we could invest a bit more money into the national meteorology office and a little less into water parks and islands shaped like the world?  I know that we’ve come a long way since Michael Fish but seriously, how hard can it be to follow some clouds?  We the people will only complain if you feed us lies or just don’t bother at all.  You can cover yourself and your incompetence by just coming out saying that it is going to be “unsettled”.  We can’t complain then because it doesn’t actually mean anything…

In some cases the weatherman can be a hero.  But no matter how hard they try sometimes tragedy is unavoidable.  The true force of mother nature was realised this week and our thoughts go out to all those who lost their loved ones across the Caribbean and the USA.

I can’t even imagine how devastating it must be.

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