Tag Archives: Happiness

173. Phlegm

What is the worst thing in the entire world? You’re wrong; it’s having one of those precious moments of genuine contentment ruined by something – or, more commonly, someone – else. My wife and I are very much strong believers that happiness is an attitude, and can be achieved quite simply by taking a step back and looking at what you do have, as opposed to what you don’t. In recent months, as I hunt for the right job, – as a Features Writer, by the way. Do get in touch – I have been tested to the extreme. Nonetheless, everyday I am reminded that at the end of it all I have a wife, a decent flat, a mild bout of health, and enough hopes and dreams to feed the five-thousand. I don’t live in a crowded labour camp, or in Chad, or indeed even in Croydon. Nope, here are my blessings, watch me count them…

I doubt it, Pharrell, I doubt it very much indeed.

I doubt it, Pharrell, I doubt it very much indeed.

That being said, when one spends most of his time eating crisps and trolling celebrities on Twitter, the odd sense of achievement or exultation is certain to be occasionally lacking. In any normal situation I would whistle away the hours by getting the Black & Decker out and hand crafting a shower-curtain rail, or trap door, or even a working replica of the SS Great Britain. But since I nailed – pardon the pun – all that a few months ago, there is nothing left to fix or build. My vacuuming is clinical and the crockery is spotless, the laundry is freshly pressed and the DVD’s are arranged alphabetically.

So in order to try and break the mould and step beyond the blue walls of my flat, I’ve started to go about town to look for things that might cheer me up. After dealing with the thriving metropolis that is Al Ain for five and a half years, I am still relatively unconditioned to the bright city lights of Abu Dhabi. Once upon a time, TripAdvisor  was for those lucky folk who didn’t live in Al Ain. But now the content is relevant to me, so I can exploit it, and, you know, actually do “stuff”.

In keeping with this bold, new take on life, yesterday I decided to go for something called a “massage”. It’s a thing you go to where you trade your clothes for a pair of unflattering paper pants, and an Asian woman climbs over you poking at this and that; all for the reasonable sum of AED 140. It’s cheaper than a night out on the beers, and more far more rewarding, too.

During a night out downing pints of Arthur Guinness’s finest black stuff, you enlighten yourself and others with mad, right-wing logic and the feeling of serenity is, at the time, akin to being the Almighty himself. Then you cross the threshold and are sick on your shoes. The happiness you thought you were experiencing quickly renders itself inert and the next morning is spent popping Panadols like Tic-Tacs

Unlike a night out on the sauce, you emerge from a massage genuinely enlightened and contented. You’re relaxed and loose, and are able to touch toes that were once as far away from your fingers as Neptune. As opposed to walking down the road smelling of sick and second hand smoke, you walk down the road smelling of baby oil and paper pants, you feel invincible to all the wrongs in the world. For once, your disposition is at ease; you are properly relaxed…


…Who are they? These vulgar cretins whom so callously swoop from the soiled shadows to hock up hairballs of phlegm and expel it from their oral orifices right into your path?

Is it not the most odious, vile, repulsive, detestable, abhorrent, revolting sound and sight you have ever witnessed? It’s wherever you go, from the streets to the malls, dirty men hocking up phlegm at such a volume it’s amazing they don’t actually explode.

After my massage I was skipping along the street, swinging around lamp posts, greeting people in song and helping pensioners to cross the road when, out of nowhere, some ill-mannered troglodyte jumped out from behind a phone box and hocked up an entire lung; my congenial levity evaporated and was replaced with a big puddle of discarded lung juice.

Instantly my new-found love for the world, with its chalky white castles, rolling green hills, and cuddly critters was replaced with a dark, haunted forest of vengeful hate and pestilence.

The simple solution to this would have been to go back and get another massage, to restore the faith. But this dynamic does have some longer-term flaws, especially for someone as unemployed as I. The other solution was to commit Grievous Bodily Harm, but this is illegal and fraught with lengthy and inconvenient consequences. A real conundrum.

Mall toilets are very bad for this whole phlegm thing. There you are, having a wee, when Johnny Snotty comes in to brush his teeth with his finger. After all the farting he feels the need to clear his oesophagus, just at the very moment you are bound by science to be unable to put your fingers in your ears. You can’t take your hands off the task at hand, so you’re stuck and forced to endure the repulsive hocking. It’s made all the worse when the guy next to you thinks you’re mad because your eye is twitching.

What is to be done about this menace, this scourge of the streets? I know for a fact that the rest of you are all as disgusted by this as I am, and I fear that our only method of combat is a good old-fashioned Public Awareness Campaign. I am therefore calling on all UAE Uncut readers to share this blog post around cyberspace, or to print it off and nail it to telegraph poles all around the UAE, or even to distribute it en masse in every public place you find. We must get the message out to the people that hocking up your vile phlegm is as vulgar as… as nothing else. Nothing else is that disgusting, nothing even remotely compares.

Together we can spit in the face of the Phlegm Hockers, and once they’re dealt with we’ll all go for a massage and be able to, finally, prove that happiness is a self-appointed attitude.

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71. Happiness

What is happiness?  No, really.  Can it be defined?  When I was a youth, happiness was playing with my Lego, and then my Nintendo.  Before the callous franchising of the old Wimbledon FC to Milton Keynes, I was happy to leave Old Trafford with a draw, and then ecstatic when we knocked the Red Devils out of the F.A. Cup in 1997.  I was happy when AFC Wimbledon gained promotion to the football league in 2011.  I was also happy to see Damon Hill win the Formula 1 Drivers World Championship in 1996, as I was for Jenson Button in 2009.  I was happy when I passed my driving test 10 years ago, happy when Gordon Brown lost the last general election and happy the day that my Dad got rid of that awful British Leyland monstrosity; the Austin Maestro .

These are all circumstances, one off events that made me happy.  They happen, make me joyful, fade away, and then I’m back to reality.  It begs the question, is happiness a long term thing and can it be achieved?  I am forever hearing and reading about people who yearn for happiness, “I just want to be happy” they chant as they sink another cocktail and put their head in their hands.  Well, what’s stopping you being happy?  Seriously what will it take?

The first step is to slap yourself repeatedly and vigorously.  If you start bleeding from the cheeks then you have gone too far.  So slap in moderation.  You must drill it into yourself that you will never be happy if you keep telling everyone that you want to be happy.  This is pointless.  In the time you spent rambling on about what you do and do not want, you could have taken some affirmative action to find some of this elation that so eludes you.

Well, as luck would have it, I am here today to let you all in on a big secret…are you sitting down?  Happiness is not a destination, it’s a journey.  I know that scores quite highly on the blog-o-vomit scale but its true.  If you are sitting around waiting to shit a golden egg then you are going to be grey and old before you realise that your life has whizzed past in a whirlwind of chance and missed opportunities.  Happiness is not so much a choice but a perception.  You may not be happy about going to the same pub with the same people all the time, but for someone else that may be their idea of heaven.  You can’t pretend to be happy when you’re not.  You have to do whatever it takes since only you can make the changes, if not directly, then you have the power to manipulate circumstance in your favour.

So where does the UAE fit in to all of this?  Well when I first moved over here many moons ago I was a little scared.  It’s a strange place to get used to and I was primarily focussed on my work.  I plodded along for quite some time, then had a breakdown, then recovered, I was never unhappy, but nor was I overly happy either…I was just normal, mildly warm somewhere in the middle.  I was a bit lonely yes, but not unhappy.

You see, the UAE is a curious place that receives very mixed reviews.  Some people – like me (despite how I come across on this web-page) – love it.  Some people give it a far more negative appraisal and in all fairness their perception can be justified.  The UAE offers a lot to expatriates like you and I, but, and I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say this, sometimes you can’t help but feel that everything you do is a legal faux pas.  Drinking a beer, holding hands, running nude along Sheikh Zayed Road, you always feel that you could get into trouble.  And it’s this kind of attitude that can hinder the whole happiness matter and put people off taking a shot, or even coming here to begin with.  Think what these missers are potentially missing out on.

It’s these negative perceptions – spearheaded by Rupert Murdoch and his mindlessly immoral empire – that drive people away.  Had I believed all I had heard and read about the UAE without having seen it for myself then I would never have come here in the first place.  And that is scary.  Scary because had I not taken a gamble and boarded that Etihad Airways flight in 2008 then I would not have met a very special someone last summer.  I therefore would not have been able to start my journey through – not to – happiness, and this journey makes me very happy indeed.  Who would have thought I would find the route through happiness in a pretend English Pub in a small town called Al Ain on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula? The Lord does indeed work in very mysterious ways.

So, to conclude today’s dispatch, I would like to formally announce the engagement of Miss. Melanie Croxon and Mr. Martin Fullard.  Happy now, happy forever, and no Austin Princesses…

The official engagement picture…with thanks to our stunt models Terry Scott and June Whitfield… Mel, we’re not driving anything made by British Leyland…

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