Monday, 3 November 2014

Stuck in England

I always asked folk not to ask me what it's like being back - leave it til November I would tell them. It is as if I am expected to have some kind of breakdown and zoom off back to the over-paying, foolish and sleepy end of the world again. Reasonable I suppose as I did enjoy the hot weather, warm water, great beaches and over-priced beer and bar-life and all the trimmings of being a semi-detached expat. The kind of expat theatre that is just not on offer in rain swept, intelligence empty, Mail friendly, UKIP voting Thanet. And, at more irrational times you get to thinking there is also something to be said about living in a dictatorship when Fucking Farage is due to become your MP, that's worrying on two counts.

Still, the work here, though poorly paid is good fun and a short walk from home. Now only teaching intelligent adults, all on the IELTS 7 and above scale aside from the Gulf men of course who seem destined never to get beyond the 4.5 they left Saudi with. Shame their sisters are not allowed out. Doubtless, they would morph into lust filled jezebels and harlots were they to have done so bring shame upon their families and be unable to marry their already DNA shy first cousin. I kind of feel for these guys with none of the bluster and arrogance and even charm they have back home. The news reporting of all things Arab and Islam cannot make them comfortable especially since the actions of Brother Isis is nowt to shout too loudly about which is of course why it's much easier to talk about football, then so long as its only Barcefuckinglona and Bloody Real.  So talking about the celebration of devils, ghosts and women in sexy witch costumes is way beyond the comprehension of the Gulfies.  Though Guy Fawkes, or at least its, anti-catholic origins, do spark some recognition all of which makes me regret not learning Arabic if only to find out what they say about their time in Thanet and its devil worshipping not always sober men and women, children dressed as demons and  a pagan fire lust. Cultural diversity and understanding across the nations - 'tis a wonderful thing

Friday, 5 September 2014

A dose of nostalgia - fat bloke and his birds

Meant to post this way back but forgot / got distracted / couldn't be bothered but now far away in England at the far arse-end of a squib summer not returning to warm places a small burst of nostalgie took hold...

....taking a stroll along the length of the beautiful white sands of the Corniche on a Friday afternoon, bordering the warm blue Arabian Sea. Yes,  you get to see many fine and interesting multi-cultural sights. Tories and other smaller UKIP style minds - if they can indeed be credited as such -  would hate it. Usually, when the heat has become bearable by 5.00 the beaches are taken over by serious groups of lithe young men playing footy at quite a good level in their ubiquitous Barcebloodylona tops, or daringly, no top at all. No were this the local beach in Kent, there would be a profusion of pale, fat, tattooed wobbly, hairy guts and a good look it would not be.

Before the football boys emerge for their frolics, other wildlife is also at play including large Indian families having a bustling fragrant barbecue. Not an overcooked quarter pounder in sight nor thankfully can you see a packet of Pringles - a crime against food if ever there was. Nor any wobbly tattooed bellies or footy tops.

Non-Gulf Arabs abound too having a feed in which contrary to petty prejudice and sullen stupidity the sexes do mix and even women may wear a fashionable scarf and definitely no ninja clothing at all very elegant really. No baggy tracky bottoms here nor lumpy pink flesh with cheesy tattoos on show that's for sure unless you're a tacky Brit with various tendrils, names and dates graffiting the purulent pink flesh. Why?  And if you are a Brit you are likely to be snaffling a cheeky poorly camouflaged drink, if only because you can.

On my way for a sundowner
There are plenty of tattoo free easy-on- the- eye scantily dressed Euros unselfconsciously sunbathing in the most self-conscious way, while being unself-consciously letched at and photoed  by the myriad foreign workers on their half day off from the semi-slavery at one of the scores of building sites where European standards of  health and safety sadly do not apply. They will often openly take photos of these women, and they are not picky even the tattoo infested ones, to fuel or indeed satiate whatever frustrations they doubtlessly have away from their own or being socially, physically and psychologically hemmed in by crap pre-Dickensian labour laws and per-Medieval bollocky uptight controlling religious precepts. A pretty iffy combination you will agree which makes you wonder, but not too much because we know, how bad things are for them to feel moved to leave their own people, villages and towns for an over-populated labour camp. Hmm - I thought everyone was going to England...

European women conforming to local sensibilities
Ah well - fat bloke and his birds are there. A fat Gulf Arab, for the ones on show are always fat, a sign of wealth apparently, in his footy shirt and shorts with bulging gut surrounded by a coterie of women around him - wife / wives, children perhaps but...always unlike hubby beautifully turned out. No theologian me but there is surely something wrong that allows a fat slob to show off his clan yet appear a total slob and there are many like this.

Ah well, who am I to comment or pass judgement? Me, just an itinerant teacher passing through on my way to the Intercon for refreshment. But it is a pleasant few kilometers to stroll with a cheeky camouflaged bottle of something and a world away from the Blue Flag beaches of home..

.and I wish I was there now (sighs) Updated Nov 14, 2014

Thursday, 14 August 2014

'I tell you it's herpes I have...'

Well...what can you say? The immaculate, gorgeous but unpouting young Swiss lady in the group came into class at 9.00 with what I thought was toothpaste on her top lip...foolish me for quietly and discretely  pointing it out...however, in her in  best comedy German accent she declaimed in very certain terms 'nein Prentice, it is not toothpaste it is to be treating mein herpes' which she pointed with a dramatic but matter-of-fact flourish...shaking my head and not wishing to make a big deal of it, I explained that though she might be medically correct to refer to it as cold sore. She mulled this over and asked for clarification and found it did not compute. How could you call something which is one thing something else? After a few seconds she decided that it was not to be a cold sore but that she would be proud and importantly accurate in referring to her sore a an STi. Her choice....

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Ramadan struggles....

Well, back in Britain now and doing a summer school a world away from the overheated Ramadan dry, uptight gender-segregated, pre-feudal semi-slave states of the Gulf...how I do not miss it. Maybe my time is done there and perhaps I will not make the return flight. It seems a good thing not to do.  This has been a nagging thought because aside from the bucketfulls of money...and the amusing ex-pat life in large paid for accommodation... and ...er...OK waiting list free health care ...and ...the easy teaching,  there is no other reason to in such Allah-forsaken cultural vacuums...nope none at all. A dreadful life.

In the meantime though this has been a bit of culture shock to say the least - summer clad pouty, leggy Italian and Thai women in the same classes with Ramadan dry Saudi, and Emirati males having a rough old time going 19 hours without food, drink or fags...their choice of course...all for an IELTS 4.5, eventually. I am quite enjoying the teaching and at times worry how deskilled I have become in the Gulf. My fault of course and before I returned there a few years back I was concerned that fucking Gove inspired micro-management, led by the loon-eyed head and the Northern Nazi (see past entries)  at the scummy academy in East Kent in the god-forsaken hole that is Herne Bay, had done the same...ah well, now I find teaching bright multi-national groups once again that no such thing had happened I could always teach it's just that if the materials are crap the outcome also is.

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Hive Mind

The students I teach are truly wonderful. They are eager to learn, especially the girls who, imprisoned on campus have fewer distractions than the boys who have cars, footy (playing and watching) Chinese and Filipina women and illegal boozing and the odd spliff or derivative therein. Well, that's if you go with er...totally ....unfounded rumour and the lusting around the sex workers, for that is who they are, at the local 5* hotel bar.

Like young people in most places they have inquiring minds, a lust for learning and see their time here as one in which to develop and lay cliched foundations for themselves for the future. Some will stay in Oman with their lovely families (all families are lovely for that is the unarguable national consensus) some will go on all expenses paid courses in the UK or Australia. Yet, independence of thought is not always clearly in evidence as it isn't always in England. There is the perpetual fear of losing face of not singing from the same traditional conservative sheet. On their own the boys will be more open in front of their sisters the party line is followed which goes pretty much like this.

1. The Family is the most sacred and wonderful thing there can possibly be.
2. Allah is the dog's bollocks
3. Islam rocks
4. The Sultan is most munificent.

As an outsider I am in no position to engage in debate too much with any of the above apart from nos 1 to 4 but as a good and culturally sensitive migrant worker I would hardly dare deign to be so rude not least as confrontation and argument is scorned...at least in front of the uber respected teacher...it's lovely to have that instant respect just for being part of what is called one of the divine professions by my Indian colleagues.

Hive Mind is an interesting and sometimes annoying thing. The individual's opinion  is subsumed into that of the class. It is not as bad as it used to be now that I can judge when a subject may have raised a sceptical eye-brow. There will be murmurings in Arabic before the Head Man in the class or Woman expresses the group opinion. Disagreement, in front of me at least, is never openly expressed.Such a situation in which harmony of the group is more important than the view of the individual is interesting and perhaps does have something to be said for it. It's all we rather than I - imagine that in an English classroom.



Fish