Sunday, 31 July 2011

Hey Honey I'm home...

And so the journey begins. The airport is throbbing, even the Mahaba lounge is full of tired travellers jostling for a seat and the free buffet. The fun part is people watching, guessing people's stories. Take the guy over there, sharing a table with a woman he has never met before. My goodness, he could bore for England; giving her his sales pitch, his 'hey, look at me, I'm a really interesting person'. I'll bet she can't wait for the gate to open to take her flight. You watch the tourists, the only ones stupid enough to be in the not-so-duty-free shop. The MTMs (married the maid) men on their first trip to the Phillipines, wondering if the novelty of the nocturnal incentives is starting to wear off.

The best bit is getting on the plane first and watching all of the muppets who just don't seem to be able to work out the seating plan. Here's a clue for you: it's in numerical order. And then of course there's the overhead locker to contend with and there is always one passenger who gets on last with two or three large suitcases and delays the take off trying to find somewhere to put them. The exasperated air stewardess grimacing whilst trying to maintain her polite demeanour, grappling around trying to find a space in the already crammed lockers.

At last the doors close and you can take off. You think you're safe to relax and begin watching the movies and then you are interuppted by the safety video and a film entitled 'short history of Emirates' that is not so short.

Seven hours of films you've seen before, mediocre food, cramped conditions and the tedium of wanting to be somewhere five minutes ago. But when you step off that plane and take your first lungful of British fresh air, it's all suddenly worth it. The land of hope and glory lies before you, so open your umbrella, put on your cardigan and rush into the arms of the relatives you haven't seen for a year. Seven hour flight? Washed away by the first welcome home kiss.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Traumatic Day

The phrase 'curiosity killed the cat' is true. No really it is. Well, I suppose it might be 'curiosity got the cat into a lot of trouble'. Smudge is very, very curious and this has led to a rather traumatic day for him. He is into everything. It's a bit like having a toddler who wants to get into every cupboard. There are carrier bags stuffed into the gap between the dishwasher and the cupboard because yesterday this was the primary area of investigation. Underneath the cooker is also a favourite. And the fact that he is not allowed into the utility room to explore the washing machine, Smudge takes as a personal affront.

So, today, he decides that the inside of the fridge MUST be scrutinised: just as my 9 year old decides to get out something for her lunch and as she closes the door (without looking down)... Needless to say, I think the curiosity to interrogate the nether regions of the fridge are now not at the top of Smudge's agenda.

This is all followed by a trip to the vet. Hmm. The cat box comes out and Smudge is asleep in his bed so I gently place him inside the cat box and...he goes berserk. He was really upset. We manage to make it to the vet, get him checked over, get the worming formula (and confirmation that Smudge is only 4 to 5 weeks old) and I have to carry him home on my lap in the car to calm him down. Methinks that perhaps when Smudge and his brothers and sisters were abandoned, they were driven to the dumping ground in a cat box. So, on the advice of a friend, the cat box has been left out, to reduce its traumatic symbolism.

Anyway, on an up note, the children are now on their best behaviour. This is in view of a recent policy decision that punishment for any infringements is now to clean out the litter box!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Bringing up Baby

Ok, so we could stand it no longer. A house without a cat, for me, is like a room without any books. Dull, dull, dull. So, yesterday we adopted a kitten. He had been rescued, along with his two brothers and sisters, by a kind lady who took him in until homes could be found. So, this tiny bundle of black and white fluff is now an integral part of our household. (That's a saucer in the picture by the way, not a dinner plate, so you can see how tiny he is!).

Cats are majestic and elegant creatures. They have poise and grace. This one is very Egyptian looking, with large ears and a tiny face. He looks as if he just stepped off a panel of hieroglyphs on the wall of Tutankamum's tomb. In terms of a name I'm thinking about something noble like Osiris or Byron. So, what did my children think fit to call this magnificent, regal creature? Smudge. Hmmm.

Smudge is only about 5 weeks old. He was abandonded, like so many kittens here in Dubai so he requires special treatment. He has special baby cat food that smells pretty much the same going in, as it does coming out. I also bought him special baby creature milk that actually came with a bottle with teets on it! Smudge didn't have a clue what the teets were, but he drinks it comfortably from a saucer. Today, methinks I need to buy him something to chew, judging by the scratches on my hands, arms and earlobes from him play-biting.

This morning when I got up, I couldn't find him. Of course, in true pussy-cat style he couldn't possibly sleep in the bed I bought for him, or in the little hidey-hole in the scratching post, oh no, he had settled underneath the sofa in the kitchen!

So, he's loved already and most definitely here to stay.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


So, I'm writing this paper at the moment about Digital Natives. For the uninitiated, this does not describe you. To qualify to be a Digital Native you need to have been born after about 1985 and have grown up with web 2.0 technology. Digital Natives are fluent in all things, well, digital, and are characterised (some would say) by a need for instant gratification and reward, and are proficient multitaskers (yes, even the boys) (Prensky, 2001). Anyone who doesn't fall into this category is called a Digital Immigrant - that's you and me. We have to learn the technology and the language of the age, in order to keep up: we are not native to it but are indoctrinated with other forms of communication and use digital technology as a secondary, rather than a primary, channel. Hmm.

This gets me thinking about the language of these Digital Natives, with their shortened words and acronyms. U no the kinda thng. When I worked in the UK, we had an acronym we used for odd students: FLKs. Funny Looking Kids. So, I thought it would be fun, as a Digital Immigrant, to come up with a few new acronymns particular to us: a Digital Immigrant language. Here are a few examples (and please feel free to add any that you can think of):

For those of the Digital Immigrant Generation:

UBH: unwanted body hair. Hmmm.
PMSL: Pissing myself whilst laughing
MILF - Mother in law from Hell - doesn't apply to me but I know some of us are familially challenged
DBILF - Daughter's boyfriend I'll like to....
BTW - Back to work
HOW - Hungover at work
SILT - student I'd like to Throttle
MTS - Mum's taxi service
ASAP - Always spending a penny (for those members of the tiny bladder club)
LCT - Last Chance Trendy (Middle aged guy driving a Ferrari)

And those specific to Dubai:
JJ: Jumeriah Jane - for anyone living outside Dubai, this is the name given to the Designered-up housewives who spend all day shopping and getting their nails done. They couldn't spell the word career
BDJJ: Badly dressed Jumeriah Jane - I'll leave that up to your imagination
EB: Expat Brat - name given to most of my students. Kids who can't pack their own bags or wipe their own noses/arses, because the maid usually does it
MWM: Mum with maid - these are the mums you see in the malls and in restaurants, who can't go anywhere without the maid for fear that they may have to communicate with, or indeed look after, their own children
MTM: Married the maid - sad, middle aged men who are too lazy/stupid to look for a wife and so marry the hired help. The malls are crawling with them.
SSD: Slow Speedbump Driver: these are the guys who buy a 4x4, which incidentally is meant to be driven over rugged terrain, and drive over speedbumps as if the car is extremely fragile

I'll kp u psted if i thnk of any mre. TTFN.