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Burns' Night in Jimmy's Bar

It takes exactly the right amount of Glenkinchie to trigger a spontaneous but flawed rendering of Holy Willie's Prayer in a corner of a pseudo New Yorkian bar in an international hotel in Doha, to a small select audience of two, one of whom works for 30 seconds occasionally, by releasing a button, while the other writes about it.
In other words, surrealism is alive and well in Qatar. Probably, when it comes down to it, surrealism is the unifying thread in the warp and weft of the expat fabric.
All that remains is to append the imperative, 'Discuss!', to the above to have created the ultimate examination question. But as that is not my intention, I'll resist the temptation.

By Way of Wintery Summary

Nothing much has happened in my first few days back in Doha. The sewage tanker has not been bought after all, but the hopeful vendor has adopted a new policy of moving it to a different location each morning (never more than 400 yards from the old location) and returning it at night. As it is now as dusty as the rest of its environs and bespattered with the season's first muddy rain, the chances of a quick sale seem slimmer than ever, especially as the A4-size for-sale signs are now faded, tattered and all but illegible.
The piddling little rain showers seem to have lent credence to the notion that it is cold, which it isn't, and once again we are treated on all sides to the curious spectacle of gentlemen attired in dish-dash, sports jacket and sandals, grumpily picking their way between the puddles in the mall car park, while struggling under the bulk of new boxed electric heaters. I find myself wondering what hapened to the heaters they bought last year, and the year before that? What the place needs, to restore a sense of proportion, is a decent heavy fall of snow. But it's not about to happen. Not this year...

Forty-Seven-Thousand Girls wanted for Light Duties

I came across an interesting statistic recently, all the more interesting because the source, who will remain nameless, is usually fairly reliable in such matters. We were talking about FIFA 2022 and some of the changes that Qatar will have to make if they are to meet the expectations, not merely of the organisers, management and players, but also of the half-million-or-so fans who are expected to fall like a plague on the innocent city state.
Not to beat about the bush, one of us observed that the extremely male-skewed population wouldn't be much to their liking. But apparently this has already been taken into consideration. It seems the Authorities have made the necessary calculations and agreed that 47,000 highly available ladies would fit the bill. It's not clear whether they are to be phased in gradually over the next few years or delivered by a mass parachute drop just in time for the tournament. Time will tell. More interesting to the mathematician in me is, how do you derive the formula that yields 47,000 girls, rather than say 46 or 48? And how about catering for the 5% of gay fans? Maybe 2,350 specially imported boys? Just another meeting where it would have been great to be a fly on the wall...

The Latin on British Coins

Paraglider returns to Doha next week. Meanwhile, I wonder how many tourists to Britain ever notice the cryptic messages that surround the Queen's head on our coinage? Apart from the coherent Elizabeth II and the date, our pounds bear the legend DG REG FD. Not very informative. The two pound coins, having more space available, expand this to DEI GRA REG FID DEF, which is better, but still a bit cryptic. The unabbreviated form would read DEI GRATIA REGINA (Queen, by the Grace of God) and FIDEI DEFENSOR (Defender of the Faith). The first of these was originally an assertion of the Divine Right of Kings and the second an affirmation of the monarch's role as head of the Church of England (initiated by Henry VIII in defiance of the Pope). Charlie-boy is known to be queasy about Fid Def, wishing to redefine it to mean Defender of Faith, in the spirit of inclusion. It remains to be seen if he'll ever get the chance, of course.
Then there was the Queen's grandfather. Coins were bigger in his day, and had to be, to accommodate a veritable chain of Latin: GEORGIVS V DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP:, or George V, by the Grace of God, King of All Britons, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.
Maybe we should stop moaning about the long titles of the Gulf Royals. It's obviously part and parcel of Kingship!

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