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Poster change - just the start?

As predicted, two posts ago, the Drink water, Summer is coming posters have been taken down in time for Ramadan. They have been replaced with posters raising awareness of the famine in Somalia.
Ban Ki-moon apparently personally called Qatar's Prime Minister to ask for a substantial aid package for the affected region. I have every confidence that the result of his call will be something far more substantial than a poster campaign. Let's hope so.

What do Wendi Deng Murdoch and John Prescott have in common?

a) a fine sense of decorum and occasion
b) a calm, unflappable demeanour
c) a healthy spontaneity coupled with quick reactions
d) good hair and a nice slim figure
e) a sinister old twit for a husband

Wendi - your performance on the day was head and shoulders above that of your craven husband and his wee boy. Good on you, lass!

(John Prescott, Tony Blair's deputy PM, famously swung round and landed a creditable straight left on a protester who had flung an egg at him - end of history lesson for today!)

Drink Water - Summer is coming!

I think it was in May when QMedia put up these public service posters advising us to keep the body hydrated through the hot summer ahead. I like the message. It is not advertising; in fact the label has been removed from the bottle, making it completely generic. Also, the model is wearing her hair out and looks like a modern, sporty young woman. All in all, a positive contribution to public health and well-being and a good use of presumably unsold advertising space. Well done, QMedia!
But now I'm wondering if they will be replaced in the next couple of weeks with a Ramadan-friendly version? Perhaps a more demure lady, black veiled of course, and preferably accompanied by her husband. And the caption: Don't drink Water, Ramadan is coming! After all, spiritual health must take precedence over common sense. Here's to a cool refreshing August!

The Gorilla, by Jake Thackray, resuscitated by Paraglider

We can't all be too young to remember the late Jake Thackray.
Mr G, Paraglider's occasional partner in song, was good enough last night to make available his home studio, expertise and tolerance, for the hour or so that it took yours truly to knock out a few Jake revivals, before repairing to Sofitel, in which august establishment, in accordance with its prevailing regulations, the guitar remained firmly locked in its case. Changed days.

Urban Development, Doha Style

Sometimes I wonder who's reading this blog. Recently, I wrote that the black plastic sheeting had been ripped from the Muntazah Park railings, exposing the deplorable state of neglect within. Now, I'm pleased to report that the matter has been addressed. Not the park itself of course. Once a desert, always a desert. But the authorities have upgraded the black plastic sheeting with tasteful yellow webbing. The wind can blow through this without ripping it down. Great job guys! Pity we can see through it to the vandalism behind.
Speaking of urban development, the power has now been switched off to the National area of Musheireb, to encourage the remaining traders to make way for the bulldozers. Boogie on down any night this week and you'll see clearance sales of remaining stock on the pavements outside the pitch black shops. As the street lighting is also down, the shopkeepers have to display their wares by moonlight, but that's fine too as the second quarter is almost upon us.
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On stair wells, fires and mattresses

Now that it is seriously hot here and starting to get humid too, my regular regime of walking either round Muntazah Park or the length of the Corniche is becoming more of a chore than a pleasure. So I've substituted a daily stair climb instead. My apartment is 7th floor and exactly 135 steps up from the entry lobby. It's a good staircase too, wrapping round a square stair well, with no landings, so it's a continuous climb. The first few times, I found I had to slow down around the fifth floor, but now I'm able to keep my starting speed all the way to the top, so it must be doing me some good.
It did occur to me to wonder, though, how it is possible to get planning permission for a building with seven residential floors and only a single staircase. A half decent fire could easily take out the lifts and make the staircase inaccessible. I would have thought a second escape route would be mandatory in any modern building.
Especially a building with four mattresses strategically placed on the staircase between floors four and five, poised to catch fire on receipt of the first errant cigarette end dropped from the floors above. Only in Doha...
Note to self: ask landlord to have mattresses removed immediately.

Slowing down for Ramadan

Ramadan is already a palpable presence in the Doha ambiance. Three weeks away it may be, but instead of everyone pushing to achieve minor milestones before it arrives, the opposite seems to be the case. One can almost feel the brakes being applied, slowing everything down in order to effect a seamless transition from a sleepy July to an even sleepier August.
Ramadan always brings changes in its wake. Last year's Ramadan saw the disappearance from Ramada Library Bar of Muriel Terzano Lamy's enormous and quirky mural, and from Sofitel's Le Club of one of our very few decent live bands. So far this year, I've heard no rumours of impending changes. I expect none at Sofitel as this will probably be its last Ramadan before demolition. The change I would most like to see is a rescinding of the invasive policy of scanning IDs and/or passports as a condition of entry to a bar. The fact that no other country in the World requires this would seem to suggest that it is unnecessary.
Relaxing the licensing laws to reintroduce afternoon opening also wouldn't go amiss, especially on the long hot Fridays. For the authorities, such catering for diversity could be justified as practice for hosting Septic Splatter's 2022 beano.

All Change at Doha Ramada Orion Bar

Regulars at Doha Ramada's Orion bar will have noticed a changed climate over the past few weeks. First was the diminutive but smiley manageress Julietta's transfer to the Library bar (where she was an instant hit). Next was the changing of the band. The Sri Lankan trio's contract came to an end and they returned home, to be replaced by a Filipino outfit. Piano and two singers. The quality of piano playing is technically better, but less raunchy and less fun. But the singers are both balladeers and their choice of music is very restricted: wall to wall slow numbers, the more sentimental the better, it seems. The unsolved mystery is how they managed to find a Filipino singer who doesn't play guitar? Maybe he had a protected childhood. Of course, endless ballads and anthems are the stuff of Filipino parties and karaoke nights, so it's no surprise that the audience in the comfy chair end is becoming more Filipino by the night.
The other noticeable change is the growing number of Chinese girls decorating the bar area. Mercifully not in Sheraton numbers, but just enough to make the place look and feel less sterile. Whether or not this is a new leniency policy by management, I couldn't say, but anything that goes some way to redress the male/female imbalance has got to be welcomed. Maybe it's all part of the run up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The Barber's Wife


Sometimes she leans on the windowsill, looking down into the alleyway. Probably she'd like a better view, ideally from a better house in another country. But that's why she's here, after all. And even if it never happens, at least she is with her husband, making both of them luckier than most of the workers who keep Qatar ticking over.
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