Monday, August 31, 2009

Familiar Faces

It's only taken me, oh, about 15 months, but I've finally got around to getting some photos up around the apartment. If you know me and you've visited my apartment you'll know that I subscribe to the 'less is more' attitude to knick-knackery and clutter - it's the way I am! But I also think part of my reluctance to commit to any more permanent personal items stemmed from where my head was at on's not that I want to leave, more that I really have no idea how long I'm going to stay. So filling the apartment with crxp seems a bit futile - I'll only have to ship it to....well, the next place I decide to live.

Anyway, since I surrendered to the fact that I can't control everything in my life (are you reading this, Jayne Leggat!!) and not knowing how things are going to turn out is not necessarily a bad thing, my whole mindset has shifted. So kids, I'm now waking up to a plethora of photos around the place. Sophie and Sara: loving your work with the 'Liz Hurley leg pose' on the Lowry bridge last month.

My Misspent Youth

Last night I was chatting about general debauchery and partying and was asked to share my craziest parties/nights out. It must have got me thinking because my dreams later were a complete mish mash of insane experiences. Many of them are really not to be shared on a public forum, for issues of legality and morality, but I’ve been laughing to myself all the way to work today so here are some of the edited memories. Just a few…..I haven't even touched on Sheffield....Ibiza.....

If you don’t know me personally then apologies, these won’t make a huge amount of sense. The main culprits who can validate or dispute them: Sian, Emma, Maggie, Christopher, Lee….am I missing anyone? Oh, Jon, Raph, Sophie…my memory isn’t what it was…..thank god this was before the days of Facebook photo albums…… Emma - I'm sorry but I just love this photo.....

DJ Cash Money: The Elbow Rooms/Sankeys
To this day, this can still make me laugh. Sian, Jon, I think we escaped arrest by the skin of our teeth. Dancing in the dj booth, being caught on video camera misbehaving, shooting pool with Cash later, no sleep at Malmaison, pulling over on the hard shoulder of the M62 because I just couldn’t see the road, and Sian driving us home. Oh, and Maggie: Cash at Sankeys….Malmaison was involved again, and didn’t you need a chiropractor afterwards?!

Miami Winter Music Conference
TOO MUCH bad behaviour. Tribal Gathering club night, partying in a Laundromat (no, really, and I have the photos of me putting washing in a machine to prove it), the dumpster incident, pool parties with Playboy bunnies, dancing in a bikini all day and all night, feathers and face paint, having a heart attack in the taxi on the last day: 7 o’clock?????? But our flight’s at 8!!!!! Kelly: It’s 7 PM, not am. Oh. And to top it all off: war broke out whilst we were there. Nothing like the world imploding to make you focus on having a good time.

Danny Tenaglia at Sankeys
Arriving at the club at 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon. The journey there is quiet, the city is enjoying a day of rest. The doors open to reveal 300 people ON IT. All resolutions of ‘taking it easy’ and ‘behaving ourselves’ went out of the window in about 3 minutes, and we partied for 12 hours. Just wrong on the Lord’s day! But oh so right.

Tribal Weekender
Where the term Britney on Crack was coined. Details are sketchy but it was a whole weekend, in Butlins. How did we do it??

My Vietnam of clubbing, which sums it up really. Rubber rings, Geri Halliwell, scallies after Rich’s Rolex, the minibus of shame home. Never again!!!

Illegal Warehouse Rave in Salford
Nothing like starting off the night getting grilled by police about where you’re heading:

Me: “Officer, I’m just visiting a friend in her new apartment.”
Officer: “Where?”
Me: “Erm….”

Ten minutes later as I’m climbing up a fire escape into the warehouse (!) I see the same policeman….I had the decency to look sheepish. Full details of that night are best left unsaid: suffice to say that it’s always a good idea to leave when the police arrive with dogs at 7 am. And I needed a week off work afterwards to recover.

What year was this????? The holiday with the legendary red and yellow cards, Prince Harry getting ejected from our club, Maggie in the dj booth, getting very friendly with the local constabulary……how did we get away with it?

Marbella, every year, for how many years?
Four poster beds on the beach, too many drinks, dinner, and frying pans. Ladies, I miss our breaks!

Dubai thinks it knows how to party. On a scale of 1-10, compared with Manchester, it’s hitting about a 4. On reflection, us Manchester kids are obviously (in the words of Tim Westwood) off the hook. I’d say a comfortable 12. Dubai, you have a lot to learn…..

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Farewell Felines!

I felt extremely mean last night: the time had come for Hitler and Felix to return to their rightful home (a villa out in Barsha.) Nothing mean about that other than we’ve got into a bit of a routine when I get home from work:

I open door and call to the cats
Cats stampede towards me in manner of paparazzi towards Britney
I stagger into kitchen trying not to break neck with cats underfoot
Cats climb over one another and me trying to get to cupboard with the food in it
Cats get into cupboard
I wrestle cats out of cupboard (ever see that scene on Jeremy Beadle where the little boy is trying to get hold of eels and put them in a jar? For some reason this comes to mind now)
Cats clamber over one another and scarf down food at high speed

You get the picture.

Last night was very different:

I open door and call to the cats
Cats stampede towards me in manner of paparazzi towards Britney
I stagger into kitchen trying not to break neck with cats underfoot
Cats immediately realize something is wrong when they see Peter with me – plus two cat carrying cases
Cats beat retreat into bedroom and take refuge under bed
I remember tried and trusted was to tempt them out: food
Cat One races into lounge towards food
Peter grabs cat
Cat resists entering the box, but it is futile
Cat Two now even more reluctant to come out from under the bed
Cat One wails from cat box
Cat Two now even more reluctant to come out from under the bed
Cat Two dashes from bed and hides behind the curtain
I advance on Cat Two
Cat Two makes a bid for freedom
I throw myself on Cat Two holding towel in manner of rugby player advancing on rugby ball
Cat Two heavily resists entering the box
Peter may, I suspect have been laughing behind me at this point
Cat Two is forced into the box head first. A lot of protesting.

Bless them, they had to go home at some point, and I’m sure they’re already super happy there. But it was hard not to feel sorry for them as they peered out of their boxes and were wheeled away on the concierge trolley. Take care ladies!

Monday, August 24, 2009


The new metro opens soon. On 9th September (09.09.09 – see what they did there?!). Call me old-fashioned, call me a complete geek (and people are calling me that, believe me) but I can’t wait to get on it. So much so that I actually texted my details through to the Roads and Transport Authority (a bit like our Department of Transport in the UK) to be in with a chance of winning a ticket on the first day it opens! I KNOW!!
I’m not sure if in some way it’s making me think of the trams at home – I’m sure that they won’t be anything like them: for a start, no hoodies, imbeciles, or teenagers openly drinking White Lightening, but I miss public transport so much. I’ll keep you posted!

Ramadan, again

So, the first working day of Ramadan, and it was pleasantly different to last year. I hadn’t been here all that long last year, was driving to Abu Dhabi twice a week, had about 10 new business pitches on my plate, had an MD on holiday for a whole month, and ended up working 12-14 hour days, nearly all the way through. Not good, and especially not good when most of the office gets up and leaves at 4 pm (technically we work 10-4 during Ramadan.)

This year – I escaped at 4 pm. What a difference! Was home and by the pool by 4.45. Had a very long swim and then caught up with Gossip Girl. This morning I was in the gym at 8.30 – not a treat. I haven’t been to the gym in the morning for a very long time. In fact, I think I was working at the House of Pain – that’s how long ago it was. And I’m not entirely sure I worked out, I may have been going because the boiler at home packed in. Anyway. I’m sure this won’t last but it was a great way to start the month!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Little Faith

Some sad news in recent weeks, with two colleagues losing close family members. It's a reminder, if one is ever needed, that life is precious, and also an interesting insight into the role that religion plays in life here, and amongst other cultures. In the Muslim faith, a funeral happens very soon after death - as in within two days. It's not just the obvious differences where logistics are concerend, but the fact that religion is for so many people, so very important. It's made me reflect on life in the UK and what a god-less bunch we can tend to be. Especially with Ramadan fast-approaching, a whole month devoted to prayer, reflection and charity. Interesting, if contemplative times.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Ramadan is almost upon us. It's a really fascinating time...over the weekend I watched a DVD all about Mecca and the whole pilgrimage - 1.5 million Muslims descend on the place, a feat or engineering and organisation!

The actual manifestation of Ramadan is that Muslim colleagues fast during daylight hours, pray more often during the day....and for us non-Muslims, we hurry to find out what times various licensed premises open (after sundown). All loud music is forbidden, so the clubs are closed, and in theory we work shorter hours (10-4). In reality I don't think I worked one day of Ramadan hours last year, this year I'm hoping that I would be the ideal opportunity to get into the gym....

As last year I was a prisoner in a very restrictive relationship, I can't remember Ramadan having that much impact on me: this year, given my new found freedom and fabulous social life, I'm wondering what it will be like....time will tell.

The Perils of Clubbing

Clubbing in Dubai is very different to the UK/the US/Europe, for all number of reasons. Clubbing as a single girl is an even more interesting……as a woman you’re considered fair game to be groped, manhandled, and bought drinks. Many women would love the latter, but I’ve always preferred to buy my own – no feeling beholden to anyone, if you know what I mean. In Dubai, if you’re at a bar, even on your own, i.e not with a man or even talking to one, someone will offer to pay fro your drinks. It’s easier to acquiesce to be honest.

Anyway: the man handling…men of Dubai, it is not acceptable to attempt to dry hump my leg! You are not an over eager terrier, I am not a sofa leg! Pack it in! And lest we forget – this is a Muslim country….

Monday, August 10, 2009

Shape up, or Ship Out!

Call me easily influenced but thanks to a few of those ‘celebs lose weight’ stories on the Daily Mail I’ve been spurred on to throw myself into the gym these past few days. And cut down on the booze. And watch what I eat. I know! Me! Watch what I eat! Now, don’t be going thinking I’ve morphed into Hannah Waterman (bless her) but as I may have mentioned, Dubai doesn’t present the healthiest lifestyle, mainly because it’s so hard to incorporate movement into your everyday life. Back home I walked for an hour a day and made it to the gym at least twice a week. Here I walk about an hour a week, and the less said about the gym visits, the better!

One major incentive for keeping in shape here is that you're in a bikini every weekend (and some evenings!). Knowing that the general public will be able to gawp at bits you usually keep under cover does focus the mind. Lazing by the pool this weekend, it did cross my mind how body standards are not the same for men and women. Apart from one supremely fit and gorgeous guy (more on him later) most of the men at my pool are in far worse shape than their partners or female counterparts. No problem for them to let themselves go! And ladies, I'm sure we've all been there in our relationships, too.

All this healthy living does make you feel virtuous, I have to say. But there’s always the call of ladies night (free booze, in case you didn’t know). How many calories exactly are there in a glass of wine? As ever, it appears that size matters....

Thursday, August 06, 2009

House Guests

Last night I welcomed two guests into my apartment - of the four legged variety. Welcome Hitler and Felix! Not their real names (Layla and Lydia), but as one has a Hitler-esque tache, and one looks like the cat from the Felix adverts, these names have stuck. Un-PC, moi?

It appears that these days cats do not travel light! They arrived at my door on the trolley which the concierge usually uses when people are either moving in or arriving with bags and bags of shopping.......think Elton John's mounds of monogrammed luggage and you'd be about there. Bless them.

So fur, so good (sorry!!) They're been very brave (minimal hiding under the bed) and wasted no time in clambering onto my lap and cracking out a few z's. We've had one, ahem, fur ball incident, but I'm prepared to over look it. Let's hope they're still feline ok (sorry, again!!) when I get home tonight.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

An Old Favourite

Did I mention that I've bought a hula hoop? I've always LOVED to hula - I even went to hula classes back at Virgin Active in Manchester. Yes, I was fabulous, as Michael can testify..! Anyway, imagine my excitement as I was walking past a local sports shop, which I walk past at least four times a week, to see that this time they had an assortment of hula hoops in the window!
I needed no encouragement and rushed in. The shop assistants were thrilled - the shop is usually deserted. Anyway after careful consideration, and a trial run of a hoop (in the doorway of the shop whilst people walked past - of course) I decided on a pink one (quelle surprise) and made off home with it.

It's a triumph! I did about 5 minutes of hula last night and boy are my sides aching today! So much fun to be had. And it cost me less than a fiver! Bonus.

Emerging Victorious

As I was trotting home last night after leaving the office at far-too-late-oclock I became a little reflective. I'm normally so busy running around that I don't do too much of this - I'm quite a live in the moment kind of gal. Anyway if you research what the most stressful experiences in life are, I realised I'd been through a fair few of them - and all in the last year....

Move house: check
Change jobs: check
Death of a loved one: check
End of a relationship: check

Moving halfway round the world isn't on the 'official' stress list but I'm prepared to wager that this amplifies all of the above by, like, at least 100%. On the last point, throw in the fact that it all happened in an underhand, deceptive, cowardly and just plain shocking way, and again, the stress chart begins to go up massively.

But here's the thing: I don't feel stressed. Au contraire, I feel the happiest and most settled that I have in years. I can't explain it, given all of the above, especially when I live in a very transient city, that you could arguably describe as one of the most 'fabulous but difficult' places to live in the world. I'm well aware that happiness isn't about money and possessions, but friends, family, and being content in yourself. And I'm definitely there. Thank the lord for being a simple soul! Anyway, that's enough reflecting: back to the moment.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

An Old Favourite...

I was reminded of one of my favourite tv shows by a certain Ms Doyle on my recent trip back to Manchester....Will and Grace. Many was the evening we spent either on her sofa guffawing like hyenas, or frantically texting one another whilst watching it in our respective pads.
A colleague just lent me a boxed set - and it's as hilarious as ever. Karen remains my favourite character. Here are some of her hysterical, if sometimes very un-PC comments. If you haven't watched this - apologies for boring you - but you really should get hold of it!

Oh kids ruin everything. I mean look at the stitching on this. You cannot trust a ten year old to do a good hidden button.
Oh I have half a mind to throw this martini right in your face! [starts drinking it]
Gosh, I don't think that I've ever been stressed out. Why would I be? I've got practically no responsibilities, my job's a breeze and I've got a KILLER rack.
Honey, when I agreed to drive you to the set, you didn't say it was on Staten Island. How the hell am I ever gonna get the stench of landfill and working class families out of tropical lightweight wool?
Good Lord. I can't believe I'm at a public pool. Why doesn't somebody just pee directly on me?[to a waiter] Hey apron. Who told you you could make eye contact?
Oh honey, I would, but... I don't want to.By your inflection I can tell that you think what you're saying is funny, but... No.

On the Move

A friend of mine is moving into my neighbourhood soon, so we’re doing the rounds of apartment viewing – fascinating. Nothing I like more than a good nosy round other people’s houses! Rents have dropped like stones in Dubai in the last year – still much, much higher than dear old Manchester (about 1300 quid a month for a one bed apartment), but better than they have been.

Amazing how quickly you adjust to a certain standard of living. These are the typical questions you have to consider when house hunting here:

Square footage
How many bathrooms (even one bed usually have a second bathroom)
Does it have a laundry room?
How big is the pool?
How many pools are there?
What times of day does it get the sun?
How comfy are the sunloungers?
Is there a gym?
If so, is there only one?
Does the gym have a steam room?
How big is the balcony?
Is there a garden?
Is there a bank/spa/hairdresser/Waitrose in the building?
How big are the fitted wardrobes?
Is there a garbage chute?
What's the view like? (Burj, gardens, sea...)

Ah, the hard times we live in.....

Old School Glamour

Fresh back from a press conference at the Emirates Towers Hotel. One of my favourite hotels in Dubai. Don’t get me wrong, most places here are pretty gorgeous, but Emirates Towers is right up there. Quite apart from it’s unusual and extremely striking architectural design, I love that it eschews the usual Dubai-Gold-Bling style favoured by most hotels. Instead it’s all chrome and dark glass. And the tinkling of the piano in the lobby is such a nice touch. The Chanel of Dubai, in my opinion. Elegant, never goes out of fashion. Other hotels? They’d be more of the Cavalli, Versace, Dolce school…..brash, flashy, but very fun…..

If We Build it, They Will…..

I live and work in Downtown Burj Dubai, the area around the world’s tallest building, in case you were wondering. It’s really hard to gauge exactly what it’s going to look like when it’s finished – the whole place is a definite work in progress – basically one giant building site. There’s lots of just-started and half-finished buildings. And I’m just dying to know what it’s going to look like. (yes, I’m a geek.) So imagine my excitement when I stumbled across a giant 32 model of the whole area – in the office building right next to mine!

This may not sound exciting, but believe me, when you see the scale of the thing, you’d be impressed. The Model alone is easily 25 metres square. As well as the very obvious Burj, there must be at least 100 giant skyscrapers yet to be built. Whether or not these get finished any time soon, given the current ‘on-hold’ situation, who knows, but you can’t help but be blinded by the ambition of the whole area. Especially considering how long it takes to get planning permission for a conservatory in the UK! (I have no actual experience of this, but you get my drift.)