Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's a Tough, Tough, Life

Another weekend, another 5 star luxury hotel……it’s been a tough week in many ways for some of my favourite people (including me!) so we’re doing the only decent thing, packing our bags, and checking in here.

It’s long been one of my favourite places in Dubai – far enough away that you feel like you’ve escaped and had a real mini-vacation, close enough that you don’t get bored on the journey there (30 mins). In addition to the gorgeous beach, the hotel has a fabulous spa too. It seemed rude not to check ourselves in there for a few hours. Amazing how quickly the emotionally draining week ebbs away….

You’d think we were heading to the Maldives, excitement is at such fever pitch. I even packed my bag last night…which took all of two minutes as it only contains bikinis/suncream/sundresses/sunhat and Veuve Cliquot…

I was having a quick nosy through a friend’s holiday snaps on Facebook earlier, and not for the first time, reflected on how lucky I am and how much I love my life. Most people have a sun-drenched beach holiday once a year, if that. I have one every weekend, with people who I adore. Blessed, indeed. See you next week!

DO NOT Reply To All...

I started a Facebook shitstorm (that’s a technical term) this week, completely without meaning too. A simple message which told everyone my UK mobile number quickly descended into total chaos as one person on the list didn’t know the meaning of ‘reply all’ when responding. The message was most definitely not for public consumption. Reminded me of the time that my dear friend Michelle typed a text saying that her boss at the time was a knob. And then sent said text message to….her boss. Whoopsie!

I was out of the office at the time and couldn’t understand why I had ten missed calls from UK numbers in the short time my phone was on silent. Not to mention the additional FB messages and texts.  And subsequent apologies.....

All I’m saying is this: PLEASE check just who you’re replying to before you hit send, eh? Oh, and if you want my UK number, message me for it. I’m not risking any more drama polluting my inbox!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Licence to....

Did I mention that I finally sorted my alcohol licence? It took me two years to get round to it, mainly because I couldn’t face the inevitable hassle of taking 25 passport photos, my inside leg measurement and first-born child to some out of the way location, standing in a queue for 5 hours, and then waiting six months for it to arrive. (I work in PR, remember..I’m prone to exaggeration.)

Joking apart, it’s such a ball-ache to get so many things done in Dubai, that this was one thing I couldn’t face. If you want to legitimately buy alcohol (from unmarked off-licences) then you need one of these cards. Bizarrely you can still pick up 5 bottles of wine at Duty Free without anyone asking you for anything at all, and as I travel somewhere pretty much every three weeks, that kept my cupboards full…..the contradictions of Dubai..

I’m not sure what prompted my conscience to actually sort this out. Perhaps it was the guilt of my over-flowing wine cupboard, perhaps it was that just once, I wanted to be a good girl and play by the rules.

If I’m honest, it was neither. It was the happy day that I realized that the head office of one of the main alcohol retailers is…IN MY OFFICE BUILDING. No queues, no hassle, just a quick ride in the lift, 5 pieces of paper, and ONE passport photo. 6 days later: licence was ready.

Much excitement on collection. Yes of course it’s a novelty coming from a country where you can drink, pretty much anywhere, at any time day or night with no restrictions. But the main thing was being reminded that small pieces of plastic and paper are vey important here. You don’t need them every day, but you definitely wouldn’t leave the house without your driving licence, passport (and visa) copy, health card and now, booze licence. I need a bigger purse…

Laugh or Cry

I think I made it clear that the last week or so has been a mad scramble where work I s concerned. Pitch after pitch after pitch. Endless meetings. The usual. Responding to new business requests is always a bit of a tango when it comes to negotiating on the submission date:

Them: Can you turn something around in two days?
Us: No, two weeks is the usual if you want something of a decent standard.
Them: Sorry, it’s super urgent. The MD/decision maker is out of town/going to the moon/such an important person that they can only read your proposal between 2 and 2.10 pm on Thursday.
Us: When should we bend over?

We had just such a situation last week. We dropped everything. We worked like dogs. We submitted the proposal with 5 minutes to spare (quite an achievement, it’s normally about 25 seconds.)

This is response we received: I am out of town on leave – I will review when I get back on Sunday, 8th August.

Nice. Kill us. Kill the international team who supplied us with huge amounts of information, in record time. When you’re off on holiday anyway? Hello Twilight Zone!

I thought twice about putting this on my blog in case it was being professionally indiscrete – then I realized that this happens so often in Dubai that it could probably be any number of businesses on any given day. In with anger, out with love….

Kissing Frogs

A dear friend of mine is having a tough time at the moment. She’s going through a divorce, with a man who can only be described as a maniac. The man’s got it all: control freak tendencies, bullying, and is generally an all round unpleasant person. I’ve encountered some drop-kicks in my time, but this one really takes the biscuit. One whiff of her stories and I was back in Leeds in 2003….I’ll leave that one there for the sake of discretion…..

During one of our many alcoholic beverages this weekend, she lamented her stupidity for getting involved with him. Cue cries of derision from the assembled women at the table who did what all good friends do in this situation: regale one another with equally hideous tales of grief about equivalent losers. And some of the stories really were grim. We’re talking smashing up houses/spells in prison/public displays of violence. So the observation is: everyone has a serious drop-kick in their past. Why?

We’re all smart, successful, hilarious (well we think we are) and attractive (after a little more effort than it used to take, it has to be said) women, and yet over the years we’ve made some terrible choices. There’s definitely a pattern in all of them, apart from maniac tendencies: they were all incredibly gregarious men, whose charisma often stemmed from a deep-seated lack of self-esteem. Their egos needed constant massage and attention…which in turn meant they couldn’t keep their dicks in their pants (sorry mum!) amongst many other hideous acts.  We were also all in our twenties when the bulk of this was happening – I could actually cringe when I think of some of the things I ‘put-up with’ way back then, so age plays a part, too.

So what’s a girl to do? You’re not going to choose a shrinking violet (and let’s face it, they’re certainly not going to be able to handle us) and you can’t sacrifice charisma and chemistry just to be on the safe side. There has to be a happy medium. Someone who makes you tingle but doesn’t make you cry on a weekly basis?

Despite the gravity of the conversation we were having, we all agreed that there was. There are some really wonderful men out there who more than cancel out the losers (Dad: stop texting me! ho ho.)

Failing that, if you’re still afloat in a sea of drop-kicks: there’s always the acid test: introduce them to your girlfriends and let their bullshit detectors do the work for you. LC, we’re on standby….

Monday, July 19, 2010

Make. It. Stop.

I'm drowning...the best way I can describe it is 'the washing-machine feeling'. Pulled in too many directions, too much to do, not enough time, unreasonable deadlines, demands...flying to Qatar at 6 a.m to pitch...more pitches...the list goes on. My indefatigable good spirits will not be quashed..but this is just to say: don’t expect too much blogging this week.  If I get the chance I will share some of the weekends hilarious escapades and tales, I promise.

All I will say is: people of Manchester: 16 days until I’m home. 16 days…16 days….I may crawl off the plane on my hands and knees, but at least I’ll be home. Please be prepared to scoop me up off the (probably rain soaked) runway!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Breaks...About Time

Speaking of itchy feet (see previous post) it’s been a good three weeks since we’ve had a major blow-out. Don’t get me wrong, our social lives haven’t exactly hit the skids, but nights out involving a dancefloor have been lacking since my birthday. That’s all changing this Friday: the Stanton Warriors are in Dubai. Finally, my kind of music in the city!

They were regulars at Sankeys back in the day, as were The Plumps (another favourite of mine.) I’ve watched with amusement this week as some of my (much) younger colleagues have become steadily more excited about their arrival. I haven’t liked to point out that the last time I saw them play was the Tribal Gathering Weekender in Southport in….well let’s forget the year….and the less said about that little trip away the better! I think it took a week to recover...and my current colleagues probably hadn’t even completed their GCSE’s at that stage…anyway.

It’s very rare that a night out in Dubai is all about the music, like it is in the UK. So I’m going to enjoy this. If you're not sure what I'm talking about then I recommend you listen to their remix of the Beach Boys Good Vibrations....awesome.

As we used to say in Sankeys: see you on the other side.

I'm Off!

I can't ignore my itchy feet any longer. I'm dying for a change of scenery. So I've decided: That's it. I'm packing my bags, and I'm leaving.

Did that get your attention? No need to panic, Dubai chums, I'm not leaving permanently. And to be honest, I'mnot really leaving. Well not until the August trip home, anyway. No, I'm doing what every sensible girl needs to do from time to time, and I'm checking into a hotel for the weekend. And this being Dubai, you can rest assured, it's going to be good.

The story goes like this: my good friend and hot-shot corporate lawyer friend M was put up in aforementioned gorgeous hotel when they first arrived in Dubai, and the large proportion of hot-shot lawyers who are sorting out Dubai's debt problem (you may have heard of it) still reside there. But even hot-shot lawyers have to escape the heat once in a while - thus leaving swathes of empty suites just waiting to be stayed in.

And I LOVE staying in hotels. Who doesn't? Obviously a 5 star luxury gaff has more cachet than a Travel Lodge on a work trip, but there's even something attractive about those for me. I think it's the fact that when you're away from home, real life can seem very far away. Don't get me wrong, I love my real life, very much, but there's definitely something in the 'belief suspension' that appeals to me. And the fact that when you're travelling on business you can't do any of those boring but necessary chores that you find yourself doing when you're sat on your own sofa....

The weekend's brief is as follows: you have the run of the suite (it's ten times the size of my apartment), can lounge by the infinity pool all day, use the gym, hang out in the bars, and watch the sun set behind the Burj whilst sipping cocktails on the wrap-around balcony. Just the two conditions: don't trash the place and don't disgrace yourself. Trash? Disgrace? Us?! We’ve promised faithfully to be on our best behaviour…watch this space.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Parent Trap

The parentals have just jetted off to Spain for a couple of weeks, which means I won’t hear from them for a bit. This has caused my dad some consternation, as he’s a whizz on the texts and likes to ‘chat’ with me every day on them, bless him. (Should I be concerned that the man who texts me most often is my dad? Anyway…)

The texts are usually the minutiae of life, the kind that are the glue that keeps you up-to-date and involved in someone’s life - I’m sure you know the sort: "the weather’s grim today/I’m just on the patio with mum/mum says her email isn’t working/no I haven’t fixed the dvd player yet."  But yesterday out of the blue my dad sent: "Your mum and I are so so proud of you. We love you very much xxx."

I’m not ashamed to say it brought a tear to my eye and I had to drop the celebrity gossip magazine that I was reading onto the sun-lounger. Thankfully I was wearing a de rigueur pair of over-sized sunglasses so people didn’t stop and stare…

In one quick moment I changed from grown-up, capable, Group Account Director Kelly, to five year old Kelly who sat with her dad and made collages at the weekend. (Keep that to yourself, eh?) Simpler times. Parents: don’t you just love them?!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Wet Wet Wet

I’m only going to say this once (and Mrs Dubai started me thinking on this) STOP MOANING ABOUT THE HEAT AND HUMIDITY IN THE UK!! She sums the situation up nicely in her post, here. Yes, summer has arrived in Dubai with a vengeance. There seems to be waters running in rivulets down the outside of my floor to ceiling windows, day and night. And the humidity level in my bedroom reads 65%. IN MY BEDROOM. What’s that all about?

In practical terms this means that many of my favourite (outdoor) bars and clubs are closed, as are restaurant terraces. Thank god for indoor wine and cheese evenings and my best friends all living in my building. Oh and of course that brisk breeze at the pool really does take the edge of things.

As a girl who like nothing more than wrestling on a bikini and lounging at the beach whenever I get a spare minute, I’m not going to complain about the heat. But the humidity can bore right off. If my hair gets any bigger Ivana Trump will be calling me for style tips.

There's No Place Like....

I’m homesick. Which isn’t something that you hear me say very often.  You might have gathered that I love living in Dubai and throw myself into life here with all the enthusiasm that you’d expect from, well, me. But now, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I have an overwhelming and uncontrollable urge to get myself home. There’s been a few factors that have contributed….V left Dubai for Manchester, S arrived back in Manchester after travelling, my mum hasn’t been very well, neither has M’s brother..oh and a certain someone is pregnant. Which is all conspiring to make me feel like I need to be home. Pronto.

Thankfully my e-ticket for my next trip home just hit my in-box, so the countdown has begun. The usual ridiculous itinerary is being crafted (what do you mean, am, pm and evening slots, for each day, are too controlling?!) and I have a little bit more time than usual to catch up with everyone. In a move very untypical of me, I’ve lost my UK SIM card – but obviously don’t leave it until I touch down to get in touch. People, you know what to do…..