Sunday, March 29, 2009

Erase and Rewind

So what has been happening?
Well, for almost all of the last two months (since the company handed me my notice) our lives have been on hold and our emotions in turmoil. Now at the eleventh hour, the company withdraw the notice and I am employed again!!!
At first I had mixed feelings, but after a few days contemplation I feel happy with our lot and ready to tackle my work with gusto.
Back at the house, we have had the builders in, due to a major leak that flooded our housemaid’s room. To be honest it was perfect timing, now knowing that we are staying, it has taken us away from being self absorbed and focused our attention on another persons problems.
So Jenny came to tell me that there was an inch of water on the floor of her room and when I went to investigate it was obvious that there had been a long term problem that she had kept quiet about. Grrrr…. I can only fix a problem if I know about it, so speak up, it’s so frustrating!!!!
So, we called our landlord Ali, who is a very nice chap, and soon after the builders came around to fix the problems! Yes, more than one I’m afraid.
This involved gutting Jacob’s bathroom, fixing a hole in the roof slab, replacing a valve to the water tank and completely renovating Jenny’s room.
Like most builders here, they are cutting corners and playing silly buggers, as a result Becky, Jenny and myself are running a tag team for project management. On several occasions I have had to do an irate rant in order to get them doing their work properly. My favourite episode so far was when Becky rang me to say they had reinstalled the bath back to front. All works were stopped until I got home to drag the foreman over the coals. Imagine, a plug up yer bum at one end or a tap in the back at the other, quite frankly I am surprised they didn’t try and install it as a shower cubicle!
As a result, the promised six day programme has now entered its third week, Becky is frustrated as we have guests arriving soon and the house is in turmoil, Jenny just wants her room back, and I would just be happy if they bothered to turn up.
The weekend turned into one long list of jobs, partly because of the builders but also due to prior inactivity on my part. With the immanent arrival of my sisters family in early April, I had a list of jobs around the house and the fitting out of Jenny’s replacement furniture.
Over the two years that Jenny has been with us, we have come to realise that she is a chronic hoarder, I mean she keeps absolutely everything. Therefore with the remodelling of her room, we were resolved to provide as much storage space as possible and, so I organised some carpenters from a friendly contractor to spend their Friday building Jenny some seriously strong fitted shelving units.
Along with my jobs around the house, the last day of my weekend stretched into the night and concluded with varnishing by torch light.
Unfortunately, I expect next weekend to be just as busy.
Speaking of keeping yourself busy, by chance I read an article in the local free rag (the Week) about Aikido in Muscat and recognised one of the people. Actually, recognising people in the paper is like a local sport in a place as small as Muscat and, it is normally a surprise when you cannot identify at least one person.
A couple of phone calls later and I had committed myself to attend my first lesson.

So for the foreseeable future, I will be spending two evenings a week falling over on a regular basis. Oh, and if you were wondering that is not me in the photo, although I suspect if it were, I would be the person in mid air, but no where near as graceful as shown.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell

I’m not feeling well today.
With the change in the weather comes the colds, flu, aches & pains and of course my personal ailment, a sinus infection.
This is a tricky one to spot early as I normally think I have a headache. However, if I don’t it’ll trickle down into my lungs and give me a cough that will last and last and last. The best treatment I have found is unfortunately the least palatable (working on the old adage that medicine must taste bad for it to do you any good), Rhinomer is a sterile salt water solution that shoots up your nose, brings tears to your eyes and makes you gag. Whilst this could never be classed as a pleasant experience, it really does work and with no nasty medication to boot. So within a couple of days I should be as right as rain which beats having a hacking cough for the next month.
Unfortunately, it is that time of year in Muscat, Becky is convinced that Jacob has been coming down with something for the last fortnight and Oscar definitely has a cold. As I said, the trick is catching these things early, because if you let them take hold a trip to the doctors will invariably ensue and they will prescribe the Smarties of the medical world…..anti-biotics.
Oscar is trouble at the moment, but I think the underlying reason is his cold. Two weeks ago we moved him from his cot into a proper bed. You should have seen his face, happy as Larry and proud as punch to be considered a big boy like his brother. Then, a couple of nights ago he decided that it would be ok to repeatedly get out of bed and refuse to sleep!
So last night, after multiple warnings, he was returned to his cot. Well, you can imagine what he thought of that! Tough love, we will see if there is a repeat of these shenanigans tonight.
Jacob, Oscar and myself went out for our usual Friday cycle to the British Embassy and back and, whilst it didn’t seem any hotter, it was noticeably harder with Jacob lagging behind for a large proportion of it. I guess we will have one or two more outings before the bikes are packed away for the summer.

Oscar is in such a hurry to grow up and last week he started school! Becky had carefully checked out the available nurseries, as we didn’t want a repeat of Jacob’s nursery days, paying for a stimulating environment and finding him stuck in a room with a TV, broken toys and disinterested supervision.
Abu Adnams in MQ and Little Gems in Al Azaiber made it on to a short list (Of Two!) with LG offering a place immediately.
So, off he went with lunch box in hand (Becky’s hand really) for his first day of school, was he fazed by such a monumental event? Of course not, he’s a big boy now.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Talking Bluntly

Ok, so it has been a couple of weeks since I last wrote, but I think I could be forgiven due to the previous events on the job front. Even though I expected it, when the notice came it really knocked the wind from my sails.
Hunting for a new job in a depressed market is no fun, we have been though some major highs and lows and back again, with only a dim light at the end of the tunnel. But on the whole I am very positive about our prospects. As I have searched the feedback has been positive, if a little reserved, but definitely positive non the less. So touch wood, cross every available appendage and hopefully we will have some good news soon. Hedging my bets, I have put a couple of lines on the Euro lottery for this weekend.
We have to say a sad farewell to our neighbours, Winnie and Ramone today as Schlumberger (a big US oil company) has made him redundant. This is something I can’t get my head around, the oil is still there, it still needs to come out of the ground and be sold, so is this another example of corporate greed?
So on to brighter topics, last weekend we went and saw James Blunt in Concert at the Intercontinental Hotel gardens. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate his music, it is important to support the few concerts we have in Muscat, I for one enjoyed myself immensely.

As Muscat is a relatively small community, it is very hard to attract big acts to play here and as a result we are lucky to have two a year. However, if we all support them (whether we like them or not) by buying tickets and going for a ‘fun’ night out, then it will become more commercially viable and maybe, just maybe an act that you really want to see will come to town!
Becky and I arrived a little before eight and as with everyone else, we were subjected to an hour of Darren Short from Hi FM ‘working’ the crowd. Most of us did our best to ignore him.
James Blunt finally put us out of our misery and arrived on stage at nine and was surprisingly witty about his melancholic music. So rather than the caustic comments of lemmings jumping off cliffs, we had FUN!!!!

One person who sadly didn’t enjoy himself was our friend Andrew, recently having had an operation (technically known as Giveanecktome I believe), he is on a liquid diet and not the fun sort I’m afraid. However, on the positive side, he is loosing weight (admittedly much needed) and could soon be referred to as Buff (Wife terminology), though not be me I hasten to add. So chin up Andrew as it is all in a good cause.
Harking back to Hi FM and old Derwood, sorry Darren, why oh why did he have to style himself as a carbon copy of Dr Fox?

Surely one is more than enough for the planet, two of then just adds insult to injury! Becky is particually upset with him as he has hijacked the band Bare Naked Ladies as his ‘latest’ find….the cheek of it!!!
I personally gave up listening to the radio soon after arriving here. Fike on the mike was always fun to hear on Radio Sultanate of Oman but I was normally working at that time. My commute to work coincided with the Business Bulletin, which was always an unbelievably painful assault to the ears.
One show I do listen to is Andy Pyzer’s Friday broadcast, ‘The Retro Show’, don’t be put off by the spammy photo or the lame name.

Andy has put a great show together (if 70’s/80’s music is your thing). Unfortunately, no sorry I mean fortunately his normal witty repartee is toned down for public consumption.
If however, you like your dialogue a tad more colourful then I suggest a Monday night at Dukes Bar in the Crown Plaza, Andy’s Pub Quiz could be referred to as a mild introduction to Tourettes Syndrome, not for the easily offended.

Oh, and finally……..Oscar has had a proper haircut at long last, doesn’t he look grown up?