So much for nostalgia, a dish best consumed in small quantities, with an appropriate coulis of reality.
A colleague of mine, of necessity unmarried, has a distinctly lurid taste in shirts. Or, more precisely, the spectral concatenation of a purple shirt accompanying a green tie. I think it’s probably something to do with the Fourier transform of the combination that triggers the collywobbles and eye-crossingly seasick reactions. Said colleague goes about his business with blind, cavalier insouciance, entirely oblivious to the chaos and mayhem he is causing to those around him, like a jet-ski at full throttle in a swimming pool filled with the Mothers and Toddlers Group. There really are some gentlemen who should not be allowed out to buy clothes unsupervised, but I am not, I think, one of them. It’s time for me to lay up for myself treasure on earth in the form of a couple of pairs of pants and perhaps a shirt or two from my tailor. Apart from the fact that this involves having to go to the Fabric Souk – stubbing a live cigarette out in my eye is more appealing – it must be said that purchasing is rapid, convenient and blissfully short. I walk in and grunt at my tailor, who appears to recognise me. A raised eyebrow indicates that the measurements and required design are the same as last time. He writes meaningless hieroglyphs down in his book like a mediaeval scribe, hands me a card with the job number on it and I am free to leave, returning in three days, having invariably lost the card.
Having been forced to wear bum-freezers at school, I do rather insist that shirtings are made extra long in order to insulate nether regions which have become a little more gravitationally challenged with the passage of time. Perhaps something in a gentle mauve or, perhaps, a fetching lime green, but not, I think, together.
In deference to those who derive childlike amusement from my modest mathematical skill, the curve is a reasonably accurate spectral representation of what happens when purple and green are put together. Pass the bucket.
The Hilton hosts the odd event here, some stylish, some not. I was persuaded to go to the British Business Forum’s annual jamboree the other night which celebrates the best of British, and all Britannia was in evidence. The BLS or British Ladies Society, wot lunches a lot, had a pitch cheek by jowl with the Kuwait Nomads who are a spectacularly bad rugby team who lost with cheerfully metronomic consistency all last year. Two members of the BLS are pictured above, clearly enjoying a pleasantry or two. There is a prize for the best caption, especially those referencing the object the lady on the right is holding.
Competitors like the Sheraton put on the best canapes, just to show the four-stars how it ought to be done, expensive schools wheeled out their – mostly Pakistani – best and brightest and in spite of remorseless persuasion to the point of outright leverage, I failed to secure the raffle prize of a business class ticket to New York.
The Church of England was also present, and was breaking the law. It is forbidden to display crosses publicly here; they got away with it by displaying a Celtic version which might have been mistaken for a decorative hubcap by naive locals. Church here has been described as truck stop where expats go for a whiff of familarity, rather like the beery bonhomie of English pubs on wet Sunday lunchtimes. All of which got me wondering what kind of people attend – or perhaps, log in to – St Pixels, the Internet Church. This link is the joinup page, which I know you will all scramble to, pay your fiver, and fill in, thereby enjoying all privileges of membership. I don’t, of course, join anything. Like Winston Churchill, I rather lean towards supporting like a flying buttress, from the outside. I did look on the Worship page, which revealed the following…
Whatever anybody says, I do quite like Dan Brown’s writing. Not quite as much as the New York Times, it seems, but, enough. Purists argue, no doubt using big words like ‘metonymy’ that his style lacks class, but I think the associations between ‘da Vinci’ and ‘Symbol’ are intact, since similarly eerie nerve endings are remorselessly tweaked. The writing is a little bit too excitable for my own leisurely taste, I prefer my plotlines to unfold gently, curling upwards like good cigar smoke, and frequent and persistent use of italics is a technique I only employ when writing handouts for children with short attention spans. His, then, is not an entry ticket to great writing, as if by picking up a Dan Brown and enjoying it will provide the reader with a gateway into literature; perhaps having finished it he might pick up ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ as his next good read. Cynic, know thyself. Bottom line is no one really knows why the hell we’re here or what we are doing, but we have had a riot of a time trying, however clumsily, to explain it all and convince others that we’re right. Some even try to tell us they hold the key to understanding, and the frisson is, we’re tempted to believe them.
That’s why Brown has had so much success. At times like these, we’re tempted to have little faith in anything and we’d all like to see the systems that failed us get a good kick in the slats. We can’t help but try to make sense of it all with these gigantic brains. Who doesn’t prefer a nut to the glow and the haze, especially when we have a chance to crack it?