Friday, November 19, 2010

Vote for me!

In a blatant attempt at self-publicity, I am the only Dubai entry in this month's Top Gear Fan Of The Month:

Vote for me and let's put Dubai on Top Gear's map!

The Grumpy Goat is currently in 4th place out of 111. If you've not voted yet, (or even if you have(!)), please do so.

Many thanks to those who have already shown their support.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Three strikes and you're out

How hard is it to let your customers know when you change something?

Nanny Goat is in Dubai once again, and this time she declared her interest in availing Dubai Metro - until stocks last. So the Goat dropped into a Metro station a couple of days in advance to obtain a Nol card. It’s not possible to do this except by travelling to a station. Being able to buy a card when boarding a bus is too technologically demanding, it would seem.

And so we waited at the bus stop. And waited. And waited.

And then the Goat called the RTA, only to be told that bus route F4 – Mirdif West to Rashidiya – was cancelled at the end of August. In order to catch a feeder bus, the Goat and his frail, elderly, grey-bearded Nanny Goat, would have to walk to a bus stop on the F3 route.

Apparently the route changes were mentioned in the Gulf News (which the Goat doesn’t read every day) and publicised on the RTA’s website (in some obscure corner of the interwebs that the Goat can’t locate). Do passengers really have to check on-line every time they plan to use public transport?

How hard would it have been, when removing the timetable from the bus stop near the Crumbling Villa, to insert a notice to the effect that F4 was cancelled and F3 or F10 would have to be used? How about covering up the Bus Stop signs? The RTA hasn’t even turned off the bus stop lights, and the F4 stop nearest to Welcare Mirdif still has its air conditioning working for the benefit of the RTA’s non-existent bus passengers, awaiting the non-arrival of the non-existent F4 bus.

Thinking about it, feeder route F3 could just have been diverted around the old F4 route, but that also seems too difficult.

The Goats did eventually get to board a Metro train, two hours after originally arriving at a bus stop, and yes, the Metro was clean and efficient.

And returning home involved a long walk from the nearest bus stop, across a busy dual carriageway. The distance might be OK in November, but is likely to be quite nasty in August.

This is the third time the Goat has tried to use Dubai’s public transport system, and the third time the process has been fraught with difficulties. Small wonder he prefers to drive.


Sunday, November 14, 2010


From this week's quiz on the BBC's website. First time I've ever got full marks, and on my first go too.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bully off

This is a bit of a cathartic rant, brought about by recent exposure of the subject matter in the local and international media. Normal service will be resumed in due course. The reference to field hockey is a bit of an accident. While I was looking for a hockey-related picture I learned that ‘bullying off’ is no longer how a match is started. You can tell I’ve not played hockey in many years.

It’s pleasing to see that schools nowadays seem keen to publicise their Zero Tolerance to Bullies. Such a thing never existed when I was at school, all those aeons ago. In my day, back in the days of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, school bullies were simply a fact of life. I am nevertheless mystified about how bullying is controlled nowadays. Surely the “We’ll get you after school” syndrome remains unfortunately alive and well.

A whole series of big boys made my life in a succession of schools a form of purgatory for about 14 years. A side effect, perhaps, of my performing well academically but being a dismal failure on the sports field. Talking posh was never going to help; neither was being up to a year younger than my classmates . Torment was constant and unremitting, from physical assaults with fists, boots and hockey sticks, verbal jibes, theft of my personal property, to writing obscenities in my exercise books and on one occasion, vandalizing my bicycle so it had no brakes as I rode down the steep Dingle Road, unable to slow down for the A38 trunk road at the bottom.

“Stand up for yourself,” said my father, “Bullies are cowards. Hit them back and they’ll leave you alone.”

So I did. Unfortunately, in the real world, the proverbial Big Bad Wolf doesn’t run away never to be seen again. What actually happened is that I got into trouble for fighting, and then had my face filled in after school by the same gang of teenage thugs. So much for ne bis in idem. Trouble is, I always think beyond the immediate satisfaction of breaking the nose of my antagonist to the inevitable painful retaliation. Not fighting back doesn’t reduce bullying either; an unresisting target is an easy target.

It was all made worse by some members of staff. In front of classful of boys, a teacher once advised me that I was obviously gay for preferring badminton to soccer. Much derision followed. Another took apparent delight in destroying my self-esteem by ridiculing my work aloud in class again and again. Did he do it to others? Not so I noticed. Teachers’ taunts were parroted at me by my classmates for weeks, months and even years afterwards.

What did I do about it? I retired into a private and slightly unpleasant world of my own, submitted schoolwork on time, swotted for exams, and had few friends and no social life. It’s no little astonishment to me now that I didn’t simply give up and drop out.

What should I have done about it? Made friends with my tormentors, perhaps. Oh yes, that’s sure to work: the captain of the school soccer First XI and his knuckle-dragging cronies are sure to want to associate themselves with me. Given into my violent desires, perhaps, instead of suppressing them? I’d have become one of those same sociopaths who made my schooldays a misery. Telling a teacher or a parent produced little in the way of sympathy, and if a bully were hauled into the headmaster’s study he’d eventually catch up with me and wreak his revenge. All futile, then.

Thankfully the physical abuse ceased by 1980. To anyone who’s read this far and has suffered or is suffering as I did, I can confirm that things do eventually get better. Other than that, I’m afraid I don’t have any answers.

To my shame and irritation I can’t simply drop it and let bygones be bygones. Thirty years on, and very little is required to get a load of unpleasant memories flooding back as if they happened only yesterday.

The injustices systematically meted out on me and others are probably why I continue to detest injustice in all its various forms.


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.