Sunday, April 24, 2011

Who wants to be a milliner?

The Goat’s recent silence on the InterTubes of late has been because of other rather more pressing engagements. One of these involved the Goat’s almost full passport. Others involved beer.

According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a British UAE resident has to send his applications for a replacement passport to Düsseldorf rather than the previous system that involved having it done at the local British Embassy. First pay £15 to PayPal to obtain permission to download the application form, then send off the form, old passport and nearly €300. “Up to” six weeks later, the new passport would arrive.

Unfortunately, having his residence visa cancelled upon termination of employment would give the Goat four weeks to leave the country. The potential for being trapped without a passport and incurring fines for illegally remaining in the UAE rather encouraged a holiday in Blighty.

So the Goat applied for a same-day appointment at Nanny Goat’s local passport office, picked up the application form for free from the local post office, and now has a new biometric passport. Huzzah! Visits to the in-laws in the USA without all that pesky form-filling to get a visa are now possible.

The Immigration and Passport Service has to be self-funding. It is, of course, completely unreasonable that the British taxpayer subsidises Mrs Trellis’ holiday from North Wales to Benidorm; arguably more so when the travel involves a tax-free job in Dubai. Thus a standard UK passport currently costs around £78. Same-day service by special appointment and a jumbo 48-page document is £140ish. As £78 apparently covers all the costs of the IPS, the Goat idly speculates as to the justification of nearly €300 for Brits abroad.

Travel costs didn’t count in the Goat’s case because he was going anyway.

Visiting family and friends, the Goat borrowed Nanny Goat’s car and gave it the sort of thrashing that the old rented Yaris received between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and achieved the same result: 40mpig, or 7l/100km for the rest of the planet. Poor little City Rover.

Thank you to Mr and Mrs Thrash, the Gnomad and Gnomadette, and the Lawful Goods of Cowplain for their hospitality, food and the opportunity for boating on the Thames.

The weather on the run up to Easter was gloriously sunny, even resulting in the Goat getting slightly sunburned in the open cockpit of the MV Jedi between Sunbury-upon-Thames and Windsor. Next time, wear some form of hat. A new record for possibly the slowest passage was caused by repeatedly having the river locks slammed shut in our faces because they were full of other boaters who had had the same idea involving sunny weather and messing about in boats. By the time we arrived, all mooring spots were taken and the Good Ship Jedi had to be rafted three out. This made getting small children ashore an entertaining experience; just as well they’re used to this sort of thing.

Incidentally, the Goat was appalled when his host produced a French flag. In England. On St George’s Day. And Bill Shakespeare’s birthday. There was some feeble excuse about it being an unused courtesy flag for a boat trip over the Channel that was postponed because of foul weather.

Moored in a very busy Windsor, it was noted that Her Maj., Mrs Liz Windsor was in residence up at the local castle. Witness the Royal Standard flying from the topmost tower. The Goat shared his speculation that, because of her grandson’s upcoming wedding, she might have actually been down the hat shop. (Although in Soviet Russia, as the ancient memes say, the hat shop comes to you.) Nanny Goat, who was in London on a coach trip at the time, reports that Her Maj.’s car was actually parked outside Westminster Abbey on Thursday while the monarch was inside doling out Maundy money.

Now back chez Nanny Goat, her offspring is bemoaning the fact that the display on his new mobile phone has died. A fully-functional phone, but no access to any menus, is worse than useless except for receiving voice calls. Imagine being unable to read all the texts that can be heard arriving. And it can’t even be backed up. The Goat has tried and failed to switch on Bluetooth by Braille, and suspects another new handset may be in order.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Shooed away

To my surprise and irritation, I was refused admission to one of Abu Dhabi’s watering holes one evening last week. A quick check of the posted rules revealed that I was not a member of this private club, and I’d not submitted copies of my passport, visa, liquor licence and two mugshots. But that wasn’t the reason for not being allowed in.

I wasn’t wearing a kandoura either, so that also wasn’t the reason.

I was, in fact, wearing casual business attire, with long trousers and a long-sleeved open-collared shirt. But, disastrously, I was wearing Birkenstocks. And this alone was apparently sufficient to prove that I was undesirable.

Actually, the dress code posted at the entrance permits sandals up until 7pm, at which time the landlord presumably rings a bell and the Sandal Gestapo throw out anyone who’s not wearing closed shoes. Except women, of course. Despite there being absolutely no gender bias in the written rules, it’s only those of a male persuasion who are persecuted in this way. The management had no problem with my Beloved Wife and her flip-flops, nor any of the other women in the place.

Yet that a month or so earlier, I was allowed to exchange my money for liquor in the same place without being challenged about my choice of footwear.

In a different bar on another occasion, I was only allowed to join my drinking buddies after pointing out that I’d recently had surgery, and that wearing closed shoes was impossible. The manager reluctantly allowed us in provided we sat in the naughty corner where none of the other patrons could see my feet. Later that evening, a group of Emiratis turned up in their national dress and were quite happily served beers. So much for the theory that suggests the anti-sandals rule is to ensure that everyone seen drinking does not appear to be a Muslim. This is utterly ridiculous: changing your attire doesn’t change your religion, and open-toed shoes prove absolutely nothing about someone’s beliefs.

The truth is simply that I hate wearing shoes.

There’s nothing like several hours a day in closed footwear to bring on an attack of Tinea pedis, or possibly even Aphtae epizooticae, and that’s even with clean socks daily, not wearing the same shoes on consecutive days and Dr Scholl’s Anti-Fungal Spray (Catering Pack), and sandals offer a sensible compromise where going barefoot would be considered too weird.

The Sandal Gestapo even appeared at work. Apparently it’s a Health and Safety issue. But the traditionally-attired Omani PRO is apparently immune to all forms of foot injury. As are all women. What is on the Y chromosome that makes guys’ feet so fragile? It’s only blokes who are apparently vulnerable to having their tootsies damaged in the office. Note that: in the office, not on a construction site or while riding a motorbike.

I continue to find it ludicrous that I have to dress as if it’s a wet winter Wednesday in Wigan in order to impress the client and his cronies in their loose flowing robes and sandals.

And no, wearing sandals does not make me want to dispose of my SUV in an environmentally responsible manner and instead ride a homespun organic bicycle.


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.