So it was on Wednesday that I finally received my passport complete with Iqama, or "Residence Permit", and my ID card. Despite having had to be fingerprinted - twice so far - the authorities have given me the same ID number as last time and the time before that. I don't suppose either my fingerprints or blood group have changed much since 1996. Doesn't hurt to check, I suppose.
Buying an air ticket was another simple task fraught with unnecessary difficulties. Fly Dubai had sent me emails advertising special offers, but their website fell over every time I tried to book. Qatar Airways had nothing for the return flight except at obscene expense. I'm not paying QAR 1200 one way for a 45 minute flight in cattle class. Eventually I ended up with cheapskate Air Arabia via Sharjah instead of Dubai. Fine. The only problem was the screaming brat at check-in who ended up being King of the Seat-Kickers right behind me. I gritted my teeth, put in my earbuds, and shutted the fcek up.
I spent Friday morning in the dust of a desert rally. About 90 knobbly-tyred motorbikes went past at speed over two hours, and my job as one of the many marshals was to keep track of when each and every bike went through my control, and to call into Base any who missed the gate. This was Round 5 of 6, but I can't be at the final round of the Emirates Desert Championship because of the Scottish Play.
I took Beloved Wife to the pictures that afternoon, and we were surprisingly entertained by "Kingsman." Knowing nothing about the film, we didn't know what to expect, but were treated to two hours of fun being poked at James Bond and Jason Bourne, with a hint of The Avengers (Steed, Purdey, Kinky Boots, etc., and not Marvel). See "Kingsman" if you enjoyed "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz", and be prepared for violence, gore, and copious use of Adult Language. Samuel L. Jackson does not disappoint in this area.
Following a further Valentine treat over at TFI Friday's, Beloved Wife and I returned home in good time for wine o'clock.
I'd promised myself a motorbike ride on Saturday, and to this end, on Friday afternoon I'd reinstalled the battery and fired up the Black Beast. First stab of the starter. Although I had set an early alarm for Saturday morning, when it rang I merely found the excuse of a nearly-flat phone battery to give myself an extra hour in bed.
My leathers not only still fit, but are in fact now comfortably loose around my midriff as well as baggy in the arse. The latter is a design feature to make sitting on a motorbike actually comfortable. My reprofiled seat is still a success. I covered some 400km on Saturday morning, seeking out known bendy roads over towards the eastern UAE and I only actually stopped and put a hoof down when refuelling. If you saw a streak of black lightning whizz past you at near-relativistic speed, it might have been me. If you clocked the registration plate, it certainly was someone else.
The therapeutic benefits of going for a good thrash cannot be underestimated, except by non-motorcyclists, who don't understand.
Beloved Wife wished me a Happy Hallmark with a full English, and I went out afterwards, removed the battery and mothballed the bike again. I suspect that it needs new brake pads, for which I've been quotes a rather alarming QAR778, but it's due a service soon. That will have to wait until I'm not whizzing in from Doha about one weekend in eight.
To finish the weekend, we ran an errand up to Barracuda and I got out of the car at Sharjah airport for my 1830 flight.
I'm now back to bikeless, wifeless, catless Doha. My life is shortly to be taken over by the Bard of Avon; I'll not be able to get away any weekends until the end of March. Beloved Wife says she'll come to see the play, so there is some variety on the horizon to break up the soul-destroying cycle of work/rehearse/eat/sleep that epitomises my life.