Friday, May 29, 2015

Manic Monday

Six o’clock already.
Sign of the times

I was just in the middle of a dream…

That’s how my day starts. I roll out of bed, stumble to the bathroom for 3S, and then head to the kitchenette for wheaties. Then I get dressed for work, remembering to brush my teeth before tying my tie.

I live on the top floor of a tower block, so I take the lift about 37 floors to ground, emerge from the building, cross the road, and head up six floors to my office.

Six forty-five, and I start to drive my desk, my computer, and push paper around. This is the frustrating bit. Everything I write is in some way inadequate, unacceptable, incomplete, or just plain wrong. It all gets submitted to the Circumlocution Office, where teams of incompetents find ingenious ways to pick fault. If possible, and it’s always very possible indeed, the required document changes are in direct contradiction to requirements of other Departments in the said Circumlocution Office. After three weeks, my submittal will be back on my desk for rewriting. Again.

Now, because it's impossible to build anything without client consent, and client consent is patently Not Coming In Doha, MamSir, the lack of construction progress rapidly becomes my fault, as it is only I who write these reports.

He works from nine to five, and then…

By around 6pm I have generally had enough, so I head down six floors, cross the road, and ascend 37 floors to my tiny, expensive concrete cube in the sky. I get changed, cook a meal, wash up, and stare at a screen until about 9pm. Then bed.

I repeat this six times a week.

And that’s my life. It is destroying me.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bedtime story

Once upon a time, in the far-off land of Dunkrugerstan, lived a very wise, rich man. His title was Grand Frommaj, and he ruled over the happy and content Dunkrugertani people with wisdom, kindness, and generosity. 

Unfortunately, the Grand Frommaj had a problem, which was this. Hardly anyone from other realms had even heard of Dunkrugerstan, and even some who had would struggle to find it on a map of the world. The Grand Frommaj summoned his Council of Ministers, who agreed that the best way to improve the status of Dunkrugerstan would be to host major international sporting tournaments. Knights and acrobats, gladiators and horsemen would travel from far and wide, and their entourages would follow. Dunkrugerstan would soon become famous throughout the world.

And so it came to pass. New arenas and hippodromes were constructed, and many people came. It quickly became apparent to the Grand Frommaj that he would need more inns, more and better markets, and larger and grander arenas. Streets would have to be widened and straightened because of the ever-increasing throngs of visitors from foreign lands.

The Council of Ministers quickly realised that they needed expertise that was not readily available within the Dunkrugerstani people. They sent messengers abroad, inviting wise men to come and be Trusted Advisors to the Grand Frommaj. Many answered the call, and they brought their families. And so successful was this venture that even more Trusted Advisors had to be invited to come and help the Dunkrugerstanis to build more inns, houses, markets, and streets for all these trusted Advisors.

It was regrettable that the Grand Frommaj, although wise and kind and generous, often disagreed with his Trusted Advisors. He would fly into a rage when a Trusted Advisor produced unpalatable advice, and the Grand Frommaj would order that this Advisor be banished. The Council of Ministers also had differences of opinion with each other, and although they always agreed with the decrees of the Grand Frommaj, the Ministers often worked against one another.

The Minister of Paper Clips would veto edicts issued by the Minister of Rubber Stamps, for example. And the Minister for Streets was often in opposition to the Minister for Houses.

And thus were created conditions where Trusted Advisors were constantly given different instructions, and told that the work they had done was no longer acceptable. Sometimes, a Trusted Advisor was told to produce the exact opposite of what the Grand Frommaj wished, resulting in one of those famous rages and the Advisor’s immediate exile.

Of course, with the constant changes, inns and streets, houses and arenas were delayed. Some were never built at all. So when the knights arrived for the most famous Grand Tournament in the whole world, nothing was finished. Arenas lay incomplete, and there were insufficient inns for all the visitors who had come to witness the Grand Tournament spectacle.

The Grand Frommaj was aghast. What would everyone think? So much wisdom; so much wealth, and yet nothing had been completed. The Grand Frommaj raged. He called his Council of Ministers and demanded to know how this could have happened. The Ministers spoke to one another, and concluded that the Trusted Advisors were entirely to blame, and they should all be exiled.

And so it was. Dunkrugerstan soon lay an empty wilderness, with half-constructed inns and markets, and deserted arenas.

And the Trusted Advisors? They all travelled away, and were never seen again.


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

My object all sublime

It’s a brilliant idea: rich people who break the law should be fined more than poor people.

It stands to reason that a Dh200 fine for jaywalking is grossly over-punitive for some Dubai labourer for whom Dh200 represents his monthly food budget, whereas for a degree-educated experienced western manager the same sum is mere pocket change.

So the solution to this patent unfairness is obvious, isn’t it? The court finds out what the offender’s monthly income is and fines him a percentage of that. Some Emirati teenager was fined half a million dirhams earlier this week for doing doughnuts on the public highway and bringing the UAE into disrepute by posting the video in Instagram (and subsequently in 7DAYS and The National). Half a million? Jeez!!

Such as system would have been ideal a year ago while the Goat was resting between jobs. As a house elf and kitty whisperer, his personal income was zero. He could, under some system of means-tested fines, have driven Beloved Wife’s car in the manner of a total hooligan and incurred numerous fines. Haha! Any percentage of zero is zero. And exactly the same situation would occur when some foopballer’s WAG went out in her husband’s Lexus and drove with reckless abandon.

We can perhaps imagine the court: “You have been found guilty of the charges, and are fined 75% of your monthly income,” which is big fat zero, zilch, nada, sifr.

“Ah, but,” the Goat hears you protest, “Because Beloved Wife is working, she brings in the total household income, and the fine should be based on that.”

Indeed. Except that Beloved Wife did not commit the offence, and only an unreasonable Man on the proverbial Clapham Omnibus would argue that Beloved Wife, or anyone else, should have to pay the penalty for an offence committed by somebody else.

And what if the punishment that fits the crime isn’t a fine, but a custodial sentence? Can a year in the slammer seriously be served by two people doing six months each? No, I didn’t think so.


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