Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What it says on the tin

I set every, and I mean every, setting on my computer to print the document in Portrait because it’s a document and not a picture. The printer chooses to cut every page in half and churn out the entire document with every page chopped in half. Landscape. I did not ask for landscape. I tried again. I tried every conceivable setting. 

Landscape, landscape, landscape.

Eventually I emailed the document to a colleague who printed it to the same printer on the same network with the same settings, and it came out just perfect.

But this is a minor issue. What is more, yea, much more irritating is a “Low-risk, low but steady growth” investment. It performed faultlessly for two years and I could, with a year’s notice, take my money without penalty. That was what I was sold. That is what is in the contract.

After two years, it all went wrong. The company froze the fund to prevent any withdrawals and progressively devalued it. Now that it is available for withdrawal, I’m told that I can’t take anything out without incurring massive early redemption penalties. The money must, apparently, sit and earn no interest for three more years.

Hang on, you said…

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter anything further.”

So much for offshore investments. I’d have been better off sticking the money under the mattress. As I stand today, it has cost me a year working the Job From Hell just to break even. I am angrier than a tiger with a red-hot poker up its arse.

I’m not asking for the moon on a stick. I don’t want unrealistic returns. I specifically chose low risk to avoid all that crap. All I want is what was advertised. But, it seems, Financial Typhoid Mary here can’t get anything right when it comes to savings.

So my advice? Regarding offshore investments with any of the multitudinous firms offering these services? Don’t…

Just don’t.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

You had one job

Another weekend aviation experience. The economy FlyDubai was just fine and relatively inexpensive. I booked another flight for Thanksgiving weekend at an astonishing QAR382 return including 20kg checked baggage allowance.

But that’s in a fortnight’s time. Here is what happened when I attempted to board last Saturday’s flight.

We all piled on to the airport bus and were driven lumberingly out towards the row of parked FlyDubai aircraft. The bus driver swung to the left and stopped at the steps, and the self-loading cargo waited for the door to open. The bus went forwards, and backwards, and forwards again. It would appear that the bus driver had taken a wrong turn and arrived at the wrong aircraft. That is in itself a big bag of oops. Then the driver tried to drive his ponderous bus around the front of this aircraft.

Here was the problem. There was a sign pole and a safety fence in the way to the left, and a pushback to the right, attached to the nosewheel of the aforementioned aircraft. Instead of realizing that an airport bus wouldn’t fit through this tiny gap, the driver jammed the bus between these two obstacles and stopped. He may have realised his error, but didn’t immediately reverse. Meanwhile, other ground crew rolled the boarding ladder away from the aircraft and blocked the bus from reversing.

Was this a prank being played on Nobby Newbloke?

We waited. Time passed. Thorin sat down and started singing about gold. At last somebody noticed the problem and moved the steps. The bus reversed, unblocked the road, and ten minutes’ worth of airport vehicles were released like Formula 1 cars when the safety car returns to the pits.

And once this queue had dispersed, the bus driver had another run up. This time the pushback actually moved out of the way, pushing the aircraft. Twenty minutes. Twenty minutes!

But it still wasn’t over. The bus eventually pulled up alongside the correct aircraft. Were we allowed out? Oh no! The bus had to reverse so that the passengers could be directed to either the front or the back of the aircraft. This is all fine and sensible, and yet apparently not in “Airport Bus Driver: Rules. For the Reading and Understanding and Compliance Of.”

It gets better: there was a second bus following this one’s every move.

Friday, November 06, 2015


Technical rehearsal at Qatar National Covention Centre. The Doha Players' production or Shakepeare's 'The Tempest' is opening on Saturday evening for four performances.

The Goat would have liked to be in it, but back in July he thought his one-year contract would be over in September. So he decided not to audition.

Then in October, he figured that even if he got his statutory one month notice, he'd still be in Doha in early November, and volunteered to do backstage stuff.

In the Players' previous production, the Goat drove the lighting board, so it might seem sensible for him to do something similar this time around. However, he can't actually do anything until the QNCC techies have programmed the lights in accordance with the director's wishes and whims, and as at 11.45 that's not yet started.

Friday, and the crew turned up at 9am. The cast will show up for a dress rehearsal at noon, and it's going to be a long afternoon. Tomorrow will also start at 9am, and it'll be the same until 7pm when the show opens to a full house. Saturday will be an even longer day, where 'long' is 14 hours.

The things the Goat does for Art... and it's a tiny fraction of what everyone else has been putting in since August.


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