Friday, April 29, 2011

Bring me my spear, o clouds unfold (William Blake)

I thought I'd be really different and do a post about the wedding of William and Katherine Windsor, after all - no one else will think to write about it surely.

We watched in our Al Ain apartment, transfixed by the spectacle, the glamour, the pomp and ceremony of a good old fashioned British royal wedding. I guess that scene was reproduced all over the commonwealth and beyond.

It did the heart glad to feel part of that tradition and be in Westminster Abbey again. I love the Abbey and I love symbols; a wedding is full of them.

I particularly liked the idea that the couple signed the marriage certificates in the presence of Edward the Confessor.

His tomb at Westminster Abbey is an extremely imposing ediface. You can't help but feel humble in its company. After all - Edward is the patron saint of kings, difficult marriages, and separated spouses! I don't mean to include that titbit to be cynical; I acknowledge the moment for its symbolic spirit of humility.

On such occasions as this I am proud to be a royalist and proud of New Zealand's place in the commonwealth. And isn't it great that the Arch Bishop of Canterbury resembles a Merlin/ Gandolf The Grey character. Fantastic!

So - join with Jacky and me and raise a glass to the newest recruits into the wedded bliss club.

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Men's shirts, short skirts, woah oh oh (Sh-wanna Ma-twar)

I try hard not to include in-jokes in the blog but I couldn't resist the one in the title (only the kids will get it).

This post should really go on the music blog but it relates to family experiences so, what the hell.

Every family has its quirky shared history and Shania Twain's Come On Over tape is certainly part of ours. Yes - I wrote that correctly - tape. Jacky has a limited musical interest. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't like (99.9% of my music for instance).

Somehow, from somewhere, someone in the family bought her the Shania Twain tape. I know it was a tape because it was on endless repeat in the car cassette player during 1997-1998 (it felt like decades).

Keegan, Adam, Samantha, Jade, SWMBO, and I know these songs backwards, forwards and sideways.

Why am I mentioning this?

I bought a Greatest Hits collection the other day and have been playing it ever since.

I told Jacky it was for her, and it was, but I also thought it would be fun to hear these songs again. And it is, because I am instantly back in the family car driving around Auckland (we were living in Mt Albert) and throughout the north island on family trips in our Mitsy Chariot.

I can't let this post go by without a clip to take us back to the nineties.

Sifr and salaam - Wozza

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Go ask Alice, I think she'll know (Jefferson Airplane)

A slight problem with blogging, as opposed to Twittering or Facebooking, is that the immediacy is lost.

Events have happened, rather than are happening.

This post aims to be of the minute...well of the afternoon anyway.

The Principal and I held a staff meeting this afternoon and if you are reading this as soon as it's posted you will be locked in to my time and space.

By the way, if you have visited my Baggy Trousers blog recently, you will know that it is hibernating. I was losing interest in posting on it and so visitors to it were, understandably, drying up as well. Therefore this blog will have updates on what I am up to at work from time to time, inshallah.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, April 25, 2011

Time time ticking in my head (Anthrax)

So we were sitting having an after work coffee and cake (Starbucks have a great carrot and almond cake at the moment) in (shock horror probe)Starbucks at the Bawadi Mall (in Al Ain) when I said to she-who-must-be-obeyed, "Okay, I'll buy the watch if you buy the cross-trainer".
SWMBO has been on at me since Doha days to buy a new watch. The last one was bought while I was at Cambridge High School and that's now seven years ago. I haven't bought that many watches in my life and I have very strict guidelines for a watch. Off the top of my head I can only think of owning four watches in 53 years.

In no particular order: it must be classy (yes I know I owned a fluro swatch in the '80s - thanks for reminding me); definitely NOT digital (never owned one, never will); must have a leather strap - can't be doing with those metal jobbies; no other bells and whistles (no clutter from stop watches, no underwater contraptions and the like); it must be easy to tell the time (der - but 99% of watches I find very difficult to see the actual time in); I'm not crazy about Roman numerals in my analogue watch but if I must I must; I like a gold colour but not a white face on the watch.

I'm generally looking for a narrow range of a plain analogue watch with a leather strap. And most of them aren't classy (or if they are are hellishly expensive).

In short I love my old watch!! Mainly because all of the planets came into alignment!

I knew it was going to be a daunting task because there seem to be 5 billion watch outlets in the UAE and, as you now know, I am very picky. The 5 billion watch outlets (by the way - that's a very, very conservative estimate! Lord knows how they all make a living or maybe the 5 billion watch outlets are owned by three guys) come in a continuum that stretches from the '3 watches for 6o dirham' variety to the mega expensice Cartier gold and jem encrusted extravaganzas (and you should see the ladies watches!!).

So...the upshot is -  I went looking for an impossible to find watch via the 5 billion watch outlets to satisfy SWMBO's endless proddings. Along for the ride were my self imposed restrictions, my frugal watch buying history, my desire not to exceed around $200 (what my last watch cost), and my delicate little wrists (the local Emiratis love huge gaudy heavy things that suit me not).

I decided to restrict myself to one of the 5 billion watch outlets. The lucky place was the only watch place in Bawadi Mall that carried watch batteries ( I kid you not - the other 4 billion and change watch outlets sell you a watch but will not sell or replace a battery for you). I got a new battery for my old watch when I first got here and I promised the nice gentleman who helped me that I would, one day, buy a watch from him.

Yesterday was the fateful day! SWMBO says I am the customer from hell because I know what I like and I don't like much.

But, cue heavenly choirs and celestial lights shimmering and the world moving at slow motion - I found one!!!

Now I love my new watch. It's similar to my old watch but it has enough difference to mean I wasn't buying just another version of my old watch. I also like its brand name 'Jovial'.

Oh...and yes - SWMBO got her cross-trainer as well.

Okay - dinner's nearly ready apparently, so it's time to go!

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm a dancing fool (Frank Zappa)

Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.

As you can tell - the bear was eating me in that last posting. But as Frank Sinatra says - that's life!

However - The unexamined life is not worth living according to Socrates (not the Brazilian footballer).

Okay - that's Sinatra and Socrates done and dusted in two paragraphs.

To lift the mood (don't wanna bring y'all down and to cheer myself up) I thought I'd try an experiment. Namely - whatever song was next on my ipod shuffle would be the title for the post and then I'd find a clip from Seinfeld to relate to it. So the song was Zappa's Dancing Fool and the clip just picked itself.


Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, April 18, 2011

Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you, that is how I know you go on (Celine Dion)

I have wanted to write this post for a while but haven't known where to start. I've also been dreading it - I don't want this blog to become an agony aunt exercise, and some things can be too personal for the blogosphere. Thing is, you see, I think about my parents a lot and I miss them a lot and I dream about them a lot.

April is quite a significant month in our family history. Without two significant events happening I wouldn't exist. April 23rd is my mother's birthday - she would have been 81 years old this year. Secondly - April 18th is the anniversary of Graham Purdy's marriage to Dulcie Adsett in 1953. Four years later I came along!

So - things are on my mind in April.  But I still didn't know how to confront this stuff in the blogosphere. Until...
Celine Dion, of all people, opened the door, and you're here in my heart and my heart will go on and on. The lyrics to a soppy song haunt me - make me cry! This is silly right? Can't help it. Just can't.

Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never go till we're one

I caught myself the other day unable to place my dad's death in the right year. I felt sure it was a few months ago but that didn't make sense. It felt fresh and I've been in the desert since November last year so his passing in October didn't feel right.

This thought has been haunting me for days. I found myself going through the time lines in my head over and over again, and it didn't make sense. Had we gone to Doha in between? That didn't seem right. Had we returned from England and lived in NZ for three years before his death? I had to look through my blog posts to check and see that his passing was in fact, in 2009. Before Doha. I sat and stared at the screen for a few minutes - not believing my eyes.

You're here, there's nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
We'll stay forever this way
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on

This strange disassociated/disconnected time and space feeling  - caused by a traumatic event; is this normal? I relive the days of his passing sometimes in the middle of the night - everything is vivid. The light at 1pm reconnects me to the moment when my parents become one again. Sometimes it's a dream and the people who I have called my angels visit me in various forms. Sometimes I wake up before the alarm from a dream and I don't know where I am.

All around me are familiar faces
worn out places, worn out faces

Then I think about my mother's passing in 1983. That seems impossible! Have I really lived all these years without her? Yes and no.

There is a light that never goes out.

To end on a slightly more upbeat note: April is also the month of a couple of other anniversaries and birthdays that I need to celebrate.

Happy April birthdays to Jynette, Catherine, Sallie and Nita (Jacky has great company). I'm sorry I've lumped you all together in a rather melancholy post but I do hope you had great days.

And finally - happy wedding anniversaries to Ross and Lynda (on the 9th) and ME and JACKY!!! On April 21st 1984 we were married in New Plymouth.

Celebration days!

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The waves were coming in like Arabian stallions (Patti Smith)

You always take the weather with you.
I haven't done a weather watch for...ew...ages. I only mention it cos the weather here is usually entirely predictable. The weather chart person at the newspaper has the cushiest number ever.

But this week has been different. We had rain...of a kind... a few days ago. The sky had been greyish all day but rain is the last thing you think of in a desert. We were watching TV when the thunder and lightning started and then the rain followed.

Buildings, roads etc are NOT set up for rain in the Middle East. Our apartment was fine inside (others experienced rain coming through the windows!), but outside our front door the rain came steadily through the manhole cover leading to the roof.

The last few days have had a similar, though far less dramatic, pattern - a grey sky that keeps the temperature in the low 30s and then, at night, a few spots of rain - not enough to use your wipers if you were driving kind of spots.

And it's getting hotter - climbing into the high 30s during the day.

Thank yous.
Thank you to the whanau (whanau means extended family and mine is listed below in the left hand column) who have voted in the poll, which finishes today. I actually found the results surprising. Nearly 60% of you (so far) are keen for an email alert every time I do a post so... I will. I was worried that you may get fed up of the emails but clearly you don't. So...yeah...

The poll was a good idea (thanks blogger) and it got me thinking, again, about the people who read blogs. I looked at the stats for the readership of my wozza blog for the last 4 weeks. I was staggered to learn that readership peaked on April 9 (the post about the road trip to Dubai) when 78 people visited my blog. 78 visitors on one day!! Amazing.

Jacky's big day.
Thanks to all of you who sent cheery greetings to Jacky for her birthday. Jade made it with 4 minutes to spare! Amanda wins the best email card award, though, with her virtual birthday cake.

Seems we all love to get presents throughout our lives on our special days. Many of you asked what I got Jacky for her birthday so here it is.

Life size wise it's about a foot high and blimin heavy (it's made of bronze with a solid marble base and I emphasise the solid!).

Yes...the end!

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

They say it's your birthday (The Beatles)

I couldn't decide on the appropriate graphic to go with this post - a celebration of Jacky's birthday on April 14.

She loves horses so this one seemed good.

But she's definitely not a little innocent so I chewed over this one for a bit.

Ultimately though - this one grabbed my attention immediately and seemed to sum everything up.

Happy birthday Jacky!!

Love (always) and peace - Wozza

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I think of you and I see me (Lacuna Coil)

The Guardian has a daily section to its editorial called, 'In praise of...' They then do exactly that - write an article in praise of some thing or some one.

With that spirit in mind, I'm going to weigh in with a post in praise of the Principal at Ali bin Abi Taleb School.

His name is Mohammed and he has been the Principal for 6 years. I've known him since November last year. He's quiet, very astute, very tuned in to the pulse of the school, excellent at relationships, and a dedicated teacher with a fine sense of humour. The nicest thing I've heard about him is a comment from one of the teachers who said that Mohammed gives him comfort and the confidence to be a better teacher.

Here we are in a highly stylised situation - I needed some photos of Mohammed and me working on some professional development work so we had to interrupt our actual PD session to pose for some photos.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I'd like to help you, son, but you're too young to vote (Eddie Cochrane or The Who - take your pick)

I love this excerpt from T.H. White's The Once and Future King (about King Arthur's early years). White is describing the power of inquiry and the learning process. It struck me as incredibly relevant (Japan, Libya, NZ etc and maybe even your private life) and I thought I'd share it with the blogosphere!

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder in your veins, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics. There is only one thing for it then - to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you."

Love and peace - Wozza

I'll watch the path that winds by the wishing tree, it ends beneath my window, and there I'll be (Dorothy Lamour)

Growing up I used to be persuaded by my father to watch those old Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour road movies. He was a Bob Hope, Bing Crosby fan (and probably Dorothy Lamour too for all I know) and NZBC that was (TVNZ now - how's that for progress), was pretty boring when I was growing up: black and white, one channel that started about 5pm and ended about 10pm - so I was an easy sell.

Thing is - I actually loved them as the very flimsy plots were an excuse for a series of Bob Hope jokes, songs, dances and more jokes. Maybe that was the start of my love for the road movie genre.

So I thought I'd create my own road movie from yesterday's road trip to Dubai. I drove the dolly (otherwise known as the Tiida) and she who must be obeyed took the pictures.

The Al Ain to Dubai road is a three lane (sometimes four) thrill ride at a pretty steady 130kph - I know one of the pictures below says max for cars is 120 but generally here you add 20 to any speed limit so if it says 60 you do 80, 80 is 100 and 120kph is around 140 on the open roads.

Yesterday was Friday - the quietest day on the roads (at least until 4pm when Friday prayers ends and the shops start opening up for business) so that explains the absence of cars.

The pictures are in sequence from Al Foah to the approach into Dubai (where the camel market and race track is situated). The truck on the side of the road had just burst a tyre and the poor sods were trying to figure out how to fix it - given it was fully laden.

There is a long stretch of road works soon after leaving Al Ain and the trip takes about an hour from Al Foah, where I work which is just on the approach into Al Ain and about 30 mins from where we live in Al Sarooj (a district of Al Ain). aboard and don't forget to buckle up. We're off. Maybe (maybe) not as romantic as Route 66 or the Forgotten World Highway from Stratford to Taumarunui but a road trip all the same.

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert, but I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime (Big Country)

I love everything about the Big Country extravaganza which had its peak moments in the 1980s, 1990s. Everything that is apart from Stuart Adamson's death in the 2000s. Deeply and sadly ironic that he should write those lines in this post's title.

It's the spirit of optimism and joy in those lyrics, though, that this post wants to focus on. Anyone who has lived in the UK will know what a hopeful and joyful expression it is to 'see the sun in wintertime'.

In Manhattan, Woody Allen's character asks and answers a fundamental question: Why is life worth living?

It's a very good question. Um... Well, There are certain things I guess that make it worthwhile. Uh... Like what... okay... um... For me, uh... ooh... I would say... what, Groucho Marx, to name one thing... uh... um... and Willie Mays... and um... the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony... and um... Louis Armstrong, recording of Potato Head Blues... um... Swedish movies, naturally... Sentimental Education by Flaubert... uh... Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra... um... those incredible Apples and Pears by Cezanne... uh... the crabs at Sam Wo's... uh... Tracy's face...

I thought it may be fun to answer this question myself and, like Woody, the noises like a blocked drain are never far away. I bet he agonised over this monologue/voiceover - I'd love to see the draft. I bet it had heaps of corrections.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a crack.

Why is life worth living? Okay, for me I would say Woody Allen movies for one thing, and, like him, Groucho, naturally, and the memory of my father' smile as we would connect over Marx Brothers movies is another...all of The Beatles albums, of course, but especially the feeling I get listening to Don't Let Me Down and George's guitar surge in the album version of Let It Be and the opening of Come Together or Hard Day's Night and Paul's count off to start I Saw Her Standing There.. Charlie George...Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey...the Tao Te Ching...Star Wars, of course and the books of William Goldman and Nick Hornby...uh...Bill Murray, Shakespeare's Henry V...those incredible images of Turner's....Picasso's Guernica in the Tate Modern...the next edition of The Guardian and Mojo are definitely worth living by Henry David Thoreau...the promise of Arsenal's next season..walks with Jacky along the embankment towards Westminster...the hamburgers at Burger Fuel...and um...Hendrix, his recording Electric Ladyland and that start to Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)...Big Swifty, of course and...uh...Emily Blunt...The Catcher In The Rye by Salinger...John Ford's The Grapes Of Wrath and Henry Fonda's Tom Joad...the taste of Coca Cola..the picture of my parent's on their hearing David Crosby's laugh...hearing Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Big Country's live album one more memories - of the angels in my life...of our children...and, uh...Jacky's face...

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Truckin' (Parts 1,2, 3)

I'm sorry about the formatting of these next three posts - part 1, 2 and 3 of our most recent week in the desert. I've been fighting with the computer for a right to put paragraphs in, but I lost. Approach with caution then and read on...

Keep truckin', like the do-dah man (The Grateful Dead part 3)

Part 3: Last week's break from school was finished off with a few days/nights in Abu Dhabi.

(The view from our room - Kings Recording is located around those buildings in the top right of the picture above).

We decided to not do the AD Big Bus Tour as we'd already seen the main sig hts of interest over the last few months, the geography/sights of AD are not that interesting or in close proximity to each other, and finally it was too expensive - about a hundred dirham more than the Dubai Big Bus Tour (see part 1 below). Instead we walked the gardens by the corniche, shopped in the two big malls (Marina and AD Malls) and I visited Kings Recording (sic) to restock the CD collection. The AC was off so I browsed in sweltering heat. I managed to last about 20 seconds before the shopkeeper offered me tissues to mop away the sweat on my face. Jacky stopped by after an hour away (as per our agreement) and in a shocked tone told me I had to leave the store for the sake of my health. In a blur of delirium I paid for my horde and left to buy lashings of cold drinks to get my core temperature back under control. Bliss, in other words, and well worth the near fatal effort. I got many bargains - a lot of rare stuff for 15 dirhams each. I'll be back, inshallah, and (a big)inshallah, the AC will be fixed. Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sometimes the lights all shinin' on me...(Grateful Dead Pt 2)

Part 2:

So we returned from Dubai for a few days and stayed in Al Ain Monday to Wednesday morning. I did more work on the KPI's (see last posting for boring details) and Jacky went for her second riding lesson at the Al Ain Equestrian Centre.

I went along to take photos as day turned to night and the big lights came on. I wandered off to see more of the Palm sports resort (I walked for half an hour to the rugby club - gives you an idea how vast the 'resort' is).

Jacky had a groovy time riding as you can hopefully see.

Next posting - part three in which we journey to Abu Dhabi for a couple of nights. Love and peace Wozza

Friday, April 1, 2011

Your typical city involved in a typical daydream...(The Grateful Dead Part 1)

Jacky and I have packed a lot into my week off. Last Friday was spent on some school work (we are being audited in a few weeks time so I need my folders holding evidence of 44 Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, up to date). Gonna bring you the week in three parts. Part 1: Saturday and Sunday were spent in Dubai. We did the Big Bus Tour and saw a lot more of Dubai in a much more relaxed way than we have before (normally our routine is to drive to Dubai, negotiate traffic in a growing fever pitch of dread, stay in the Burj Dubai area and commute to malls on the metro). The Big Bus tour has been a great experience in the past (Edinburgh, Rome, and Paris) so we thought why not? We certainly didn't regret it. Here are some snaps from the trip which took in the Palm and Jumerieh Beach areas of Dubai.

We started at the Wafi mall (this is one of the modest little entrances to it) and went on a windy open top ride towards Deira and the creek area of Dubai. Yes I know I'm all alone in the shot - Nigel No Mates indeed - see even Jacky left me to take the picture!

We eventually hopped off the bus for a look around the souq (second photo below) but the constant demand for our attention from the pashmina salesmen drove us nuts. I hate the forceful way they hound tourists to enter their shops.

So we escaped them on a water taxi across the creek (above) and rejoined the bus (below). We made our way out to Jumerieh beach and the Palm area (a reclaimed island that is in the shape of a palm tree with fronds holding very flash apartment blocks and the Atlantis resort). It's obscenely rich and decadent and very much a symbol of modern Dubai, or it would be except it's finished - unlike much of Dubai). The approach road to the Atlantis on the Palm is above, and below is the beach area that is also home to massive palaces housing the ruling family and rich movie stars from Mickey Mouse town. This bit in the photo is the public beach where even I might have a swim, if I so desired (I didn't).
Nobs' lane Palm style - a nearly endless line of luxury apartment blocks on the Palm fronds - each with a lagoon running up to it.

We then headed back into Dubai (this being the view back over the Palm's bridge to the mainland taken by Jacky) and enjoyed a visit to the Dubai mall and then home to Al Ain the next day.

Monday and Tuesday were spent doing more school work and the return home also gave Jacky a chance to attend her horsing around session at Al Ain's equestrian centre.

But that's to be continued in the next post inshallah....

Love and peace - Wozza