Sunday, 28 June 2015

Long Roads, Long Robes, Long in the Tooth Drivers, and We Are the Champions!

Last week's blog came directly from my hotel bed in Abu Dhabi. This one comes from my bed in the House in Scotland. There's high winds and rain this morning, but I am glad to be here and able to enjoy a few days of relaxation. In Abu Dhabi, the unremitting heat, and the lack of readily available food and drink due to the restaurants and bars being closed during the daylight hours, was a challenge. However the celebratory breaking of the Ramadan fast by the iftar feast was wonderful. Each iftar were full of good food, great company, and Vimto. I am not quite sure why Vimto featured so widely, but in the absence of anything alcoholic it seemed to me to be a reasonable alternative to camel’s milk.

It took me a day to travel to Abu Dhabi and a day to travel back. The three days in-between were filled with some very productive meetings and discussions with friends, colleagues and those working on our project out there. If it sounds like an easy three days, believe me it wasn't. Some of the meetings were tough albeit I got to where I needed to be. And simply getting to the meetings was difficult. It nearly always involved a taxi journey on the roads, and I don’t know who designed the road system there but on many occasions a short journey meant travelling in circuitous routes that would try the patience of a saint. It was very frustrating to pass where you wanted to be on the opposite of the 6 lane road, but then have to spend 15 minutes travelling away from the venue only to have to double back on one’s self to get there.

The roads in Abu Dhabi can be daunting and dangerous places. I certainly wouldn't like to drive on them. The reverse appears true for some people in the UK. Last week at the British Medical Associations Representatives conference, Derbyshire GP, Peter Holden called for the rules on older people driving to be reviewed. The current rules and guidance are felt to no longer be fit for purpose. Whilst Dr Holden was particularly looking at those people living with early stages of dementia, the notion of an older generation driving what in the wrong hands might be considered a lethal weapon, was of concern.  In the UK, anyone over the age of 70 has to self-declare that they are fit to drive, and do so every 3 years thereafter.

I must admit feeling slightly envious of the Abu Dhabi men who were dressed in their long flowing thawbs (robes). I didn't have time to visit the local souk to purchase a thawb for myself (black rather than white though). Next time maybe. And I read (with interest) about St Catherine’s College (Cambridge) which was founded in 1473, and which for over 500 years has enforced a strict dress code is to allow men to wear skirts and women to wear trousers at formal dinners and the like. A reasonable decision I thought, and for all my School Management Team who might be moved to do so, absolutely feel free to wear whatever you feel most comfortable wearing at our next management team meeting.

According to the latest research however, men and woman should refrain from wearing tight jeans. The so called 'skinny jeans' are seen to be a health hazard. The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry published their research which showed that squatting in skinny jeans can damage muscles and nerve fibres in the legs. You have been warned. 

For me the end of the week was a very humorous one. Last night was the inaugural Village Boules Championship. We were all asked to arrive at the Village Hall dressed in French attire. Now the first time I have ever played boules was last Friday evening with neighbours in their back garden. I really enjoyed it, so much so that yesterday I went an purchased a set of boules for myself. Photos of the practise session leaked out onto Facebook and there were cries of cheating - as if finely honed world class athletics never practise at all...

...I was teamed up with John, a close by neighbour, and someone who was at the Friday evening practise session. We won the first 3 games convincingly and by game 5 we were invincible. Some 2 hours after starting and beating all comers, it was great to be crowned winners of the competition. John and I retired to the village hall and celebrated in great style with some fine French Bordeaux - and there wasn't a single glass of Vimto in sight!