More "Only in Dubai" moments this last week, including the moment I walked into a bank and saw a man stood at the service desk with a brilliant-white specimen of a parakeet on his shoulder. I did a cartoon-style double-take, and rubbed my eyes, but my eyes were not deceiving me. I didn't bother to ask the man what was going on. I feared the bird might answer for him.
So, the Dubai World Cup is tonight, this being the Richest Horse Race In The World (TM). It runs in about 10 minutes. If I was a betting man, I would have to break the law in this country, because under shariah law, it is forbidden. The Maktoum family are mad on horses, especially Sheik Mohammad. He went to university in Cambridge and fell in love with horse-racing there, so the story goes, and now he owns the world-renowned Godolphin stables.
Of course, everyone knows that gambling does take place. It happens over phones and the internet. I've even heard hushly-spoken tales of bookies being flown in for the meeting. Well, they weren't hushly-spoken as such, but they were still told with a knowing smile and a cynical tone. Things happen that shouldn't. It's the way of our crazy world. Man.
As it is, this kind of event doesn't interest me. It's more of a fashion show for shallow people who want to be seen in the right place doing and saying the right things, and getting completely smashed at the same time. I would say that, as I didn't get invited on a corporate, otherwise I would have been there in a flash. I quite like to watch the gee-gees, even if I'm just an embarrassed, quid-each-way kind of gambler. I used to go to the races in Thirsk on occassion. It always made for a good family day out, if the weather was good. It's a shame that the race meetings invariably turned Thirsk into a no-go area for anyone sober after 7pm.
Which, bewilderingly, reminds me of the other thing that links Dubai and Thirsk, which is Paul Scholes, of Manchester United, and formerly Enger-lund. He was at Thirsk races the other year, and I saw him the other week in Dubai. It is, as they say, a small world. Especially when you meet short, ginger footballers twice in two completely different locales within two years. This probably has some cosmic meaning, and links into wormholes and super-string theory and all that, or I could just be talking bollocks again.
Bollocks. I said that a lot last night. (With these linking skills I should be a radio DJ). Our neighbours out the back way decided to have a karaoke party last night. Which is fine by me. I like a bit of karaoke now and again, especially as I can hold a tune quite well (even if I say so myself) and it always surprises people that I can actually sing. The problem with last night was when they insisted on leaving the doors and windows wide open so that everyone within 100 metres could hear their increasingly-croaky warbling and clapping and whooping as another twiddly oud kicked off another bloody song.
I might not have been so bothered if I'd known the tunes, but they were all completely unheard of in Fat and Furious Land, and all of them sounded exactly the same to me. It was really quite annoying, because it was a cooler night and we wanted to have our window open, but that was impossible. The mechanical, brain-burrowing hum of the air-conditioning was what we resorted to in the end, as we shut the door in disgust. We could still hear the karaoke, though. The inevitable excitable crescendo of every song managed to over-power the glazing and the AC, and I lay there wishing for a Bon Jovi track in the first time in living memory. I was literally Living On a Prayer.
Eventually, they shut the doors. This was at about 1.30am. I thanked my lucky stars and opened the window to let the cool night air in. 20 minutes passed, and, just as sleep threatened to swallow me into its blissful inky depths, the doors opened again, and the warbling and clapping and croaky whooping crashed into my mind like a gang of Doc Marten-wearing orang-utans carrying buckets of custard trampling over a five-star gourmet buffet that I was about to help myself from.
It went on for another 30 minutes, and by the time they finally shut the doors again, I had thought of every possible solution, most of which would have probably ended in me being arrested or at least beaten to a bloody pulp with karaoke microphones. I could have pleaded or just shouted off my bedroom balcony at them, but would that have helped? I don't know. I know what kind of response I'd get in the UK, but have no idea here, and being a guest of sorts here, I am loathe to offend people, even if they're annoying me. Either that, or I'm a coward, which explains why I'm venting on here. I'm glad I wasn't pushed to the point where I would have found out their reaction for sure.
Anyway, as punishment, we had a barbecue today. The GEORDIE and his BOY came round and the kids made a load of noise in the garden while the WIFE subjected our neighbours to the delights of ABBA's greatest hits. That'll learn 'em.
The race will be over by now. I wonder who won?