It’s winter time! The air is cool and we once again feel the cold creeping into our bones. The night-time temperature drops to a shivering 18 degrees and the days barely touch 32 degrees at most. Still, could be worse. We could be in England. We have none too fond memories of harsh winters past; tyres struggling to find purchase as car wheels slip and slide their way off the drive and out onto the main road for that journey to hell and back. Sitting in the front seat, all wrapped up looking like the Michelin man, desperately trying to absorb some warmth from a wholly inadequate car heater. Iced up windows, freezing hands and toes, painful nose and cheeks and the horror show that is Christmas. What joy! What for? Quite frankly, we’d rather be here, thank you very much!
The interminable heat in the Middle East tends to make one rather lethargic. Not lazy. No! Lethargic and prone to bouts of CBA (Can’t Be Ar*ed) attitude. There are times, I must admit, when I really can’t be bothered to tie my own shoe laces. Bending all that way and fiddling with lengths of leatherette, struggling to form a bow that will last the day. Too much hard work for my liking and something to be avoided at all costs. It was this however, and one or two other chores that require daily attendance, that brought about our newest acquisition. We have employed the services of a maid. Not a slave I hasten to add, but an employee of the household who lives in and does, well, all those things that we can’t be bothered to do. When a piece of fluff drifts effortlessly down from its growing platform high up on a ceiling light, it’s reassuring to see it snatched from the air and whisked in to the bin before it has any chance of hitting the ground. She may be small and Filipino but she’s darned quick! It’s nice not to have to witness the dirty laundry basket any more and it is a pleasure to don shoes that have a mirror finish to rival that of any squaddie’s army boot. Our maid is a bit like a dishwasher (she washes dishes as well but that is not my point). You always think that you really don’t need one but you finally relent and then, once you have one, you wonder how on earth you ever survived without it. So it is with our Linda. An industrious sort who is determined to make sure that we are continually delighted with her work; consequently she gets paid and subsequently there is a family in the Philippines that will be eternally grateful for this particular piece of wealth distribution. Linda declined to have her photo taken so, in order to give you some idea of the sort of maid I am talking about, I offer to you this fairly close (but not too close) resemblance…
I know what you are all thinking and the answer is no. She doesn’t tie my shoe laces for me. Now that would be downright ridiculous, wouldn’t it?
Down Muscat way it is Military Marching Band season and to sit on the actual parade ground, nervously ducking as the trombone swings passed your head, is a worthwhile experience. There are no security checks, no barricades, no restrictions and no over officious, part-time, SAS wannabies, to ruin your day (such are confined to Primark security, I believe?). All the armed forces were represented and The Royal Opera House played host.
As you can see, without any clever zoom lens, they were literally on top of us and you could feel the hot blast of air as the French Horn bell practically kissed the hairs of your ears. A fabulous display of walking up and down and a rousing rendition of ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ to boot. A very pleasant evening’s entertainment and all for free.
Made one feel a little uneasy, what with being so close and an obvious ‘johnny foreigner’ as well; but there was no need for panic as it was all good fun and part of the military show experience.
Continuing with the military theme…
The famous Red Arrows proudly displayed their skills today but I was neither there nor did I hear about it. No great loss then?
The Royal Opera House was certainly the place to be this week. We listened to, and saw, the Spanish National Orchestra play a little Bizet, some traditional stuff from Seville and some more stuff that sounded like a film score. The one with small legs could hardly stay awake, one of us was enchanted by it all and I saw it as a chore that would have best been passed off onto the maid. C’est la vie, as they say in Murcia.
The Opera House is particularly stunning but more about that another time. Right now, it’s back to the grindstone and checking, checking, checking that everything is spick and span and the toilet U-bends have been drained and polished.
It will soon be camping season and the plan is to get out and about, especially into those far flung places where tourists dare to tread. If we survive, you’ll be reading about it and if we don’t, you’ll probably read about that too!