Passport Lost

When you lose your (British) passport in Slaka, you phone the Embassy who give very clear instructions: report the loss at Capital Police Station. They will make out a report form that you will need for renewing your visa. Then download and complete a C1 Passport Application Form. Bring the form, two photographs (one of them countersigned) and the fee to the Embassy. Renewal takes ten working days. Sounds easy. Here's what really happens:
You report to the Capital Police Station and after queuing for half an hour they tell you you should have gone first to Airport Immigration for a Certificate of Entry. You go to Airport Immigration where (after queuing) they tell you you should have gone to Main Immigration, a Government building about seven miles away. You go there and eventually get directed (after much queuing) to the correct office where no-one seems remotely interested in deciding whose job it is to be helpful. Finally, you reach a tall friendly Moroccan guy who explains that they can only authorise the letter, but it first has to be typed up in the typing pool. You have to go back out, across the car-park to the unmarked portacabins, wherein sit fourteen men (you'll have plenty time to count them), in fourteen booths, each with two ancient manual typewriters (one Arabic, one English), a stack of blank forms for every occasion, and a clamour of customers waving papers. As there's nothing resembling a queuing system, you choose the smallest clamour (no.6) and muscle in with the best. When you finally get your typist's divided attention and explain the requirement, he sends you to clamour no.1 where it all starts over. After about an hour, clutching your typescript, you stagger back across the car-park and up the stairs where, fortunately, your friendly Moroccan has not gone to lunch. End of Part 1.

Eyes right!

Never let it be said that I don't take you to the most interesting places. Here we are in the gents lavatory in that well-known Sports Bar adjacent to the aptly named Mustafawi. The management, in their wisdom, have installed a flat-screen TV, so that if you are caught short in the middle of a cup final, you needn't miss any of the action while performing at the porcelain. This is all well and good, but I would strongly advise avoiding the urinal on the right. It doesn't take too much imagination to work out what could happen if there's a surprise goal and the performer on your left has had a few too many beers.
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The Devil on the Shoulder

It's unlikely that many Paranormal Hotel readers are familiar with Oor Wullie, a Scottish cartoon character who's featured in the Sunday Post for more than sixty years. In moments of temptation, for example whether or not to knock PC Murdoch's helmet off with his 'catty', we'd sometimes see his demon on one shoulder, saying dae it Wullie and an angel on the other, saying no, no, William. Interesting that only the demon had the Scots accent... Now, the immediate question is, which of the apparitions on Mr New York's case is the demon? Probably the one with the glass to his lips.
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If you've got it...

 flaunt it! An ice cube is not to be sneezed at. Or over, if it is a communal one, to be returned for reissue after a spot of localised cooling. That aside, we were all wondering what changes the reopening of Stufital would bring. Not a lot. Upstairs they've revarnished the table tops. Downstairs in Le Club, they've repainted them (white). And that's about it. The rumour of reintroducing live music to the Old Manger proved unfounded. Rather, they seem to be maximising deadness, by recycling the same Carpenters greatest hits album ad nauseam. (In the case of the Carpenters, ad nauseam = once). Downstairs, they've changed the band, for the ones from two years ago. They'll notice a difference - the audience is now all male. But don't start me on door policy. It's the bane of my life these days, specially since losing my passport... The good news, for our Dubai readers, is that the Paranormal hes reverted to all day opening, without the four till six eviction. True civilisation.
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Omar Khayyam had the Right Idea

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly---and Lo! the Bird is on the Wing.

We are here for a short time. What is the use of wallowing in repentance? Especially in repentance of imaginary 'sins' that have harmed no-one.

Time spent being miserable, or making others miserable, is time wasted. Instead of worrying about future things we cannot know anything about, we should enjoy ourselves, and each other, now.

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse---and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness---
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
. . .
Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and---sans End!

And to the many that have told me - "you'll regret your unbelief when it's too late", I say, - you will regret your lost opportunities when it's too late. Enjoy life, with old Omar Khayyam.

Second Quarter

There's a place not to stand or sit, in Jockey's, at this time of year when the humidity is high. And that's around the two high tables just inside the door, officially known as Tossers' Corner, for reasons lost in the mists of time (unless someone has the answer?) At opening time (7:30 during Ramadan) it's no problem, but after the AC has been running for an hour or so, large cold drips start falling from the ceiling vents, typically down the back of your neck or into your beer. Cleavages are not exempt. Then someone notices, tells one of the bar-girls, who tells security, who tells reception, who calls house services, who turns up with a long handled sponge mop to swab the grid, giving a rain free hour or so. The performance is repeated, on the hour, every hour, always with the air of this has never happened before. Apart from the indoor rain, Ramadan is an enjoyable time in the Paranormal. There's no music, not even background music, so you can hear yourself talking. And somehow, watching cricket with the sound turned down makes more sense when there's no music than when there is. Explain that.

Shaken, not stilled

The Paranormal Hotel blog, with its predecessor Helga's Chickens (which it replaced after a year) has now been on-line for four years. In the early days, there was a note in the blog sidebar - comments are welcome, that stay within the bounds of respectful levity. Tongue-in-cheek, of course, but I didn't want anyone slagging off the girls that make the Para what it is. One only has to cross the road to the Old Vets to find out how desperately dull an ex-pat bar can become when the gender balance is heavily skewed. In time, I removed the note as superfluous, because visitors all seemed happy to enter into the Para's frivolous ambiente. And all was going fine until, just over a week ago, we got trolled with a couple of obscenely violent death threats. I deleted them of course, the first posts I've ever deleted in four years, but its rather like cleaning dog-dirt off your shoe - it leaves you feeling less than clean yourself, for a time. Be that as it may, I've decided not to enable comment moderation; I prefer spontaneity. But I would ask all readers simply to ignore any such posts in the future. Ignore & delete - it's the only way to deal with trolls.

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