Showing posts from February, 2010

The Paranormal Piano Player

The other evening I was watching a Yamaha player piano performing by itself in a hotel foyer. For anyone unfamiliar with these marvels, a player piano is an automated real piano with a mechanism to work the keys and pedals. Watching it play happily to itself, it's quite easy to imagine an invisible pianist on the ivories, giving it big licks. Quite easy, but what makes the illusion not wholly convincing is the impassive appearance of the piano stool. Shouldn't there be a buttock-shaped indent on the stool? And shouldn't it also be animated, rolling slightly to the right as our phantom player reaches for the top octave, or leftward for bass passages? Shouldn't the thigh dents mirror the pedal work? And finally, performance over, shouldn't the indent level out as our maestro gets up to take his bow? Did I say 'his'? While not wishing to be indelicate, surely the stool could be programmed to mimic the imprint and movement of male or female bums of different si

Is Dubai Trade Centre Metro Station Open Yet?

Paraglider is planning a trip to Dubai next week, and will be living close to BurJuman Centre Metro and working at the Trade Centre. He hopes some kind soul on the spot can confirm whether or not Trade Centre Metro is functional, as the Internet appears to have conflicting information on the subject. The majority view will be accepted! POSTSCRIPT: It wasn't when I wrote the above, but it is now :)

Is Waiting Doing?

More and more, recently, I've been aware that the standard response to any request for action (in certain quarters) takes the form of a claim to be waiting. What are you doing? Waiting for a response from Purchasing . What's happening about x? I'm waiting for y . Some people have raised this to an art form. Faced with any situation that seems to demand action, they will type a one-line question and fire it off. It hardly matters to whom, provided that it can be used to justify a further period of waiting. But any answer that leads with I'm waiting is based on the fallacy that waiting is doing. In fact, it is simply a grammatically correct substitute for a response, providing the present participle of the verb to wait where indeed a present participle is expected. In other words, it sounds right. But it's not in the same league as, for example, I'm pretending to look busy or perhaps I'm holding in a fart . Once, countless years ago, an elderly lady int

Pea Soup and Pigeons

An interesting side effect of the fog that is currently swaddling Doha is that it hides such traffic aids as speed limits, stop signs and 2D PCs (see below). This is clearly carte blanche for invisible silver Land Cruisers to hurtle headlong into the pea souper, headlights ablaze, rear fogs optional. Each to his own. It's a good day to stand in the empty car park and watch Abdullah's birds holding court on the old tin roof.

More Orry than Modhesh

So, you've been driving since you were seventeen, but just can't quite get to grips with these huge, octagonal, red-for-danger, bilingual STOP signs. What can they possibly be trying to tell you? Do they want you to turn left, change gear, check your mirror, test the windscreen wipers? It's a mystery, isn't it? And are you supposed to look at the big red bit on top, or is the steel pole carrying the main message? Maybe its straightness is saying drive straight ahead? Well, the days of doubt are done. All across Doha, cheery cartoon police officers have appeared, forefingers upraised, to solve the problem once and for all. Follow the finger, look at the red bit, read the four-letter word, and apply the brakes accordingly. Come back Orry, all is forgiven. Even bring on Modhesh. But spare us the 2D PCs. Please.

Bob Marley and the Qatari Wailers

It's well known that Qataris don't frequent bars, except when they do. And then, they don't wear National dress, except when they do. And of course, they don't drink alcohol, except, you've got the pattern, when they do. And after all, why should they not, in their own country? But here's the greater mystery: when the spirit moves them to make a request, nine times out of ten, it is for Bob Marley. When the spirit further moves them to get up and dance, it is again to Bob Marley. And, late into the evening, when spirited onto the stage to (af)front the long-suffering band, what else do they sing but, you've guessed it, Bob Marley. And none of your rare album tracks favoured by intellectuals and aficionados. No, it's straight for the big hits. Buffalo Soldier. No Woman No Cry. What is the magical attraction of Cap'n Bob (no disrespect to his memory) to the Qatari psyche? Because, for sure, he's deep in there. With honourable exceptions , of cours