As part of Doha Museum area beautification project, the authorities erected several drinking fountains, in the shape of miniature fortresses, and several drinks vending machines, similarly disguised. In their wisdom, they have since removed the drinking fountains (that's what the twisted pipework on the plinth on the left used to be), leaving only the vending machines. Compared with the continuing atrocities in Bahrain (lest we forget) this is a minor matter, but it's an irritation none the less. Where before you used to be able to take a refreshing couple of swallows every few hundred yards, now it's 500 mls in a plastic bottle or nothing. The bottles are dispensed ice-cold, the last thing you should be drinking in really hot weather. That's if they are dispensed at all. In Dubai, where you have one dirham coins, these machines more or less work. In Doha, they take one riyal notes. Sometimes. Maybe one time in four. Because these are fickle contraptions. They sulk unless the note is brand new and presented exactly in the correct orientation. It helps if you go down on one knee and bow three times first. They positively brindle and snarl at anything remotely soiled, crumpled, softened or torn, in other words, at ninety percent of the single riyals in circulation.
Not an improvement.
This 1992 Epiphone Blues Master was sadly decapitated in an accident a few weeks back, fortunately not irreversibly, at least not to a skilled craftsman. Here's what it sounds like, first day back home.
I had just changed into my extreme hot weather walking kit and was on the point of going out when I thought I heard a cricket or cicada chirruping somewhere in the house. Clearly a quick eviction was called for. I stood still to listen and immediately the chirruping stopped too. (This is typical cicada behaviour. Whenever they think you're looking for them, they shut up and concentrate on being invisible). A few more steps to check behind the door were accompanied by a few more chirrups from somewhere nearby. Stop by the door and immediately the chirruping stopped too. This pattern repeated a few more times. Walk, chirrup, stop, silence! Walk, chirrup, stop, silence! Addidas hot weather track pants have an inner mesh or gauze layer to wick sweat away from the thighs. Worn inside-out by mistake, this mesh or gauze, swishing against itself when you walk, makes a noise exactly like a small cricket or cicada. And it stops when you stand still. You should try it sometime...
We are the resurrection of the dead forgotten ways. We cultivate despair in veiled anathema of womankind. We are the ancient writings reassessed by gunlight in the aftermath of war. Ours is the only truth you need to know.
When Matthew Gloag (no relation to his namesake who founded The Famous Grouse distillery) was five years old, he wrote, in his exercise book, "My cat is a nice cat" and was duly praised by the teacher who, unfortunately, did not suggest the obvious improvement. So it was that, satisfied with this construction, in his later school years Matthew went on to produce such sentences as, "The French Revolution was a very bloody revolution" and "The Tolpuddle Martyrs were notable m artyrs". Somehow, it matters not how, Matthew eventually found himself employed in a Health and Safety capacity by First Great Western Railways where, among other duties, he was assigned to produce platform signage. And that is why, on every lamp standard, on every platform between London Paddington and Hereford, we can read Mr Gloag's finest work to date: THIS STATION IS A NO SMOKING STATION We don't need no education...
Balls! with which Stephenson has tamed the steam and harnessed it to do the work of man, small as you are, each flywheel, shaft and beam is subject to your governance, your plan. Some, in their innocence, were unimpressed. 'A top, a whirligig, a childish gift, a bagatelle', they said, but little guessed: the faster you revolve, the more you lift. And even as you rise, you stem the flow through cylinder and piston, ease the thrust on cam and bearing, mollify the show to dignified decorum, as needs must.