Tucked away in Doha's central slum quarter is my favourite building in Qatar. To get there, from Grand Mercure né Sofitel (that's it top left with the blue swimming pool) you can either walk down to Boat Roundabout and take a right, or, you can take a right stepping out of Sofitel then left at Broken Corner, just before the B Ring. Either way, you're aiming for a very small building near the bottom right corner of the Google Earth view. Alternatively, you can plunge straight into the maze of slums and try to negotiate a South-Easterly zig-zag through it. This can be quite an adventure with no guarantee of success.
the gem, from above
You'll end up somewhere but not necessarily anywhere near the goal which is this strange double-D shaped building, hidden from almost everywhere by newer. higher and uglier neighbours. You'll also breathe in a lot of sewer gas and fibrous dust from the many upholstery workshops that somehow eke out a living here, against all the odds. All in all, the most reliable route is via Boat Roundabout. Look up every side street and alleyway on your right, until you see this:
The building shows little sign of occupancy and is probably deserted. It is either two modest villas or one large one, accessed by a central stair. It seems to be on two levels with highly ornate wrap-around balconies at both ends and on both levels. It is no longer possible to walk around it because of the press of later buildings on three sides. In time, probably within a year, the whole area will be fenced off and razed to the ground, like the rest of Musheireb and National.
But in its day, it must have been the finest building in central Doha. Quite simply, there is nothing else remotely like it. Maybe someone knows its history. Maybe someone still cares. At one time, it would have stood alone, home to a successful merchant family perhaps, or a minor Royal, resplendent in its basket-weave plasterwork and bas-relief crests. On borrowed time now, these few photographs may prove its only memorial. Shame.
There are two pretty good ways to weigh a car: Drive it to the nearest public weighbridge and wait your turn. Look up the manual under General Specifications, ‘kerb weight’ But let's suppose the nearest public weighbridge is fifty miles away and you've lost the manual (and temporarily forgotten how to use public libraries and the Internet) and the burning urge to weigh your car just won't go away- what can you do about it? The good news is, you need hardly any equipment. All you need, for a reasonably accurate result is: a hand-held tyre pressure gauge which can be analogue or digital a retractable steel measuring tape a calculator, pencil and paper, or a good head for mental arithmetic The method Park the car on some clean, level concrete Observe that the car is held up by its four tyres (!) Measure the width of the tread of one tyre: e.g. 6 inches Measure the length of tread in contact with the ground: e.g. 7 inches Work out the area of tread touching the ground: e.g. 6 x
It's not that the landscape's so different from the UAE. Yes, it's colder. Snow takes the place of sand; conifers, of palms; stone walling, of concrete. One leaden sky is much like another, whether laced with ice crystals or with traffic fumes. And after all, what is a hill but a plane, tilted? Yet here, there is the suspicion, however unfounded, that were attrocities to be committed deep in this frozen wilderness, justice might follow , in due course.
This song by Harry Gordon is about 100 years old and is in the Scottish music hall tradition. It's short because it was the lead into a stand-up comedy routine in character. The character in this case being a fireman on the footplate of a steam engine.
I have been uncharacteristically quiet in recent weeks over the ongoing Brexit debacle. There are reasons for this and the most important one is: it matters nothing what I think, mine is a small voice in the wilderness, what will be will be, so why add to the fog of verbiage? That said, I feel moved to deliver myself of the following, on a take it or leave it basis, i.e. I'm not really up for arguing the points: 1. The 2016 referendum was ill-conceived and exacerbated by the then PM's complacency and lack of preparation. He deserved to lose, and did. So, there are consequences. 2. A referendum should be a last resort and should be binding for a generation. As an example: Alex Salmond stated as much when he thought he was going to win Scottish independence.. When he lost, he reneged on this principle, at the expense of his political integrity. 3. I would have preferred to remain in the E.U. but I cannot see a democratically valid way to realise this. I also think it likely that
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...