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.
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.
Greetings, all! Paraglider is currently in lockdown in England with no pressing work and a lot of time on his hands. So much time, in fact, that he has decided to launch a brand new blog to return to the ex-pat world just a little of his hard-won expertise in the vital field of Ex-Pat Plonk , its production, risks and virtues. Please visit, at your leisure.
Off on my travels again tomorrow, to Muscat, a place I have never visited. Only one overnight then back to Qatar on Saturday night. Normally, I'd be going to Dubai but our little local difficulty rolls on and Dubai can't be accessed from Doha except by stopping off in Muscat or Kuwait or somewhere even further off. Alternatively, there is the option of a 'luxury' coach from Muscat to Dubai, but apparently that takes four hours. It might be a good way to see the country but would take a huge bite out of a short weekend. Note to self: One Omani Rial = Ten Qatari Riyals. Beware of overpaying taxis by a factor of ten!
I recently uploaded to YouTube my version of Jake Thackray's 'Brother Gorilla' set to the tune of 'The Three Bells'. I was immediately served a copyright infringement order from the copyright owners of the American country song, The Three Bells (Little Jimmy Brown), issued by The Browns in 1959. I pointed out that their song was itself a reworking of 'Les trois cloches' written and composed by Swiss artist Jean Villard Gilles in 1939. Also that mine followed the chord/melody sequence of the original, not the simplified version of Little Jimmy Brown. I said I would not challenge a copyright infringement order from the estate of Jean Villard Gilles, or that of Jake Thackray, but that no such order had yet been issued. The Americans withdrew their claim and retreated, tails between their legs.
Defence intoned, 'If we convict this man today, we do a great disservice to the cause. We play into the hands of those who race like lemmings out of season to self-destruction!' Then, with softer voice, he said, 'Better that we should voice distrust of those who would convict even their mothers in a season of madness nurtured by the great and good among the race of self-styled orchestrators of the play. 'Have you not seen the games they play? They talk to you with silvery voice of purity of caste and race- seductive lies- yet they convict only themselves. The great heresy must not live another season. 'Rather, let this be the season of reconciliation. Play a nobler part. We can do great deeds, by speaking with one voice. And let us not convict the fellow who has stumbled in the race. 'Imagine you were asked to race before the tide, the changing season, manacled like a common convict. Would you show readiness to play