Le Club, back in contention, maybe

le club, doha mercure grand, formerly sofitel - the last word in sophistication
The time has come, the Walrus said, to re-evaluate Le Club in Sofitel. Regular readers here may remember that some years ago the place was heaving every night. A succession of good lively bands coupled with a liberal entry policy more than made up for the general air of dilapidation verging on squalor. It was never a place to take the legendary maiden aunt; nevertheless, a good time could be had, dependably, for the moderate outlay of the price of a couple of beers.
Where it all went wrong was when the management decided a few years back to make it members only and restricted the membership to men and married couples. When people stayed away in droves, they 'compensated' for, or more accurately compounded their losses by increasing the prices and hiring cheaper bands.
But, it's an ill wind that blows nobody some good. Ramada/Radisson's recent decision to blanket ban Chinese girls with UAE or Bahrain visas, while it has killed the Orion at a stroke (takings can scarce be a quarter of pre-ban levels), has almost overnight corrected the extreme gender imbalance of Le Club. In fact, on Tuesday night, for a time the men were actually outnumbered, for the first time in five years. This happy state of affairs, so rare in Qatar, together with Le Club's recent refurbishment, together made for an enjoyable evening.
Were the girls happy with their new venue? Certainly they appreciated the open door policy. They had some reservations about the prevailing demographic of the clientèle (though they expressed it in simpler language) but hey, even that will change naturally with time, if the word gets out.
And if the management re-engages Boggs and his girls.

Things I don't do any more

I've never actively given anything up...

but every now and then I realise that I've not done something for a long time. Such a long time, perhaps, that I can't really say I do it any more, whatever 'it' is. This week, I've had a couple of days off work for Eid al-Adha. Now, extra days off in Doha can be quite long. Especially for one allergic to shopping malls and five star hotels. So, between sessions on the computer and sessions on the guitar, I found myself reminiscing over some of these things I never actively gave up but which just drifted out of my life, somehow. For example:

I don't run marathons any more

In fact, I don't compete in any road races. I used to. For about ten years, between the ages of 35 and 45, I pounded the pavements regularly, training and competing. I'd do about ten events a year, mostly half-marathons and triathlons, with the occasional marathon thrown in for good measure. I wasn't good, of course. My personal goal was always to finish in the top third of the field. If I ever made the top quarter, I felt I'd won the race!
My last competitive run was the Snowdonia Marathon, a pretty tough one with several serious climbs. And then, I didn't do any more. No particular reason. I continued to tell people that road racing was one of my hobbies, until I realised it wasn't. I still run from time to time, but for the most part, I've replaced that aspect of my life with walking. I reckon it's better for 59 year-old knees. And certainly in the extreme climate of Qatar, walking is exercise enough, and more than most of the locals attempt. OK, what else don't I do?

I don't play sax any more

except possibly to blast out Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay. And this mainly comes down to dentition. Unless you're Jimi Hendrix, you don't need your teeth to play guitar, but you do to play sax. In particular, you need your four lower incisors, the very four that I lost through a gum disease, about ten years ago. Their replacements are cosmetic more than functional, and not up to the job of supporting the lower lip through extended passages in the upper register. So, the sax had to go the way of the road racing.
In fact, it's no great loss. I really only took up sax when a folk-rock band I was part of morphed into something much heavier and my flute wasn't really hacking it. I'm still well able to play flute, and as mentioned above, my guitars are my constant travelling companions, so my music is alive and well, if saxless.

And I've stopped growing hair!

Rather like the saxophone, this one wasn't from choice. It wasn't even that short hair is more sensible in hot countries. It's just that there's less of it growing up there than there used to be. Pity. I'm of the generation that reinvented long hair in the sixties and seventies. It was more than a fashion statement. It had a lot to do with peace and harmony, just as the skinhead look was all about aggression and militancy.
In the forty odd years since Woodstock, I've never really wavered from the idea that we can and should work for a fairer and more peaceful world. All that has changed is that I can no longer grow the 'uniform'.

Then there's poetry

Until five years ago, I was quite well established in the poetry scene, regularly reading in my home town and in London, contributing and moderating a number of on-line forums, and with a fair published portfolio under my belt.
The day the music died was when our son was killed in a motorcycle accident. When such tragedies happen, we recover as best we can. Family, friends, poetry, music and work combined to bring me through the worst times. Poetry itself remained important, but the poetry scene I dropped like a hot potato. I had to. People meant well, but I was being watched. Almost everyone was expecting a tragic magnum opus from me.
Well, tough. I'm not Alfred Lord Tennyson (who wrote In Memoriam for his deceased brother). My 'art', such as it was, was inadequate to express such depth of feeling. I wrote a prose obituary and abandoned poetry for a couple of years. I found, though, that I was happy writing prose, and HubPages proved a perfect vehicle for (much of) what I wanted to say.
Well, I'm back to writing poetry again, but rather like the road racing, I have no interest in re-entering the world of competitions and submissions for publication. I have nothing to prove.

Over to you, David Cameron...

Paralleling the fatuous Western fashion for tattooing random Chinese characters on various body parts, there is an equally strange but happily reversible Chinese fashion, especially among the younger ladies, to wear T-shirts emblazoned with more or less random English words and phrases. A few I've seen recently include:

"Garage Snorkelling Crew",
"Feathers from an earlier time",
"The mist has spoken from the hill",
plus several that more resemble samples from the shredder bin. But until today, nothing as surreal as this offering:

(picture of horse here)

Well, can he? And if not, why not? Surely his Papty could only benefit from his attempt? The wearer, unsurprisingly, had no idea what the words meant or even how they were pronounced, had never heard of David Cameron or the Tory Papty, far less the Party, but liked the horses, the cut and colour of the T-shirt, and thought it looked well on her. No argument there.
The front, by the way, had more horses. And no politics.

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