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Posts tagged ‘margharita’

Modern Cain and Abel parable

Husband’s brother, The Bro, started as he meant to go on, eating his way through the house like a giant locust (there are no walls left, and only a portion of the roof). His 24 year old metabolism, at the peak of its processing powers, is an awesome thing to behold.

Two days after he arrived, Husbandoffered to take The Bro dirt biking. Cue great excitement and lots of manly flexing of muscles using bungee cords. Since The Bro had never been astride a motorbike before, I thought I might tag along for the entertainment.

We drove out to the desert and parked at the lip of an oval of hard-packed sand. After unloading the bikes, Husband commenced the tutorial with a brief demonstration. Clenching his buttocks for effect, he was still strapping on his helmet as he roared off on one wheel in a spray of sand.

Husband is not normally the flashiest of characters, but he turns into something of a showman on a bike. He performed a few aerial somersaults before careering back to us, braking at the last moment so that the front tyre nudged my shin as the bike skidded to a stop. I was only disappointed he didn’t produce two doves from the petrol tank.

Then it was The Bro’s turn. Husband’s instruction was – let’s call it spare:

“Right, here’s the brake. Here’s the clutch. Anything else? Oh yes. Here’s a push.”

Throwing his shoulder into it, he launched The Bro over a dune. The Bro gave the bike maximum throttle, released the clutch, and careered off in a wild yawing effect. For a couple of seconds I was sure it was all going to end in tears – or, more accurately: spurting blood, broken bones and ruptured spleens – but somehow The Bro managed to gain control of the bike. He completed a wobbly circuit of the desert bowl in first gear.

“Right,” said Husband briskly upon his return. By his tone, I could tell he was proud of his protégé’s progress. “To change gear, you tip this lever with your toe. Up to change up. Down to change down. Am I missing anything? Oh yes . . .”


Watching The Bro’s erratic takeoff, this time with an inadvertent wheelie thrown in, I thought perhaps Husband should spend a bit more time on the basics – like stopping, starting, staying upright; stuff like that. I was taking him to task when The Bro disappeared behind a sand-dune.

“Where’s he gone?” I fretted.

“He’s fine.”

“That terrain is pretty choppy.”

“No worries! Woman.”

Off in the far distance, we could hear the bike engine shrieking at maximum rev.

“Has he got it out of first yet?” I asked.

“No. Oh hang on, yes, he has now.”

Suddenly there was a sharp blast of rev and then . . . silence.

Husband and I looked at each other.

Find him!” I squawked, doing a little panic shuffle. This, in case you were wondering, is where I trot back and forth on the spot, bumping into as many proximate objects as possible.

Husband slewed off on the second bike while I prepared my speech to his parents in the event that The Bro had broken a leg. I didn’t want to consider what else he might have broken (Husband always scoffs at the notion that he might break a neck or a cranium. “It’s only sand!” he says whenever I raise the issue, as if hurtling head-first into a dune at 60kph is equivalent to settling gently into a mass of goose-down).

Husband returned ten minutes later without his t-shirt. No doubt he had proffered it to stanch the blood – but from where? Nicked finger? Broken nose?

Severed arm?

“Is he ok?”

“I’m not sure.”

We unhitched the bike trailer and drove the Yukon to The Bro. Although he looked all right – well, no spurting blood – he was making sound effects like a punctured accordion. I was encouraged when he correctly identified how many fingers I held up – although I’ve never been sure what the purpose of the test is, apart from confirming the subject is roughly sober.

We got The Bro home and stuffed him full of Brufen. Thereafter there was more moaning than pain (admittedly The Bro might not agree with that diagnosis). (In fairness, I was only able to accurately measure the moaning.) (But surely he couldn’t have been in THAT much pain?) Over time, The Bro perfected a gorgeous, breathy little gasp which somehow managed to simultaneously convey his stoic agony, his ongoing despair over starving children in the third world, and all the wasted opportunity squandered in his young life.

In between complaining about the lack of sympathy and how the hunger was killing him, The Bro maintained he had broken his tailbone.

“Which is worse: the hunger or the pain?” I’d ask.

“That is such an unfair question.”

Looking on the bright side, his injury gave him the perfect excuse not to get spanked at squash. He also managed to bravely stuff his broken tailbone into a rubber ring and fire himself up a water chute at Wild Wadi.

Apart from the lack of clucking and my ongoing refusal to dress up in a nurses’ uniform, The Bro would find it hard to deny the fact that I was an unwavering source of practical support. I sang to him to take his mind off the pain and regularly dosed him with Margharita, which he claimed was more effective than Brufen. And at least I didn’t try to make it worse – UNLIKE SOME.

The Tuesday after the biking incident (‘accident’ implies nobody is to blame), The Bro being relatively confident that his broken tailbone had limited impact on his ability to pose, he and Husband were set for a Lad’s Night Out. They swept out the door on an exuberant tsunami of aftershave.

Five minutes later Husband called. He’d had a car crash up the Springs Drive; yes, he and The Bro were ok; no, he wasn’t sure what the damage to the Lumina was; no, the other guy’s car was totalled; oh and could I come and collect The Bro while he waited for the police? He’d also be grateful if I brought the insurance papers, thanks.

When Husband had slowed for a speed bump, an Aramex car had driven right up the Lumina’s arse. The Aramex driver admitted that he had dropped his electronic orders device on the floor . . . and bent down to pick it up. The bonnet of Aramex Guy’s Toyota was a crumpled mess and his airbags had deployed.

From a distance the Lumina looked sound, but the boot wouldn’t close properly, and the frame was shunted in under the back doors. (For the next couple of days, whenever Husband drove the Lumina, drivers on the Sheikh Zayed road would slow to 120kph in the next lane, knock on the passenger window and shout at him that the back door was open while helpfully pointing at it.)

Poor The Bro had recommenced moaning with renewed vigour, so I got him installed on the sofa with 600mg of Brufen and a bucket of margharita. I went back to the scene with a cup of coffee for Husband, but the police had arrived so I drove on and pretended I didn’t know him. Hey, I love the guy, but there is nothing on earth that will induce me to spend time with the UAE Fuzz.

Apparently the Lumina’s chassis is bent. Although it can be repaired, it is expensive and is unlikely to pass its next registration. Therefore, we’re going to have to try and persuade Aramex Guy’s insurance company to write the car off

Dancing in the New Year

On New Years Eve, we took Raff and Carole up on their totally spontaneous offer to host a party. They are one of the first to take up residency on The Palm Island Jumeirah, on the ‘trunk’ of The Palm. They bought a fifth level apartment (technically the fourth floor, since the ground floor is level 1).

The Palm is still largely a construction site, an aural cacophony of drilling, hammering, revving, piling, beeping and scraping. But Raff and Carole’s apartment looks out on an expanse of sea with the Burj Al Arab in the distance and Sheikh Mohammed’s private island in the foreground. If you squint out their living room window, beyond the scum at the waters edge and heaps of construction detritus, you can really see the potential.

The party was on New Years Eve and we didn’t fancy our chances of catching a taxi later in the evening. Raff and Carole offered us their sofa (presumably for sleeping on and as limited to their premises) but, although we packed bedding and toiletries, Husband was not mad keen. After a stressful evening of self abuse there is no substitute for falling into your bed. It HEALS you: slumber is more even, the hangover less vicious and – let’s face it – it’s always preferable to drool into your own pillow.

“We could always walk home,” said Husband.

“It’s ten kilometers!”

“Ah, come on now,” said My Beloved (this being one of his favourite expressions since Raff, Carole and I tortured him with Father Ted screenings for weeks on end). “It’s probably not more than six.”

“I’m not bloody walking,” I said. “Tell you what though. I could cycle.”

“Great idea! And I could run.”




“Yes, run. As in jog. To put one foot in front of the other, quite fast.”

I didn’t say anything as he packed my bike into the back of the car, followed by his running shoes and shorts. I figured he would probably be incapable of STANDING at the end of the night, never mind putting one foot in front of the other, quite fast.

When we arrived at Raff and Carole’s, Husband bonded with the beer while I got stuck into the margharitas. We spent most of the evening on the balcony which was lit up with fairy lights and candles and was unspeakably charming until it was gate crashed by mosquitoes. They were like armadillos with wings.

We repaired inside, where Raff put on ‘Finding Nemo’ to demonstrate the quality of their new plasma screen. One of their friends, who was blitzed when she arrived, had for some reason been talking about tap dancing. Carole and Husband were drunkenly exhorting her to shake her funky stuff, and she was going: “No, no I couldn’t, no really – oh, alright then”.

She started dancing across the room, accompanied by herself and considerately giving us a tutorial as she went: “Tap-dancing is really just one move, where you TAP! the ball of your foot against the ground. It’s a shuffle, like this. So let me see – HAPPY FEET! I’VE GOT THOSE HAP-HAP-HAPPY FEET! Shuffle left, shuffle left, shuffle shuffle shuffle left – I CAN’T CONTROL THE DANCING DEAR TO SAVE MY SOOOOOUL! Shuffle right, shuffle right – THOSE WEARY BLUES CAN’T GET INTO MY SHOES!”

I understand she learned the routine when she was seven. There was something frankly disturbing about a grown woman singing ‘Happy Feet’ with that level of gusto – or any level of gusto, for that matter.

Meanwhile, Husband and I were engrossed in the gripping tale that is ‘Finding Nemo’, but this woman was tap-dancing across the screen, and we were bobbing our heads around trying to follow the action

“Are you watching?” she shouted.

“Absolutely,” said Husband, trying to see through her flailing arms, “but Marlin and Dory are about to go searching for Nemo and it’s a very tense moment. If you could just move to the left-“

“HAPPY FEEEEET!” she bawled. “You’re not WATCHING!”

“I am,” said Carole with a poker-straight face that made me see my friend in a whole new respectful light.

At around half two in the morning I was trying to scare away a slavering-fanged mosquito by pulling faces at it, with not a lot of success.

“Shall we go?” asked Husband, clearly fed up with the insane tap-dancing lady.

We said our goodbyes and, at the car, I donned the reflective jacket Danny gave me for Christmas while Husband swapped his shirt and trousers for singlet and running shorts. And then he started jogging, while I wobbled along behind him with my flashing rear light.

Husband started strongly, powering up the overpass towards Dubai Marina. I stopped every half a mile to text status updates to an incredulous Carole. The number of cars on the road at 03:00hrs on New Years Day was mad, although maybe they called their buddies when they saw us: “Hey, I’m not sure whether I’m drunk or . . . yeah but I’ve just passed this bloke JOGGING and . . . and there’s a bird behind him in an evening dress on a bicycle. Get down here and take a look.”

Husband was slowing down coming to Interchange 5, going slower and slower, and by the time we hit The Springs entrance he was practically in reverse. His knee had crapped out and he was starting to whine.

“Go on, Niamhie, give me a backie.”

“Dude, I mean it: step away from the bike.”

“Aww, come on!”

He attempted to forcibly hitch a lift but I was giggling too hard to cycle. Somehow he talked me into relinquishing my beloved bicycle and taking a backie. Since it’s a mountain bike, the crossbar is not level: from the handlebars it slopes down to the saddle support. Three seconds later I was firmly wedged in Husband’s sweaty crotch, getting rhythmically kicked by his sweaty knees.

We finally made it home at four o’clock in the morning in one piece – although I was severely dented in the left hip region

The little things: raisins

Raff and Carole left this morning. We thought for a while they might be with us for Christmas because, although their apartment on the Palm Island is more or less ready for occupancy, the Electricity and Water Authority is refusing to turn on their water and electricity.


Finally they decided that even erratic electricity and cold water was preferable to cohabiting with Husband, and they abandoned us. I miss them (I totally forgave Raff spilling Bombay Mix on my keyboard.) The margharita detox only intensifies the feelings of loss. Carole left a big pile of chocolate bars in the fridge and every time I snort one whole, I think of her.


During the time they spent with us, I managed to indoctrinate them with Father Ted. In honor of Raff and Carole I feel compelled to share my top five moments from Father Ted. Note: these are NOT in order of preference because that’s just impossible:-



Mrs Doyle: Won’t you have some cake, Father? It’s got cocaine in it. Oh no, hang on, it’s not cocaine, is it. What do I mean now? – the little things . . . Ah yes. Raisins!



Dougal: God I’ve never seen a clock at 5 am before!



Ted: What was it Jack used to say about the needy? He had a term for them . . .

Dougal: A shower of bastards.



Father Dougal: Ahh, lets see, I’ll have the Hindu Curry, Steak and Chips, and a glass of Coke thanks.

Policeman: Do you know where you are? You’re in a police station.

Father Dougal: Oh right. Well, in that case, I’ll just have the Satay Chicken.



Ted:Dougal, you can’t sit around here watching television all day – chewing gum for the eyes!

Dougal: Oh no thanks Ted, I’ve got these crisps, here

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