We spent the last few months getting the house in order. However, before applying too much time/effort/money/chintz on the decor, we decided to get the housewarming out of the way (our reasoning being that it’s easier to paint over graffiti than wash it off beige flocked walls).
Right before the party, Dubai threw its annual rain shower – which lasted two days plus assorted encores. That Thursday, I got up at 06:30 to go to the beach for a dip. I was aware that the morning was particularly dark, but put it down to the fact that my eyes weren’t fully open. As I charged down Sheikh Zayed Road, it was as if I was the only thing moving; the rest of the world was absolutely still. At the beach the sea was dark and twitchy.
Raff and I were towelling off after a 1000 kilometre swim when it started, and it rained like an angel run amok with a divine fire hose. Driving home with wipers on hyper, I had to pull off the road because I could not see the front of the car.
It is only a 10 km drive from the beach to our house, and by the time I reached the Springs the whole place was flooded – roundabouts under three feet of water, rivers washing down the footpaths. At home, the garden was a paddling pool – we had asked the builders to lower the level by half a foot. It was probably just as well, since the ground floor would have been flooded otherwise.
The following day fifty-six people turned up for the party. I wasn’t aware we knew fifty-six people in the whole world, never mind in this region. They all wedged into our living room – well not quite: we put two in the laundry room, and there had to be at least one person occupying the guest bathroom at all times. In the end, the house could not contain the horde and there was an overspill into the soggy garden.
Being Irish, I always over cater, ever concerned that someone might die of malnutrition on my watch. I mean, how do you explain that to the police? In preparation for the party, I had cooked for a fortnight. Every square millimetre of every level surface hosted vats of food: hummous, tabbouli, kebabs, salsa, guacamole, nachos, pesto pie, olives with rosemary, sun-dried tomato dip, garlic bread, a variety of salads, potato salad, chicken drumsticks with barbeque sauce, steaks and lamb legs, baked potatoes, cakes and fudge. As you can see, the Arabic and Mexican guests were well catered for – shame none turned up.
We are still eating leftovers two months later.
Later that night, we fell into bed exhausted (and admittedly not completely ebriated). At some sinfully dark hour of the morning, I was woken by the sound of empty beer cans rolling around the garden paving. Every time the cans stopped rattling and I was reconsidering unconsciousness, the wind would pick up again.
Eventually, tiring of waiting for Andrew to get up and address the cacophony (I prodded him a few times but he simply snored louder), I wrapped a dressing gown around me and padded off to see to the mess.
Five minutes later, the garden freshly de-cannified, I returned indoors and groped my way up the stairs. Feeling my way across the top landing, I was in front of the bedroom door – mid-yawn – when Andrew leapt out at me. After nearly choking on the yawn, I sorted that out and let out a great roar.
He maintains he was coming to check on me, but the timing was such that he can only have been lying in wait behind the door.
He should consider himself lucky he didn’t wind up having my leg surgically removed from his scrotum