The Show Must Go On

This week, British culture has united pre-teen girls and petrolheads around the world in shock; here in Qatar, it’s responsible for our Ambassador reading the breakfast show weather report…

One Direction poster

We’ll still be there, even if you won’t, Zayn

Britain is no longer the economic powerhouse it once was. You can mock us for everything from our cuisine, to being rubbish at not just all the sports we invented, but all the other ones too. Our culture, however, is one of our strongest and most significant exports – and has been for more than 500 years.

When you live in the UK, this is a concept you’re dimly aware of, like nuclear physics, or the possibility of sentient life on other planets.

But when you move abroad, its impact is there for all to see – and never more so than this week, when within hours of each other, not one, but two, founding members of made-in-Britain-recognised-everywhere supergroups headed off to pastures new.

On the one hand, Zayn Malik hit the eject button on his time in the planet’s biggest boy band One Direction, while in what is surely a world first, I temporarily have something in common with Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, in that we are both currently “in between opportunities”. Continue reading

The Grateful Dad

You catch me in an optimistic mood. I’m trying an experiment suggested by Mrs LC. It involves taking five minutes to write down three things each day for which you’re grateful. Wash, rinse, repeat once a day for 21 days, and see where you get to.

Dinner in the Sky

This could be you! Dinner in the Sky returns for the QIFF, 24-28 March

It has, I think, a couple of aims: on the bad days, to give you some quick reminders that the world isn’t completely without merit. It also helps keeps your mind focused on positive things, no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem.

But whilst I neither want to, nor could, write Everything is Awesome: the Blog, that kind of stuff is out there.

Take this Seattle-based mom whose blog I started following when her husband got laid off by one of my former employers. How would her positivity cope, I wondered, with one of the biggest curveballs life can throw at you?

Modern Family

What I think of when I think of awesome parenting, c/o Modern Family

The answer, as you can see from her new blog, Drops of Awesome, was to turn it up to 11 and channel all of her positivity into an entire blog / lifestyle of cheeriness.

That’s a bit too hard core for me, but each to their own. I have plenty of days when I stare at the screen and think: what the hell can I write about that isn’t going to drive everyone away?

So I thought I’d try a version of the experiment for this post, and see what happens. Continue reading

The Overlooked Hotel

In which I turn up to the wrong hotel for my massage, before facing the most Doha decision of my life

As a kid growing up in rural England, ‘Five Star’ meant a terrible Jackson 5-lite pop group, who were only ever famous for being sworn at on live kids’ TV and hotels were places that were closed in winter and drove Jack Nicholson mad.

The Overlook Hotel

The Overlook Hotel features unique interior decor

Fast forward a generation, and my kids live in a city where 5* hotels are so omnipresent we use them to give directions, in the absence of anything more reliable.

We name our intersections after them – like ‘Ramada signal’, still stubbornly known by its former occupant, long after it’s been demolished and replaced by a Radisson Blu. Continue reading

Costume Drama

In which my daughter asks me for weapons, my son asks me about drugs and I regret ever teaching them to read


It might be a shop-bought box, but points to this kid for choosing something so wildly unsuited to the weather

Being ‘International’ in both name and nature, my kids’ school has an abundance of options when it comes to choosing a global non-denominational occasion to celebrate.

They could join in with World Tennis Day on March 10th. Or what about World Kidney Day on the 12th? Personally, I’m not holding my breath.

Of course, the one they went big on is World Book Day (which I’m going to call WBD from now on, as it’s going to get a lot of mentions in this post).

Typical schools; always choosing books over kidneys. Continue reading

Red Light District

In which we run a 5K, and a red light. One cost QR140; the other was slightly more expensive…

Color Run shirt

Get amongst it

If this were Sesame Street, this post would be brought to you by the colour red and the number 6,000. In the red corner: traffic lights, t-shirts and embarrassed faces. As for the six thousand, you’ll see.

This week, we were visited by that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you realise you have done something avoidably stupid.

Like arriving to give a presentation at work, only to realise your laptop is back at home, where you left it by the front door so you wouldn’t forget it. Or that the taxi which just brought you to the airport is now driving off with your passport still on the back seat.

Or like accidentally driving through a red light in Doha, thus instantly incurring a monstro fine of QR6,000 (GBP1,100 / US$1,700)…welcome to our week. Continue reading