I’d like to start with an apology.
It’s always a pleasure to welcome new readers to this blog, be they from Argentina (¡hola!) or Azerbaijan (salam!)
But if you the reader who washed up on these shores last week by searching for ‘mobile number for family sex cool here in Doha’, then I’m sorry, but you’re going to be disappointed.
Partly because I like to use some grammar every once in a while, and you clearly don’t; and partly because this isn’t that kind of blog. (Seriously, what were you looking for? Your syntax is so garbled I doubt even Google’s famed algorithms were able to adequately serve your needs that night.)
Anyway, it’s been a strange week here in the little city, one best described by a phrase Amnesiac has been applying to pretty much everything (accurately or otherwise) since he learnt it in French class recently: ‘comme ci, comme ça’.
A little this, a little that.
Under any other circumstances, it would have been a banner week.
I’ve seen Hollywood royalty (Robert de Niro, at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival) and – joy of joys – I’ve spent multiple evenings watching movies at the aforementioned and mostly brilliant DTFF.
I’d deduct points for the seats at the back of the Al Rayyan theatre. My circulation was imperilled by the lack of legroom, and I’m only average height. But Souq Waqif looked amazing, the houses were packed at every screening I attended and, as with the Olympics in the summer, it was an event totally made by the brilliant volunteers.
Alongside that, we’ve negotiated our way through a blizzard of paperwork, police station visits, rip offs and jobsworths to buy and insure a second-hand car.
Stuff’s getting done.
And yet hanging over proceedings like the recent rainclouds was the imminent return of Mrs LC to what she has taken to calling “The Cold”, aka the UK.
The kids and I are together; Mrs LC’s thousands of miles away in another country, just like this summer. Only this time I’m in Doha while she’s battling the elements in England.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
And whilst a part of me would have loved to have gone with her, most of me is glad I didn’t, largely for the same reasons we’ve decided to stay here in Doha for Christmas: it’s too soon to go back.
Returning to the UK could undo the great strides the kids have been making to acclimatise themselves (in all senses of the word) to life here. And with all those years Mrs LC’s family lived in Botswana, it’s not like we haven’t had hot Christmases before.
I say could, though; I have no idea if we’ve made the right call.
Will a plastic tree and a hotel reservation be adequate replacements for six foot of Norwegian spruce and a home cooked dinner? We hope so, and we’ll doing all we can to adapt existing traditions and invent new ones to create a unique holiday.
All any of us can do is make one decision at a time based on what we know at that moment. For anything beyond that, you may as well be reading tea leaves.
Every so often, it’s instinctive to look back at what brought you to a particular point and try and join the dots retrospectively; to give a narrative to the sum total of your choices; to try and make it all make sense.
But most of the time, there is no pattern. You join the dots and only see something so shambolic and haphazard a drunken spider would be embarrassed by it.
You can’t predict what’s round the next corner, no matter what astrologers would like you to think.
You can plan and you can try, but once you understand and accept that actually what the future holds is basically anyone’s guess, it feels really liberating.
Perhaps not as liberating as ‘mobile number for family sex cool here in Doha’, but pretty good all the same.