Monday, 13 June 2011

Take That - they're only human...

I'm currently very excited about my imminent date with a certain fab fivesome at Villa Park. Yes, it's Take That in concert - all five of them, including Robbie. I'm heading back to the UK especially.

In the run up to the big event, I've been watching a few old DVDs and generally reminiscing - each of their songs and videos seems to hold a snapshot of my past. The idolisation of my teenage years has long gone, but I must admit I do still have moments when I forget each band member is a human being, and project something more other-wordly on them.

Then this morning, a friend came round for coffee and we got chatting about Take That. This particular friend loves gossip magazines, and she filled me in on some less than savoury behaviour Howard and Mark have admitted to recently. I guess I'm a little behind now I don't read the British papers every day, so news of Mark's post-marriage shenanigans and Howard's super-injunction on a woman he'd had a 10 year affair with had thus far passed me by.

I feel rather let down by them. I know this isn't fair; they're human after all, and they're in a very rarefied environment, which undoubtedly puts them in temptation's way more than most. I suppose an illogical side of me just wants these blokes I've followed for 20 years to be something more than normal, fallible human beings.

When I look at them on stage in a couple of weeks, a large part of me wants to see them in the same childish, innocent way I did way back in the 90s, when Doc Martens were cool and the more holes you had in your jumper, the better.  Instead, I will see five very good looking, very talented men, but just men, nonetheless. Putting someone on a pedestal isn't wise anyhow, is it. They can only fall.

Monday, 6 June 2011

All change, please

It seems like it's leaving season here in the sandpit. It's the end of the school year, of course, and the beginning of a long hot summer in the Gulf. So many people who have been here for much less time than we have are packing up and heading home.

There's a container sitting outside our neighbour's villa as I write this - his wife is leaving with the kids, despite the fact he has no other job to go to in the UK yet (although there is one in the pipeline, next year, probably). Once his family's gone, he's going to be lodging with a friend in his spare room.

I've just met another pilot's wife in a coffee shop who suddenly announced she's leaving in 3 weeks with her two kids, again leaving her husband behind. He has at least another year to do here before his bond is up. I asked why, and she just said "I hate it here". Nothing like positivity, eh.

Yet another pilot's wife I know has decided to move home so she can work. Despite company subsidy, school fees here have eaten in the family's budget and reality has dawned. This is not the gold-plated emirate they had anticipated. Money doesn't grow on palm trees. So, another family is separated.

Call me a cynic, but I think these stories didn't have to end this way. When I first came out here I was homesick, disorientated and depressed. I wanted to take the first plane home - but I didn't. Yes, I've had bad times (PND as an expat is no joke) but at no point have I considered going back to the UK and leaving my husband here by himself.

The sandpit is not perfect, and it's a long way from London (both in distance and lifestyle) but it has great things about it, too.  We have lovely friends here, a great place to live, tax free salaries and a great lifestyle. We won't be here forever, and I don't see it as some sort of prison sentence (as some certainly do). My career has actually taken off in a totally different but really fun direction, and most importantly, we're together as a family. That matters to us more than anything.

I do think that your happiness out here is a state of mind. If you want to be happy, you will. I believe the women who are heading home have never tried to enjoy themselves here, have lived insular lives and have spent a great deal of their time complaining.

So, actually, I think them going is a good thing. It's not healthy to have so much negativity around. At least the people who are left behind actually want to be here.

All change, please...



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