Wonders will never cease from being a bit of a lost soul I’m now a working girl! Golly gosh. Been at this lark for a couple of weeks and haven’t been rumbled yet and by using all my amazing skills have managed to sort of tame the typewriter. By this I mean I have actually executed a perfect letter in just under an hour. In fact, I have exceeded and maybe surpassed my own expectations!
I think actions speak louder than words so this surely must be a sign of progress. Something tells me that Mr. IBM and I might just have forged an understanding and can finally become working companions, I hesitate to shout this too loudly, but fingers crossed
I now feel confident enough not to panic too much every time he takes off on his own, before I felt I needed to don my running shoes just to keep up. Now I just sit languidly waiting for him to stop teasing me, I know he thinks he has the upper hand but maybe, just maybe I might be catching up. I have awarded myself 7 out of lO for this remarkable progress, between you and me it’s been against all odds.
How on earth did I find myself masquerading as a Secretary in this dismal back office in Dubai I will never know my secret had to be by using lashings of guile and oh so sweet a smile!!! Though this was not the time to bask in reflected glory or become complacent because I needed to stay on top of my game if I wasn’t to be booted out. – Actually, it was like being a character in some crazy sit com when you had the definite feeling that possibly you had been miss caste but had to keep up the pretence, not unlike a game of charades.
Sitting quietly one day minding my own business I was to discover something that would surely take my breath away, what was this astonishing information? Well, in those days Dubai was known for importing gigantic quantities of non ferrous metals into the Country, but once landed what happened to this cargo? Well, I will tell you where some of it went and how this was happening right under my little nose.
One day the Boss came in and said drop everything and come with me Jan, I followed as he proceeded to dash past the Indian Clerks who, with heads down, were still diligently adding up god knows what on their calculators. We rushed out of the main door over the corridor and into the main Office, which was, in fact, an apartment identical to ours but two floors below.
He carered past a beautiful sultry lady, sitting behind a desk which seemed to be covered in ticker tape, which was engulfing her too. Beside her was a giant telex/ticker tape machine which was spueing out tape as if its life depended on it. I was to discover that these were the up to the minute gold and silver prices being quoted by all the major Commodity Markets from around the World, which this beautiful lady, with no name, was logging into a giant ledger. My God, what was going on?
Surely, this was a total den of iniquity ,no time to tarry though, as we dashed passed landing up on the balcony breathless – Look, said the Boss, all I could see were Dhows moored on the quay side, nothing new, but the Boss was by then really agitated, he said they are doing a ‘run’ tonight, what is he talking about out? Maybe he has got touch of the sun!
All was then revealed, there was to be a ‘gold run’ to the Sub-Continent that night and six Dhows were taking part. It was explained to me that they would sail in convoy, but the wonderment was that although the Dhows, all outwardly looked the same, two of them were fitted with twin screws, propellers. This was to enable the convoy to outwit the local Coast Guards, once they were sailing inside territorial waters, as they would without a doubt have been spotted.
The plan was that the two Dhows in question would break loose from the convoy and head for a predestined point at breakneck speed, whilst the other Dhows would act as decoys. The Gold would be offloaded and once all transactions were complete they would sail into the sunset with happy crews, who more to the point were now richer than when they set off. Their hearts might have been beating rather rapidly though!
Gosh, what excitement, this was the stuff of the Boys Own Paper, especially as at that time it was forbidden to hold gold bullion in the UK. Consequently this made the whole operation appear clandestine, risqué and romantic, in equal measure, and to think I was privy to such goings on. They were scheduled to depart that evening consequently I was able to watch from the safety of ‘our balcony’ but naturally the big fear was that six would leave but maybe fewer would return, but that was the risk the crews took, no risk no gain! As they say.
Now I knew why there were always so many rag tails patiently queuing to enter the ‘front office. I was to discover that they were the locals wagering their small offerings for large returns, really not unlike having a punt on the Grand National, optimism had to be the name of the game.
There was one very curious omission though, when handing over their bounty the amount was registered by my lady with no name, together with their identity in a giant ledger, but no receipts were ever issued!
Until the Dhows returned there was a palpable tension in the air and naturally there was a collective sigh of relief when the convoy was sighted sailing up the Creek and noted to be miraculously intact. There were then smiling faces all round and the tension that had hung over the Souk for days quietly evaporated, mission accomplished!
Before you ask, no I never succumbed, was too awestruck at what was going on right under my little nose!! Actually at that time was relishing being the proud owner of my first 22 carat gold necklace, reckoned I had earned it! Don’t you!
I will be back on Tuesday 30 September, 2014 with Essay l8
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