My God, who would have thought that a nice little social gathering to mark the very being of Dubai Country Club could have ended in such mayhem?
That evening will be remembered for its very unexpected outcome, and before you all jump to the wrong conclusions, no it wasn’t that we were all possibly rolling in the aisles, nothing of the sort! It was because the very peaceful existence that we generally enjoyed in these parts had unexpectantly been shattered! My goodness, what- ever next!
Needless to say we were all eager to know what on earth was happening up in Sharjah but being in today’s parlance, back in the stone ages, we had no means of communication, let alone instant communication.
Consequently, discovering just what had gone on or maybe was still going on, to render us all agog and most definitely all of a twitter, would have to wait until the morning. Then without a doubt the jungle drums would most definitely be beating all the way to downtown Dubai.
Thank goodness though, we didn’t have to wait too long before news reached our twitching ears, which was that a force of l8 armed supporters of the former ruler of Sharjah, with him, no less leading the raiding party, besieged the palace, and in the process managed to kill the then ruler, causing considerable mayhem whilst they were about it.
Reinforcements arrived in the form of the Union Defense Force, the renamed Trucial Oman Scouts who had been summoned to quell the fighting. but in so doing they, unfortunately, sustained numerous casualties. One of whom was a young British Officer, naturally he became the hero of the whole escapade and the talk of the town. Oh, what a to do it all was, from our standpoint, though, it was all rather exciting, whatever next we asked ourselves!
We were soon receiving blow by blow accounts, straight from the horse’s mouth, because the British Officer just happened to be a chum. As he needed rest and recuperation there was no better place to take tea together with something a little stronger than our abode? Incidentally, this was where the best afternoon tea and cocktails were served, this side of the Ritz!
Oh, what fun it was turning out to be! We were regaled with the story of just how the coup was dealt with, naturally, swiftly and efficiently and marveled at the bravery of our Officer chum. Actually, it was a little like a real live episode of Dan dare rides again!
So in our way we had a little walk on part in this drama, something like being mentioned in dispatches if you know what I mean. At least, it kept the story reverberating around for a little longer and at times turned our apartment into something akin to the Downtown Officer’s Mess, an exclusive club, if ever there was one!
Talking about Officers, there seemed to be a gradual influx of various Military types appearing on the scene, a Military Advisory Team was deployed to Sharjah. Then there was the gradual formation of the Dubai Defence Force which, in the first instance, was headed up by British Officers and if that wasn’t sufficient there were a few other Military and Navel Wallah’s wafting around and about, Dubai was being turned upside down.
These chaps soon made their mark one way and another and boy did they like to party. We thought we knew a thing or two about raving it up, but we were in for a big surprise together with lots of fun. They nearly always had a trick or two up their sleeves, some more outrageous than others!
I can recall two chums, one a Naval chap and the other, I think, was the Military Attaché, who delighted in giving lethal little drinks parties, where they served Bloody Mary’s and another great little number called Bull Shot, the latter, I think originated in the Navy.
This consisted of a mixture of Consume and Vodka, I would wager more Vodka than consume. Never having heard of this particular cocktail let along downed one we all thought they were fantastic and naturally the height of sophistication.
Actually, in our naivety we imagined that we were sipping cold soup, naturally very welcome on a very hot day, thinking to ourselves how very thoughtful our hosts were, needless to say being totally oblivious as to their potency. Oh how we were hood winked!
In turn these two delighted in watching us down, I don’t know how many in quick succession, in fact, we were downing them, or maybe drowning in them as fast as they could be made, having no idea of the consequences. Yes, you have guessed, we learned the hard way!
Good job these little parties weren’t held on board ship because I’m sure we would have all fallen overboard. On reflection, maybe that’s why we never saw the pair in charge of a ship, too darn dangerous. They were lethal on dry land, goodness knows what they would have been like at sea, no doubt rocking and rolling all over the place.
Their parties were such fun we forgave them anything and always hoped that we would be heading up their next guest list, but not before we had acquired some hollow legs.
At about this time, the Dubai Defense Force was gradually taking shape with British Officers being seconded to help the start up. We met one Officer and his wife, literally not long after they had landed at the Airport. They were a delightful couple, who hit town running and actually never stopped until they left many, many years later.
They arrived out of the blue and were welcomed with open arms. They must have landed on a Thursday evening and were immediately whisked by their greeter to the Sahara Nightclub, where we could usually be found boogying the night away. Introductions were made and I can honestly say from that moment on none of us looked back and I don’t think our feet ever touched the ground again.
Why was that because every day was deemed to be a party day with these two around? We did not know it at the time, but we had just been introduced to our Team Leader and from then on we were going to be kept on our toes, in more ways than one. The catch phrase from that moment on was, ‘Golly Gosh’!
Am I beginning to give you the impression that Dubai was fast turning into the party capital of the World, well, that may have been correct, but we had to try and remember that we both had work to do and that we shouldn’t complain when it interfered with our ever burgeoning social life!
I also had another pressing problem, as the Golf Course was now operational the ladies, yes, I means those ladies who play golf and incidentally are usually a dab hand at that dreaded card game Bridge were gathering in the wings, or I should say sand dunes and I was expected to join them, oh dear!
They were determined to give the Gentlemen a run for their money, their mantra being if you can’t beat them join them! The chaps on occasions looked quietly bemused when this small but formidable army of very determined ladies descended on the first tee to b begin their game. The gantlet was thrown down – let battle commence was the cry!
Where did I fit in, well I knew the rudiments of golf having had many a lesson in my youth, so I too was expected to become a member of this glorious ‘barmy army’ of formidable golfing ladies!! They did slightly terrify me, though!
To this end I needed some clubs and also a few lessons not only on perfecting my swing but on how to survive trudging around this giant sand pit, which was now lovingly called a golf course, without falling by the wayside with exhaustion. I was always puzzled, was it meant to be fun or an endurance test, actually. I could never figure that one out!
After acquiring clubs, the next priority was to arm myself with a piece of Astro turf from which one was able to play the next ball after if it fell onto the marked fairway. This was called a preferred lie or if wished you could make a little mound of sand just beside where the ball lay, place the ball on top, which enabled you to strike it more cleanly.
All very crafty really, the irony was that on paper the whole operation seemed a little crack pot but once one got the hang of things the course played almost like a dream. Even the browns, which were made by oiling the sand, after which they were rolled flat, played quite true. Quite astonishing, the ingenuity of man knows no bounds, or where there’s a will there’s a way.
I got my act together and usually played once a week on ladies day, extremely badly, I might add! If I’m honest I found it hard work trudging round, it was usually very hot, and oh dear my lady golfing companions were all so competitive, it makes me feel exhausted thinking about it.
Frequently, I would think longingly of ‘Buttercup’ my sailing boat and wish I was pitting my wits against the elements, rather than limping around this very hot sandy desert, now referred to lovingly as a golf course, chasing a little red golf ball too boot.
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed this tale – Yesteryear in Dubai was always full of surprises!
Well, folks it’s now holiday time which means long lazy, hazy,, sunny days for me, what about you?
Catch up with you in September xx