The day began, as usual, with great expectations, but I would wager along with a hangover. It was Friday morning after all and without a doubt, we would have been tripping the light fantastic somewhere around this desert Kingdom, along with many a happy play- mate.
Amazingly, last night we actually did something very different, which we all thought extremely novel, after all one had to ring the changes somehow! A few weeks back a plot was hatched, which went like this:
Why don’t we enquire about hiring an Abra for an evening, or maybe two, depending on the number of people who are up for this stunt, what a good idea? Leisurely, floating up and down the Creek, whilst enjoying a picnic would surely be a splendid way of spending a happy evening and one with a difference too boot, how original!
Actually, the planning went like clockwork, as we had not taken into account that the Abra boys were only too eager to earn a little extra dosh. Grand picnics were planned and assembled, alas not a wicker basket in sight. In retrospect, not too sure what was packed because, as you will know by now, it was not exactly easy to be inventive with the produce that we had at our disposal in those early days.
On occasions ringing in the New Year would have been easier than ringing the changes to our menus I will have a bet with you though, sure the picnic would have included hard boiled eggs and chicken of some description, reckon to date we have eaten chicken cooked and presented every which way, all washed down with copious amounts of booze, of course!
We assembled at the Abra crossing on Diera side, where our two Abras were moored and the Skippers waiting. Before you get any grand ideas it wasn’t like stepping onto a Gondola from the bank of a Venice canal and no the chaps were most definitely not wearing special livery, far from it, nor were they geared up to serenading us with their very own Urdu rendition of O Solo Mio.
The nearest we got to being serenaded was by the Mullahs calling the faithful to prayer together with the gentle lapping of the water as we drifted slowly up stream.
This was to be a romantic evening with us embarking on a lovely, leisurely glide up the Creek, hoping for a full moon to guide us on our way, nothing less, but we had over looked one very important factor.
Abras are not designed for leisurely sails but quick sprints across the water from one side of the creek to the other. My goodness, it was uncomfortable, we had not thought to bring travelling rugs, mind you, I very much doubt if any of us would have possessed such a thing, let alone a blanket or two. Consequently, we were rattling around on the bottom of the boat exceedingly uncomfortable and not a little cold, in fact, if I recall we were frozen to death.
Our Skippers must have thought we were all start raving mad, in fact, it didn’t take too long for us to concur, even the lights mischiefly twinkling over the water didn’t do much to take our minds off our bruised and decidedly uncomfortable bodies. As for the picnic, well do you think the little morsels that were produced could ease our discomfort, actually, you are quite right they didn’t! Once again dear Mr. Gray Mackenzie was at hand, coming to our rescue so, thank goodness, all was not lost!
We awoke on Friday morning feeling decidedly battered and bruised but after licking our wounds began contemplating our day, wondrous we have a whole day stretching out before us, a treat indeed. We marshaled our scattered wits, admired the various bruises we had acquired whilst bumping up and down in the Abra and then realized we had no time to loose if we were going to get to Hamriya in time for another jolly picnic. Naturally, this would once again be washed down with some of the goodies that Mr. Gray Mac would be laying on, he was such a kind and thoughtful person!!
Hamriya was a favourite haunt for our Friday away days, a small fishing village up the coast, just the other side of Sharjah. It had little to offer except sun, sea and sand but in those days that was all we required together with a few chums and the aforementioned vituals to have fun. I was about to say that we usually managed to make the most of what was available, which was a good thing, because there was very little in the way of light entertainment in those far off days.
We sure made the most of our Fridays, they were lazy, hazy days, dipping in and out of the water at regular intervals, so necessary, to cool off, yes, it was always decidedly hot and on reflection not too sure how much sun lotion we ever used. Maybe it had not been invented then!! Only joking or am I?
Do recall some bright spark proffering a mixture of oil and lemon juice announcing that it did wonders for the skin, whilst definitely encouraging a golden tan, we couldn’t resist, slathering it on with gusto. We secretly hoped that overnight we would be transformed, into what, well I’m still not quite sure, oh I know real glamour girls, or maybe we thought we were just basting the proverbial Turkey, who knows, but it was fun!
There was one further little ritual that we had to participate in and that was keeping a keen eye out for the green flash, what on earth is that I can hear you saying. Well, after enjoying our day wallowing around in the water also inspecting and marveling at the banks of discarded oyster shells which had collected over the years.
These shells being the by-product of the once thriving pearling industry, then possibly looking for shells which had been washed up, to add to our collections; it was now time to take a seat on the nearest sand dune to wait for the wondrous ‘green flash’, the grand finale of our day.
Now for the uninitiated this phenomenon only occurs as the setting sun dips below the horizon, yes, really but I have to say one blink and it’s gone and sadly you will have missed it yet gain! Now honestly how many times is that?
To this day not sure whether the Green flash actually exists, is it a myth, perhaps, a fantasy or a touch of the blarney what ever this was a ritual enacted every Friday and heaven help anybody who disputed its very existence!
Our team leader for this grand spectacle was a truly wonderful lady, who would have us believe that she saw it on every single occasion, and also, I think, had seen it on every single Continent. We were in awe and did our best but it was never quite good enough!
Hot and happy we bade adieu to Hamriya for another week and headed down the Sharjah road back to Dubai. Time now to shake the sand out of our hair and regroup to ensure that we were bright eyed and bushy tailed for the start of what would more than likely be another busy week.
Every so often things don’t go according to plan and this Friday evening was to illustrate this point admirably. To this day I will never know where the dreaded packet of smoked Haddock fillets came from, obviously, as far as I was concerned they were definitely a ‘must have’ when I spied them lurking somewhere in the depths of Spinney’s or Hussain’s freezers. I’m sure I would have said to Mike we are in for an absolute treat tonight smoked Haddock with a poached egg on top!
Lovely, but we didn’t bargain for what ensured. Taking one mouthful and languidly drooling over the magnificent taste I suddenly spluttered and to my great dismay seemed to have a dreaded fish bone stuck in my throat! For what seemed like an eternity I coughed, spluttered and choked with disastrous consequences, Mike was running around like a headless chicken whilst I was thinking that, perhaps, I was about to become a legless chicken!
Medical facilities in those early days were sparse and neither of us could think of what to do or where to go, surely, everything would be better in the morning. We survived the night, with difficulty, and then it was action stations, after many phone calls and exchanges of information it was deduced that there was only one ENT chap in the Gulf and he was in Bahrain, not exactly round the corner!!
By this time from what I can recall the whole of the Gulf had been alerted as to my plight All stops were pulled out and I soon found myself fastening my seat belt, having been rapidly dispatched, on a plane to Bahrain. On arrival, I was met by kind colleagues from BP, who all seemed to be dashing around with worried expressions on their faces. Between you and me think they thought they were going to meet a corpse, so no red carpet! What a shame!
I felt such a fraud but knew I had better play along with all this because, by the time they had shoved me through the Doctor’s door, I do think the bone had become dislodged. Didn’t dare say a word but the Doctor chap agreed, said he couldn’t detect any obstruction, but to oil the wheels, as it were, suggested that all would be very much better if I partook of a soothing ice cold gin and tonic, which as we all know is usually the cure for most things! He was so right!
I never did dare admit that, perhaps, it had all been a figment of my imagination and that may be the excitement of waiting for the green flash and missing it once again, had completely addled my brain sending me into a tizz wazz of monumental proportions, who knows! It was definitely an away day with a difference!
Well, Folks another little tale from yesteryear, when we really did have to make our own amusement! Sometimes with disastrous results!
Essay 50 will b e posted on Tuesday l6th February, 2016