Strange times indeed. Am in a period of transition between departing the UAE and arriving in our old new homeland, the UK. Departure has been something I am taking in my stride, mindlessly preparing for the off by filling my time packing and finishing up admin tasks in Sharjah before spending a few days with friends in Dubai and then on to the plane with X, my long-time friend and wife. I expect that the journey home will see some deeper reflection on what it has all meant but maybe not, as tiredness and a hangover are more likely to compound the generally dissolute state of mind that I have found myself in over a number of months. An inability (or unwillingness) to think and a difficulty in remembering has been something that has characterised my state of mind for several years now, beyond the specific and relatively narrow requirements of work.
What is to be done? I am happy to have no specific plans beyond deep immersion in my music collection and time spent with my wife, in addition to reacquainting myself with my mother whose health had largely dictated future calculations over the last year. The difficulty will be in gauging what happens in say a year from now; what do we do beyond raising mortgage money and paying the bills? Do we want to be there for say the next 5 years, dealing with family and working on the mideast (in my case) from the vantage point of London? I had thought that once work pressures eased (as they plainly now have) I would want for nothing more than escape from the damned region and the chance to make the most of the 15 years left for fun before old age kicks in. I am not interested in competing with the big boys in regional meltdown watch, and I have never had the patience to do what real regional experts do (learn the key local languages properly and obsess, obsess, obsess). In fact I have always found the obsession of my western peers who work on the region to be rather tiresome, wondering what is missing from their lives that the fate of the Palestinians, Iraqis or even the Bahraini Shia is something that can make them fulminate with impotent rage against local power brokers, western governments, religious intolerance (delete as appropriate).
I had thought that I could redirect my energies on something that would take me (mentally at least) far away from the accursed middle east and apply my general political nouse to wider problems. We shall see – I can’t earn money by presenting the long historical view of the strange death of the Labour Party, while condescending to step into the parochial ring to fight, fight and fight again to save the party I love is plainly a waste of my inordinate political talents. My teaching of international relations at Sharjah hasn’t really made me an incisive observer of world political trends, while my creative writing abilities (as you can no doubt tell) haven’t really improved much for 20 years. My wife however thinks that a sometime sparkling and satirical wit should be deployed in scripting socially observant plays or comic observations – I will certainly have time to pursue this possibility, but don’t hold your breath. Old dogs and new tricks come to mind. Watch this space as Deira Diary relocates from the middle east to the east end and my takes on the UK, the mid-east, old (and new) music, and, as far as possible, the world become subjects for some sometimes ill-considered reflection