I’ve visited Dubai several times for work or while passing through en route to another destination. | ULTIMA HORA


End of an Army

How sad I was to hear of the passing of actor, Ian Lavender, the youngest of the cast of the successful British sitcom, Dad’s Army. I have such happy memories of watching this show with my family and absolutely loved the madcap and hammy humour. I was also surprised to learn that one episode in 1972 attracted 18.6m viewers, a far cry from the kind of audience figures for TV shows today. Mind you, the dross served up on most TV channels, would hardly encourage viewing. There was something so wonderfully innocent and charming about this truly multigenerational series. While older audiences loved the pomposity and ridiculous yet endearing gravitas of Captain Mainwaring, younger viewers perhaps related more to young Private Pike, played by Lavender. The immortal line of ‘stupid boy!’ uttered as a punch line by Mainwaring always had the family in stitches. It’s such a shame that few golden comedies such as this exist today. My all-time favourite has to be Fawlty Towers with John Cleese. I simply cannot recall how many times I’ve watched the series, but I know some of the best sequences off by heart, as do other members of the household.

So, farewell to lovely Lavender, who at 77, left us too soon. The gentle giant really seemed to have enjoyed a rather lovely, happiness filled and successful life which is so good to know. Afterall, he and the other cast members gave so much joy to others.

Perilous parties in Dubai

I’ve visited Dubai several times for work or while passing through en route to another destination. In all honesty, I’ve never wanted to hang out there for more than a couple of days and I’m always aware that there is a strict local code of conduct and that also applies – to some extent - to dress attire too. It’s screamingly hot most of the year, and there’s little to do once you’ve sat on a camel, had henna tattoos, and explored the desert and limited wildlife. In the centre of sterile Dubai there’s a little historical and cultural zone but it’s a trip you could polish off in a morning. Fake handbag shopping is, it seems, the main attraction and hanging out by the water or in the lavish hotel pools and bars. Boring.

That’s why I’m always amazed that people actually choose to go there on holiday. The hotels are very las Vegas, it’s true, with humungous spas, pools, and lobbies and multi restaurants and there are cheap all-in deals aplenty. The bedrooms are mostly big enough to play a game of golf and towels are fashioned into swans, if that’s your thing. Other than that, I honestly can’t see what else it’s got going for it. There’s also the horrifying thought that you might find a whole load of loud Z listers staying in your hotel, flown out on a cheap deal by some reality TV production company.

So, what the heck was Ian Mackellar, a British retired economics professor, and his wife, doing in this manmade glitzy destination? In fairness, it transpires that the couple was only there to visit their daughter and grandchild, but I imagine they’ll be regretting that decision for the next decade. Mackellar made the seemingly fatal mistake of complaining about noise to a group of local revellers at a New Year’s Eve party in a neighbouring flat and a spat ensued. The professor ended up with a trespass complaint and the promise of a prison sentence and hefty fine. At the age of 74 and with a heart condition, it didn’t sit too well with his wife and he allegedly spiralled into depression.

After a nail-biting period, the authorities in UAE have apparently shown leniency, heavy cough, and only fined him £665. I’m happy that the pensioner is now back home and no longer under the threat of incarceration. All the same, what was he thinking? I would never ever go to Dubai and upset a local, complain or abuse any of the rules of the destination. You do so at your peril. As a foreigner you must accept that you are always in the wrong. Next time he should insist that his daughter comes back home to see him and his wife in Blighty instead.

There are so many nicer, more stimulating, and cultural places to visit without the constant fear of being thrown into jail for saying or doing the wrong thing. I simply cannot understand why people are willing to take the risk.

A Burns supper to remember

Being married to a Scot means that Burns Night is an important occasion and happily for us we were able to spend the annual event once more in the authentic inland town of Lloseta where Es Garum restaurant created a Burns Night to remember. Larger than life, talented Chef and restaurant owner, David Palomo, in collaboration with renowned private Scottish chef, John Watret, devised the most mouth-watering five course Scottish menu. It was accompanied by a delicious whisky aperitif, local wines and scrumptious desserts. John Watret gave a dramatic and spellbinding performance of the ‘address to a haggis’ by Robert Burns which was originally written and published in 1786. Well-known British resident, John Lambourne, welcomed all of us guests into the restaurant to the sound of the cheery bagpipes. Here’s to next year!