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Say yes to what?

One of the things we first noticed when we moved to the middle east was the television. Unless you are willing to pay a subscription, the English channels available are extremely limited. To be fair, that is understandable, we don’t have too many Arabic speaking channels in the UK.

By USAF (Los Angeles AFB) – http://www.losangeles.af.mil/art/media_search.asp?q=aehf&btnG.x=0&btnG.y=0 [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3352085
So, we bit the bullet and took out a subscription to a local satellite provider and hey presto, we now have as many channels as we had in the UK. The number of English speaking channels has certainly increased, we now have Discovery, several movie channels, BBC First, ITV Choice and quite a few more, including the inevitable twenty-four-hour news channels that rarely have twenty-four hours’ worth of news with which to fill their air time.

Of course, we have the good old BBC and ITV to fall back on; a bit of home right here on our doorstep in Bahrain. Well, actually not as much as you would think.

It seems that someone at these illustrious channels has something of a distorted idea of what an expat might like to watch. Some of the programmes are relatively up to date, for instance, Coronation Street and East Enders are within twenty-four hours or so of the first UK broadcast; terrific if you like soaps. (My idea of a soap is confined to something you would use in the shower, but my wife likes some of them, so I am now up to date with what goes on in the streets of Weatherfield.) Most of the other offerings are at least a season out of date and repeated endlessly (no change on that score then.)

Now obviously, these cannot make up all our TV viewing time so my wife searches further afield and has come up with the TLC channel, an American cable network, showing a variety of programs, and here’s the important part, in English. (Yes, I know, American isn’t English, I hear you say, but to be fair, they do get most of the words right.) So, all is happy in our household when it comes to TV then, right?

Wrong! Her most popular programme on this channel is ‘Say Yes to The Dress,’ set in an upscale bridal boutique in New York. Before I came to Bahrain, I had no idea what a sweetheart neckline, A-line dress, raglan sleeve, mermaid or pick-up were (mermaids live in the sea as far as I’m aware, and the latter I always believed to be something you drove, or did in a bar.)

© Dm_Cherry/Shutterstock

Quite how this knew-found knowledge will help me as an aircraft engineer, I’m not sure, but you can bet your bottom dollar if one of the victims in my books is a bride, there will be one hell of a description of what she is wearing.



Please Remember

Every day, somewhere in the world a tragedy occurs. Some are enormous, such as the 2004 boxing day tsunami which was responsible for the deaths of between 230,000 and 280,000 people, not to mention the devastation to the coastal areas, affecting countless numbers, across many countries.

Then there are the individual tragedies, such as an unexpected death in the family, affecting only a hand full of people. For those involved, the scale of the tragedy is unimportant.

Occasionally, something happens which affects a disproportionately large number of people and that’s what happened last week in Ireland. Whilst on the way to provide assistance to a rescue at sea, the crew of Coastguard Helicopter Rescue 116 were lost in the line of duty.

We have a saying about families in Lancashire, kick one and we all limp. The emergency services community is a tightly knit one and a loss in any of the branches is felt by all; this past few days everyone is limping. For a few years, I was a member of that family, but as with all families, you never really leave, and I don’t mind telling you, I’m limping too.

Most of the time, the people who ensure our safety or come to our aid in times of trouble, are invisible; out of sight, out of mind. Please don’t let it be that a tragedy such as this is the only time we remember them.

Emirates Festival of Literature

Emirates Festival of Literature

Last weekend, my wife and I were lucky enough to get a chance to go to the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai. This festival has been in existence since 2009 and is an opportunity not only to purchase a

The Burj Khalifa early morning. (Taken from our hotel room)

selection of books, but to see and hear the authors talk about their work.

Unfortunately, we were only able to spend one full day at the festival, but manage to cram a lot into that day, starting off by having a chat with the lovely Sue Moorcroft, Romantic Fiction author; an arrangement we had made earlier in the week.

Kathy Reichs is a name you will either know well or have never heard of, depending on the type of books you like to read. Whether you know Kathy or not, I suspect most of you will have heard of the TV series, Bones, and that is based on the forensic anthropologist character of Temperance Brennan, featured in her novels. The interview with Kathy, conducted by the talented Paul Blezard was in my opinion, far too short; the hour flew by. Paul’s relaxed style made it feel as though we were at dinner with a couple of friends discussing their work.

After this feast for forensic lovers, my wife and I parted company, temporarily I might add, whilst I went off to do a two-hour workshop on screenwriting; a subject in which I am very much interested. Conducted by the talented Nicholas Forzy, I was soon immersed in the intricacies of setting scenes and creating characters. His dynamic approach to the subject had us all caught up in the excitement of creating a world of characters for the screen; again, it was over, seemingly almost before it had started.

Another session with Kathy Reichs, this time on stage with another

By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12082893

talented writer, Andrew Davies, whose historical screenplay adaptations are widely acclaimed by TV and cinema audiences alike, was our first fayre after lunch. Again, the stage was oozing talent, and not without its moments of comedy too, when someone asked if Kathy Reichs thought President Trump would make a good character in one of her books; “As a victim?” Kathy asked.

It is many years since I picked up a Jeffrey Archer novel, so many, that I am not sure even of the title, but there is no doubt he has a large and loyal following. Our final session of the day was an audience with the man himself. Love him or loathe him (much like Marmite), without a shadow of a doubt, that man knows how to entertain an audience and tell a story.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to the festival, grab it with both hands. I will be back next year, as a member of the public if need be, but I do intend to go back one day as an attending author and talk about some aspect of my own work.


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