With the truly seismic events in Japan following hot on the heels of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand the only possible answer is yes. 8.9 on the Richter scale is a monster and the tsunami that followed made for terrible and compulsive viewing. Japan apparently moved 3m and the earth has shifted on its axis. I’ve reached the point of thinking we are like lemmings with our insatiable appetite for consuming everything the earth has to offer driving us ever nearer to the edge of the cliff.
With this in mind I was dismayed when the greedy, bonus gobbling bankers at HSBC wanted AED 450 for a loan clearance letter (standard template, change the name and account number, 30 seconds tops) and then subsequently heartened by this titbit from the latest Forbes 100 rich list. Carlos Slim Hélu, the Mexican telecoms tycoon, is unrivalled in the No 1 slot with a personal value of $74bn, an increase of more than $20bn. The next two in the list – Microsoft’s Bill Gates and the investor Warren Buffett – can only muster a lacklustre $56bn and $50bn respectively, but then they are both preoccupied with giving away most of their wealth to charitable causes.
More cause for concern
I was also very disillusioned about our collective intelligence when I discovered that Big Momma’s House 3 is whooping the King’s Speech at the box office. The latter-named movie, starring Colin Firth, made its debut at the 2010 Dubai International Film Festival and has earned $473,784 during its four-week run in the UAE. But despite sweeping the board at the film industry’s most prestigious event, ‘The King’s Speech’ is still being floored in the UAE by a comedy about cross-dressing FBI agents. ‘Big Momma’s House 3’ earned AED 1,801,645 ($490,490) in its first week of release and attracted nearly 54,000 admissions. My 14-year-old daughter, gave Big Momma’s House 3 a sympathy vote of one out of 10!
Maybe we have all been brainwashed by Hollywood into watching rubbish movies. The power of brainwashing was recently proved by a study in Germany into the efficacy of placebos, it turns out that in many cases they work just as well as the real thing. At the same time I’m reminded of my good friend David Faulkner who mistakenly served up grape juice rather than wine to his guests, by the time he discovered the error of his ways the party was going with a swing.
Cause for hope
I was privileged to go to two brilliant events last week. The first was the gala opening event of the Emirates Festival of Literature; Michael Palin was excellent, exactly as you would expect: warm, intelligent and humorous. For some reason they put him on first so some people left at the interval before the awe-inspiring Wole Soyinka came on stage. Mr Soyinka is a 77-year-old Nobel literature prize-winner from Nigeria. He looked like a mad professor, spoke intelligently with a beautiful almost beguiling accent and has in his bank of memories a truly inspiring life story which includes fighting dictatorships. His message of hope as glimpsed through the enduring virtue of human dignity had particular poignancy when set against what is happening in Libya. Gaddafi may hold back the tide but sooner or later he is going to be swept away in a tsunami of resistance amongst a people that have tasted the forbidden fruit of freedom.
The second event starring Georg Riedel was also an eye opener. Mr Riedel is a wine loving Austrian entrepreneur, tenth generation owner of family business Riedel which has created a range of glassware tailored to grape varieties. It’s difficult to explain but starting with water he demonstrated how the taste characteristics of liquids change according to which glass you drink them out of. I was king of the sceptics (and the clown that spilt a whole cup of wine over myself halfway through his talk) but oh my goodness, maybe it was magic or suggestive selling and I was struggling with the science, but a Pinot Noir that tasted scrumptious in a Pinot Noir glass tasted very average in a Cabernet Sauvignon glass. If you like your wine I strongly recommend a mid-sized investment in wine glasses that perfectly complement your favourite wines.
Mr George is the main man
Last week I suffered the worst a man can get; my BlackBerry blinked and the whole world went to sleep. I fired up Google, searched for BlackBerry repairs in Dubai, found a whole lot of comment saying that the shops selling BlackBerries are dreadful before uncovering a gem. Take a bow Mr George from Celfixx, a phone call and a quick trip later and my rescued from the bin BlackBerry is as good as new. Celfixx sort all mobiles including those pesky iPhones. Any problems call Mr George on +971 50 705 9292 or make a visit to: http://celfixx.com/
A few recommendations to end
Anyone near our office in Media City must pop in to sample our harvested tomatoes. Take at look at the ecstasy on the face of our latest visitor, Mr Chris Briers of MMI. Don’t tell MMI I told you this but the Drostdy Hof Claret wine box which is on promo this month is great value and tastes good in any container.
No films to review this week but for anyone who liked my Hold Steady recommendation check out Gaslight Anthem. More Bruce than Bruce himself.
I’ve just realised to my horror that I got through a whole blog without mentioning sport so that means a sport top five, I fancy giving footballers a go (I’m limiting myself to ones I’ve actually seen on TV).
- Paul Scholes
- Lionel Messi
- Eric Cantona
I’m expecting a deluge of abuse from Tottenham supporting chums, I just want to say sorry in advance for not including Darren Bent!