Category Archives: Observations

Unilever CEO’s Harry Potter moment

A lot of us are very worried about the environment and the legacy we are leaving our children.  Big companies are having to listen because keeping in our good books helps their growth and delivers shareholder value.  Unilever used to hide behind an invincibility cloak but now it’s keen to tell us all about the brands it owns and the good stuff it is doing.

Unilever’s latest global drive, across print and digital, will feature the tagline ‘Small actions. Big difference’ and showcase some of the progress Unilever has made in improving its sustainability credentials. It will also challenge consumers to contribute to this.

The campaign, which is set to  roll out in September, will feature Unilever’s corporate logo prominently.  Unilever’s intention is that it will result in consumers having a better understanding of the diversity of its product range, which includes brands such as Persil, Surf, Dove, Lynx, Bovril and Ben & Jerry’s.

I’m off to watch the last Harry Potter film next week (personally I think Harry will make a comeback as Headmaster of Hogwarts in around 10 years) but even he would have difficulty achieving the goals set out by  Unilever chief executive Paul Polman: double sales by 2020 while reducing environmental impact.

Sad news for men

With the Arab spring drifting into summer and stalemate all over the place it’s difficult to predict what will happen next.  As an incredibly conservative Kingdom with cash to splash keeping everyone relatively happy Saudi Arabia has come through the upheavals unscathed.  Two titbits from recent coverage will further enlighten you.

From al-Qassim, “Riyadh looks like Paris and [the relatively tolerant port city of] Jeddah looks like Bangkok,” says one Saudi reformer.  One to cross off your holiday list!

And this classic from a liberal reformer:

“If you ask women all over the world if they prefer a mixed environment or to be away from men, they would choose the latter,” Duwaish, whose centre was one of the first to publish a report on domestic violence in the Kingdom, told the Guardian.  My wife has just left for the summer with a big grin on her face so maybe Mr Duwaish is onto something.

Down and out

Rebekah Wade

Rebekah Wade

In amongst the debris surrounding the closing of the News of the World I found this gem (the paper first published in 1843 bit the dust on the back of a phone hacking scandal; my mate Micky will be devastated, but not for long):

Computers at the newspaper were disconnected from the internet after the announcement that the paper would close to prevent staff from communicating their reaction via Twitter.

While I’m an old hand at Facebook (34 friends and counting) I’m fairly new to Twitter, however  in my short Twitter career it has come to my notice that my phone is the perfect vehicle for Tweets.

The world champion in cynical opportunism Rupert Murdoch has manoeuvred the situation to turn The Sun into a 7 day operation.  200 plus loyal and hard-working staff plus countless freelancers have been thrown on the scrap heap while his chosen one, Rebekah Wade, is still hoping to walk away scot-free.  Apparently The Ivy-loving redhead (soon to be seen in Dubai editing Gulf News?) didn’t know the phone hacking was going on when she was Editor, although she must have been a little bit curious about all of the exclusives coming her way.

One great Tweet that did slip out: “Brooks or NoTW? Murdoch’s ditched the wrong red-top.”

Final thought on the subject, hacks hacking has a horrible ring to it.

Pack up your property woes in an old kit bag

Regional unrest failed to revitalise the property market and while extending residency visas from 6 months to 3 years was a good move they should have been much, much bolder – 10 years minimum.  There is still so much property being delivered in an uncertain market that the only way is down.

For everyone in Dubai who is caught in the declining value trap spare a thought for the poorer people of America.  Once a multimillionairess, Miss Kluge, has just sold her mansion, once listed for £62 million, for just £9.3 million.  Ouch.

They came, they saw and they nabbed it

Like  many people living in Dubai I’ve watched the phenomenon of group-buying explode.  I get it but I don’t get it.  When times are tough you need to look after your pennies and are on the lookout for great deals.  I know plenty of people who love it but I just can’t be bothered, a good night in with a good book is taking precedence – I’ve just read a great book set in Ethiopia – Cutting for Stone a first novel by Abraham Verghese.

With news that Gonabbit has been snapped up by Living Social – well done the nabbit guys – I read quite a lot about Groupon.  Last year it was valued at $6 billion when Google were sniffing around, this year $30 billion.  Groupon has never made a profit and I think the companies offering the deals will pretty soon see it as a short road to nowhere (they hand back up to 50% of what you pay to the deal maker and deal hunters are always looking for the next deal, i.e. they never go back and pay full price).  So my advice, if anyone makes an offer – sell, sell, sell.

Glastonbury pop or rock?

The Wombles

The Wombles

I watched some if the BBC’s coverage of this year’s Glastonbury extravaganza.  I was drawn magnetically to Beyonce’s performance, what a whole lotta of woman!  It wouldn’t have happened in my day when bad boys of rock spent as much energy on dodging flying beer bottles as delivering high-octane rock.  The pick for me was Primal Scream while the low has to be the Wombles, OMG.

Top 7s

Family away so I’ve got the sound cranked up and my iPod on shuffle – I love it for reminding you of all the great music that you have forgotten.  7 (couldn’t restrict to 5, sorry) nearly forgotten fond favourites:

  • Suede: Animal Nitrate
  • Doves: Kingdom of Rust
  • Block Party: I Still Remember
  • Magazine: Shot By Both Sides
  • Psycadelic Furs: Pretty In Pink
  • The Cult: She Sells Sanctuary
  • Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen In Love

There is a very strong link between two of these bands, first one to spot it (only my answer is the right answer) and I’ll buy you lunch at the newly opened Lime Tree Café in Media City next to the mini showroom.




Filed under Observations

I’m a gay woman masquerading as an ad man!

Last week I was pondering how to increase my readership so I had a quick look around the blogs of other people who work in advertising. Lots of smart observation but it all centred on the latest thing in the world of Google or Apple or Facebook and pretty soon I was snoring. Then I came across the story of the leading lesbian blogger who this week was exposed as a man pretending to be a gay woman: Gay Girl in Damascus blog was revealed to be the fictional creation of a married male student from Edinburgh.

The day after came news that Paula Brooks, who claimed to be the executive editor of a US-based lesbian site, that “she”, too, was a man – in this case, a 58-year-old retired construction worker from Ohio called Bill Graber.

Before starting the Gay Girl in Damascus blog in February, Tom MacMaster, the Edinburgh student masquerading as Amina Abdullah Araf al Omari, had written posts on

Now the point of this story is that loads of people visited their blogs and while I have top quality visitors, there are not very many of them.  Which leads me to conclude that I need to give the masses what they want, what they really, really want.

My mate Rory (see pic below for just how close we are)!

I have to admit that I watched the last round from behind the sofa but I really shouldn’t have worried, the boy Rory is pure class. He ruthlessly destroyed the field and dispelled forever the theories of those people who thought he was a choker.

I loved this bit of fan worship from a top American golfer who simply tipped his cap and acknowledged greatness. In Brandt Snedeker’s words after the second round:

“It’s great to see him do that, especially on the heels of the Masters. I hope he can keep it going for the weekend. As a fan of golf I’d love to see him win this week. As a competitor I’d love to see myself win. We’ll see how it goes.”

My advice to Rory: never change your club manufacturer, never change your swing, never change your attitude (or as Darren Clarke said, Rory is a please and thank you person).

I was also mightily impressed with Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa who is donating his tournament earnings from 2011 to the victims of the tsunami that recently devastated the country. Ishikawa, 19, will also give $1,200 for every birdie he achieves during the year.

Keith, ATOM and Rory

Speculative bubble or sound investment?

I’ve got lots of friends who are absolutely brilliant at buying at the bottom and selling just before the market disappears over the precipice. I’ve always wondered how they do it and as I sat down today to ponder the release of 2010 Bordeaux wines en primeur the answer suddenly came to me. They wait to see what I do and then do the exact opposite. My track record is appalling. I do my homework and take a very cautious attitude on the way up and then just as we approach the tipping point I pile in! This year’s en primeur release  is widely acknowledged as being of outstanding quality and there has been an explosion in the Far East market as rich Chinese buyers snap up wines from the best estates.

For anyone who has got any money here are my tips for the top and don’t forget if all goes wrong you can always drink it (slowly!):

Lafite (first growth, £1,000+ a bottle expensive)

Mouton Rothschild (first growth, not quite Lafite but you’ll have to empty your coin bottle to buy a cork)

La Fleur Petrus (way up on last year’s release prize but still shooting out of the door)

Grand Puy Lacoste (more affordable and highly rated)

Beycheville (again in the sort of affordable bracket and the Chinese love the ‘dragon’ boat label)

Pontet Canet (big wow with the critics)

If you are interested MMI get a very good allocation of en primeur wines through their association with Emirates Airline.  You can view the wines and make up a wish list through Le Clos.

I’ve got a few contacts on the inside so if you would prefer to speak to someone please let me know and I’ll sort it.

Olympic, 2.3 million tickets left . . . for the football

Two-thirds of applicants for London 2012 tickets have been left empty-handed in the face of huge demand. A total of 21 events have sold out altogether, with only limited availability for others.

Around 1.7m of the remaining 2.3m tickets are for the football tournament, which is taking place at large stadiums around the country. Of the 600,000 remaining for other events, the next most are for (not on the beach) volleyball and hockey.

Sarah Palin has been out righted

News broke last week that extreme right-winger, Michele Bachmann, is putting her name in the hat to be the next American President.  Like all self-centred fascists she is totally against all government subsidies however there is some nice dirt on her doing the rounds. The issue is the Bachmann family farm in Wisconsin. The large rural property has been the recipient of considerable government largesse in the form of agricultural subsidies, the farm has reaped the Bachmanns about $154,000 of government cash since 2001.

Michele Bachmann

Marketing tip number one, how to win friends and influence people

Respect to the shop in Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi, who thought laterally, very laterally!

Shop front - Keep Out

Top 5 iPad2 apps

The iPad2 is a very serious bit of kit and I’m in the busy adding apps stage.  Here are my favourites so far:

  • News++: Flipboard – I don’t know exactly what it does but I can add and find all of my favourites here
  • Sport: R&A rules of golf – features a rules quiz that I’m rubbish at
  • Audio Visiual: TuneIn Radio – all of your favourite radio stations in the blink of an eye
  • Techie: Dropbox (a folder which you can add things to and access from any device)
  • Games: Space Invaders (Invaders HD) – oldie but goldie

Any tips of great apps which I can get hold of through the UAE iTunes store gratefully received.

Leave a comment

Filed under Observations

All the President’s men

The moment Bin Hamman challenged Sep Blatter (schoolboy error), he was a dead man walking.  In an email exchange with Jack Warner, the General Secretary of FIFA, Mr Valcke wondered witheringly of Bin Hammam whether the Qatari felt, by standing against Blatter, he could “buy FIFA as they (Qatar) bought the WC”.  Despite this pretty condemning evidence Qatar isn’t going to be investigated, but this one just keeps running and running.

My favourite bit of this sorry saga is Sep Blatter’s proposal to appoint a council of the wise featuring that well-known football aficionado; take a bow Placido Domingo.

Placido Domingo

Trouble at home, attack away

With Syria on the brink and their big mates Iran going through a bit of turmoil don’t be surprised if they play their joker and drag Israel into the equation. There is nothing like a bit of war mongering with public enemy number one to divert attention and drum up a bit of nationalism.

More people who are cleverer than me

A couple of years ago we had Radiohead releasing an album as a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ download.  Now the Kaiser Chiefs (of Ruby, Ruby, Ruby and I predict a riot fame) have come up with an even more cunning scheme.  They have created an amazing looking website where you can preview their songs before making up your personal album of 10 songs from the 20 available.  The album costs £7.50 and you get the option of designing an album cover and setting up a page where your friends can download your album.  For every album downloaded you receive £1, so if 8 people download your version you make 50p!

This has then been taken to the next level by people like The Guardian who have created their version of the album with the £1 going to their chosen charity – Alzheimer’s.

Top DJs have also got in on the act; really great interactive stuff and brilliantly taking technology to the next level.

The dough boys

My wife is a Krispy Krème hater and so am I right up until that moment a box arrives in our office at which point my powers of resistance disappear in a cloud of dust.  What I’ve often wondered is how a food product that screams calories is doing so well.  Apparently there are two massive trends in food right now – one is health, the other is indulgence, and both are similar in size.  Madonna is big fan and judging by his recent appearance at a press conference in Dubai so is Maradona!

Diego MaradonaKrispy Kreme have a simple but smart marketing strategy; one of their clever ruses is to allow people to buy boxes of doughnuts at cost price, and then sell them for a profit for a good cause, and many of these are schools or children’s groups such as Scouts and Guides. It’s a genius idea – raise money for charity, while getting kids to sell to other kids, and mint a whole new generation of parent-pestering doughnut-eaters.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts

The naked truth

Has anyone noticed the number of naked companies that have cropped up recently and the proliferation of naked bets?  My history of making brave bets goes back a long way and I remember doing an early-hours naked dash around a pool in Portugal and bumping into a big party of people who happened to be leaving a nearby restaurant at exactly the same time.  The latest person to fall foul of an injudicious bet is a French World Cup winner.  Former France international and Evian shareholder Bixente Lizarazu will celebrate the club’s promotion with a nude run through the town’s streets.  Go you good thing go!

More of the silly stuff

I love the ability of the British to invent games.  We quickly discovered that other countries catch up and overtake us so we keep coming up with ever more wacky games.  Chasing manically after a giant cheese down a near vertical hill near Cheltenham is one of my favourites and another is the World custard pie-throwing championship held recently in the village of Coxheath in Kent.

Custard pie contest

Top 5 silliest World Championships

  • Extreme Ironing World Championship
  • World Sauna Championship
  • World Black Pudding Throwing Championship
  • World Worm Charming Championship
  • World Gurning Championship

World Gurning Chamionship

What makes you pull funny faces?

Leave a comment

Filed under Observations

Oh my giddy aunt

Hats off to Barcelona and my favourite player, Xavi – you may remember I raved about him during the World Cup and once again he made me giddy watching his magicianship (made up word!).  I could see what was going on but I still struggled to understand how a very good team was made to look like a bunch of primary school kids chasing a ball that never stood still.  Nobody in the Man U team came even close to matching the skill and passing ability of every single player wearing the Barcelona shirt.  The only Englishman who can compete at this level is Paul Scholes but unfortunately he’s right at the end of his career.  Giggs and Carrick were no match for the Spanish masters and I very much doubt a fully fit Fletcher could have made a difference.  Even Keane, Robson and Nobby Stiles in their prime would have struggled.  Perhaps the biggest disappointment is Man U featured only three English players while Barcelona were jam-packed with Spanish geniuses.  All of this might lead you to conclude that England over achieve at international level.


Is anyone who goes for a Super Injunction a twit?

It really didn’t need a bunch of twitterers to expose Ryan Giggs, it was common knowledge already.  As a public figure you have got to expect to be exposed if you misbehave although Edwina Currie and John Major did manage to get away with a sneaky affair (probably my favourite affair of all time) until Edwina exposed herself!  Apparently Twitter are willing to give up the details of people who break the law so my advice to anyone planning to dish the dirt is to use made up personal details when they sign up from an internet café a long way from where they live.

One good thing to come out of the whole thing is this chuckler.

Ryan Giggs

Where did she get that hat, where did she get that hat?

All girls called Beatrice are great and this pic proves it.  Together with the cart-wheeling verger, Beatrice’s hat was the star of the royal wedding and even better she raised £80,000 for charity by selling it in an online auction.  Respect.

Princess Beatrice

Boom or bust?

Strange one this, everyone I speak to has diametrically opposed views.  Their cup is over-flowing or barely contains a drop.  I have Arabian Business delivered to my inbox twice a day and everyday there are major contradictions; someone bringing another 100 restaurant chains to the UAE (Landmark and Bin Hendi) while elsewhere restaurants like Tang at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi are closing.  My instinct is that the market is over-saturated and there will continue to be deals a plenty.

Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes upon the road

I studiously avoid getting involved in any hand gesturing when driving but given recent events I am nervous of being falsely accused in a game of my word against theirs.  I’m from the sticks and stones camp so if the mood takes you please free to make a rude gesture at me rather than trying to run me off the road.  The only self-preservation tactic I can think of is to get my retaliation in first and complain about everyone driving Nissan Patrols just in case they make a complaint against me.

Why are pirates called pirates?

I took the girls to see the new Pirates of the whatever the latest one is called movie the other day.  Opportunity knocked when the projector broke down during the ads.  I desperately wanted to keep my fellow movie goers entertained with my very funny pirate joke but was forcibly restrained by Florence and Beatrice.  Shame, I could have made a lot of friends and kick started my career as a comedian.

Quick review, dull, dull and thrice dull.  My girls however gave it a big juicy 8 while persuading me to add an extra 1 to my mark . . . so it’s a 1 from me.

The one good thing to come out of my Mall of the Emirates expedition was the purchase of a shiny, brand new iPad2 – I happened to show up in Virgin 12 seconds after a new batch of iPads arrived and got the last one.  It’s a serious bit of kit, very sexy, however if I had seen the BBC programme on Super Brands before I bought it there is no way anything Apple would have made an impact on my credit card.  The programme showed a huge queue of people caught up in an evangelical fever waiting for a new Apple store to open.  I concluded Apple is an extremely creepy company who want to control the world – or as one very astute student said, Apple is the sort of person who invites you to their birthday party and then controls what you are allowed to see and do.

More RIPs

Very sadly more heroes have died in the last week.  Firstly Gil Scott-Heron passed away, he was widely acknowledged as the godfather of rap and as a poet and songster he was right up there with the best of the best.  Most Famous for The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Check out Me and the devil, absolutely spell binding.

Gil Scott Heron

I also read a really sad piece about Tom Daley’s father dying of cancer at the ridiculously young age of 40.  What made me especially sad was that father of Tom was not one of those obnoxious, pushy dads, he was simply Tom’s biggest supporter.  Come on Tom, win a gold for your dad (and Plymouth!).

Tom Daley and his Dad

Top 5 most inspirational Olympic performances in athletics

In the week my Olympic tickets didn’t materialise here is my top 5 seen-on-TV (some were films!) performances on the track.

  • Usain Bolt – 100m, jaw dropping
  • Cathy Freeman – Aussie Aborigine who lit up Sydney
  • Tommie Smith – 1968 200m gold medallist and black power salute man
  • Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams – Chariots of Fire
  • Jessie Owen – won loads and made the Nazis look stupid

Leave a comment

Filed under Observations

BlackBerry apps launches at last

Finally, finally we have a BlackBerry apps store in the UAE.  For the very few of you who have followed my blog from the beginning you may recall I was saying BlackBerry is toast if they don’t sort out their apps.  The perception that Apple have more and better apps may still kill BlackBerry but at least they are back in with a fighting chance of surviving/thriving especially if they design some funky phones for BBM loving teenagers (and launch Android apps on BlackBerry as has been hotly rumoured).  My app tip of the week is WorldMate, it’s free and it’s a corker.  

Favourite ad of the month

My pick of the ads actually never saw the light of day due to a complaint by a sense of humourless M&S – killjoys.


The deal offered three items for £29 – a lingerie “main”, sex toy “side”, and flavoured lubrication “dessert”.

No sooner had I stopped chuckling than my attention was drawn to a real rib tickler.  With the football season drawing to a close and Mourinho ranting about his players being sent off, The Guardian ran a story on most obscure sendings off.  Hankies to the ready before you read on:

“On 30 April 2007, Kingsley Royal, mascot for Reading, was sent off by Mike Dean during a match against Newcastle Utd,” writes John O’Brien. “He was alleged to have strayed too close to the pitch and confused the officials, who apparently couldn’t easily distinguish between a professional footballer and a bloke in a lion costume. Despite the loss of such a key performer, Reading clung on to their 1-0 lead to take all three points.

During his next home match, Kingsley wore a T-shirt that proclaimed he was “INNOCENT” under his kit and revealed it during a pretend goal celebration.”

Kingsley the lion

What do ad agencies do?

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot.  The only answer I’ve been able to give that people relate to is that ad agencies are a big bit of Gandalf the Wizard rounded off with a flick of Harry Potter.  In essence people give us think-outside-the-box-never-been-done-before-briefs to solve yesterday.  Fortunately some clever chaps on Dragon’s Den invented a wand in the last series and I’ve never looked back (including creating a magical campaign for Air Miles in one of our finest hours).

Last week I said it was pointless showing a picture of Bin Laden, well the Americans have finally relented.  They briefed an ad agency and the agency worked it’s magic.

Politicians looking astounded 

Bad news on the heaven front

In his latest musings Stephen Hawking has stated that there is no life after death.  This is what he said:

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark”.

As I digested this bad news, up popped another story that a test has been developed that will analyse your genes to predict exactly when you die (assuming of course that the bus doesn’t get you first).

Stephen Hawking

Sad about Seve

While I sort of get where Stephen Hawking is coming from I just don’t believe Seve isn’t at this very moment showing off his miraculous powers of escape to the big guy in the sky.  Seve was the genius who inspired most golfers of my generation to take up the game.  Unbelievable to watch and over flowing with charisma.  He should have lived to shoot a two under par 68 on his 100th birthday!

My top 5 golfers that I’ve seen play (in the flesh)

  • Ernie Els
  • Tiger Woods
  • Seve Ballesteros
  • Rory McIlroy
  • My golfing mate Simon Harris!

1 Comment

Filed under Observations

Bin Laden is more dead than a very dead parrot

I’m not a great one for conspiracy theories and I really can’t see the point in publishing a picture.   All the theorists will claim it has been doctored.  Maybe we should revert to sticking heads on stakes but then again the clever people at Madame Tussauds could easily rustle up a head up for the occasion.  All I have got to say on the subject is Bin Laden is dead and the American’s lied about the alive bit.

Wanted poster Osama Bin Laden

Spanish footballers behave like toddlers

Bin Laden managed to knock the pathetic antics of Barcelona and Real Madrid off the front page for a couple of days.  Fortunately Mouriniho got involved in football, imagine him in charge of a terrorist organisation or the head of state.  I spotted the comment below in the papers and it’s given me the perfect opportunity to dust off one of my favourite ads.

What angered me intensely was the farcical way in which both sets of players, but particularly those in Barcelona shirts, showed an insatiable appetite to hit the ground like a three-year-old whose mum won’t buy him sweets.

Great ads take less than a minute

I’ve been watching an excellent Danish detective series called The Killing; think Prime Suspect with sub titles.  When I started watching it I never knew it was 20 one hour episodes so spent the entire series changing my mind about ‘who done it’.   Brilliant advertising doesn’t have 20 hours to twist and turn, it’s all about transforming simple observations into beautifully crafted short films.  The cleverness of people who can get a message over in less than a minute never ceases to amaze me.  Take a look at the ads for toffee dodgers and Specsavers for great examples of the art.  In both instances you end up entertained and really liking the brands, they stick in your mind for the next time you go shopping (I’m the person who sneaks stuff in the shopping trolley while my wife isn’t looking or if I’m sent off on my own with a shopping list I go way off piste).

A bit more about the ad

Read more here

Roadside posters have long been considered the most difficult medium in which to communicate a compelling message as you have only got a millisecond to get your message over (although I find radio ads very difficult to write, for every good one there are at least 100 shockers).  This poster example is incredibly simple but has the just the right amount of cleverness to make you like the brand.

Ocado ad

Here is a golden oldie  that seems to be targeting us boys but did amazing things for Wonderbra sales and is always worth dusting off.

Wonderbra ad

And finally here is a series of ads for the All Blacks that really caught my eye.  If England don’t win the Rugby World Cup this year (I’m not hopeful although we could be in the mix come 2015) I hope the All Blacks win, they play great rugby and it will be a travesty of justice if Richie and Dan end their careers without World Cup winners medals.

All Black poster

The Royal wedding, oops forgot

I was very kindly invited by an old friend to play Yas Links on what transpired to be the day of the Royal Wedding.  I’m not anti-Royal (it helps define our nation and attract millions of tourists a year) but I’m just not into watching weddings.  I was alerted to my absence when I read an article about brands associating their products with the Royal Wedding.  Apparently, apart from the Royal Mint, the Great British public really resented profiteering at the expense of the Royals.  So rather than enhancing a brand it turned out to be a big flop, although one brand did come up with an interesting concept.

Royal condoms

RIP our ’enry

I remember Henry Cooper being a huge hero to my Dad. he was a great boxer and a true gent who became famous for sticking Cassius Clay (as Muhammad Ali was then called) on the seat of his pants.  Those were in the days when boxing had one world champion for each weight rather than the million and one they have now.

Gorrilaz are cleverer than Stephen Hawkings in clever mode

The launch of the iPad2 in Dubai (price flash: more expensive than in America but cheaper than in England) caught one eye while news that the Gorrilaz recorded an entire album (the Fall) on an iPad struck me as astonishing.  I haven’t heard it but the reviews are pretty good and the cartoon is stunning.

For any geeks out there these are the iPad Applications Used: Speak It! Text to Speech / SoundyThingie / Mugician / Sylo Synthesiser, Sylo Synthesiser Pro / Synth / FunkBox Drum Machine / gliss / AmpliTube for iPad / XENON Groove Synthesizer / KORG iELECTRIBE / bs-16i / Mellotronics M3000 for iPad / Cleartune – Chromatic Tuner / iORGEL HD / olsynth / StudioMini XL Recording Studio / Bassline / Harmonizer / Dub Siren Pro / Moog Filtatrons


Top 5s, best synthpop albums:

  • Human League; Reproduction
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  • Heaven 17: Penthouse and Pavement
  • Moby: Play (anyone planning to go to his Dubai concert?)
  • Kraftwerk: Autobahn

All disagreers welcome.

Leave a comment

Filed under Observations

Can anyone explain these headlines?

I receive the Arabian Business round-up to my inbox twice a day and I’ve had a worrying tendency to always believe what I read.  Here are three recent examples of my urgent need to wake up and smell the M&S tea.


Nakheel to double marina berths on Palm Jumeirah

Sub headline

Dubai-based master developer currently has 522 berths, 50% of which are still unsold

And this one:

The speed limit on the main Abu Dhabi to Dubai highway will be cut to 140km per hour from Sunday.

Sub Head

A decision by Abu Dhabi traffic police to reduce the speed limit from 160km per hour was announced last week and will be enforced on Sunday, UAE daily Emirates Business reported on Saturday.

What were all of those signs saying 120km all about?

And my favourite:


Expat arrivals push UAE population to 8.26m in 2010

No comment!

Did Rory choke or was he pushed?

I’m a huge fan of Rory McIlroy and even after he unravelled on the back nine at The Masters I still think he is a golfing genius with a swing to die for.

This bit from The Telegraph (take note David Faulkner) made me chuckle.  For all the suddenness of his elevation to golf’s aristocracy, there is still an endearing touch of the tear away about McIlroy.  His resemblance to Dennis the Menace is so striking you half-expect him to have packed a pea-shooter alongside his seven-iron. It is more than skin-deep, too: on the eve of the Masters, the young scamp had to be told off by an Augusta neighbour for playing football too loudly outside his rented house.

While on the subject of top sportsman I enjoyed Andy Murray trying to be grumpy for Red Nose Day.  Tough going when you’re being assailed on all sides by the cast of Outnumbered.

How to lose friends and alienate people

Being a partner of the Olympics must bring many benefits but in my opinion Visa has got it horribly wrong.  By all means feature added benefits from paying for Olympic Tickets with Visa but it’s a shocker that they only accept Visa.  They then compound it by telling us that they are proud of giving you one option only.

We are proud to accept only Visa.

South Africa becomes a BRIC

BRIC is now BRICS as South Africa becomes the latest country to join the grouping that are gearing up to put an end to America’s dominance of the world economy.  And no, the B doesn’t stand for Britain, we had our turn in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The countries about to take centre stage are Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.

The age of digital hasn’t quite arrived yet

For the many of us who have become obsessed with the digital age citing Facebook and Twitter as being at the forefront of the regional unrest across the region I learnt a thing or two from Faisal J Abbas during his interview on World Service.  Faisal is a Saudi living in London who writes a very informative blog.  One of his points was that Al Jazeera (one TV station) is watched by around 40 million people across this region, about the same number who are connected to the http://www.  Also Yemen and Syria are a very long way down the list of connected countries.  He also reminded me of one of my favourite, but long forgotten, sayings: Reputation arrives on foot and leaves on horseback.

When to give up

I loved MG and longed to own an MG GB GT (or whatever the sporty one was called) but unfortunately the brand became so tarnished that they should have kept it out of its misery.  Instead some misguided people from China are having a go and instead of recreating a heritage brand they have decided to go mainstream and compete against the Ford Fiesta.  No cigar.  VW show how to refresh the parts of a brand that other manufacturers cannot reach with their latest incarnation of the Beetle.

MG Cars old and new

MG - Old and new

New Volkswagen Beetle

The new Volkswagen Beetle

T Mobile strikes again

For those of you that watched the brilliant Heathrow ad, T Mobile have come up with another wonderful creative that is also right on the topical money.  They did a bit of borrowing from an actual wedding that went viral and then splashed the cash and added a big dollop of brilliance to create the ultimate Royal Wedding video.  As Coke once said, enjoy!

Still on the subject of the Royal Wedding bad news for Queenie, apparently they are treating Will and Kate’s coming together as a dry run for her funeral.

You tube laughs

According to my teenage girls I’m miles off the pace when it comes to You Tube classics.  This one made me laugh and laugh to the point of lots of tears.  45 million views, wow (and then I remembered that’s how many people watch Al Jazeera everyday).

Tips of the week

I wish I could do a film review but I haven’t been inspired to go for a while.  Any recommendations very welcome.  Fortunately there is some good music to get into although I don’t think I will please any of the people any of the time with this week’s choice – Yuck (I liked the name).  It all comes at you with through a wall of fuzz, sort of Strokes with a bit of punky attitude.

My wife has just pitched in with a recommendation to visit the Farmer’s Market at Souk Al Bahar, Friday’s 10 to 4 p.m.  Sally returned with a big bag of fresh produce for a bargain basement price including a punnet of caterpillars that turned out to be mulberries.

Next; top 5 covers

  • Mott the Hoople; All the young dudes
  • Muse; Feeling good
  • Clash; Police and thieves
  • White Stripes; I just don’t know what to do with myself
  • Jeff Buckley; Hallelujah

All comments and random thoughts welcome.

1 Comment

Filed under Observations