I thought I would see Bahrain again someday, but I didn’t expect it to be this soon. But Hey — Karen’s going there on business (so the hotel room’s paid for) and I have a bunch of Air Miles burning a hole in my account, so why not?
It appears Bahrain has been getting on with life in our absence. Part-built skyscrapers guarded by tall cranes are now fully grown, operational hotels, apartment blocks, and financial centres, and new towers are sprouting from what used to be waste ground. The city shrugged off our departure from the Gulf six months ago and went on growing without us.
I’m back in the Gulf, where waiters and doormen defer to me and call me Sir. Nothing is too much trouble for them, and I like that. It makes me feel important, valued. Simple things like ordering drinks or asking for a better table always go your way here, whereas in the UK I’d be apologising for interrupting the barmaid’s personal phone conversation, and receiving a withering look for my inconsideration. I walk down to the pool and a nice (Indian) man lays out two towels over my sun lounger, erects my parasol and adjusts the angle for maximum shade, then delivers whatever I want to eat & drink; all with a smile. I am happy and content. In fact, the only flies in this ointment are… the flies.
While I’m eating by the pool it seems the Bahrain Fly Grapevine has been in full flow: “Hey, there’s a stupid Brit at the Diplomat who’s just ordered Calamari and fries. Let’s Go!!” The meal has fewer calories than those I burn, swiping at the hordes of flies who want to crap on it. Maddeningly they seem to lose interest at exactly the same time I do. I push the plate away thinking, “There. I’m done. It’s all yours.” And they disappear. It must all be about the thrill of the hunt with flies. I manage to haul my swollen belly upright just long enough to adjust my lounger to the horizontal, then collapse back down for a well-earned snooze. It is at this point that I realise the flies have just been on a break, and now, regrouped and fresh from their midair pep-talk, they return for the second half. The leftover food lacking all appeal, their attention shifts: to my legs. One by one — I swear they’re in formation — they land, tickling, on my knee, shin, ankle, big toe, and start eating/crapping/egg-laying. Whatever it is they want to do on me I don’t want it, so the swatting, wafting and flailing about begins again. I keep the fight up for around fifteen minutes before deciding we are At War, and I banish Mr. Nice Guy to the dugout.
I have a proven technique for killing flies. Forget the one-handed swat and the rolled up magazine. They’ll work one time in twenty — if you’re lucky. No, if you really want to rack up a body count you need the Chris Neal Clap.
Hold your hands about six inches apart either side of the victim’s landing zone, then clap as fast as you can. The fly detects the start of the movement and takes off to escape, but he has nowhere to go but into your rapidly closing trap above. I can’t remember when I first discovered (or invented!) this technique, but I’ve never looked back, and now neither will you.
Oh dear, I’ve gone on about flies way too much. I wanted to write a nice piece about our lovely weekend in Bahrain but it’s turned into The Poolside Fly Massacre. I guess they really got to me. The moral victory may be theirs but they paid for it with many lives.
Well… they started it!!