OLD MAN’S RANT – No. 27 – APRIL 2017

With oil-prices low and indeed the endless troubles in the Arab world, the last few months… ok years… ok you win, decades… have been so disappointing. How disappointing? Well, you’ve reached your 50s and wake up with a morning glory, but looking down with pride, you see your nose is blocking it out.  Yeh, that disappointing! Or you have 3 mates turn up and you open your fat bloated, expensive bag of Lays potato crisps to offer them one and you have to go without.

The GDN tells us daily that; ‘Bahrain is on the crest of prosperity and it is only moments away’. If you believe that, you surely believe Herpes was a Greek God. Low oil prices and on-going troubles in the Middle East and at home, trying to earn even enough to pay the grossly exorbitant rents that landlords are still trying to charge causes enough stress to give us all giant aneurysms. The only rent adjustments Bahrain has ever seen are stupendously upwards. You’d have more luck trying to persuade your landlord to have sex with Lorena Bobbitt than get him to lower your rent. Likewise, lady landlords too and there are plenty, so that smile, concocted flirt and pleasantries are utterly wasted. Their time is soon though and it won’t be just 10% off rents; their buildings will be unoccupied.

Maybe it is only media that is in trouble, with hundreds of thousands of iPhones or similar out there clicking away. Yep, everyone is now an instant video expert or interviewer. ‘Screw the quality!’ shouts the client, social media is free and we seem to have a society which cannot tell the difference between levels of professionalism or quality creative art. Well, without good professional media baby, you ain’t really got a credible country.

The government of Bahrain are building houses for their nationals at a phenomenal rate compared to many other governments around the world. None of that helps the expatriates who still believe in Santa Claus and continue to pour in looking for that pot of gold. Just the electricity and water charges as high as the towers they supply is enough to contradict that notion. With wages stagnant at rock-bottom, we have as much chance of getting a pay rise as one would fulfilling a dream of farting in Buckingham Palace.

Demographics have changed drastically since the boom time 80s with so many expats now just basically cheap labour and the like, thus the level of sophistication has dropped dramatically.  That is not good for the bigger picture and certainly not good for artistic, creative media as witnessed with the appalling standards on show out there and on radio. Few see or perceive anything wrong with it, so take the money and run. What money? Or is it that the nation doesn’t care because that is what they have been fed for so long now and if; ‘You give the people crap, they want more crap, if you give them quality, they want better’, said some ranting artist once upon a time.

How can we put this without upsetting the PC apple cart?  Oh who cares?  Just claim you suffer from Tourette’s syndrome and loudly shout FXXX IT! Really though, looking around it is quite frightening. George Lucas and Disney could find enough oddities to cast Star Wars #204 and Beauty and Beast #2 respectively. Incidentally, the latter cartoon has been banned in Kuwait because one of the characters is homosexual. Quite why Disney felt compelled to ‘bend’ even a cartoon character as such is beyond PC obsession, but hey he won’t miss the million or so revenue. Anyway, that’s by the by.

Getting back on track; what will Bahrain do when the milch cow can no longer survive and the church charity coffers are empty having supported so many who stupidly hung on, deluded that it will surely get better. ‘Expatriates earn big bucks’! That is a fallacy, but a very few get a good wad and some do get their rent paid which goes with utilities thrown in, but that is just another excuse now for landlords to increase rents. Of course, what seems like a very low wage here, was considered a good pocket from whence they came and the Bahraini ‘Arbabs ‘ have cashed in plenty. However, with the current situation, new intakes might find themselves as disappointed as a bald Sikh.

Do you remember when the first Russians started arriving, just after Glasnost. Poor they were, but not anymore and now represent the more affluent among the tribes. There was a spoof radio show done at the time, which in those days could NOT be aired for fear of having no more use for nail varnish. The scene was in an aeroplane and the so-called main character was sitting next to a Russian. In conversation it was mentioned that so many Russians were heading in and he asked the guy; ‘Why are so many Russians flocking here’? To which the heavily accented Russian replied; ‘Because “flocking” for Dollars better is’.

Nothing ever comes down in Bahrain, except trousers in one of the million massage parlours now clocking up the number of new business setups that we so frequently hear boasted about. The business acumen in Bahrain generally follows what he or she did down the road, since rocket science is not so much part of the school curriculum on Fantasy Island. Very little outside the government or privileged few invest in manufacturing or science technology, which of course creates industry and jobs, even if you have to employ expatriates to run it, it generates business all round. Well, a lot more than a single watchman at the bottom of your high-rise apartment block.  Anybody see a ‘Catch 22’ here?  Anything that is considered no qualifications required, such as advertising agencies and obviously massage parlours of which there are just as many, is the way to make bucks with no real expenditure.  So open another sharwarma shop and fill roads and gardens with more wasted flyers. Good Tamkeen money to the wind.  OR, like a leggy synchronized swimmers aerial foot fest, build yet another 200-apartment high-rise and snag at least one big budget American from the base and cash in.  Curious as to just who is taking up this mass amount of residential and office space; as dusk falls, we all so often look skyward to see how many lights are on in the blocks, thinking; ‘Is there anyone living there or has anyone taken office space’. You spot one light, maybe two and think; ‘My God! It’s like those Lays crisps packs (mentioned earlier)’.