Monday, 31 May 2010

Now on ME time

that's Middle Eastern 'In šāʾ Allāh' type timeframes, so the Iraqi Airways flight scheduled to leave at 9.30am left three hours late. Not much fun hanging round at Terminal 2 in Dubai believe me.

Spent the rest of the day looking at one of the major contracts we have, met the management team and toured the facilities before being transported to the accommodation in a 3 car personal security detail with my flack jacket and helmet on...very fetching & just what you need in this temperature...NOT! :o/

Now safely ensconced in the villa which is in the middle of the green zone. Quite a big place with offices downstairs and bedrooms etc. on the upper floors. There's also a small swimming pool but I think it safest to refrain from using that in case of upsetting the guys, we could do without having to distract them from their work for counselling ;o)

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Ready for the off

Car's collecting me shortly and the journey begins! The HR Director for Iraq is very kindly meeting me in Dubai and we're going to head to the hotel for a cuppa & a shower before returning to the airport for check in at the very dubious Terminal 2 for the IA flight 'no sleep 'til Baghdad!!!' Wasn't that what the Beastie Boys were singing? ;o)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

One step forward

two steps back...

Got a phone call last night to say my Dad had been rushed into hospital unable to breathe. They've run some tests & X-rays and discovered he'd got an infection on the lung which they removed the tumour from so they kept him in. Fortunately they've now decided it's treatable so have let him home but will monitor the situation.

As if that's not enough to be fretting about, Gulf News reported that Iraqi airways have been dissolved! Rallyman tried to reassure by telling me that the whole thing is a technicality to change the name and get them off the hook with Kuwait and reckons it will all blow over quickly but I can't help wondering whether I might get stranded in Dubai or Baghdad!!! I'm very conscious that the sum of my necessities for a week are crammed into a handbag & carry on case (& that includes my laptop!) on the basis that at least that way I can be sure I arrive with some belongings as I somehow doubt the guys will be able to lend me anything suitable & reckon it's a fair assumption the shopping experience in Baghdad is probably not up to much ;o)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Off on my travels again

It's been greatcoats on, greatcoats off, regularly for the last couple of weeks due to the operational tempo out in Iraq, but things are now slightly more settled so the trip's firmly back on the agenda and I fly out this weekend. The environment over there is slightly more dangerous than Afghanistan at present due to the political unrest etc. Consequently I've been allocated a dedicated Close Protection guy and will travel everywhere in a convoy of three cars with mine in the middle to minimise the risk...all feels slightly surreal but surprisingly I reckon I can deal with it.

Think I’ve got what I need clothes wise, but need to pick up some bits my boss recommended since she got back; anti-bacterial gel, travel toilet roll and one of those micro towels...sanitation is not as we know it Jim. As per usual I'm only able to take a carry-on case so it'll be a bit of a creative packing challenge!! Gather there’s no hot water in the villa where I'll be based and that the bathroom is across the landing overlooking the offices…don’t ask!!!

Monday, 24 May 2010

Spent the weekend

up at my parents. Dad is now out of hospital but looking decidedly frail, not only as a result of the op and the subsequent pneumonia, but as he’s hardly eaten whilst he was in there. I did my best to do a food stock run which would include stuff that might tempt him and Mum’s been virtually force-feeding him with his favourite bits not to mention generally fussing over him…not sure how long his patience will last ;o) The weather was beautiful so I persuaded him to sit outside for a bit and get a change of scenery. We're all hoping that being back at home will speed the recovery process.

Friday, 14 May 2010


the blog of late but have a sound excuse. My dad was diagnosed with cancer which, goes without saying, was a bit of a shock. People may criticize the NHS but, from what I’ve seen, they’ve been faultless. From the initial suspicion they ran a battery of tests and had him lined up for an op very quickly. The upshot is I took him into hospital last Sunday whilst they filled in copious forms, carried out risk assessments, took blood and did swabs etc. He also had to see the anesthetist whom it turned out was Ukrainian so half the conversation regarding the type of pain relief he might want was carried out in Russian, as you do....!?!

The surgery seems to have gone well and they're confident they've removed the tumor so hope he won't need further treatment. He's now hooked up on various drips, epidural pain relief and has tubes sticking out of his chest but he's through the worst bit and in the right place to make a good recovery.

The Nurses have been great...they look after him so well, and are genuinely caring, plus, being Scousers, they also inject a lot of warmth & humor which I am sure will aid the recovery process.

My boss has been lovely allowing me to work around things even though I’ve only been with the company such a short amount of time. It's very weird being back in your childhood home and working... feels slightly surreal...did a telecom with the MD of Jersey in my PJs, had a discussion on the Occupational Health provision, chatted to the auditor, and carried out a catch up with my Ops guy in London... during which morning coffee & biscuits arrived courtesy of Mum - way better than being in the office! :o)

Have tried my best to distract Mum & try to ensure she didn’t fret too much by taking her for out and about for mooching about sessions. We went out for afternoon tea then went for a bit of a drive ending up at a fab garden centre where I bought loads of new plants for my garden...variation on the archetypal woman's shoe fetish ;o) Slightly distracted by everything that’s been happening, stopped up at a road junction, car in front of me pulled away and then slammed on the breaks for no reason...the driver's now got a very crumpled boot :o( No damage whatsoever to the Audi but not ideal on day 2 of ownership. Oops!

Feel guilty going back to Malvern but there's not much more I can do here and Mum's got the next lot of support services lined up so I guess I'm off duty until he comes home.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Malvern makes it into the 6 o'clock news headlines

Turns out I wasn't joking about the media scrum!! TV vans and journalists from Sky, & the BBC plus press all over the blinking place. Normally very 'nice' & sedate, the place was heaving with half on Malvern stuffed into the pub & patio. Loads of people with flags, banners & placards plus the 'battle bus'. Initially things were all very civilised, and the sprogs capitalised on the occassion with Strident Student caught on camera asking a question about tuition fees for Post Grads, and giving a quote to the local press, whilst Minor Mayhem was mentioned in passing by Nick for giving him the thumbs up about a comment on the Lib Dems education policy. This genteel session then disintegrated into a bit of a fracas when a local Conservative Councillor got somewhat too pushy & vocal so was wrestled out by Special Branch with the police arriving pretty pronto. The ensuing excitement gridlocking the entire area! Whole thing was captured on Sky TV & broadcast to the masses probably the only time the place has ever had this level of media attention!!

Massive media scrum

predicted as Nick Clegg descends upon Malvern this afternoon encamping in the Nags (my local). Kids are hugely excited as all three have become strident Liberal Democrat supporters despite the fact that only one is actually able to vote. I'm amazed by the level of interest they've all shown in politics, watching the debates, reading the press and commenting on the reports in the media...makes me feel quite apathetic in comparison.