Three Years in the Desert

Two days ago marked the 3rd anniversary of my emigration from the UK.  Just before I left, I put up this post on my old blog, saying I’d be going away for 4-5 weeks.

This is normally how British expats become so.  They are sent away for a few weeks’ business, and never come back.  They have a revelation similar to that of the Soviet soldiers who arrived in Germany in 1944 to discover that ordinary farmers had such luxuries as mirrors, clocks, and china cups in their houses – items which were so rare in ordinary Soviet society that the soldiers initially mistook these German farmers for aristocracy.  

Many a Brit travelling abroad finds the developing world to be no more filthy than the streets of London, but notices that he is not paying for the privilege of having a local council pretend to keep the place clean. 

He laughs heartily when he recalls a salesman once trying to flog him some Vauxhall for thirty thousand quid, and runs his hand over the smooth wing of a Beamer which for the same price is much more to his liking.  Upon purchasing a DVD player for the bedroom, he is not offered a monthly payment plan to cover the purchase because it is not ridiculously overpriced in the first place.  (Being offered a financial plan for anything other than a house or car is a sure sign you are being ripped off big style.)

Should he fall sick, he finds £50 and a twenty minute wait to be preferable to the National Health system whereby you wait so long to see a doctor that the body can heal a severed limb of its own accord.  The envy of the world, he learns, is not much envied around the world.

He is at first taken aback by the poverty in which many of his new neighbours live, but this is quickly met with delight to find that scrotes are a uniquely British phenomenon.  He can climb on a bus with the poorest of the poor, yet will be spared the pantomime of some degenerate decked out in three hundred quids’ worth of shell suit and Rockports arguing with the driver over the sixteen pence difference of a juvenile fare.

His joy is further compounded by his being able to watch TV without receiving threatening letters from the state demanding he pays for a channel containing shite which he doesn’t want to watch.  True, he gets annoying flyers for umpteen equally shite cable channels shoved under his door, but then nobody slaps him with a fine for throwing these straight in the bin.

In my case, I may be growing a little tired of the Middle East, but the chances of me going back to the UK any time soon are pretty damned slim.  I’ll be an expat blogger for a good while yet.

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10 Responses to Three Years in the Desert

  1. You sound a little bit “white man burden”-ish today, don’t you?

  2. Tim Newman says:

    Do I? It was supposed to be more of a commentary on the current state of affairs in Britain than anything else.

  3. You failed to mention that it would appear that London is now charging for breathing. At least it is the only explanation I can come up with for burning through GBP200/day with nothing, not even a taxi receipt, to show for it.

    I am happier in sunny Moscow.

  4. Andy says:

    Time for me to up sticks from dusty old London, suffering from it’s very own heatwave and water shortages, and head over to the cool, liquid paradise that is the Middle East, I think.

    PS – where do I go to buy that Beamer?

  5. When I left home I told my friends I’d be back in a year or two… This was 13 years ago… I have new friends now

  6. Alison says:

    As I countdown to my arrival in Dubai i have found myself frequently asking myself if I am doing the right thing – thank you for removing any doubt!

  7. Leisure Suit Larry says:

    What are “scrotes”??

    Being an expat can be cool. I found out long ago that when we work in these “third world countries” or now they call them developing countries, I went from lower middle class in U.S.A to lower upper class in Iran.

    One thing to never forget it can change in a heartbeat. Compare Tehran 74′ to Tehran 79′. Basrah was great in July 80. Sept. 80 the Iranians bombed us and we lost around 7 expats.

    Don’t get too comfortable. Always remember you’re an infidel. Keep a contingency plan. Murphy’s laws apply to daily life. Read Rogers Rangers standing general orders.

    Be alert stay alive.

  8. Tim Newman says:

    What are scrotes??

    Same as a “chav”. I’m sure you had another name for them in your day, Larry.

  9. Duffy says:

    If you’re not long for Dubai and not returning to Airstip One where will you go?

  10. Tim Newman says:

    If youre not long for Dubai and not returning to Airstip One where will you go?

    Russia, without a doubt.

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