The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed -

Graham Author Page

Monday, November 15, 2004

Holiday season

‘Bonking’ Boris Johnson could do with a break. He’s certainly got time on his hands after his sacking from the Tory front bench. (When are British politicians going to learn to be as relaxed about sexual matters as their European counterparts seem to be?)

Several times this year I too have been in need of a break too. (Getting sacked for sexual misconduct was not part of the deal, FYI.) The first time, fresh from being on a panel with the extremely sharp and youthful Breaking Boundaries crowd, I went to beautiful Firenze. This time, the substantially less romantic Dubai beckoned, by way of a PR junket of sorts.

According to Lynn Barber of The Observer, 'Dubai is unquestionably the ugliest city in the world - there should be a socking great sign at the airport saying "Abandon all taste, ye who enter here." It's true that there's a strong architectural belief that there's no building that can't be improved be adding gold and mirrors to it. It's also true that the Sheikh is building a man-made island peninsula in the shape of a poem, so astronauts can read his doggerel from space. While eating establishments boast of serving fine food since 1996, tour guides point to a range of things you wouldn't normally pay to see: 'the crater on your left is where hardcore was extracted to support the creation of the largest handmade, man-made mountain in the world' (completion pending). And so it goes on.

Barber is horrified by this cultural exchange of Arab and chav aesthetics. Personally, I was impressed. The local elite expects the oil to run out soon, and so are shifting towards a tourist infrastructure to see them through the times ahead. Eschewing the logical option to build in the desert - no 'brownfield sites' here, Mr. Prescott - instead they have a frontier spirit about knocking up new buildings while seldom relying on cowboy builders for the prestige project. A bit of democracy wouldn't go amiss though.



Post a Comment

<< Home