So, here we are, living in a foreign country and I am asked so many different questions by different people that I thought I would jot down some answers. Here is the first:
What's the TV like?
TV is complete and utter rubbish. We have a few English channels for our cable subscription of about £15 a month. One of which is BBC Prime.
I am actually a huge fan of the BBC in general - I think they make some of the best TV programmes out there - especially dramas and historical dramas. In theory, some of them should be on BBC Prime? Well, so you would think.
The BBC should be ashamed of themselves exporting the kind of rubbish we pay to see. Peak time programming (from 7pm tonight) is Next of Kin (last aired in the UK in 1997), Keeping up Appearances Episode 1 (first showed in the UK in 1991), Staying Put (a home improvement show that I have never heard of), and Trading Up (a property show allegedly shown in 2001).
The children are happy - they get the range of Disney Channels ranging from cartoon channels to the movie channels and to be honest, I like them too. Before you think I have regressed into my childhood because of the pitiful adult programming, I haven't really. I love Disney for two reasons:
1 - it keeps children children for longer - sweet, mostly innocent stuff (OK, let's forget that The Lion King's father was murdered, that Bambi suffered a terrible ordeal and Cruella cut up little puppies for their fur) - Mickey Mouse, however, captivates the little ones!
2 - there is NO advertising! We realised the other day that we had no idea what to buy the kids for their birthdays and the simple reason is that they don't see anything advertised so they have stopped demanding anything. Believe it or not, they are actually using the toys they already have, the favourite being Lego.
We also get Emirates News . . . . well, this will deserve it's own separate blog entry - let's just say for the time being that the news is heavily censored here and if it weren't for the Internet (oh, and The Sun being imported) I wouldn't really know what was going on in the outside world. (I am perhaps being unfair, we do get BBC World, which is marginally more interesting than BBC Prime!)
So, Tim and I exist on the good old fashioned art of conversation - and when that runs dry, we stick on a DVD or boot up the PC.
Don't, whatever you do, come here for the TV!
What about the Radio?
The radio is actually pretty good - there are pile of local (Dubai) English speaking FM radio stations - it does feel as though they are always playing tracks from the same old records - you can almost tell when one of them gets a new CD!
We have a Dubai "chatting" radio station - a bit like London's LBC radio, which is generally OK, albeit a little slow, but it covers a whole range of Dubai news, such as property but never politics.
Radio in our house is a different matter though - before we left we bought a Roberts radio from John Lewis (I so miss that shop) which picks up a signal from the internet. Quite how it works I really have no idea, but you can listen to any radio station in the world. Ours is tuned to BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4, London's Capital Radio and some Sri Lankan radio station for our maid, Sujartha!
One thing Tim is really getting into over here - primarily I think because he is stuck in so many traffic jams - is texting the local station. So far, he has won a pile of books on Dubai and a Nokia phone (all in the last month). The children are getting into it too - the breakfast show is hosted by Catboy & Jordybird - a husband and wife team from the UK who do provide a British sense of humour to an otherwise boring 7am traffic jam. Oliver regularly quotes the text number to me and the kids have already had a few of their comments read out on the radio. The current topic is in relation to the radio station giving out a large Mother's Day prize . . . . children have to text in with the reason why their mum should have the prize.
So far, Tim has texted in the following suggestions from our children - all read out live on air by the way:
From Oliver, age 5 "because my mummy is warm and cuddly" (yes, it's 40 degrees outside and mummy is still trying to lose weight) and
From Ella, age 3 "because I love her" (ah)
We didn't win!