x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hardly the place for a soaking

If British expats were really interested in the kind of weather we've been having, they would go back to England.

As you will no doubt know, a fascination with the weather is a curiously British affliction. Well, I say curious. It is not really, when you think about it. Britons live in a climate in which they will merrily hang their bed sheets and underwear in the garden to dry one minute and have to scurry outside mere seconds later to unpin it all again as angry storm clouds rumble across the sky.

My father - banker by trade, sailor on family holidays - was more obsessed than most. On summers by the sea in Ireland, he would wander into the kitchen every morning, tap the barometer on the wall and announce one of two things: "Barometer's going up" or "barometer's going down". He would adjust his mood accordingly, and so would we children. Later, while living in London, the weather would dictate my daily routine. A quick peer from behind my curtains in the morning would determine whether I rode my bicycle into work or caught the bus; whether I wore ballet shoes or more robust, Land Army-type numbers; it foretold whether I had to wash my hair or not. The BBC weather site was my home page.

But then the move to the UAE. Oh glorious, happy days. Goodbye, sodden Ugg boots, hello flip-flops and bare legs. And yet, what's this? Things appear to have gone awry. The first indication was having to use my windscreen wipers on my car for spots of rain last week. Apart from the odd, cursory clean, I haven't had to turn them on properly in six months of ownership. But that's fine; a light shower is a trifle to one who grew up in Scotland.

What is not fine, however, are the recent downpours. These are not fine at all. Yes, we have tropical climes for 360 days of the year, but seriously, if I wanted an apocalyptic soaking I would return to London and dig out my gumboots. Trouble is, I have no such suitable weather accoutrements here in the UAE. A quick flick through my wardrobe last weekend revealed two jumpers (both with holes), two pairs of jeans (both with holes) and absolutely nothing in the shoe department that could prevent a nasty bout of trench-foot. I subsequently went out for lunch unsuitably dressed, and do you know how perilous a wet pair of flip-flops are? I was aquaplaning all over Jumeirah. From there to a Dubai film festival screening, which meant traipsing up a soggy red carpet with hair in matted tufts. I trailed scent of wet dog behind me.

"Oh it's been lovely and crisp here," said my mother, in a faintly smug manner from the UK when I spoke to her afterwards. I grunted back in a huff. Rain rain go away, UAE sunshine come back today.