yoojad your stupid face, unfortunately

It’s days like this that just make me want to give up.

I’m sure Jonathan Swift has some immensely famous quotation something to do with geniuses appearing in the world and facing confederations of dunces, but I really can’t be bothered with that. It also doesn’t really apply.

It’s always baffled me why anyone wants to be my friend. I’m a cunt. Yes, I’m a hilarious, charming, insightful, cultured, eloquent, well-dressed, great at a party, handsome cunt. But I’m still a cunt. As an incidental observation, it seems ‘cunt’ has yet to be entered into my Word dictionary, something’s gone wrong there. Anyway, what’s even more baffling is the attitude of seemingly most people in my class at the ALC. Having broken the habit of a lifetime, I treat them with the respect, courtesy and justice that any human being deserves. I even insert some of my trademark amazing pithy banter into our otherwise highly mundane but perfectly pleasant conversations, actually making a slight effort – the ultimate compliment. I give them gold.

Solid gold.

And in return, I get zilch. لا شئ . They all think I’m a bitch. They’re completely correct, so I suppose it’s okay in a way, but the point is that I’m not really acting like it. In fact, I’m really not acting like it. It’s quite sad, in a way, because this seems to prove my theory that the best way to succeed is to act like a complete tosspot to everyone and that way you don’t waste any effort (sorry, Jesus).

I was dishing out some of that jewellery in class today. Talking about the recent ban on smoking in public places (more on that later), I compared Syria to the Roman Empire with its famous panem et circenses policy of pacifying citizens, and compared smoking to the free bread of the Augusti. So if it went away, Simba might have a few public order problems on his hands. All I got from my classmates were moronic grins and evil looks despite my idea and my Arabic being the best in the class. I was tempted to add a brief conclusion, switching to English for ‘so fuck you up the nose.’, but that might have made things somewhat worse.

Fucking Syrians. If an Arab came to my country dressed in his race’s standard absurd shiny skinny jeans, black shirt (well, I suppose we have those at home too. Not when I’m in charge…) and shoes whose toes he has to sharpen every day to keep them looking ‘mumtaaz’, I wouldn’t stare at him. I would probably glance querulously for a few seconds and think ‘what the fuck, was he at a Burton fashion show?’, but staring is just plain rude. Equally, if I were a middle-aged woman, I wouldn’t hiss at him based purely upon his race. That’s just not on. That said, every time I see a burka-ed woman or other extreme Muslim in Britain henceforth, I’ll remember that ‘hssssss!!!’ will be the least she deserves as a taste of her own medicine, though the difference is that I’ll do just that. Remember. Not let her know. That’s important.

‘Yeah, I lived abroad once actually, in Damascus. It was a courtyard-style house with a bloated, vile, part-time Kurdish prostitute, a Spanish hippie who though I was a raging gay purely because I told him ‘me gustaria estar entre tus piernas’ as a joke the first time I met him, a fat, indolent kitten which likes to lick people’s shirts and an Italian who had serious involuntary hand spasms every time he said something. Every now and then Gulf Arab women would rock up for a few days with their ‘brothers’ (do people ever believe that?) who happened to look different every time we saw them and we’d hear the scary shagging deep into the night. It wasn’t that interesting really’.

That sounds like a great story, doesn’t it? It’s really just the icing on the cake to have to come back to it after a day like this. Fortunately, as I am a reasonable and intelligent man (and perhaps a liar now…), a hefty whisky, some watermelon, some hefty Handel and an even heftier kick to the face of the stray cat that tries to steal my watermelon are quite enough to turn my anger and frustration into happy, happy, happy times.

Liii-iike as the Smoke vaaa-a-a-aaa-aa-aa-aaaaaanisheth,
so shalt Thou drii-i-i-i-i-iii-iiii-iiiiii-ii-i-iiiiii-i-i-i-ive Them awa-ayyy!

True dat, blud. Respec’

—————

I’m getting the (swear word) out of the Fourth World for half term, so my blog is off for a bit. I’ll be back in a fortnight, full of pork products and ready to complain some more.

“من أنا؟”

‘Who am I?’ Philosophers, theologians and people generally have been asking this question since they could think for themselves.

To me, who we are depends as much upon the accomplishments and traditions of our ancestors as it does upon our own life stories, attitudes and interests. I’ve adumbrated something about the intense relationship between past and present in Arab culture, and also something about the equally intense emotional properties of Classical Arabic for educated Arabs.

Something I’m really big on is linguistic unity. I would fiercely defend the preservation of Gaelic, Scots and Welsh as British languages, but my point is that English-speaking areas across the length of our country ought to have a standardised form which can be used to communicate with non-locals. So someone should be able to come from Canterbury to Londonderry, Aberdeen to Exeter, Weymouth to Glasgow, and understand and be understood. In terms of people who speak Arabic as a first language – who are thought to number more than three hundred million – this is a bit more difficult. Even within Syria, a couple of hundred miles can be a language barrier for the uneducated. My erstwhile Kurdish exchange partner is very fond of the word ‘chinabrin’, as it seems are other Aleppines and Kurds. Apparently it means ‘crazy’ in English, but depending on intonation, voice level and tone it can mean a lot of things from ‘oh, don’t be so silly…’ to ‘what the fuck is wrong with you?!?’. I tried to use it in Damascus and, fairly predictably, was met with blank gapes all round as if there were something utterly fascinating going on about a metre behind my head.

Standards of education in Syria generally are astonishingly poor. The idea that I could walk down Buchanan Street and find a Scot who doesn’t understand when I speak to him in his own national language is unthinkable, but here it happens surprisingly often. You’d be surprised how many Syrians can only speak ”amiyya and a couple of broken French words but barely one of proper Arabic that isn’t babytalk, that my housemate, a university graduate, had to have me, a foreigner, explain to her the rules of using case markings, and that her friends can’t form the gerunds of mildly irregular verbs. It’s strange to think that after two and a bit years of really not very intense study I speak better proper Arabic than a lot of… Arabs.

Proper FusHaa represents the most highly developed form of practical verbal communication in human history. I refuse to mangle it and stoop to the level of the morons. Unfortunately many Arabs don’t have that choice. It’s strange to think how refreshing it is to sit and read the New Testament in Arabic and grasp nearly everything immediately yet not have a fucking clue what’s going on when someone strings together a group of random sounds which is what passes for everyday conversation. It’s just like what I said earlier – nobody gives a fuck what you’re saying, it’s how you gesticulate, carry yourself and glare that gets your point across. Your average Hasan Ali cruising around in his ridiculous shiny jeans and shirt covered in epaulettes doesn’t care about what it actually means when he talks, however much he loves to go on and on and on about stale chickenshit until I want to wedge a screwdriver in his eye.

Educated, decent Arabs? The quest continues…

—————

‘How about you cunt off and fuck your cousin, dinklips’ is the first thing I want to say to all the wise guys who think they can shout ‘habeeb’ at me in their fucking whiny, ineffectual voices and expect me to be their friend. That said, I’m now gaining a bit of a mixed reputation on the streets around Baab as-Salaam. I’m guilty of both returning politely the greetings of the local Shia population and whacking a boy in the face in my rage. The same odious brat has hit me three times deliberately with a football, and on my way out today I decided enough was enough. In a momentary dearth of linguistic ingenuity that has left churn marks all around Ibn al-Muqaffa”’s grave, ‘You stunted whoreson! Get the fuck out of my face!’ was my verbal retort and my comically small fist my physical as it wiped the infuriating grin off his face and sent him running back to his hovel.

‘Mummy, that bad man from Scotland was very nasty!’

My work here is done.