Yes, We Can(al)!

#adventure, America, boats, England, Life, Uncategorized

When Barak Obama took the slogan, YES, WE CAN!, on campaign with him back during the 2008 elections, his growing sect of admirers took it up with gusto. Ennobled by the creed of optimism – a finite resource even in America – they chanted these three simple words with all the might they could muster. We’ll huff and puff and blow the Bush house down, that was the gist of it. We’ll relight hope from the embers of pointless war. We’ll do right in the place of wrong. We’ll patch together the broken pieces and live like we always promised ourselves we would. 

It was in the spirit of regeneration that I too took up this mantra from the ruins of Obama’s America. Now remember what his legacy brought. He talked a good game, but on leaving found that Yes, We Can! meant Yes, we can replace you with a bankrupted huckster from Queens, New York with a mouth to match his attitude. Not wanting to go down this road, I wanted my regeneration to bring an altogether more wholesome – as opposed to ‘whoresome’ – legacy. And so it was, I decided I would embrace the alternative life of the canal. I spent big on a big river boat and docked it on a 250 year-old canal set deep in the Somerset downs. This was going to be my Obama 2008 campaign moment.

The parallels certainly exist, if only you choose to see them. Like Obama’s predecessor, I too got embroiled in a Middle Eastern adventure, involving the expenditure of an awful lot of money with the aim of coming away with even more. To breathe Obama’s fresh air, first i had to choke on Bush’s dust. This I did, and by the time I had coughed up the last of it, the time had come to begin anew, to see the world through reopened eyes. My 5-year incursion into the oil-rich sands was over without a single shot being fired (although many a shot was downed in the booze-soaked atmosphere of the place). Back on Civvy St, somewhere in pre-Brexit Britain, the post-conflict settlement was up for grabs. Europe seemed like the kingdom beyond the wall by now, unfriendly, but only insofar as any former friend would be if you kept hurling insults at them from across the bows. The burgundy British passport, now both unofficially diminished in stature and narrowed in scope, was about the last official document one wanted with a post-2016 life on the Continent beckoning. And so it was that a set of reduced options made the next phase a little less fraught with the kind of complications we once had, confronted was we were with not just one but 28 countries to potentially set up home in. 

High in the Spanish sierras the decision was made.  Near the flanks of the Mulhacen, Spain’s tallest mountain, the YES was injected into WE CAN(AL). There and there alone, I decided to buy that shell of a riverboat and in it create a space fit for the ages. Having taken receipt of her, in all her graphite grey sleek beauty, i spent the next six months showering in a wheat field while fitting her out on dry land. She, the boat (for we ascribe boats with a feminine gender in English, for feminine equals fair, and the British do have the historical hots for vessels that float), sat on blocks in a field of swaying grass. As spring took hold, the stalks grew higher and the ears of wheat fatter, until the grass brushed the underside of the hull. With 90% of the work complete, and the largest 10% you’ve ever seen not quite complete, I had 700 ft/sq of spanking new boat trucked down on the motorway in the most surreal cruise I’ve ever witnessed.

She was lowered into the river Avon at Keynsham, near Bristol. Six long months like a fish out of water, and the transformation to fish in water was a thing to behold. It was as if the riverboat had never been out of its element. Now sitting stout and proud in its element, the voyage to its new mooring on the other side of Bath was going to be a maiden voyage, and one that would hopefully match Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech for majesty. Yes, we can! Um, well, in actual fact, no we can’t. There’s no way I can handle this stocky beast on those narrow waterways. Upshot: a river pilot was hastily arranged and my first officer status firmly established from the outset. Once through the locks of Bath, the Widcombe flight featuring the so-called Coffin, a 25ft drop into lock abyss, we emerged at the east end of town, navigating our way with particular attention paid to the fact that, contrary to the canal in my mind’s eye, this stretch of waterway was no wider in parts that the boat itself. At least in Apocalypse Now, the riverboat they used in pursuit of the renegade Colonel Kurtz plied a width wide enough to give them a fighting chance once the rogue arrows starting flying from the riverbank. Here, if Kurtz’s militia men had wanted they could have put down their bows and arrows and simply stepped aboard to conduct their rampage. 

She, the boat with the dead man’s complexion, has found a home under an ash tree. This fact is noteworthy as one of the main reasons for spending six months fitting her out on dry land was that her interior is lined with approx. 1.6kms of timber, mainly American ash. The emerald ash borer might be devastating America’s once mighty ash forests, but the little bastard fell short of laying its larvae in these buffed and beautiful planks. Since finding a permanent mooring, she doesn’t venture far. More like an apartment on water with the ultimate view, really. The traffic is constant and the logistics of untethering these mooring ropes too fraught and complex until the canal settles in for a lonesome winter. Tentatively, i proclaim, YES WE CANAL!. But this, being a radical departure from all previous incarnations, is going to split into one of two ways: adapting to this unique way of life; or, failing in that task, not adapting, and moving back onto the land, with all its concomitant problems, not least the soullessness of the modern urban plan. Then again, there’s always the remote likelihood that our British passports will amount to much again; will open doors as opposed to closing them. I mean, look at U.S. politics, when Obama vacated the White House in 2017, he left a door open for someone else to walk into. Disbelieving, they said, ‘your administration couldn’t pave the way for someone like Trump’, to which he replied, ‘Yes, we can!’

Anything’s possible, even on the canal.



Traffic Flow on the Arab Street


We polled three separate classes this morning on how they thought leadership traits compared between six candidates over three American presidential debates: Clinton vs Dole 1996; Bush vs Gore 2000; and Obama vs McCain 2008. After watching extended highlights of the live televised debates, a total of 50 Emirati women were asked to assess the aforesaid candidates on the following criteria: articulacy, perceptiveness, self-confidence, self-assuredness, persistence, determination, trustworthiness, dependability, friendliness, and outgoingness. Neither banality nor mendacity were included, although stupidity came under close consideration.  Of those acceptable leadership traits, three – articulacy, self-confidence and trustworthiness – were identified as key character indicators common to what the pollsters say matters in U.S/Western political culture.

On a scale of 1-5 where 1 equals crap and 5 flatteringly untrue, a mean average was tabulated. Lies, damned lies and statistics? You could argue equally, in numbers there is truth.

Here’s what the stats returned:

On being articulate:

  1. Clinton ranked 3.9 in class 1,  3.6 in class 2, and 3.7 in class 3 (an average overall of 3.73), suggesting that our ladies need to brush up on their oratory and rhetoric. (Editor’s note: let’s face facts: Clinton is an easy 4. His homespun drawl belies a rare gift that keeps on giving on stages the world over).
  2. America’s most unquotable political bore Bob Dole cooked up 2.6, 3.15 and 3 respectively (2.92), a score inflated by the phonetic similarity of his given name – uttered with an American twang – to the Arabic word for gate, Bab. Well, who wouldn’t dare commend the man on being the first U.S. politico to know more Arabic than just the word Jihad?
  3. Truly in a class of his own, who could misunderestimate Bush on a knee-slapping, tub-thumping, gun-toting 3.5, 2.5  and 3.4 resuspectfulnessly (overall 3.13) ? It mattered not to our Arab analysts that with his shark-black eyes set dangerously close together he could barely read far less speak. What swayed it for them was invoking the name of the Big Man with Bush’s hand-on-heart pledge… should I be forshnut to became your predisent, when I put my hand on the bible, I will swear to (not) uphold the laws of the land, but I will also swear (not) to uphold the honour and dignity of the orifice to which I have become erected. So…help me God? The Lord moves in mysterious ways. Well He moved Bush into the White House, didn’t He?
  4. Gore suffered an inconvenient untruth with 3.3, 3.82 and 3.4 (3.51) respectively. The fact that he is a distant cousin to America’s great essayist and verbalist, Gore Vidal, is not for nothing. Again, so blatantly human when stood against his simian opponent, that to have outweighed Bush by a meagre 0.28 percentage points seems a travesty of justice equal to the one that denied him the presidency after the Florida recount.
  5. Obama racked up 4.0, 4.15  4.0 respectively (for an overall 4.05). And who can begrudge the lawyer from Chicago, or is it Hawaii, or Kenya, or Jakarta, or did he come up the Nile in a reed basket? Is he even a lawyer? Where did he come from, anyway? 4.05 for a latter-day Martin Luther King? My girls take a lot of impressing, it would appear. That said, Arab Street likes the sound of this habibi, as will the rest of us when he is replaced by a tongue-tied moron in a grey shirt, grey tie and grey underpants.
  6. McCain clearly didn’t do much conversing, or vocabulary acquisition, during his five years submerged up to his neck in a one square-metre bamboo cage in deepest Vietcong country. The senator in the skin mask might have been a one-time hostage to war but evidently was never a hostage to loquacity. Still, he can justifiably feel a tad hard done by bringing up the rear of two American political figures – Bush and Dole – who, for all the good they did to the English language, might as well have transplanted their mouths and their anuses. McCain’s oven chips – well and truly cooked. Plods along at a mediocre 2.5, 2.7 and 2.5 (2.57) disrespectfully.

On self-confidence;

  1. Clinton polled 4.3 in class 1,  3.82 in class 2, and 4.0 in class 3 (4.04 overall). Never one to eschew the limelight, the two-time president (or was it the two-timing president?) launched onto the scene in ’92 already emboldened first by Oxford then by the trappings of governorship. William Clinton Esq. could also draw on his ineffable charm, a charm that brought flocking first the ladies then, at the summon of his popular powers years later, trouble at mill.
  2. Dole polled 2.2, 2.9 and 3.1 (2.73 overall), which goes to show that, with a self-confidence rating of over 50%, if God did in fact create women He did so with a few wee flaws built into them. When the two came head to head, you could see Dole’s anaemic blood trickle down Clinton’s fangs with every whimpering cry for conservatism.
  3. Bush bagged 4.1, 2.12 and 2.7 (2.97), eliciting vastly different responses between class 1 and 2/3. Unlike on the world stage, where his self-confidence extended to gaffes, nervous snickering and inane grinning, to hit the 4s rating his persona must have exuded a confidence not normally attributable to someone of such limited means. One can only conclude that the class snoozed through a parade of style and substance that would undoubtedly clinch the presidency for the incredulous 43rd president, who spent the next four years in suspended disbelief. Be that as it may, by class 2 the niqab was off, so to speak. All they saw (and no, all the girls are classy and none are veiled) was a man at ease with his extended childhood. Ah, the arrogance of youth! (Bush was in his mid-fifties at the time of filming, by the way).
  4. Gore grabbed 3.9, 4.37 and 4.3 respectively (4.19), projecting a quiet self-assuredness based on an unwavering conviction that his opponent was a dyed-in-the-wool plonker. Gore spoke in measured tones, slowly and deliberatively, careful not to overstate the intellectual abilities of his audience of millions. Deep in the knowledge that his IQ points trumped nearly 90% of the electorate, his self-confidence may have been misconstrued for both smarminess and a lazy intellectual climb down. Nevertheless, our girls were comfortable with those character flaws, flaws they have to contend with in most of their menfolk.
  5. Obama polled 4.3, 4.37 and 4.3 respectively (4.32). Who could deny this man his stake in the annals of early 21st history? First African-Indonesian-American-Martian with a middle name not too dissimilar to that of Bush’s comic book enema…enemy: he with the beret, murderous eyes and bushy moustache. While Barack Hussein Obama was cutting his teeth on the great electoral roadshow, you might well say he was putting up great wooden palisades of words and metaphors behind which he barricaded his fragile confidence from the predators outside. Then again the guy might be that rare and protected species, aka the American orator. And that voice, oh! that gasoline voice. Half an octane lower and he’d have legions of front-row admirers spontaneously orgasm.
  6. Which brings us fittingly to Jock McCain. He wowed the Arab crowds with a piffling 2.5, 2.8 and 2.1 respectively (average of 2.47). McCain quivered and bumbled through the debacle, sorry, debate, leaving the great American public in no doubt of his leadership potential. But what enthralled the viewing public more than his steely self-belief, hewn from the rock of captivity, was the remarkable lack of coordination between the flow of his words and the movement of his face. One can only conclude that self-confidence sometimes needs no expression. Statistical analysis report: McCain a presidential dud, with a self-confidence rating of a shell-shocked war veteran with P.T.S.D. brought on by all the mortar fire still going off in his head forty years after the Paris peace accords, which in all fairness to him might well be his problem.

On Trustworthiness;

  1. Clinton polled 3.6 in class 1, 4.0 in class 2, and 3.1 in class 3 (overall 3.57), concealing his sexual peccadilloes remarkably well from a bunch of unsuspecting yet highly discerning 22 year-old Arab women.
  2. Dole polled a doleful 2.1, 2.62 and 2.3 respectively (2.34), which goes to show that it’s better to sell new cars than used ones.
  3. Bush polled a whopping 0.8, 0.9 and 0.9 (.87), falling an agonizing 0.041 points short of his all-time favourite number: 0.911. 09/11, That was the day the boy became a man and the man came of age. A pity it will never go down as a golden one.
  4. Gore, again judged unfairly, polled 3.7, 3.4 and 3.2 (3.43), and that’s without the recount. If only he had won the Nobel Peace Prize before the presidential debates of 2000, trustworthiness or no trustworthiness, Bush would romped to victory.
  5. Obama gets an impressive 4.0, 4.22 and 3.6 respectively (3.94), but that might be something to do with his middle name. “Aisha Mohamed? Would you trust a man called Hussein?” “Teacher, that depends on whether or not he was Iranian.” ‘Fair enough, Aisha.”
  6. Last but truly least, Rooster McCain, who gets the thumbs down from our girls, bagging a dubious 2.7, 2.65 and 2.3 (2.55), and affirming what women the world over have long suspected: that pear face never won fair maiden, not her trust at least.

Qualitative analysis: high degree of perceptiveness from women born too late to have any preconceptions of these candidates, other than Obama who they are happy to know, and Bush who they wish they hadn’t.

Verdict: it’s high time women of the world united to foment a peaceful takeover by virtue of being much better readers of men than men are of themselves and others of their ilk. Having systematically f*cked up the world since monotheism by downgrading the sacred feminine in favour of self-proclaimed prophets, all of whom had beards just so they could distinguish themselves from the female of the species, as well as having used unscrupulous statecraft to strip women of the socio-political nexus they held together in a pre-classical age before war became systematized, men have forsaken their right to govern anymore. Period. I mean, Jumpin’ Jack Flash!! Look around, folks. In the sea, on the land, in the air. See what we’ve done with men at the helm.

Prophets of doom. The bearded ones blew it. It’s time to pass the reins to the other 50%. Let the age of Aquarius begin anew.