Wednesday, 1 October 2008
[Caveat: I have debated long and hard as to publish this post. I apologise if it offends anyone. If it does, write to me personally.]
I have had this 'Memory Post' burning up in me since I got out of bed this morning. It was cobwebbed from the comment I made yesterday about how the ex had said I was a victim and brought a lot of it on myself due to being 'soft'.
The ex used to enjoy his Dubai 7s Rugby Tournaments and went each year. He would always take my mobile phone because it 'roamed' and his didn't, in the event that I needed him. The moment he got in his car to drive up, he'd turn it off. I never recall him having it turned on, to be honest.
The first time he went, I was up to High Doh because I had lost a whole book's worth of 'floppy discs' - can anyone remember those now?? I had been editing/writing The Muscat Explorer and all my work was saved onto three 3.5" floppies. I was going frantic. I knew where I had last left them, and I knew my deadline. Was I going to have to do it all over again? I begged him to stay and help me find them, and in the event that I couldn't, he could at least care for the girls whilst I made reparation, but he refused: Nope, I am off. Doesn't matter.
But it did. It meant so much to me due to all the hard work I had put in - covering for sloppy correspondents and re-writing their restaurant entries by getting chatted up by cheesey Lebanese managers; visiting girlie bars and reviewing 'the food'; contacting Ministries, Police, Customs - it was a massive task and I had thrown myself into it with gusto and enthusiasm.
And I couldn't find those bloody floppy discs ANYWHERE!
For some very odd reason, I prayed to St Anthony, who is the Patron Saint of Lost Goods. Now, at the time, I was not Catholic, but I just flipping well did it. I lay on the marble floor in the spare room downstairs, looked up at the ceiling and prayed - the ex had cleared off by this stage. I swear to you, I turned my head to the filing cabinet, to my left, and there, shoved up hard underneath the finger grabs were my floppy discs.
The ex claims Rosemary must have done it (she was about 3 at the time). Maybe, but I still wonder...
The next time he took my GSM and went to Dubai, we were in a struggle with some people to whom we had lent a lot of money. I had an anonymous call telling me the chap was getting out of the country that night, so I galvanised and attempted to stop his escape. I contacted "Very High Up People" with 'wosta' (and Mars, I guess you will understand that expression), cajoled, begged and did as much as possible in order not to see my thousands of pounds vanish from the country - we'd only lent them this amount because they were pleading poverty - and it was a loan. Not a gift.
I was starting to despair, so I went to another local chap, Hilal, and begged him for help - he knew everyone; an Arthur Daley if ever there was...He promised to help and made a few calls for me. I was still attempting to call Anal at this stage, only to be presented with the 'Afwan..' (Sorry, your call cannot be taken...) message. I started to give up and just relinquish those monies. At the time, I thought we still had a goodly few years ahead of us with a tax-free salary to recouperate things.
As Hilal had been so kind, I invited him home - I had arranged to meet him in the Rugby Club - and we returned. I offered him coffee or wine and he chose wine.
And then he flicked through my CD collection and put on Ravel's Bolero. And he grabbed me and told me he adored me, had always loved me, wanted to marry me and would kill Anal for the priviledge. I was terrified out of my wits. I had my daughters upstairs, asleep, and didn't know what the hell to do. I had to dance to that bastard music. I hate it now. Torville and Deane won the Gold for the Brits in the 1984 Olympics and EVERYONE knew it...I loved it then. It makes me feel like vomiting now.
I only know that it was through my shrewdness that I managed to get him out of my house. I didn't succumb to him - don't think that! I cajoled him into believing how tired I was, while he pawed at me and slobbered over my neck and face, how much I had to do to get my money back and that the girls would be up very early. He left, thank God.
The next day, he called my house phone. I tried to get rid of him as quickly as possible and made sure all the doors were locked. We had one-way glass in our house, thankfully, so when I saw him come to the house later that afternoon, I could just sit very silently knowing he couldn't see me.
The ex was due back the next day. I didn't hear from him at all. It seems he was having a jolly good time up there and I was informed later that his face was emblazoned all over one of the big screens - ogling a young blond girl's breasts as she giggled with him.
I tore into him when he returned - about not having my phone on and that I had needed to contact him. It all came pouring out in rage, anger and hurt. I must have yelled at him non-stop for half an hour. He sat there and took it all. Then I fell to pieces, burst into tears and told him of my encounter with Hilal. He nodded his head slowly and then turned to me and said, Well, I've told you not to get friendly with those blokes. You know what they're like with the expat women at the Rugby Club.
His stand and defence of me was breath-taking in its passivity! A year on from that, and Hilal one night said to him, Is there a problem? And Anal told him what I had said. Hilal denied it resolutely and screamed that I was a liar. Guess who was believed?
When I put on the first pantomime for the school, we had a panto Dame - J - a huge chap, easily 6'4" and built like a brick sh*thouse. He appeared to be a lovely man. Many women swooned over him - charm itself. He had a glamorous wife who taunted the local authorities by revealing way more than she should have done in a Muslim country. Certain expat wives got up to high dudgeon over her, claiming she was an embarrassment to expats and highly disrespectful to our Muslim hosts. I think, personally, they were riven with jealousy as she had a body to die for. But, when in Rome...
They had 'an open marriage' - and I don't think it was happy like that, even. Neither were faithful to the other and were often seen out on the town with other people. One night, after a panto rehearsal, we were all invited back to K's. Drinks were really flowing, I ended up being thrown into the swimming pool, fully-clothed, because I had been a tough task-master that night with the cast forgetting their lines repeatedly, and we were having great fun. The ex was at home!
At one point, everyone was running very low on cigarettes and J asked me if I fancied accompanying him to the garage to pick more up. We were given a long list of cigarette brands, orders to get nibbles in, and to get to the Grog Shop before it shut. Fine. Off we went, got all the gear and then set off back. K lived in an area with which I was not familiar at all and so with J driving, I had little idea of how to get back.
But when we pulled up to a pitch-black house, I looked at him quizzically and said, Where are we?
I want to show you something, he replied.
He took at key out of his pocket and opened the door. The house was bare. It was one which he had vacated only the previous week and he hadn't yet returned the key.
I want you to see this beautiful view, Annie, as I think you will appreciate it.
He took me to a fantastic galleried landing which looked out onto the sea. It really was spectacular and I was quite taken aback.
I was even more taken aback when he came back into the room stark-naked and ordered me to strip off.
I begged him not to be so daft, that the others were waiting for us, and this was silly; he'd had too much to drink; he was being soppy. But he just kept telling me to get my clothes off. Then he started doing it for me.
Now, there are certain situations in which a woman can fight her corner. Particularly if she is wearing stilletoes and there is a bit more equality in weights and sizes, but I was 5'8" and 120lbs or so. And I was wearing bloody flip-flops...
I knew that to even attempt to overpower him would be futile and to be perfectly frank, I was terrified and not thinking straight. So I was stripped naked and pushed onto the marble floor. I lay perfectly still while he did what he wanted to and then he let me get dressed.
I asked him to take me straight back to my house. And he did.
The ex was asleep until I got in, and then started bitching at me for being out late.
I went for a shower to clean myself up and stop shaking.
The next day, the ex went to work while I got the girls ready for school. I felt sickened by what had happened and suddenly there was a phone call. It was J.
I was a bit of an animal last night, wasn't I? I hope that I didn't cause you any trauma because you know that if there is any problem between us, I won't be able to act for you and then the panto will have to end.
So, there was no trouble. I had to put this bloody pantomime on as we were only a matter of days away and we had already raised a heap of money in sponsorship and spent a fair bit on lighting, rigging, sound decks, costumes and set.
After the panto, I finally told Anal what had happened that night. His response was that I knew J had a reputation for being a Ladies' Man and therefore I should not have got myself into such a compromising situation with him. My fault.
So some of you may be wondering, Why didn't she report it? Why didn't she get him deported? All I can say to you is, Have you lived in a foreign country where expat women are treated as second-class citizens, where the police don't speak English (or very little), and where the oil men (and J was very high up in one of the oil companies) are treated like kings? I didn't stand a chance. Were it to have happened here, in the UK, he would have been thrown into the cells immediately. But he knew that I couldn't do that and thus took his advantage.