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June 8th 2011
Published: June 8th 2011
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Few people escape from Clubmed, but luckily, some mornings I woke up in another city. Once, it was Amman. Amman is pleasant, in a Western, tourist sort of way. I asked a taxi driver to take me to the centre of town, where local restaurants fed local people. I ended up in Rainbow Street, where authenticity is delightful feigned in a way to make armchair travellers like me feel comfortable. Another time I found myself in Erbil, a Kurdish city in Iraq, for the time being. People said it was old, around 5000 years old. The Citadel looked it. Wow, that and the market was a culture overload, so I headed back to the hotel, where the top floor restaurant offered skyline views through stained windows and a Latino night spectacular performed by a pair of jaded Bulgarians.

I got back to Clubmed just in time for activity sessions, like calligraphy, where we spread ink on paper in patterns which were neither identifiable as Chinese characters, nor indeed anything intelligible. The sad part was, I had improved from my previous efforts.

Collectively we were better at other activities. We found that even after a bottle of wine we could still hit a tennis ball, although its direction and trajectory were always a matter of indifference to us. Swimming, which both precedes and follows tennis, is where we excelled. Complex motor action skills, such as remembering not to breath underwater were often achieved, and hand - eye co-ordination skills where glasses and cans are unerringly directed to mouths, sometimes our own, seem like second nature to us, even in the pool.

In this Clubmed, for one person to leave, another must join. The leaver is usually readily identifiable by a broad grin, and lies about missing those left behind. The newcomer usually wears a stoic smile that implies they know what they're in for.

In that caring way that doesn't seek an answer, I often ask colleagues, "How's it going?", to which more than a few respond, "Living the dream!" The right answer, but whose dream would this be?

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