At five-thirty in the morning Jumeirah is hushed. The armies of maids and gardeners are not out and about yet. Two early bikers go past with a whir and wave. A jogger with the swoosh on her shoes picked out in crystals crosses the T-junction. I take a random turn and come upon a man in overalls unloading crates of apples from a van. The skins are sweating moisture, though the sun hasn't quite got up the energy to rise. Seven green parrots have taken time off from harassing each other and what seems like a lone female to eye the fruit beadily. It's hard to say where the apples are going because there seem to be only tightly shut gates as far as the eye can see. I walk on, under the malevolent eye of a fat tabby on the roof of a sleeping BMW, into an intense cylinder of fragrance created by the frangipani that's outgrown its walled garden. The wall itself is surprisingly embellished with obscene graffiti, signed with a Hotmail address. The tabby gives way to an equally orange dog that one of the houses here allows to treat the street as its own. It growls accordingly, so I turn away into a quiet road studded with five Porsches of various persuasions, the largest Merc I've ever seen, a silver spaceship of the sort that would scorn to sport a brand name, a Hummer and a social climbing little Peugeot 206. There is greater silence on this street, even the birds keep a wary quiet. So I hear it clearly when somewhere beyond the high, unbroken wall something else that is sleek and dangerous greets the morning with a gentle growl of the sort dogs may only aspire to. That sound, more than the ominous two-digit number plates, proclaims the unwisdom of treating this particular public thoroughfare as such.
(Many years ago on a beach, we watched a stream of beautiful dogs being walked back home following a directive that animals were no longer allowed there. Retrievers, collies, Dalmatians, setters, great Danes and as a grand finale, a pair of magnificent huskies. As we prepared to leave, another one came over the dune, dwarfing all the others – a full-grown black panther on a normal dog leash. We froze but the beauty and the owner passed three feet from us with the unseeing disdain of the high-born for the prole. And also explained the new rule.)
But it is only a few minutes before I'm out on the main road, with its usual complement of commuters and truckers. The noise of traffic is a horrible shock, but up ahead through a gap in the villas I see what I have come to find – the sea. A pedestrian crossing, a short walk and I am on a miniature stretch of sand and water, horizon miraculously unmarred by construction. The water is pleasantly cool, the surf is mild in the benign light. In just two hours the sun will become too evil to tempt even the most rabid tan-seekers. So many others are here, already splashing about in grateful delight. No animals, of course.
Sunday Morning Coming Down, Kris Kristofferson, 1969
- ► 2011 (32)
- ► 2010 (32)
- ► 2009 (50)
- ▼ June (9)
- ► 2007 (48)