Hot, Dry and Dusty.

My throat feels like the underside of a Bedouins’ leather sandal after a hard day’s trek trudging through the desert gravel gathering dates, locusts and the severed heads of infidels. I have not been gathering dates or anything like it. Instead, I have been in meetings via the horror that is the Microsoft teams software. The hotel room is big enough to have a desk to work at while the sunshine outside shafts its rays through the window. This evening, the sun is beginning to go down throwing a reddish orange light into the room.

That is the signal for a beer.

I have just met the team of doctors who are all based in Jeddah, to discuss…well, let’s just say it is something to do with the delivery of care to patients. The meeting went on for an hour. And, as the saying goes, that is an hour I will never get back. It is not that they were unpleasant, far from it. They were the very model of civility and welcomed me to ‘the family’. However, it has to be noted that the team dynamics is a bit…well, just ‘forming’ rather than ‘performing’. They all spoke good English. Most of them spoke it impeccably. Denzil Penberthy and ‘Boy’ Trevaskis (who is 80 if he is a day) would not understand a ‘bleddy word they said’. To be fair nor did I.

Individual words made sense. Yet, it was, to paraphrase Eric Morecambe, that they were ‘not necessarily in the right order’. This meant that the collective sense was completely lost. I have got more understanding from listening to the loved up ravings of clubbers high on acid and ambition. Luckily I was joined (virtually or digitally…? No let’s stick with virtually, because being ‘digitally joined’ has rather unpleasant connotations) by my colleague from the US. I emailed him afterwards to ask what this ‘shit show of a car crash meeting’ was all about. He confirmed that indeed it was a show displaying the proportions of shit that would put an elephant suffering from dysentery to shame. So, not just me then. He commented that there was a bit of ‘positioning’ going on, i.e. someone was trying to be top dog but no one knew who or why.

This is going to be fun. I will soon be in Jeddah, inshallah, to join them. Am I concerned? Am I booking a flight home? At this daily pay rate you have to be kidding me. This is their show, I am merely here to offer advice when asked. They are in charge, but I will have to intervene if I think they are being a bunch of (insert suitable noun here). The thing is this. They are very competent clinicians. very skilled indeed. But I have learned over the years that just because you can take an appendix out, diagnose the pox or stick unpleasant objects into the dark recesses of the human body where no such things have the right to be, you are not necessarily skilled in the necessary competencies of actually running the show. This goes for all professionals. Jesus may have been a cracking carpenter but I bet he could not have sorted out the logistics, or the quality evaluation metrics, of the supply of suitable materials for the making of crosses. If it was left to Jesus I bet no one would have been crucified because he would have knocked out one beautifully crafted crucifix out of mahogany once a year. He knew nothing about how the fuck it was to get to Calgary. It took the genius of Roman organisation to bang up a thousand Jews a year. Do you think Hitler would have got anywhere without the logistical and organisation skills of Adolph Eichmann? Of course not. He would have been a bar room brawler stuck in Munich without the speccy moustachioed git Eichmann. And that is a matter of historical fact. Just ask Hannah Arendt. Napoleon was not undone by military genius on the battlefield but by a monumental error of logistical miscalculation in the snows of Russia.

The beer on my table right now might have been manufactured by master brewers in the low countries of Europe. They no doubt know the difference between the yeast to make beer with, and the yeast found in genital fungal infections, but it took a logistical magician to get it from Belgium to Bahrain.

Published by Lance Goodman

Freelance writer, bon vivant and all-round good oeuf.

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