MY WEEK

`A recent survey shows that three-quarters of those who give directions to blind men lean down and give instructions to the guide dog'

Whatever you are doing this week, you would do better in Dubai. Whatever the weather, Dubai will be warmer; whatever food and drink you will get, Dubai's is richer, rarer, more abundant. If you are going to a party in England, eat your heart out: Dubai parties are grander, more lavish; they have mass bands and stars who shine resplendent, like the desert sky.

The Maktoum family, hell bent on turning their patch of Emirate sand into a tourist resort and world-class venue for thoroughbred racing, are hosts to Saturday's 10-furlong international, with more than pounds 1m to the winner.

To persuade the best horses and their owner, trainer and jockey to go nowhere else at the weekend, the Dubai package includes free transport for selected horses, first-class air fare, hotel suites, stretch limousines and every little thing to make "connections" happy.

I was invited last year: to ensure favourable media coverage, hacks were treated to a week of milk and honey, with long-distance phone calls, dry- cleaning, vintage champagne for breakfast and massage sessions in the health club thrown in.

Why, then, am I sitting in the dining-room of a hotel near Dublin, wondering whether they have microwaved the egg, bacon, sausage and tomato, and would I have been better off with a kipper?

I was not asked to Dubai this year. That's why. In thanking my hosts for last year's extravagance, I referred to the visit as "the mother of all freebies".

Rather as my erstwhile colleagues at Westminster would have told me, "when there is bounty to be had, grab hold of it and keep your mouth shut".

In 1996, Sheik Mohammed's nightmare scenario had been success for his own horses: a Maktoum one, two and three would have finished off Dubai's ambitions to attract the best horses in the universe to run in the world's richest race. As it was, the Californian Cigar won; two American horses followed him home and the Sheik beamed. This meeting will run and run.

If you want to bet on Saturday's race, it might be wise to ignore anything from Europe (turf horses have difficulties with the triangular track and the soft dirt surface), but the Japanese Hokuto Vega at 33-1 represents fair each-way value.

The publication of useless statistics is with us once more, and will flourish as readers search for subject matters away from politics. From a psychological magazine: "In an average week the average man now has a 60 per cent likelihood of having a below average time." From Pets and Pet Owners: "A recent survey shows that out of 100 blind men who ask people to direct them, three quarters of those they approach lean down and give instructions to the guide dog."

From the Aer Lingus in-flight magazine, an in-depth piece on cabbages states: "The real monstrousness of the cabbages' cussed nature is not just the stink, but the fact that the more you cook it, the more the stench increases. The amount of hydrogen sulphide produced in boiled cabbage doubles between the 5th and 7th minute of cooking."

On the subject of gastronomy, in which cabbage cooked for seven minutes plays no part, Dublin food seems tired where London's sparkles. Dublin is still into garnishes of limp lettuce and wilted shrimp. The plates are too hot, the coffee too weak, the wine waiter too grand. At the Bon Appetit in Malahide they serve mashed potatoes into which strips of bacon and fresh herbs sizzled in olive oil are incorporated: a really good dish; pity about the tarte Tatin.

Do not miss McIlvanney on Busby, Stein and Shankly (see left) and as you watch, shed a tear for the supporters of the many journeymen football clubs whose supporters don't have a lot to remember and hardly anything to look forward to. The economics of today's professional game mean that if a club has a centrally situated ground, a good manager or a good team, some or all of these are sold, for insufficient money to replace any of the three assets.

Plymouth Argyle, from whom we expected so much, are a case in point. A crowd of 5,468 saw them beaten at home, which put paid to lingering hopes of finishing in the top half of their modest division, which might have enabled them to change their strip and merchandise their way out of trouble. Beryl Cooke lives in Plymouth; she is even richer than Delia Smith, who lives in East Anglia and became a director of Norwich. Cooke should buy Home Park.

A poem - perhaps for `Readers Digest':

There was a young man from Peru

Whose limericks stopped at line two.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
news

Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style
tech

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style
health

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    French Teacher

    £21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: French Teacher ? Sou...

    Geography Teacher

    £21000 - £31000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Geography Teacher ? ...

    Cover Supervisor

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienced Cover Super...

    Cover Supervisor

    £50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Randstad Education is looking to e...

    Day In a Page

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album