Hi there!Mark Whitworth I am Mark Whitworth -
writer, educator, traveller
and all round good guy.
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January 2011


sunset, Umm Salal Mohammed Villas, Doha, Qatar, Mark WhitworthBall of Confusion

Although there’s plenty of other stuff this week, there are two mentions of sport in this piece. The first concerns football and the Asian Cup in Qatar, which probably interests everybody, since the World Cup will be here in 2022. That’s about half way down. The second concerns the Ashes. I’ve left that until right at the end as it’s become apparent that Australians have turned off Marque My Words en masse in the last seven weeks, although I can’t think why, and it means those of you who have no interest in cricket can avoid the section more easily.


Although 2010 went down as a year in which we got about a bit, changed jobs, changed countries and circumnavigated the globe yet again, it certainly had a very quiet ending. For the first time on some years we spent our entire holiday at a regular abode. Umm Salal Mohammad Villas never seemed particularly Xmas Day, beach, Doha, QatarChristmassy and we restricted ourselves to displaying our selection of Christmas cards. We did go to the beach on Christmas Day, we did buy a few toys, we did choose to play with them, but basically it was the quietest Christmas I can remember. It turned out I went down with a very heavy cold just before school finished and I’m still trying to get over it completely. Andrea suffered a little as well and managed to come out with a most convincing Brummie accent over the latter part of the holiday.

Remote control, helicopter, take off, Doha, Qatar, Mark WhitworthOne little gift, which I bought, for us, was a remote controlled helicopter. It has to be said its life span could only be numbered in days and that was after I conducted extensive repairs following its maiden flight. It wasn’t hugely expensive and, with a Made in China label, wasn’t particularly well built. However, it was exciting! I think we first took it out into the desert on Christmas Eve when, after a few false starts, we realised that even a slight wind restricted the machine to toppling over, rather than any convincing form of powered flight. Not to be outdone we returned home, waited for a slight lull in the atmospheric conditions and successfully launched the craft, which ascended in a few jarring leaps, up the wall of our house. The resultant crash landing proved that the beast was a little sturdier than we first thought and we went for a serious power ascent, which took the helicopter a little out of range of the RC device. Still, it was up, perhaps one hundred metres or so, before the wind once again become the master and it was swept off to the south-east, well out of the compound.

Remote control, helicopter, crash, Doha, Qatar, Mark WhitworthIt took ages to find and Andrea commented on how difficult it must be to find real aircraft that come down in deserts. Eventually we spotted the wreckage and quickly came to the conclusion that its maiden flight was probably to be its last; a bit like the Spruce Goose but scaled down a bit. However, we were thrilled by the fact we had established some degree of control, for a short while, and upon examination it turned out that repairs could be conducted, even if the craft ended up looking like a Leonardo da Vinci prototype.

It was a few days later when we built up the courage to fly again and this time Andrea had the controls. Launch was successful and we had left the compound to ensure the safety of all our neighbours. Unfortunately I’d failed to give Andrea the details as to how to pilot the thing, not that I was an expert, and she rapidly lost control. Even more unfortunately the wind had reversed and our ploy of taking it out of the compound backfired when it went into a terminal descent over an area where our neighbour’s kids were playing.

This is where big walls are a major disadvantage. We knew it had come down, knew there were ferocious whirly bits spinning out of control and knew that investigative little hands would soon begin exploration of the crash site. A sprint followed and, as Andrea rescued the craft, she was surrounded by a gaggle of youngsters who were enthralled as to how a strange machine had just plummeted from the sky at their feet. Apparently they really were quite excited and perplexed; it’s fortunate that the rotors had stopped going around. After offering Andrea all the advice they could come up with as regards getting back in the sky they gave up to return to their bikes. One look was enough to convince me it was dead!

There is no moral to this story.