Only losers come second
Ross Brown finds Dubai is hampering his need to be Number One Discuss this article
I’m a competitive chap. Not for me the thrill of mere attendance and the much-overused adage ‘it’s the taking part that counts’. No, for me life is but a very simple one-two equation: line up the challenge, smash it to smithereens. I just cannot tolerate being beaten. At anything. There is no such thing as ‘just for fun’, and I abhor all suggestions otherwise.
It’s not a new thing, either. As a rugby-playing schoolboy, I remember running another team clean off the pitch. They had been bragging about their imminent victory all winter and suddenly, after the beating of a lifetime, they transformed into textbook sportsmen, congratulating us on our victory, with the captain (this was a rather posh school) going so far as to quote American sports columnist Grantland Rice: ‘And when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.’ Yes, I pointed out, but you still lost by a 32-point margin and your dad wears flares.
I’m not proud of this competitive streak. I simply cannot help it. It’s ingrained; a robust attitude that’s ensured I’ve enjoyed a fairly healthy career as a magazine editor (you have no idea how long I spend in shops staring at the competition) and a fairly average career as ‘enjoyable person to be around’. Because no matter what the occasion – card games, Trivial Pursuit, who is carrying the heaviest bag back from the shops – I want to win. No, I need to win. Which, in case you’re wondering where all this is leading, is why Dubai freaks me out. Everyone it seems, is like me.
You can’t order a normal pizza here. The owner will bristle with indignation at the mere suggestion, informing you that this is authentic dough, imported from Italy, made to a recipe known only by his mother. You can’t buy an average ice-cream: it’s always freshly made from the creamiest cream of the creamiest cows. Chocolate arrives adorned with gold, smoothies are hand-smoothed with the finest, freshest fruit, and even the Christmas tree down the road in Abu Dhabi had roughly US$11 million of sparkle on it. It’s alpha male (and female) mayhem. You row, he dragon boats; you dragon boat, he powerboats; you powerboat, he has rockets in his legs and flies to work (you can laugh, it’s but days away from becoming a reality).
For the first time in my life, I’m struggling to keep up. Even my dad, who has been in Dubai much longer than me, is at it. I get in from celebrating New Year’s Eve at 3.30am, he strolls in at 4.30am. I’m not conceding defeat here, you understand, I’m just suggesting that we all slow down a bit. Perhaps there’s no shame in coming second after all. Just remember, I did it first. And better.
Time Out Dubai,
See the Red Bull Car Park Drift Finals or run
Watch the National Day Parade or learn to cook at Jamie’s Italian
Shop the new Guess collection or watch Penguins of Madagascar