Me getting all Gandolf on you…

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Amidst the Corona hysteria gripping the world, it seems that hunkering down and staying away from crowds is the way to survive. Or at least this is how it is being reported; along with avoid travelling and in planes in particular with the close proximity and recycled air.

A problem for me then, given that I write this post in Dubai – on my third day of a 10 day tour.

I could have cancelled the gigs of course but for the fact that I would forego my fee. My career choice being the original zero hours contract. No sick pay. No contracts. No laughs, no gigs and no money!

And people ask me if I get nervous?

I am always nervous.

Nowadays, a  refrain I often hear is ‘but you’re okay though, cos your son is spider-man, innit.’ Whatever truth there is to this, it will be dark day when I need my lunch to be bought for me by any of my kids.

At Heathrow very early in the morning, I am struck by how busy the airport is. Obviously, people other than me are not heeding the hysterical advice of our media. Life goes on right…

At my gate, I am fleetingly excited that I am about to board an Airbus A380. The monster planes that I have only seen in the skies until now. During the filming of The Impossible, I recall a conversation with Ewan McGregor who explained that on the A380 – he even had his own cabin. In the queue (line) for the plane I am even sufficiently moved to whip out my phone and take a photo.

However, my excitement doesn't last long. Quickly, it wanes as a I board. I have a seat and not a cabin and all planes look and feel the same on the inside, right. Three families ahead of me are creating chaos because the parents want their kids to sit together – or as it transpires, away from them. Air hostesses are making polite requests to already settled passengers and some eventually agree to move, albeit, begrudgingly. I am not asked to move but shortly in to my flight, I realise that this is to my cost. Because three of the kids are placed behind me and play Battleships for the entire flight – using their touch screens – which make up the back of my seat and when playing BattleShips, why touch the screen when it can be punched.

I arrive in Dubai – a little frayed and older – reminding myself that I have four kids and they must have upset people on flights over the years and I rush from the airport to my first gig – arriving just as the show goes up.

I don’t relish gigs aboard. Mainly, because I miss home (my family of course, but mainly, Tess) but also because it isn’t until I get onstage that I realise that my act doesn’t work. Or bits of it anyway, because some of my references are missed by the International audience – and I make painful adjustments and edits for the next show.

Note to audiences in the Middle East this week – come and see me on the last night.

Just three comedians on the bill.

Opening is Funmbi Omotayo (@funmbi) – a British Nigerian with his take on life as a black man living in London. In the middle is Sadia Azmat (@sadia_azmats) with her take on being a British Muslim woman living in London.

And then, finally, it is my turn – and I open with an apology for ruining what until now has been a perfectly diverse bill.

A question I am commonly asked is where does my inspiration come from?

An enquiry that gives me licence to offer a lofty and pompous answer; that I wander through museums and lose myself in great literature and poetry. I do no such thing. In truth, I just do things and I trust myself that thoughts and ideas will occur to me.

Unlike most visitors to Dubai, which is 90% of the population – I am not here for the money. Club money for 5 gigs and over 10 days makes little economic sense. But I am here for the experience. Spending time and getting to know my interesting colleagues alone makes the trip worthwhile.

Dubai is many things and it is difficult to adequately describe in a short piece of writing like this. In summary and in one word, I suggest that above all else, Dubai is confused. Or perhaps, confusing. A place of opposites and contradictions. Clashes and incompatibles and yet somehow, it manages to work.

Like the world cities that we have, New York and London - Dubai is certainly a melting pot of humanity.

But it is a city on sand, its roots are not deep and its population is transient, moving in, on and through. And a culture clash too; an Islamic country but one beholden to Western brands and where consumerism reigns supreme. It is the land of indulgence and conspicuous consumption.

Shopping malls offering up literally acres of retail space to sell mainly jewellery and watches it seems. One mall famously has its own ski slope and another boasts of the world’s largest aquarium.  And cinemas too. On a recce visit yesterday, I am amused that as well as Dominic Holland appearing in Dubai this week – my son is too – with three of his films currently being shown – Dolittle, Spies in Disguise and Onward – a constant and welcome reminder of my life and I smile, happy to be here doing my best stand-up but still knowing that I am Eclipsed.

So my inspiration comes from getting up, getting out and looking about. But be mindful of this and what you might see.

When I return to my hotel room today, my TV has been left on, presumably by a maid/cleaner – and I am greeted by television footage which utterly depresses me.

It is not images associated with news of the Corona virus; body bags in Iran or people fighting over toilet rolls in a UK supermarket.

It is something even more troubling. It is a music video and it unsettles me because it is something to herald. A piece of popular art, no less.

It is so gauche, at first, I wonder if it isn’t a pastiche. A comedy show and the work of a satirist. The sort of clip that my boys often show me on their phones...

Here, Dad, watch this.

But my hopes quickly evaporate. This is not a pastiche. It is too long to be a comedy sketch. This is a real music video and now I am compelled to continue watching. I half recognise the song but I need to know who the singer is. A pouting lady, cavorting her distended body on various beaches – which is appropriate I guess, because isn’t silicone just sand?

The Coronavirus might have gripped the world and is accompanied by many apocalyptic claims and predictions – which as a middle aged man, I tend to take lightly because I think that the world will recover. Cleverer people than me who wear white coats at work will figure things out and Corona will just become a brand of beer again.

But a much greater danger than this new virus is posed by the video showing on my hotel TV – who transpires to be Nikki Minaj for her song, Starships.

And because Nikki Minaj is a star and a huge success story. Something to shoot for then?

I would say not.

It is the same clever professionals in white coats who have performed the multiple surgeries on her body.

Medicine is the most noble and vaunted profession; after the religious life, the profession most associated with vocations.

A calling to help people. To cure the sick.

What is more noble than this?

But training to understand the body and it's physiology in order to cure ailments is a world away from the medicine that confects and distorts our bodies to conform to bizarre new notions of beauty. We saw it with Michael Jackson, who dare I say it, died a pale shadow of the beautiful man he once was.

And so it is with Nikki Minaj. The self-imposed damage to her, although significant, is nothing to the damage wreaked on young women who want to emulate her and on the young men who find her attractive.

Look but don’t touch – or partake has never felt like such sage advice.

 

 

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23 Comments

  1. Aya :) March 8, 2020
    Reply

    I’m live in Dubai yet sadly I didn’t meet you. I don’t know how many days you’re going to stay here but I hope I do get the chance to meet you, I bought your book I Gabriel around two months ago, and I read almost all of your blogs 🙂 hope you enjoy your time here … let me know if u need suggestions for nice places to go to ♥️ – thank you for making me laugh 🙂

  2. Paula C. March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Hello, Mr. Holland.
    I love your writing, it makes it very entertaining, I look forward to your next blog and even though I see your Instagram stories is not the same as reading your blogs, take care.
    Greetings from Colombia

    • Dom March 8, 2020
      Reply

      my pleasure – greetings to Colombia

  3. Lorraine March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Another great blog Dom. I hope you enjoy your time in Dubai. So many contradictions in a beautiful setting. Be first to offer to change seats on your way home and you might just be lucky ☺️ there are some comparisons with your blog and I Gabriel, a wonderful thought provoking read – just finished this morning! I see no matter where you roamTom will be there to try to eclipse you, but remember he wouldn’t be the success as an actor and fine young man without your input which he has referenced in many interviews. Enjoy Dubai Dom. Looking forward to the next blog !

    • Dom March 8, 2020
      Reply

      Thanks for coming to IG which I guess picks up on some of the themes in this post. If you feel inclined, be grateful if you might review it either on my site or elsewhere – its a story I very much enjoyed telling.

      • Lorraine March 8, 2020
        Reply

        I really enjoyed reading it Dom. I will definitely review it over the next few days. Deciding which one to go for next but looking forward to The Fruit Bowl. ☺️

  4. Regina March 8, 2020
    Reply

    I must confess that I pride myself in guessing ahead of time where your blog post is going to end up (because there is always a twist, which I love). Today I did not see that twist coming. And it was all the more powerful for it. Thank you for your words at the end because they are true and need to be said more often. I will try to remember to say them when I am given the opportunity.
    Big international cities are such a hot bed of inspiration because they tend to have all of humanity at once. I find it takes several weeks to digest everything I’ve seen in one of them. Hell, even years. Good luck on your gig! May you be rewarded with much genuine laughter.

    • Dom March 8, 2020
      Reply

      Good to hear because I like a twist also – and sometimes a tight gear change is required – like today

  5. Faaiz March 8, 2020
    Reply

    I’m heading over to Pakistan with my mom and my little brother for a family relative wedding. And apparently the virus has took quite a bit of the population. I think it took some of them as deceased. This is something now that we can no longer take as a lesser priority, precautions must be made for me and my family heading over there. I want to follow some of the doctors advice for something as little as washing hands at all times to avoid the trip at all costs. My family isn’t too worried but I can already make predictions and visualizations in my head. I guess I’m a very cautions person – I don’t know. I wanna wear a mask and do just about everything to avoid it. We have some cases here in Canada but none have suffered heavily for it and we’ve managed to hold it off for now I think.

  6. Aya March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Loved the blog! Hope you have a great time here in Dubai ♥️

  7. Faaiz March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Anyways… I went to Dubai myself, it is very hot there compared to where I live in Canada and Surprisingly all the house were painted light brown so that the dust ruin the color of them. btw Dom I see some google ads here, is that supposed to happen and also Sam’s account has been HACKED!!! It was deleted on saturday and Suddenly it now shows up as matt with @I love eating good…

  8. Pamela March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Great blog! Very thought provoking especially when what some feel is beautiful but only achieved through multiple surgeries. I always wonder years down the road will there be regrets to what they did to their body! I’m sure you smile when you see Tom’s movies being shown in the local theaters!! He always shows such pride in his dad and you do the same for him!! Looking forward to my copy of ‘I, Gabriel’ arriving in the mail soon!! Curious after you release ‘The Fruit Bowl’, and chance you will do the same for ‘Only in America’?!

  9. David F. March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Coronavirus in Italy has blocked the entire population. Schools, cinemas, theaters and places of public interest are closed and there is no living soul on the streets. It’s a dramatic situation. However, I am happy for Tom and the success he’s having because he’s an enterprising boy and he deserves it. Good luck for your next gigs, one day I would like to participate in one of them!!

  10. Kayla March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Brilliant message! Thank you for sharing this with us❤️

  11. Sofia March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Hello Dominic, I am a new reader and I have to admit that this blog has reached my heart. It reminded me of a time when I only cared about my physical and i was looking for a “beauty conception” that i never will finded because each person is beautiful in their own way.
    I really love your blog and I will be waiting for the next, greetings from Spain.

  12. Andréa March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Great blog once again.
    I am a doctor and body modifications are an ethical conundrum. Our job is to ‘Do no harm.’ I have spent many an ethics lecture on where we draw the line. I certainly have yet to figure out an answer, but thankfully, Plastics isn’t my area of interest. People think that bad body image, is something only teenage girls suffer from, but I have seen a huge amount of boys and men coming in from complications of crazy diets and celebrity exercise routines. I’m afraid that the way in which social media is moving, this problem is only going to get worse.

    • Dom March 9, 2020
      Reply

      Thank you – I must say that I am fascinated by ethics and particularly so in your profession. Money is all powerful it seems – and all of what this throws up, at us and for us.

  13. M. March 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dom, that was a really great post! I really enjoyed it.

  14. Márcia Malaquias March 9, 2020
    Reply

    I just saw Tessa’s photo on Mrs. Nikki’s Instagram, poor thing is missing you, but someone has to work hard and take the risk, Success Mr. Dom, God bless you

  15. Beth March 9, 2020
    Reply

    Very well written Dom. It is sad that this is what the world has come to- plastic bodies, pandemic panics and toilet paper wars (it’s Australia too, take it from someone who stacks shelves!), but we have to accept the negatives to acknowledge the positives- everything will work out eventually, even if it means panic.

  16. Audrey March 10, 2020
    Reply

    Dom,

    Totally agree with you on the issue of role models sending mixed messages. It’s World Women’s Day or something like that….I hope my granddaughter has great role models as she grows, but it is hard to separate popularity versus positive influences.
    Enjoy Dubai and stay healthy!
    Audrey

    • Dom March 10, 2020
      Reply

      will do – albeit tomorrows gig is cancelled due to some kind of virus

  17. EMILIE MARTINEZ March 22, 2020
    Reply

    Hi,
    I only read your blog now but I really like it. I really like the way you analyze things and take a step back in front of this situation. Thanks for your words in a time like this. It is truly a pleasure to read you !!! Take care !!

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