I spent twelve months in Saudi Arabia and within three weeks I wanted to go home again. The job was dull, the social life was constraining and the goalposts had moved from the previous guy leaving and me starting. The Boss persuaded me to stick it out, treat it as a learning experience and let the money roll in, so I did.
It was rather tedious but I learned a lot about other systems and North American Telecoms standards. The Aramco easy listening radio was my friend, as well as the laid back bunch of Yanks, Canucks & Brits I knocked about with.
As we worked for four months on/two weeks off, the time between R&Rs dragged somewhat and I eventually noticed that a lot of the songs on the Aramco radio were about going home. They were often heavily censored:- for example, they cut out the words from the Mamas & Papas’ California dreamin’:
well, I got down on my knees
and I pretend to pray
(You know, I never listened that hard, I always thought they sang began to pray but you can have a listen for yourself).
One that slipped past the censors though, was Afternoon Delight by the Starland Sunshine Band, which my good friend at the time Jack Mar assured me was about rumpy pumpy.
(Of course, he didn’t say rumpy pumpy, I think he used Top ten Canadian euthemism number five ).
Another popular song was Johnny Mathis’ I’m coming home, an anthem for those having their last breakfast before an R&R (or end of contract).
I returned to the UK for Christmas 1982 and tried not to think about my year of relative tedium. However, during 1983, Local Hero was was released and when I heard that haunting theme going home written my Mark Knopfler, my thoughs turned to the friends I had left behind. The song still gives me goose bumps. This version is orchestrated and whilst I miss the Sax, the Hammondesque keyboards are great.