Somebody recently sent me an email in which a video showed several kilometres of Dubai roadway taken up with identical tanker-trucks all heading out of town. I learned from another friend who had worked there that these trucks were all on their way to sewage treatment plants. He explained that when the hysterical building boom hit Dubai, producing such buildings as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure, public utilities such as water, electricity and sewage struggled to catch up. Consequently, much pumping out and a fleet of tanker trucks.

To its credit, Dubai is trying to make the best of its shit. It uses the grey water for parklands and sells the dried out, de-ponged solid stuff to gardeners to produce food which people then eat and turn back into shit: sic fiat semper omnibus quest omnibus.

A few years ago I wrote a novel called cafe. I am reminded of my hero’s soliloquy:

“I realised what a taboo subject ‘shit’ was. People talked endlessly about food but never about its destination. Dumbed down mentions of shit only ever came up in the media when governments discussed sewage disposal or fouled public places. Sometimes they managed, holding their metaphorical noses, to utter the words: ‘untreated solids’. Yet shit was more likely to overwhelm mankind than most other stuff. There seemed too much of it to handle. Every day billions of sphincters disengaged – to the private pleasure of their owners – and released millions of tons of shit. Every sweet child, every gorgeous model, every nun, every derelict, every athlete, every prime minister – they all took a shit.

“Somewhere in the United Nations there had to be an agency dealing specifically with the facts about shit. There would be studies on how much shit there was on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. It would also have calculated how long the human race could last before it drowned in its own shit. Some future generation would have to build spaceships for mankind to escape Earth because it had turned into a huge, rotating ball of shit. But the United Nations wouldn’t dare publish its findings because the problem could not be solved and, much more to the point, decent people couldn’t bear to be confronted with it. Decent people could talk about global warming, AIDS, weapons of mass destruction, the big bang, the mind of God, orgasms, but not about shit.”