Saturday, 7 January 2012

More lies

I've just had a quick look for the photo of the wet pyramid between the horse's ears (taken on a 1930s camera) but it's so buried under other rubbish that I just can't be arsed to find it now.

Like I said, I was duped into hiring a horse so that I could be duped into hiring a room in a desert military barracks for a week which could only be reached by Jeep or horse. The deal was struck during the middle of an impromptu horse race at the foot of the Great Pyramid, and my man's horse won, netting him an extremely large amount of money. Those dragomen are not poor.

He arranged to take me round to his house for dinner that night, and this was cooked and served by his wife who spent the entire evening keeping to the background, only appearing when he called for her to bring something else. After dinner he showed me his most prized possession (so he said) - a cheap print of an English, 19th century fox-hunt in full gallop. Tally Ho.

This print - he solemnly informed me - was worth £500, but I could have it for £300. He had sent his shifty son out into the night to buy hashish to soften me up for the deal, and this was given to me in a hubble-bubble pipe which had been loaded and lit by his wife. After I had refused his ever-diminishing offers for the fabulous art work, he feigned affront and seemed to become deeply insulted at my lack of appreciation for the fine 'painting', but - like I said - I had become used to the ever shifting ways of the wily Egyptian and took no notice.

I had finally had enough of the evening when he brought around the local bank-manager - a western looking, middle-aged man in a suit - to fleece me over some money changing deal, so I insisted he brought the horse round so I could ride home to the Secret Police about 5 miles into the Sahara, and get some sleep.

His shifty son eventually appeared with two saddled horses, one of which was for me, and we headed out of the back streets and onto the plateau.

To my amazement, a thick fog had descended, and visibility was down to about 30 feet. The shifty son decided he would have a bit of fun with me, and galloped off into the night, leaving me to try and find my own way across the 4 foot wide, rock-strewn paths which criss-crossed their diverse ways beneath the pyramids. Either side of these tiny paths, the land falls away in a steep angle down to little valleys excavated about 40 feet beneath the present surface, and the looming presence of the Great Pyramid could only be felt by it's gravitational pull - it was extremely dark and very foggy.

Suddenly, my horse - probably sensing my fear - became spooked itself and bolted off into the darkness with me hanging on and trying to stop it with all my might. It ran headlong into a massive boulder and fell to the ground. Somehow, I managed to stay in the saddle, and I refused to dismount until it had scrabbled it's way back up on all four feet - a feat which was witnessed by the shifty son who heard the commotion and had come galloping back to make sure he had not got into big trouble by killing both his father's horse and his father's source of income from it.

I was absolutely furious, and verbally laid into the little shit, telling him that if he did not do exactly as I instructed him from this moment on, I would get off the horse and beat him to death. He believed me, and the rest of the journey was conducted at a slow walking pace, with him leading the way about 10 feet in front. My horse had been mortally chastised as well, and all I had to do to steer it was gently touch it with one knee or the other - I think it would have performed dressage if I had demanded it.

I was awoken in the morning by a 10 ton truck parked outside the window of the hut, which was full of about 20 soldiers dressed in desert fatigues - each one offering me sex at military discount rates.

When the shifty son arrived with the spare horse, he took one look at me and asked what had happened to my face. I went to the barracks shower block and looked into the dirty mirror on the wall. Overnight, my face had been host to a massive banquet for mosquitos, and looked as though someone had fired a weak shotgun at it from about 10 feet.

Back the 5 miles to the stable by the pyramids for a breakfast of mint tea (it's mint tea with everything there) and a white cheese sandwich surrounded by groaning and stinking camels - then the dragoman asked me what I wanted to do with the rest of my day. As he was asking, a camel stepped on my foot, and I learnt how heavy camels really are.

Since I was paying for the horse 24 hours a day (and the other two animals that went with it), I had decided that we would make the 20-something mile journey into the Sahara to visit the stepped pyramid of Saqqara - the oldest and most remote pyramid in Egypt, and probably the first one to have been built, thousands of years ago. To this he agreed, and Shifty and me set off about 20 minutes later.

About 10 miles into the desert, I turned around to look at the pyramids at Giza, and they appeared no smaller than they had at about one mile away. It is only when you get quite some distance from the Great Pyramid that you realise how big it really is.

After a long and arduous trip across the rock-strewn wilderness, passing sculptural mountains of dumped Coca-Cola cans and stopping off for mint tea at a small encampment of old men in the middle of nowhere, the Saqqara pyramid appeared on the distant horizon, and Shifty stopped, pointed at it and said: "There - pyramid of Saqqara. Now we go home."

I once again became angry with him and insisted on going on to look at it - having come this far - but he told me that all the land from here on was secret military, and we would be shot if we rode into it.

I still don't know if he was telling the truth or just wanted to fulfill the absolute minimum of the bargain (but I have a shrewd idea about it), then get back to Cairo again for some other shifty business, but we turned around and wandered back the way we came anyway.

On the journey home, Shifty (an unwholesome looking youth of about 16), became bored, so spent the the rest of the trip listlessly and shamelessly masturbating beneath the folds of his djellaba.

Not my idea of desert romance.


  1. But probably better than sex with 20 soldiers.

  2. I only said that because I have a feeling that T.E. Lawrence might have thought it the perfect way to spend a little time in the desert with a small army.

  3. all this foreign intrigue.....just like an episode of WISH YOU WERE HERE...

    I have been inspired to write about an exciting time we had, exporing the ancient cliffs over Scarborough

  4. Tom, you don't know a good deal when you see it - a foxhunt print AND military sex? You should have gone for it.

    Seriously, that was like the beginning chapter of a very exciting novel. Very good reading.

  5. 'It Ain't Half Hot Mum', more like, John. Like I said before, I only talk about the bits that make it seem as though I have had an interesting life. The other 99.9 % I leave out.

    Aha - now I have a clearer idea of where you are coming from, Iris (beginning to sound like Germany to me).