After reading that Shepheard’s Hotel welcomed British Army Officers but not ordinary troops, I thought of this poem that my father wrote. These are his thoughts after an attempt to indulge in a few drinks in a cabaret. The poem is several pages long; here are three of the verses. My transcriptions appear below the images.
Seven Days’ Leave
The digger grinned as he heard his name
They were dishing out the pays,
Next thing, he gave a hearty shout,
He’d got leave for seven days.
That night for him was sleepless,
He couldn’t help but think
If he’d see the sights of Egypt,
Get in a game or drink.
About the town of Tel Aviv
He wandered for a while,
Looking for a lair-up pub
Where he could spend his pile.
He came across a cabaret
But ’twas “For Officers Only”,
He felt a little homesick then,
Almost a little lonely.
A man’s got a ton of bloody dough
And can’t get a bloody drink.
“For bloody officers only” thought he,
Wouldn’t it strike you bloody pink.
After hours of solid searching
And of pests all out to sell
He came across a cobber,
“With him”, he’d been thru hell.
Pauline Croze has a voice that comforts me; a little bit husky, a little bit of a lisp. She sings clearly and not too fast so I can sing along with her, following the lyrics to practise my French. The jazzy rhythm helps me remember the words; it’s also great for chair dancing. Sometimes I dance on my feet (when no one’s watching).
When I took the photo of this CD cover, an energy-efficient light bulb overhead made her skin too pale. I grabbed a piece of the red organza (see post from 22nd Feb), set the camera timer and held the fabric close to the light bulb. It’s given her a bit of a tan.
I recommend her album even if you don’t speak French.
23rd Feb – Driving in blazing sunlight, I entered a short tunnel and my eyes didn’t adjust. Everything went dark and I had to trust my knowledge of the road for a few seconds.
24th Feb – Discovered that Google makes finding a Justice of the Peace easy. I gave it a suburb and it listed the local JPs in order of distance in metres from my house, though I hadn’t given an exact address. I like the knowledge Google has but I hate it knowing where I am.
25th Feb – This afternoon I read about Shepheard’s Hotel for two hours so I could write a factual paragraph for the Indulge challenge. I began the weekly photo challenges with just pictures in mind; now the writing matters.
26th Feb – A black crow picked up a white cockatoo feather, flew up onto a fence, held the feather under its claw and tore it to shreds, the white scraps catching in the breeze and blowing away.
27th Feb – When I asked a woman in a quilting shop to tell me the difference between cotton and polyester thread, she said, ‘Well, this one’s cotton because it’s cotton. It’s made from cotton.’
Several weeks ago we found a possum in the tool cupboard (see post of 16th Jan). Now there are two.
The “English Bridge” at night: the bridge itself is partly visible if you click to enlarge the photo. The lamppost is on the bridge but the buildings are to its left.
The “English Bridge” in Cairo was also known by its French name, Pont des Anglais. A few decades later it was nicknamed Kobri Badi’a after Madame Badi’a who taught belly dancing in a cabaret near the bridge, and then in the 1950s it was known as Evacuation Bridge for the British who were being chased out of Egypt. Its Egyptian name is Kobri Al Gala’a, or El Gala’a. In the middle of the day, it opened to let the feluccas pass through. See my post of 7th January for a photo of graceful feluccas on the Nile.
Green. Where do I begin? I see it through every window; the yard and gardens are full of it. In my back yard, a fig tree laden with green figs overgrows a garden of zantedeschias and red valerian, both flowerless here, and lemon balm, a relative of mint. Two steps hide beneath the luxuriance but to descend you’d have to break the spider’s web stretched between the fig tree and the rose bush on the right (out of sight). I caught the web this afternoon with the western sun hitting its silken threads. The spider hides inside a rolled leaf thinking she’s invisible because we can’t see her face, but her legs are hanging from the leaf roll. You might have to zoom in.
Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo was apparently the first hotel of the kind that become fashionable and famous for their opulence, like Raffles of Singapore. It was built and owned by Samuel Shepheard, an Englishman, and was the place to stay for European travellers to Egypt or to India and the east. It was built in the 1840s, replaced at the turn of the century with the structure you see in the photo, and destroyed by fire and riots against the British in 1952. During the war, British Officers on leave (including Australians) could relax in the wicker chairs on the terrace, though I’ve read that ordinary troops would not have been welcome. In the film The English Patient, the hotel was the setting in some scenes, but since it no longer existed, another hotel (in Venice) and a set were used. While some early 20th-century travellers boasted of staying there, a few writers complained of mosquitoes, lice, and other unpleasantness. Edward Lear said it was like a ‘horribly noisy railway station’.
In 1957, a new Shepheard’s Hotel was built a short distance from this one.
In this photo, the car amuses me, the driver out in the weather while the passengers are covered, imitating a horse and carriage arrangement.
I don’t have a bathroom cabinet, I have a shelf. Actually, half a shelf, since my other half has the other half. Here’s a photo of some of the items on my half. The red perfume bottle and its reflection became an obsession and I took about ten photos before settling on this one, then cropping it. Against advice, I used the flash for two reasons: without it, the camera told me with its little warning hand that I shake too much; with it, my shaking is forgiven, and even better, the bottle is animated and fiery.
No, these are not my shoes, they are my son’s. You can see my shoes in the photo of 21st February.
My son favours one particular style and buys them all from an American shoe store online. To my surprise he has never been disappointed with his purchase, and they always fit. There are five pairs in this photo and several more in the cupboard. He has different colours for different life themes. The pair with pink trim were purchased when he had a girlfriend with pink hair. But now that he’s no longer with her, he has adopted a more rugged look. He started at university this week, studying physics, and this morning he went out in a khaki shirt and the camouflage pattern boots.