Nevertheless, on occasion one does need help, and in many circumstances the helper does, indeed, become our hero of the moment!
I've been on with the modifications to the main staircase here for quite some time now, it may even get finished this year!!!! But I've been held up of late, what with sitting on the landing just looking at it and wondering how best to overcome the problems created by nothing being straight, level or plumb, and then wondering what I'm able to accomplish myself, with the limited selection of tools (and even more limited skills) at my disposal, not to mention who I'm going to persuade to do the bits of machining etc.
The last time I bought a piece of wood at Naseem Salama (Luxor's B&Q, also known as the "underground" shop) next to the Horus Hotel on Sharia Karnak, I thought that it was hugely expensive! I'd been used to paying 32le-ish for three metre pieces of 3 x 2, and the last piece was about 90le or something. Mind you, it wasn't 3 x 2, and I think it might have been some sort of hardwood (which I didn't need, but the dimensions were right). Anyway, I snaffled 100le from the Dear Leader's purse, just in case, and off I trotted! I also needed another 2.4 metre piece of architrave.
Found the architrave straight away, in the stack just inside the rear entrance, from the tourist suq. I had to get the gaffer to give one of his slaves the key to their storeyard where they keep the bigger pieces of wood, and off we went to see what could be found. It's chock-a-block with bits of undressed and warped timber which look as if they've been lying there since Noah built his Ark. They're also all filthy! After sawing a piece off (1.7m from a 3m plank) I took it back into the store, expecting the worst. I know that the architrave is 15le per piece, and I held my breath as the slave told the master the sizes of the timber which I had.
"Twenty six pounds." came the mumbled demand through 70 odd years of untrimmed moustaches. I could hardly believe my ears! It was only 11le
But now I had to get it dressed, Dear Reader. The last time I went to our nearest carpenter's shop, it was to learn that they couldn't make a simple table from a drawing, but the alternative was to pay 20le for the caleche to trail me all the way to Karnak to Abdu's workshop, and then, would he be there?
Actually, the carpenter man was only too pleased to see me, and he understood my hand-waving gibberish immediately. Here he is, adjusting his planing machine. Hero number one!!!
Samir (or Samra, as he's sometimes known) is the softer-spoken elder brother of the famous Mr Ahmed Badawy; they're caleche-men extraordinaire! I can nominate him as yesterday's Hero. I've told you before about their often distressing state, lack of cash engendering all sorts of problems. Thankfully, a regular reader, and sometime Luxor visitor, often sends us sums of money specifically to help the two branches of this family, else I really don't know what might have become of them! Obviously, we use their caleches as often as we can, although they'll never get rich from our three or four times a week hires. He landed at our door last night with this:
Finally, I'd like to tell you a little of our trip out to the Nile Palace this afternoon. When we got there, we were nonplussed to find that our usual table, on the terrace, was already taken. Never mind though, the usurpers were English tourists, so we had a chat with them, and let them off! Usual tea, de-caff and English cake were ordered and duly served, spot-on as expected.
It was nice, just sitting there and watching the Nile traffic as it made its leisurely way up or down the lazy river.
Please, don't imagine that I'm denigrating the real heroes of this world. I have the greatest of respect for and gratitude towards those whose magnificent efforts have kept our shores safe these past hundreds of years, and those too who, even today, are working tirelessly to prevent harm coming to us. God bless them all!