Luxor Entertainment (or, The Products of Sad Imaginations)

As some of you will know (or at least guess) Freda and I love to watch “the tourists”. As we don’t have a telly, this is our main entertainment. Luxor has all types coming to visit, young, old, smart, unkempt, drunk, sober. If you can categorise them, we’ve seen them!
Although we visit five of the popular hotels in search of our entertainment, only three of them are really up to scratch. Obviously I cannot name these three, as you might recognise yourself as one of the tourists mentioned in the following anecdotes. Mind you, hotel staff sometimes come in for a bit of scrutiny as well.
For instance, there is Mr Hercule, (not his real name, you understand) a long time waiter at one of the “better” hotels. When we first saw him in 1997, we thought that he was absolutely perfect. Hair parted down the middle and plastered onto his head with some sort of oil, a round face beneath sporting a pair of lovely waxed moustaches and his wing collared waiters uniform, he was the epitome, the ultimate example of his profession! He is now a broken man, a shadow of his former grandness, reduced to wearing a flowered shirt like some Hawaiian cocktail shaker. However, even in this humiliating garb, he has not lost his polite and professional manner which has endeared him to hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors to one of Egypt’s top hotels. Bless him!

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

This was the New Winter Palace Hotel, and used to be one of our favourite hotels for "people watching". However, it is one of the eyesores to which the Governor has dealt the "death blow".

In another hotel, this one on the “hotel strip” (which many tourists think is the centre of town) we see the strangest things. A while ago we were sitting in our usual seats, which have the best view of the comings and goings, when I was flabbergasted to see two real life Geisha girls! Well, to be honest, they were Geisha old women. I would judge their ages to be around the 70 mark (being generous) and they were trailing behind an old oriental gentleman. They were the proper job too, hands folded into their sleeves, little rucksack-like things on their bottoms, white faces and black hair with big wooden pins stuck through. They shuffled along, instead of walking. It was truly astonishing!
About the same time, in the same hotel, we noticed another “shuffler”, but this time it was an old man. We took to him straight away and nick-named him Mr Dick. You know who Mr Dick is, don’t you? Well, this Mr Dick was the same one who played the part in the old black and white version of “David Copperfield”, Aunt Betsy Trotwood’s companion. (David was played by Freddie Bartholomew.) Although he didn’t shuffle in the film, this Mr Dick in Luxor reminded us of his film alter ego in many ways, the fly-away hair and the look of being nearly lost, which seemed to be always apparent.
The following week, he was replaced by another star of the silver screen; one Mr Buzz Lightyear! I know, I know; Buzz Lightyear is a cartoon character. But you didn’t see this bloke, all he needed was the space suit!
Actually the hotel in question is probably our favourite for people watching. We saw Joanna Lumley sitting there one evening, and yes, it really was her, no imagining this time!
Another non-imaginary figure is that of Pinocchio’s sister! Who would have believed that? I’m sure you’ve seen the odd local TV weatherman whom you thought was as “wooden” as our little friend from the Disney movie, well we have a girl in Luxor who was fashioned by the same bloke, Geppetto! (She is actually very charming, and we like her a lot.) When we first saw her, neither of us could figure out what was strange about her. Then it suddenly clicked; Geppetto had put her knee joints together back to front or something, it was the only rational explanation! Shortly after that she started wearing trousers all the time, so you will never find out who we are talking about. Only Freda and I really know the full story of Pinocchio’s sister, so there!
I’ve been prompted to write this little piece because of whom we saw tonight on one of our little jaunts to an hotel a bit nearer to our home. I was quite taken aback to see a man who was obviously a renegade from that strange place “Royston Vasey”. No, I don’t mean their erstwhile Mayor, the foul mouthed Roy “Chubby” Brown. This man must be a relation of Edward and Tubbs, the facial likeness was uncanny! (If you know what I mean)
Talking about Royston Vasey has reminded me of the furtive way in which I carry my little parcels of smoked ham from the small Christian shop in the souk. I feel just like the Royston Vasey characters with their little parcels of “specials” from Mr Briss the butcher. If only all these Muslim friends, which I pass, knew what I was carrying!!!!!
Before I go, if you’re wondering what happened about getting pictures of the harpist and singer at the Winter Palace? Well, I did manage to get back but only for a few minutes, and I missed the song I’d hoped to record (Shenandoah). But I did get some video to put on here. Only problem, is that every time I try to load it the stupid internet connection starts to run really slow and eventually kicks out. I’ll get it some day, don’t worry!

Look out Church!!!!!

Click picture to make it bigger.

Yes, look out church! I took this pic a day or two ago and have only now got to put it on here. It's the Avenue of Sphinxes again, the Kabesh Road, the destruction of so much of Luxor's more recent history.
Sharia Karnak, between the Emilio Hotel and the Oasis Cafe. The old St Mark Hospital and the "Government Shop" building have been gone for a few weeks, and a rather large hole has been excavated in their place. I had a look in, but cannot see anything of interest yet.
The buildings which are currently coming down, look to be of the same period as the Pasha's house on the Corniche. They were well matched by the building across Sharia Karnak on the corner by the Oasis Cafe. It's such a shame! From my photo, and following a logical progression, it looks like the Evangelical Presbyterian Church will get it next, although I don't think it is actually on top of the Kabesh Road, but certainly within the 76(?) metre width of the area which our beloved Governor wants cleared for tourist use. You can see the Churches twin steeples in the picture.

A touch of Western culture in Luxor.

Well! We've just got back from visiting the Old Winter Palace, I even wore my linen jacket and proper shoes.
If you know Luxor, then you'll know the Winter Palace Hotel on the Corniche, and you will also know it's reputation of being a bit "posh". We go there occasionally for a special treat, birthdays and the like, and have "Afternoon Tea" in the Victoria Lounge. It is a rather grand affair with smoked salmon sandwiches, cakes and a jam and cream scone etc. The problem is that Egyptians prepare it in a French managed hotel, so that it is never quite right. Still lovely, mind you, but the scone is a bun and the jam is invariably orange marmalade!
Today's special treat was to go and see and hear the live, award winning, Irish harpist lady and her singing friend. The harpist was Lynn Saoirse and she played some delightful pieces as well as accompanying Donna Roche singing a variety of songs from different genres. It was a good break from our usual rounds. Donna's voice is as clear as a bell, and Lynn's soft touch on the harp balanced it perfectly.
If you are in Luxor now, and get the chance to read this, then take my advice and get along to the Old Winter Palace to enjoy this pair, they're only here for one week. In the afternoon, they play and sing in the Victoria Lounge between 4.30 and 5.30. Then they are in the bar from 6.30 till 7.00, but with the piano then.
If I have the opportunity to go again, I'll remember to take the camera!!!
I had a strange telephone conversation recently. "Hello Edward, what would be the English term for mougoff? My wife says it would be the 'bus depot, what do you think?" "Well," says I, "the 'bus depot is where the 'buses actually live, but my limited understanding of Arabic leads me to believe that mougoff is the 'bus station, or terminus, or both." "Thanks," said the caller, "so the big mini-bus place that they've just built on the West bank should be called the Luxor Bus Station?" "No, not really, as it's only for the West Bank 'buses, I would suggest Luxor West Bank Bus Station would be the best" I replied.
The result of the conversation is there for all to see. I'm so glad that I've had a bit of input on the Governor's modernisation programme, even this unofficial one which is so small. lol.

Click on the picture to make it bigger.

Out with the Old.....Part 2

The other week I took the following picture of the demolition of the old Mosque, which the Police Station used to stand next to, just off Sharia Karnak. Of course it stands on top of the Kabesh Road (Sphinx Avenue)and so must be removed.....hence "Out with the old......and in with the older!

Click on the picture to make it bigger.
The minaret lasted for another couple of weeks but now it has also gone. All that's left is the Sheikh's tomb. I expect that it might be allowed to stay, and even be tarted up as it is to the side of the sphinxes and might be another little point of interest for the tourists.

Click on the picture to make it bigger.
I cannot say that I will mourn the passing of that particular Mosque as it was one which added to the cacophony of simultanious calls to prayer which assailed the "Our Luxor" roof terrace on Friday lunch times, when the wind was in the West.