Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

That was Daphne Oxenford's catchphrase on 'Listen With Mother' many years ago. The next time I heard of her was when she played the village postmistress in 'To the Manor Born', alongside the incomparable Penelope Keith and the very dashing Peter Bowles. I'll bet she could relate an interesting saga or two.

That's what we in the literary business call 'a clue'! And here's another:

And yet another!!!!!

Yes, Dear Reader, it's the 'Saga of the Guest Bathroom'!

It started when we had no guests, and nothing to do except annoy each other because we were getting bored. Freda is an artist when it comes to gentle persuasion, and, like all dutiful husbands, I've fallen for it for the past 40 years. First it was 'just' the tiles behind the sink in the kitchen, then it was the sink itself, and then............well, you know the rest.

Now then, I've had my own plans for the bathroom in the guest apartment for quite some time. But I don't insist on having my own way, as it tends to generally upset the apple cart.  Shwy-er shwy-er (slowly slowly, or softly softly) as the Egyptians would say. I'm not quite as daft as I look, you know, or as green as I'm cabbage-looking!

So, what do you think of these two pictures of our guest bathroom? It has certainly served its purpose over the past 6 years, it's relatively user friendly with its pedestal handbasin and mirror, it even has a little shelf for bits and bobs. But no 'wow' factor, something is missing!

After consulting her interior design books and winding up her interior designer's brain, Freda decided that the pedestal handbasin was ugly and 'old hat', and it had to go to be replaced by a modern, eye-catching 'something'. Eventually, the something was revealed as a 'counter-top' handbasin. (How I hate that expression 'counter-top', it's as if you were going to have your handbasin, which in our case is next to the toilet, on public display in a shop. After all, that's where you'd find a 'counter', is it not? A surface onto which you would 'count' a customer's money, or change, when selling something? Stupidity, I say!)

The hunt was on! As Luxor slowly modernises, there are more shops selling the necessities which are needed to provide pleasant accommodations for modern living. Ahmed Hashem is no longer the only worthwhile bathroom shop in town, although that is where we started to look. There was one handbasin there which caught my eye as soon as I saw it. It was square, and tapered towards the bottom, it just shouted "Buy me!". But, never mind, we all know that Freda will not be rushed in to anything, shwy-er shwy-er, steady as she goes!

Actually, this whole operation has taken so long that I cannot reliably recall the exact sequence of events any more! Suffice it to say that after visiting all the other bathroom shops in Luxor, we eventually plumped for this square 'Ideal Standard' handbasin, even though it cost a small fortune. Mr Ahmed wanted me to take the one from the shop, assuring me that it would prove to be very difficult to obtain another. But I didn't want my guests to be confronted with a lovely new, and expensive, square handbasin which had black marks around the top edge, funnily enough! After much cajoling, he promised to order another from Cairo, al hamdulillah! (thanks be to God).

It would be delivered on the following Monday, insh'Allah, (God willing.) I arranged transport and toodled off to the shop, money in hand. Mr Ahmed was just going out the door, "Ah, Mr Edward, I'm just going to pray. I'll only be five minutes." How dare he tell such a bare-faced lie about praying? It's beyond me, but I waited anyway. He returned after about 20 minutes. "I've come for the sink," says I. "Oh, it didn't arrive yet Mr Edward, the truck broke down at Minya, perhaps tomorrow, or after tomorrow?" Why on earth couldn't he have said that before he made me wait while he went to pray??????

A similar sequence of events, with only slight differences, occurred several more times, and each time he tried to persuade me to take the display model from the shop; yes, he knew it was marked, but he'd give me a good discount! (????) I stopped actually going to the shop, telephoning him on his mobile instead. At last, his answer was that it had arrived and was waiting for me to collect it! I was there like a shot, but he wasn't, and no-one else knew anything about it. I didn't know whether to be deflated or enraged! Finally, I decided to search the shop myself, and found it. It was lying on the floor, and the top edge was covered in 'Ideal Standard' tape. "It's the same one," I thought, "and that thieving little swine has just stuck this tape over the top of the damage!!!!!" I was livid! I've no idea what the bathroom and tile seeking Egyptian families thought of this little, fat and red-faced, Ingleesi as he sat on the floor in the middle of the shop picking away at the super strong Sellotape on a handbasin.

By the time Mr Ahmed returned, I'd got all the tape off, and realised that it hadn't been another of his tricks, but that the tape had been put on at the factory to protect the edge while it was being transported. Deflated, this time, I think!

So, that was a major advance, next we would need a tall tap (faucet). Mr Ahmed had just the one! As he is the main agent for Ideal Standard, that was the manufacturer, and it was only 3889le, how spiffing, 400 nicker for a tap? The man is certifiable!

If you're like me, than you won't be 'sitting comfortably' any more. My bottom is aching, along with my bad knee, so I'm giving up for tonight.

Look out for the next instalment, where (among other eye-popping revelations) Freda wants to kill the carpenter!!!!


  1. you must be a saint surely?? Well there is the wellknown saying 'testing the patience of a saint'! So made me smile - making you wait while he went off to pray - then telling you on his return basin hadn't arrived.

    Enjoyed the story, glad you have your desired wash basin in the end. Hope you get the taps now!

  2. Will see if i can get toilet paper to mach the seat next time i come LOL sandra mick