Orange, anyone?

I still remember the slogan from an old television advertising campaign; "Small ones are more juicy!" I've no idea if that's true, but we do like the odd glass of orange juice here at Our Luxor.

After being to the baker over the lines, I just had to snap this lot; 1.75le per kilo!

Funny thing is, that two hours later as I passed on the 'bus, at least half of them were gone!!! 

"Forty Sheets of Grey" (well, Silvery Grey) or "You couldn't make it up, really!"

I do hope that our Daily Mail friend doesn't mind me borrowing one of his catchphrases, but I don't think that I could have 'made up' the sequences of several events over the past week or so.

OK, I have the badly knees, and the thrombophlebitis, a bit in both legs as it happens. But the 'men' are also here to do the roof! What can I do? We've got some English guests due shortly, so the job has to be finished in time to get everything cleaned up before their arrival, obviously.

I stripped all the fancy patterned tent fabric panels off the inside of the shady bit of the roof terrace. It was like dismantling the Temples at Abu Simbel to move it out of harm's way, or the Beamish Methodist Chapel in order to rebuild it for posterity at the fabulous Beamish Museum. I numbered every piece of wood with an indelible magic marker, as I methodically undid all the screws.

The idea was, that Mr Abdu (the kid brother of our late carpenter, Taha) would come with his men and remove all the old roof and replace it with a new wooden frame (re-using as  much of the old timber as possible) on which he would mount steel 'wriggly tin' sheets which would fall away to the back of the building where the rainwater would no longer be our 'problem'.

Although I had previously calculated the weight of the timber used on the outer roof construction, I was quite taken aback at the actual volume that there was.

And that was just the start! There was still three quarters of the roof to go:

As it transpired, we ended up with an inverted 'V' shaped frame, with very shallow angles, and falling away to either side of the building. Here they are; Abdullah and young Mr Abdu, positioning the central support, and then a couple of shots of the results of their day's work.

Abdu calls Freda 'The Government', he's very shrewd for a young fellah! The Government had forbidden me to actually go onto the roof, but..........she knows only too well that you cannot leave Egyptians to do a job, and then go back expecting it to have been done to your specification! When I got up there, it wasn't really too bad, as long as I kept well away from the edges! Of course there was the old wood lying about everywhere, as it was being taken off, complete with nails.

It didn't hurt too much, when the rusty nail pierced the sole of my plastic 'pretend' Crocs, but it did bleed like Billyo! This actually gave me quite a fright, I'll tell you why: Two brothers now park their buses and coaches in the commercial yard which my family have had since 1955, and one of them also stood on a rusty nail. Three days later he had to have his leg chopped off at the knee!!!!!!!!!!! This was foremost in my deranged mind as I lumbered downstairs to enlist the help of Nurse Freda. All I wanted was to pour the whole bottle of TCP into the small wound, so I got rather (unnecessarily) annoyed with my nurse (who was doing her level best, bless her) when she tried to get me to wash my feet in a dish with a little of the magic liquid in water. After chasing her away, I managed to spill TCP on the priceless livingroom carpet (while getting plenty of it in the hole in my sole, mind). This frightened me more than the thought of losing my leg, to be honest. 

Never mind, my leg was still there three days later, without swelling up or turning black. Elhamdulillah, as they say hereabouts.

The story of the roofing sheets really deserves a blog of its own, but here we go, anyway: I first went looking for wriggly tin two or three years ago, and found the shop at Abu Jude. The man gave me the proper price straight away, and it was a nice shop. Hardware on the upper ground level, and steel of all shapes and sizes on the lower ground; just my sort of place!

Hoping that the price hadn't changed very much, I rang Ahmed the calleche man to take me around there, as Abdu wanted one sheet just to make sure of the size etc, and we haven't yet worked out which buses go where in that part of the town, not frequenting it very often. Something was amiss with Ahmed, as he would send his brother Samir. Never mind, Samir's fine!

Samir wasn't fine at all, when he eventually landed 50 minutes later! I was furious when I found that the metal shop had closed ten  minutes before we got there, as you can imagine. I asked him to come for me the following morning,  at 10.30 (after my next appointment with Dr Yacoub) and we would get the sheet then. That worked out OK, and I also got a prescription from the Doc for some Warfarin to thin my blood and therefore ease its passage through my dodgy leg veins, along with a new painkiller for the old knees.

Not being quite certain whether the steel man was Christian or not, Freda and I decided to pay him a visit on Saturday evening, to see if he could deliver the sheets on Sunday. Again, I rang Ahmed. "I'm very close to you, I'll be there in a minute", we trotted downstairs, expecting to just beat him there. We certainly did that! An hour or so later he and Samir turned up with the one calleche, and some cock and bull story about the wheel almost coming off. (He doesn't realise that I spent most of my working life among coach operators, and therefore know more pathetic excuses for being late than he could ever possibly imagine!) Never mind (again!), off we trotted along to Abu Jude where the steel shop was closed, again!!!!!

The railway crossing at Abu Jude is also closed (looks permanent too) and all the traffic is crossing at the one which is up our street. This crossing has been one of our cheapest places of entertainment over the years! I cannot really explain the overcrowded and rather complicated layout of the roads just now, but suffice it to say that the antics of the drivers and pedestrians are choice! Here's a picture, which might give you a small taster, although you've really got to see it 'in the flesh' so to speak, to get the full value. 

It wasn't long before Abdu and Abdullah were ready for the sheets, and just a few minutes before Abdullah and I were about to leave to get them on Monday, Abdu remembered another place, where he thought he might get a better deal. "Go for it!" was my pennypinching response.

The forty sheets duly arrived in the back of a motor-cycle truck, at a saving of some 300le or thereabouts, and were unloaded into the entrance of our building. The three of us carried one each, they're 3 metres long and 80 centimetres wide, and weigh (according to Abdu) 9kgs each. As you, Dear Reader, will know; we have 83 stairs to the roof, in 9 flights, with 8 x 180 degree turnings with landings. The landings are less than 3 metres wide as well as the ceilings being less than 3 metres high, so you can imagine that it's a bit awkward carrying these 3 metre things up there without the corners digging into the painted plaster on the walls.

The two workers had carried 5 sheets up before Abdu informed me that he couldn't carry on, as he had a medical problem with his neck, and I should get someone off the street to heave them up for 20le or something. That would be great, if I really wanted to have to re-plaster all the staircase I thought! I took the huff a bit, and told him that it was 'no problem', and that I'd just bring them up myself.

I'm sure you're laughing now, Dear Reader, but I also think that most of us have done equally stupid things in our lifetime! Here's a few of the beasts at the next but one top landing:

Shwire shwire, as the Egyptians say! Slowly slowly. So I spent the next afternoon and following morning carrying a 9 kilogramme, 3 metre steel sheet up 2656 steps, around 256 awkward corners, and trundling back down again empty-handed. At some point, I must have lost the power of reasoning, as when I saw our apprentice cleaner (Mr Rashad) I thought to ask him to help! Of course, he's always game for a laugh, is our Mr Rashad. I impressed upon him the need for great care, showing him exactly what I didn't want him to do to the walls with the edges or corners of the sheets. How could I be so STUPID??????? He managed to catch every wall on the way! Surprisingly enough, my knees and my superficial thrombophlebitis haven't complained too much, or at least, not yet, but maybe I should have taken my blood pressure after the incident with Daft Rashad!

I have to congratulate Abdu and Abdullah as they have soldiered on, and have managed to cover more than half the roof in the last two days. It really does look quite splendid!

So, I'm just getting into my new tablet regime, and they're just starting to have their effects, I dare say. Certainly my knees haven't been as painful in bed, and I've therefore been sleeping better, and the phlebitis hasn't been such a bother either, thanks to the anticoagulant. 

Freda and I stopped work early today, as we had an appointment with a visiting friend at the Winter Palace. She's good company, and seems to have as interesting experiences (or NOT, depending on your outlook) as we do. As usual, I was a little late in getting ready, and in my haste, I managed to almost slice my bottom lip off with the razor! Being the new 'Anticoagulant Boy', I was bleeding like a stuck pig, and it was 5 minutes past leaving time!!!!!

You just couldn't make it all up, could you?