Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Been there, Done That....

kishenehn is in Egypt doing all the stuff I did twenty one years ago. Including bombing around in scary, clapped-out taxis. Cool.

He doesn't mention the horns though- I remember Cairo as just a cacophony of horns. Parp, parp, parp, parp, parp!

I had a thing about Egypt. I really don't know why. Something to do with roots. I had to go see it for myself.

My wife said she wasn't interested. Truth is she saw my going away as a brill opportunity to spend lots and lots of quality time with her shiny, new girlfriend.  So I took my mother instead.

What I remember most vividly is the third-worldy stuff. Like seeing pre-adolescent kids working on road gangs. Like having some tout collar me on the street with over-friendly gush about Manchester United, steer me into his shop, then bully and cajole me into buying perfume. Like having a policeman in the grounds of the Cairo museum come up to me- quite unsolicited-  point out some statue or other and demand baksheesh. 

He  was a starved-looking, big-eyed tourist policeman- a sulky village boy dragooned into doing his national service and  wishing he was any place else.  I could  have had his head on a platter if I'd reported him to the authorities.

I also climbed up inside the Great Pyramid and saw the Tutankhamen gew-gaws and flew to Luxor and visited the Valley of the Kings- which is just the hottest place I've ever been in my life.

Know what? I'm kind of bored by ancient Egyptian art. You've seen one colossal statue of Rameses II, you've seen them all.  Same with tombs. Same with pyramids.

Inhuman, impersonal, fascistic. 

The only things in Egyptian art I really connect with- really love- are the Graeco-Roman mummy portraits from the Fayoum. They're so alive. So  individual.  I look into the eyes and think,  Yes, I know you-  we've met before - and, yes, I totally believe in reincarnation.


Whose were the lips were laid to mine
Last night in dream?
Against the dark, against the day,
Dead faces stream.

O come in rags, O come in lace,
Under what stars you will.
Eyes I last saw in painted wax-
I'll recognise them still.

So, anyway,  I came back from Egypt and- smack bang, like I'd tripped over my own front door step- plunged into personal crisis. First thing I saw was that my marriage was over. Second thing was that I didn't believe in Jesus any more. Within weeks I'd tumbled into adulterous lurve and was ringing up my bishop to say "sack me!"

So I became a little crazy and a bachelor of sorts,  with a picture of Isis- painted in an Egyptian sweat-shop- nailed up over my bed.
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