I had presented Peter, my hubby, with a very fancy Nikon something or other camera for his birthday, and nothing would do but he would prove his worth as David Bailey or some other artistic entrepreneurial force in the alternative photography field. 431 photos later, well, Megsie and I have had enough.
It all started rather well, welcoming smiles all round from the tourist police and vendors, they were happy to see some gullible white people approach ( we were the only non Egyptians visiting) but the smiles quickly deflated when we spoke in our pigeon Arabic and said we lived in Cairo. No, we don’t want a fez or Egyptology book, nor the key rings, or belly dancing outfits.
However, I had been to the citadel with a certain Mr Ford previously and had quite literally wet my pants with laughter ( well as you get older this is common ..no?) at the exhibits in the police museum. I simply can’t do it justice in describing the home made paper mâché displays, plastic toy soldiers and nail polish for blood in the battle re-enactment displays. Suffice to say Blue Peter wouldn’t have a look in.
This in itself was hilarious but it was the security you had to pass through to get in that really set the tone. No Cameras were allowed and you must present your passport at the door. Now I am not in the habit of carrying my passport around but fortunately I am a member of Cairo Rugby Club. And the relevance?.. Well I don’t know either but it was all the photographic ID I had in my purse and it is invaluable in Cairo.
Egyptians don’t really know what rugby is but with true Egyptian flamboyance it doesn’t really matter. If they see something they don’t understand, well they are not going to let you know they haven’t got a clue and definitely not if you are a woman. So I pulled out the card with great authority and the very serious, highly decorated officer duly noted the membership number on his handwritten log which I then countersigned to gain admittance.
Also with Mr Ford I had been to the prison section. This consists of a series of cells showing the interior of an inmates cell through the ages. It depicts cells from the middle ages through to the present day with the only discernible difference being the size of the ball and chain attached to the inmates ankle. Oh, and in the modern age they are allowed to read, the Koran obviously, I’m not sure if any other publications are permitted.
It occurred to me that a delegation from Maghaberry Prison should visit the modern day section and adopt some of the Egyptian methods on display. There are no x boxes here, nor sky TV and quite right too, and as a special bonus think of all the money that could be saved on mollycoddling these hoods who rob your granny and wreck havoc on decent peoples lives. We all need a rant now and then.
Anyway, due to the current climate all things police related were out of bounds so I didn’t get the chance to flourish my Cairo Rugby card again. This brings me back to
the traumatic experience of the teenage daughter. As we were restricted in our perusal of all things police related we, meaning my husband and I, not Megsie thought we may as well do a bit of planking. For those of you uninitiated is this minor craze it basically involves lying down on your tummy in odd places and taking a photo, yes not that cool but sure little amuses the innocent, and i know far less the fool.
Now Egyptians have a wonderful childlike innocence, they stare at you constantly, full frontal regardless of age, and point their finger rather in the way a 3 year old wide eyed will ask “mum what are those silly people doing” so we had a raggle taggle bunch of onlookers that were fascinated and they formed a posse on our tail cheering us on. There was no point subtly trying to shake them off they don’t do subtle.
So.. Much to megsies embarrassment we scouted canons, statues and a few tanks and aeroplanes to capture classy cultural memories of the day. There now exists photographic evidence of her cringe inducing parents that will allow her to complain in future years that she had a tough time growing up, and she viewed being sent to boarding school as a massive relief.
Next we headed into the military museum proper. Now in all fairness this is a fairly classy establishment in comparison to the police exhibits but only if you don’t read the explanatory signs alongside each display. The signs don’t tell lies, not in a propaganda sense, but they do leave out vitally important pieces of information that allow to leave with the impression the egyptian military have never lost a battle and the security of the universe, never just the world is dependent on them.
There is an enormous photograph say 12ft by 8ft of Mubarak and all his generals walking near Sadats monument. It is black and white and actually very cool, well, nothing would do but Pete (my better half) decided he wanted a picture of it and him So he could Photoshop himself in later. We spied one general who bore a passing resemblance to himself so after careful study of this particular generals gait he adopted his pose.
Now we still had the posse in tow and they were not impressed with this fascination with Mubarak so it required some decoy tactics, again involving Megsie poor child to
shake them off. After hiding behind pillars and quick stepping into position I managed to get the required stance in focus so here you go….
– the art of photoshop