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English – Discuss how emotions are portrayed in three literary texts

Discuss how emotions are portrayed in three literary texts


Discuss how emotions are portrayed in three literary texts

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men

A comparison of three modern literary texts, Chapter 4 from “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, the poem “Havisham” by Carol Duffy and the Alan Bennett monologue “A Cream Cracker Under The Settee” from the context of how the authors have portrayed the emotions of their characters to the reader.

Throughout each of these three literary texts a theme like a thread runs through each of them. These three texts share common themes, for recurring in all three texts are the emotions of the characters, their loneliness, bitterness, anger and frustration.

Firstly, considering the emotion of loneliness and the poem “Havisham” the emotion is best represented here in the lines “…Whole days / in bed cawing Nooooo at the wall…” and again “…Puce curses that are sounds not words…” The cawing at the wall tells us she has no one to talk to about her emotions, of her anger and frustration except to the wall and then from the line “…Puce curses…” that she utters are for her own ears as there is no one else to hear them. Rejected at the alter Havisham turns inwards creating her own world full of bitterness, anger and frustration all of which means that she would be unable to form a normal relationship with anyone, all factors leading to this incredible loneliness. Finally, it would also seem that Havisham lives virtually in isolation a “Spinster.” subsequently adding to her loneliness.

Cream Cracker - Thora Hird

Cream Cracker - Thora Hird

The theme of loneliness also runs like a thread through the play “A Cream Cracker Under The Settee” there are several references to how lonely Doris feels, the most telling are the conversations she has with her dead husbands through his picture “ …Now, Wilfred. / I can nip this leg and nothing…” and again “…Come on, Dad…” She also mentions that she no longer has contact with her neighbours’ “…Folks opposite, I don’t know them…” Then again with the loss of her only child in childbirth “…If it had lived I might have had grandchildren by now…”

There are many similarities with the Havisham poem and the characters they portray, for instance both women have no one, Doris’s husband died and Havisham future husband left her, they both have no close family and have since formed no real relationships. Therefore they both appear to share many of the same emotions of loneliness, frustration and bitterness.

Loneliness is also a recurring theme in ‘Of Mice and Men’ the author John Steinbeck returns to this emotion throughout the book, in which the majority of the characters share this emotion of loneliness the only exception being Lennie whose innocence gives him some immunity from feeling lonely. But he does experience loneliness once in the book and only temporarily when George goes into town with the other farm workers leaving Lennie behind. George similarly is the only other character in the book to not feel lonely as he has his best friend Lennie, but of course this comes to him after he is forced to shoot his best friend Lennie in the final chapter of the book.

Looking at each of the characters in turn we are able to see this recurring theme of loneliness. Crooks, lives in enforced solitude because of his disability and because he is black “…a back busted nigger…” For in this time and in the location that this novella is set, in 1930’s America and at the height of ‘The Great Depression’ segregation existed and white and black people did not mix by law. Crooks the sole black person of the farm has no one to talk to. He has no friends and all the other ranch workers automatically avoid conversing with him beyond what is necessary to their jobs.

“A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody, Don’t make no difference who the guy is, long’s he’s with you. …I tell ya a guy gets too lonely, an’ he gets sick”

Crooks describes how lonely a guy can get and infers that it can effect their mental health “…a guy gets too lonely, an’ he gets sick” this can also be directly related to the subjective mental state of Havisham, whose loneliness in combination with her bitterness have certainly effected her mental well being.

Candy is feeling particularly lonely since the recent loss of his dog. The dog was Candy’s only companion and even though the dog was old and sickly he delayed the inevitable rather than lose his companion. After losing his dog Candy then seeks out Lennie just to have someone to talk to, for instance Crooks said “That you Slim? He called. Candy’s voice answered. Slim went into town. Say, you seen Lennie?”from this we can infer that Candy is so lonely that he feels the need to seek out Lennie for someone to talk to. Also from this quotation we are able to infer that even Lennie’s companionship is preferable to Crooks, due entirely to segregation, that is white and black do not mix. Candy also seeks out the companionship that Lennie and George has and is very keen to share in their dream of owning land, a farm that they can call their own, Candy imagines himself working on the farm and with Lennie and George and also hopes to have the companionship that he does not now have since losing his dog.

George and Lennie - Of Mice and Men

George and Lennie - Of Mice and Men

Curley’s wife is obviously lonely, seeking out the companionship of the other men on the Ranch using the excuse of looking for he husband Curley while all she really wants is to be able to talk to someone other than her husband. For her husband Curley does not really love her and there are no other women on the ranch that she can associate with and so she tries to interact with the other men on the ranch. For example in the novel she says to Lennie “…I get lonely. You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?” This is probably why she goes out to the barn where Crooks, Candy and Lennie are, having been left behind while the rest of the ranch’s men have gone into town. For she must have known that Curley would not be in the barn, she would have assumed that Curley would have gone into Town with the rest of the men. The rest of the men on the ranch are careful not to associate with Curley’s wife even to the point of avoiding talking to her as they know that Curley the bosses’ son would not like it. For Curley could therefore get them sacked from the ranch, returning them back into the large migratory and mainly unemployed workforce always looking for the next days employment and so they effective isolate her just to protect what they have. It is this enforced isolation that drives Curley wife to seek out the other men on the ranch at every opportunity just to have someone to talk to.

Of Mice and Men - Lenny and Curleys Wife

Of Mice and Men - Lennie and Curley's Wife

Further more, it is at this gathering in Crooks room that the main characters depicted in the novel of being the loneliest meet. Each feels that they have been deserted by the others who have gone into town and so they have independently gravitated to the barn and then inside Crooks room seeking companionship, or just someone to talk to. Each of them feels outcast from the other workers on the ranch for one reason or another. But even though they should have little in common with each other for they are separated from each other by a number of reasons for example their sex, their colour, age or combination of these, together they share this common emotion of loneliness and so rather than be lonely they discard their differences temporarily and seek each other out.

As the chapter plays out these differences resurface when Crooks asks Curley’s wife to leave “…You got no rights comin’ in a colored man’s room. You got no rights messing around in here at all. Now you jus’ get out, an’ quick…” and Curley’s wife responds “Listen, Nigger” she said. “You know what I can do to you if you open your trap?” this exchange of words causes each character to remind themselves of their differences and so the brief period of companionship, the respite from their mutual loneliness is over as they leave Crooks to be once more alone in his room. This completes the cycle for this section of the novella. Crooks is alone as usual in his room at the beginning of this section and is once again alone at the sections end as each of the other protagonists leave his room. This is an example of how the author has structured the text using these cycles to reinforce the message of loneliness to the reader.

Havisham and Pip - Great Expectations

Havisham and Pip - Great Expectations

Bitterness is strongly represented in the ‘Havisham’ poem in just the first few lines of the first stanza “…I haven’t wished him dead. Prayed for it / so hard I’ve dark eyes for pebbles…” the omission of words from this line (ellipsis) could be “A day has not passed by that she did not wish him dead”. Havisham is very single minded in her desire to see him dead in fact she “Prayed for it”. Her bitterness turned to hate, the anger and frustration at being unable to extract her revenge on her bridegroom becoming hatred for all men “Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon”.

The bitterness that Doris feels as she approaches the autumn that is, symbolism for the final years of her life and still with all her plans remaining unfilled including those for a family. “If it had lived I might have had grandchildren now. Wouldn’t have been in this fix. Daughters are best. They don’t migrate”. The audience will almost certainly feel that Doris’s life is full of regrets’ and feel, that is emphasise with her and share in her pain over the loss of her child. But this may change when Doris plans her revenge on Zulema.

Doris is bitter about the treatment of the elderly, the ever present threat overhanging Doris the threat of her being institutionalised by a report from her carer Zulema in recommending that Doris be placed into ‘Stafford House’ for her own safety a care home for the elderly.  Zulema says “I have to report on you. The welfare say to me every time, “Well, Zulema, how is she coping? Wouldn’t she be better off in Stafford House?” Doris’s bitterness turns to revenge as she finds the focus and title of the story a cream cracker under the sofa and plots her carers demise by getting her sacked from her job.

“I’m going to save that cream cracker and show it her next time she starts going on about Stafford House. I’ll say, ‘Don’t Stafford House me, lady. This cream cracker was under the settee. I’ve only got to send this cream cracker to the Director of Social Services and you’ll be on the carpet. Same as the cream cracker. I’ll be in Stafford House, Zulema, but you’ll be in the Unemployment Exchange.”

Audience sympathy felt for Doris, this poor old lady who’s had a difficult life with the loss of her child and the predicament she has now found herself in, may well switch from being one of sympathy to one of abhorrence as Doris plots her revenge on Zulema.  Doris’s bitterness is further explored as she recounts her impression of the people who she imagines inhabits a care home like Stafford House. Linking what she thinks are the old fashioned names of the elderly inhabitants she expects to see in the care home, at the same time imagining herself in the same light and in the care home as her own name Doris fills the requirement.

Cream Cracker - Doris collapsed on the floor

Cream Cracker - Doris collapsed on the floor

“…They don’t get called Doris now. They don’t get called Wilfred. Museum, names like that. That’s what they’re all called in Stafford House. Alice and Doris. Mabel and Gladys. Antiques. Keep them under lock and key. ‘What’s your name? Doris? Right. Pack your case. You belong in Stafford House.’

A home. Not me. No Fear…”

The theme of bitterness, frustration and anger continue through to the end as Doris mentally gives up on what has become the struggle that is life and with the final words given in bitterness, anger, frustration and possibly with relief. “…Never mind. It’s done with now, anyway…” This is also portrayed to the audience through the staging of the play; the opening scene starts off in lightness with the final scene fading to a blackout.

In ‘Of Mice and Men’ Crooks appears the most bitter. His bitterness stems from his position in American society, in this time of segregation his colour and race alienates him from the predominant white society. His bitterness quickly turns to frustration and anger when he speaks to Lennie in his room “This is just a nigger talkin’, an a busted-back nigger. So it don’t mean nothing, see

Crooks clearly feels that he has either a low or no position in society and his negative emotions overflow with bitterness, anger and frustration. He tries to seek some personal revenge on society by attacking Lennie’s trust in George with the words “I said s’pose George went into town tonight and you never heard of him no more.” Crooks pressed forward some kind of private victory. “Just s’pose that,” he repeated.

Candy’s bitterness stems from his passiveness, unable to take the lead, assume and independent position due to his age and his relatively lowly position on the ranch as a swamper. This combined with his disability which prevents him from full acceptance by the other men on the ranch, making him seem to be a lesser person in both their and his own eyes. This is a sign of the times, a less tolerant society than we have now, where the disabled, non whites and women were seen as second class citizens. Candy briefly breaks free from his passiveness when he becomes part of Lennie and George’s dream of owning their land. This is expressed most clearly when he confronts Curley’s wife initially.

Of Mice and Men - Lennie being restrained

Of Mice and Men - Lennie being restrained - crushing Curley's hand.

“…He was the master of the situation. “I might of knew.” He said gently. “Maybe you just better get along an’ roll your hoop. We ain’t got nothing to say to you at all. We know what we got, and we don’t care whether you know it or not. So maybe you jus’ scatter along now, cause Curley maybe ain’t gonna like his wife out in the barn with us “bindle stiffs.’.

Once more Candy asserts his recently re-acquired self esteem while demanding Curley’s wife to go from Crook’s room. “You better go home now,” he said quietly. “If you go right now, we won’t tell Curley you was here.”

Curley’s wife’s bitterness however stems from what she perceives was her missed opportunity to be an actor in Hollywood Films, which she believes would have become true had her mother not prevented her doing so. “…I tell ya I could of went with shows. Not jus’ one neither. An’ a guy tol’ me he could put me in pitchers…” She is also bitter because of her enforced loneliness, which is caused by Curley forbidding her from talking to the other men on the ranch. She is frustrated in her attempts to talk to the other men of the ranch by the men themselves who know that Curley does not want them to talk to her. He backs this up by threatening them with his boxing prowess or the threat to their job should they disobey his demands.

In conclusion the authors for all three literary texts have employed a variety of literary techniques in expressing the emotions of the characters they have portrayed. The shared themes of the emotion of loneliness either expressed through the loss of a loved one for example by death or betrayal. The shared themes for the emotions bitterness and frustration from still being alive while a partner is not, as in Doris in the ‘Cream Cracker’, for Candy in his old age, Crooks as an outcast or the loneliness as described in Havisham from being jilted, left alone while the betrayer still seemingly enjoying life possibly with another. The themes were revisited again and again particularly in ‘Of Mice and Men’ emphasising the loneliness of the protagonists and also providing a humanising face to the troubled America of those times, with its drifting, lonely workforce travelling across America in search of the next employment.

The structure of each of the texts also has bearing on audience or a reader’s consumption. For example in the monologue ‘Cream Cracker’ which was produced as a play for television the audience is drawn into the idea that as the staging of the play follows the days cycle from morning to night and the light level drops towards blackout, it also seems to parallel Doris’s life as if her life is coming to an end as the day passes into night. Another example is in the cycles of loneliness as employed by John Steinbeck in ‘Of Mice and Men’ as the protagonists’ start out lonely and are then returned to their loneliness as dreams fade.

Miss Havisham - Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations

Miss Havisham - Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations

Finally, in the ‘Havisham’ poem each of the stanzas assumes a different significance to the reader. For example the first stanza appears to be full of bitterness, the second, loss and denial, the third love and eroticism turning to violence and the fourth stanza is for revenge. The reader is drawn through all her emotions from being jilted at the wedding “Beloved sweetheart bastard” the loss turning to bitterness and then hatred and finally to her craving to enact physical revenge on all males “…Give me a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon…”

By

English – Short Story Assignment

Short Story

Weekend with the Pharaohs – a short story for Level 2 English

This is a True Story

Thank god it’s Saturday. What a hard first month it had been. Working eight hour days in the blistering heat, the sweat pouring from my forehead and running into my eyes making it difficult to see and then dripping into the machinery, definitely not good with all the electricity running through it. That however was not the end of my woes, my overalls carefully tucked into my boots to stop the sand fleas from attacking my ankles and sucking the blood from the exposed flesh. Then there is the sand, I gave up wearing contacts after the first day, sand gets between the contact and the eye, not a good idea to wander around Cairo without being able to see. Welcome to Egypt, land of the Pharaohs.

Today is going to be different. Today is the start of the weekend and there’s no work until Monday. There’s a knock at my hotel door. That’ll be Ammina the floor maid with my laundry I thought, she always delivers it personally in the hope of a tip (baksheesh). I struggled in my first week before I learned how much a very small amount of money went to making the wheels run more smoothly, for example an Egyptian pound left on my pillow each day gave me a spotless room, clean bedding everyday and a bathroom full of soap and towels. “Morning Ammina how are you today”. “Good morning sir, I have your laundry, shall I take your laundry bag”, “Yes of course you can, remind them not to add any starch to my wash, OK,” I said, passing her the bag that I’d placed earlier behind the door. “Yes sir no starch, the front desk asked me to tell you that your driver is waiting in the lobby”, “Thanks Ammina, see you tomorrow”.

Better get ready I thought, my guide is here already. I’d arranged the day before for a personal guide on the advice of the girl on reception, after she described the usual tourist excursions as “whirlwind trips in a crowded bus to the sights but with the bus drivers relatives waiting at each stop to ply you with the usual souvenirs and touristy rubbish”.

Lift or stairs I thought as I left my room, taking the lift would cost me a tip but do I want to walk down all those stairs? The lift it is then, as I walk down the corridor I can see that the lift door is already open and the lift attendant seems to be waiting for me, I thought “I’m sure there’s some kind of network of spies keeping an eye on me”. “Morning” I say to the lift attendant as I enter. “Lobby sir? he says” I nod in the affirmative and he tends to the operation of the lift. It’s one of those old ones where you have to pull the outer door closed then the inner door and then pull the lifts lever to start the lift moving, forward for up back for down. As we travel down the lights blink on and off and a bell sounds as we go past each floor, finally we come to a halt as the attendant pushes the lever forward.

“The lobby sir”, we shake hands the small domination note passes swiftly from my hand to his, it’s a daily occurrence but I never seem to have to wait too long for the lift ever since we started this routine.

Sidney Greenstreet - AKA Mahmood

Sidney Greenstreet - AKA Mahmood

As I step from the lift I see this figure dominating the lobby with his massive proportions. Wow! I thought, that must be my guide, as I looked him over I immediately thought of Sidney Greenstreet, straight out of his role in the film Casablanca. He stood at least six feet tall; corpulent, wearing a white suit, only slightly dusty from the desert sands; he wore a white fedora with a black band and carried a long straight walking stick and the final touch, he was smoking an enormous cigar. I caught his eye and he turned to face me, “Mr Hunt” he says, “that’s me” I replied. “My names Mahmood Sajit but please call me Mahmood” he said. “My names Ian” I said, I knew he wouldn’t be able to pronounce it correctly no else had so far and sure enough he pronounced my name as “Einz”, I knew better than to try and correct his pronunciation, so I just nodded. “My car and driver await us outside” he said and beckoned towards and then starts moving himself towards the main entrance. I follow him and he says “Of course you know you are staying in the very famous ‘Shepherds Hotel’ where your ‘Winston Churchill’ also once stayed while in conference with President Roosevelt and Stalin”. I gave him a nod to indicate that I was impressed by his knowledge of my Hotel; I’d known this as soon as I had arrived as there is a plaque in the lobby above the check in desk celebrating this meeting of world leaders.

The Lobby Shepherds Hotel Cairo

The Lobby Shepherds Hotel Cairo

As we exit the Hotel entrance the heat hits me, it’s only just turned 9.00am but already it’s too hot. The cars parked right outside, an old white Mercedes, a step up I thought from the usual black and white Russian built Ladas that make up most of the cars on the roads in Cairo. His driver leaps out and opens the rear passenger door for us. I step in and slide all the way across the bench seat making room for Mahmood; it’s a tight squeeze as he settles in beside me. The driver gets back in and starts the old Mercedes up, it clatters into life and soon settles down to a light drone as we pull into the slow moving traffic, joining the 24 hour traffic jam on the streets of Cairo. “First I must show you the Great Pyramid and if you would like to go inside I’m sure this can be arranged” he says. I immediately thought “that’s probably going to cost me extra”. The car squeezes its way through the traffic; the horn as usual appears to be directly connected to the brake pedal, sounding off every time we stop. I’m as usual faced with the dilemma, open the window to get some air but of course this also lets the dust in or just put up with the heat. I crack the window open just enough I hoped to let air in but not the dust.

We progress quickly through the traffic and we are soon on the outskirts of Cairo and there is the Great Pyramid, of course I’d seen it before, hundreds of times in films and on television but this was for real. From a distance it’s a perfect triangle shape but as you get close you can see the enormous building blocks from which it has been made, forming what seemed to be giant steps towards the sky. The topmost section still smooth with it’s covering of mortar, which in the distant past used to cover the entire Pyramid. Mahmood or as I had already mentally begun thinking of him as Sydney (that is Sydney Greenstreet) began to describe the History of the Pyramids, its construction and the robbing of its treasures firstly, by the Tomb raiders followed by the French and then the British.

The Great Pyramid and Phinx Cairo Egypt

The Great Pyramid and Phinx Cairo Egypt

As we walked across the burning sand away from the side of the Pyramid facing Cairo and the hundreds of white plastic chairs set up for that evenings light show the Son et Lumière we came to another entrance. A hole seemingly cut into the side of the Pyramid with a solitary guard leaning against the opening. As we approach the guard seemed to recognise my guide, they shake hands there is the usual passing of a small denomination note. Mahmood introduces the guard and we shake hands (everyone shakes hands in Egypt, again something I learned very quickly in the first few days). Mahmood says “ My friend will let you go inside the Pyramid, but be aware it is a difficult passage to the burial chamber, you must go up many wooden steps, in some places the steps are missing and for this a rope has been strung also the wooden guardrail is in disrepair, do you wish to go inside?” How could I say no I thought after such a build up, to say no would be to loose face, so of course but with some trepidation I go inside.

I’m inside The Great Pyramid, it’s dark even though there is a string of work lights going upwards and seemingly without end, that’s another surprise the steps go up, for some reason I thought the burial chamber was at the bottom of the Pyramid. The steps are wooden and poorly made, obviously added much more recently because of course the Pyramids are thousands of years old so the steps could not have survived all that time. Suddenly the way ahead appears much darker, it’s eerily quiet and the way up is blocked by a vertical wall of stone, then I notice the rope hanging in one corner, if I want to carry on I must climb the rope. Taking hold of the rope in both hands I begin to scrabble up the side of the stone block. In what seems to take forever and with the last of my strength I reach the top of the stone block. I stop for a breather before moving on and upwards. “Jesus” I shout out as I suddenly come across a group of what seem to be three locals going back down the way I had just come, they are talking rapidly amongst themselves and do not seem to notice me. Recovering from my fright I carried on and when I had begun to think that the climb would never end, I was there, at the end of the climb and in the burial chamber, the resting place of a great Pharaoh, a living God to his people. What a disappointment I thought it was just a small square dark chamber, without decoration or adornment. I stayed as long as I could until the dark and silence became too oppressing, besides which, it was becoming creepy being alone in the dark at the top of a Pyramid.

The climb down seemed to be much easier. The light seemed to be brighter and the way down therefore easier to see. A trick of the light or had I become acclimatised to the darkness. I was at the bottom and in all that time I’d not passed anyone else coming up the other way. The light was blinding as I stepped out once again into the heat of the desert. Mahmood appeared to be sitting in a deckchair with a cool drink in one hand and what appeared to be an even bigger cigar than what I’d first seen him smoking before in his other hand. I looked at my watch I’d been inside little more than an hour, incredible it had seemed like hours and hours. “An amazing experience was it not, did you feel the presence of the Pharaoh himself” said Mahmood. “It was certainly an experience” I said, but not one I’d like to repeat I thought to myself.

The Great Pyramid and Camel

The Great Pyramid and Camel

Mahmood leads the way again as we walk back towards the car. We pass the endless numbers of traders of souvenirs and those offering camel rides across the desert. A local holding the reins of a camel shouts out “Ten pounds to ride the camel”. Normally not something I’d be interested in but I thought ‘why not’ a once in a lifetime experience. I turn to Mahmood, “do we have time”? I said, “Yes, I will speak to the camel owner for you”, after a rapid and somewhat animated negotiation with a gesture or two from Mahmood’s cane a single Egyptian pound exchanges hands.

Arif the camel’s owner who seems to have no English which surprises me as most locals appear usually to be multi-lingual especially if they think they can sell you something. Anyway I’m introduced to the camel who seems to have zero interest in me as it lies in the desert sand yawning, I’m sure its seen it all before.

Arif then presses a white headdress and what appears to be a black headband into my hands and demonstrates through hand gestures that I should put it on. Suitably attired as a local, Arif shows me how to get onto the camels back and hands me a stick, presumably for hitting the camel it misbehaves. A camel is like sitting on a bag full of rocks. Then it stands up, first by the back legs nearly throwing me off forwards and then by the front legs nearly throwing me off again but this time backwards. Arif keeps a firm grip on the reins as we begin the circumnavigation of the Pyramids. It’s an amazing feeling sitting so high up, gently rocking backwards and forwards as we progress around the first of the Pyramids. I take a look back and Mahmood seems to have already found his deck chair and a glass of something cool again. As we travel along I can’t help but think of Lawrence of Arabia and visualising myself in the great mans shoes riding across the desert as the camel carefully takes each step. The sun has gone behind the Pyramid, instantly it’s much cooler, we are halfway through our journey already. But the respite from the heat is short lived as we turn the next corner and the sun is facing me in all its fury, its gone noon and it’s the hottest part of the day “time to find some shade and a cool drink I thought to myself”. We are soon back from where we had started from.

Ian Hunt with his Camel in front of the Great Pyramid Cairo Egypt

Ian Hunt with his Camel in front of the Great Pyramid Cairo Egypt

Mahmood’s waiting for me and suggests that I get a photograph taken of me on the Camel. After more negotiation another Egyptian pound changes hand and I pass my camera over to Arif’s nephew who appears to understand cameras. Arif’s nephew thoroughly enjoys working the camera and several photographs are taken. Then with handshakes all round we say our goodbyes and as we leave I pass a ten pound note to Arif as a thank you, after all it had been a well spent hour, a memory that will last a lifetime.

Back in the car which now feels like the inside of an oven, driving back to my Hotel and hopefully a cool drink? Mahmood suggest that we stop off and meet his nephew “an aspiring artist of great skill”. Here it comes I thought the hard sell, printed images of Pharaoh’s on papyrus, what appears to be recycled coke cans melted and cast into the shapes of the Gods and almost certainly postcards of the Pyramids. But I was wrong, there were pictures of the Pharaoh’s on papyrus but these were hand painted and inset with gold leaf. There were hand engraved brass plates and sculptures of the Pharaoh’s heads all done in exquisite detail, “how much”? I enquired. Mahmood immediately steps in and suggests to his nephew that the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds would be sufficient for the four paintings along with the two brass plates I had expressed an interest in. I didn’t argue as I would have happily paid much more.

The Veranda - Shepherds Hotel Cairo

The Veranda - Shepherds Hotel Cairo

Back at the Hotel, Mahmood joins me for a drink in the courtyard; I have my usual, a recent discovery from the very first week in Egypt. The drink served in a very British dimpled styled pint glass filled with ice, fresh fruit and lemonade complete with a very generous measure of Pimms. With a clink of glasses I thanked Mahmood for an excellent day particularly the climb inside the Great Pyramid. “I’m surprised” I said, “there was only the one small group of locals inside the Pyramid that I’d met on the climb up, I thought it would be full of tourists”. “It cannot be true” said Mahmood “you were in the Pyramid on your own, no one else came out of the Pyramid while you were in there” said Mahmood. “But there were three of them, I almost walked into them, too be honest they appeared out of nowhere frightening the life out of me” I said. “No it is forbidden for visitors to go inside the Pyramid, I thought you knew, which is why I had to speak to the guard, could it be that you truly saw the ghosts of the Tomb Raiders” he said. “Ghosts” I exclaimed. “They say that the ghosts are of the three Tomb Raiders who were sealed inside the Pyramid after setting off one of the many traps inside the Pyramid and now doomed to haunt the corridors of the Pyramid, still trying to find their way out” he said. I didn’t know what to say, could they have been the ghosts of the Tomb Raiders, or were they more likely something Mahmood dreamed up to add some extra spice to his repertoire of stories to frighten the tourists.

Mahmood obviously happy with my reaction to his Ghost theory said, “I will take my leave now and for tomorrow I thought we’d visit ‘The City of the Dead’, maybe we will see some more ghosts” Mahmood smiled, turned and lumbered away using his stick to clear a path through the tables and back into the Hotel. As I watched him leave, more Ghosts, I thought, I hope not, taking a long drink emptying the glass.

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