Agatha and Mary’s Egyptian Odyssey/3

Part Three – Celebrate your Inner Goddess!

(over a rather large breakfast of fresh fruits, yoghurts, flat breads, and various types of eggs)

Goodness Agatha, what on earth did the Captain discover?  I mean, I can’t believe Binky followed you all the way to this luxury cruiser in Egypt, incognito, just to out of sheer devotion?

Oh Mary dear, do stop wafting your bosom around as though it was a major calamity…. It appears that darling Binky was up to his old tricks again and couldn’t bear to be parted from me….

But Agatha, you must surely admit that he would have sunk to the bottom of the Nile if you hadn’t rescued him – his pockets and knapsack were laden with your jewels….I did hear from that rather overbearing German Countess that he was found in your cabin, tried to escape when he heard footsteps, but some unfortunate passenger opened their cabin door at the wrong moment and sent Binky flying over the railings and into the drink!

Yes dear, I suppose I need to finally own up to my foolishness.  But of course my dilemma is that whilst Binky may well have been of service in the – err – physical department, it now seems that he only pretended to adore me for my thighs, when really it was just my money and jewels.  I have been so blind Mary dear!

No, not blind, many women found him irresistible!  He did look quite a dish dressed as Hercule Poirot I thought, such a shame. Does this mean that things between you are finally over?

Yes, I am afraid so.  There is only so much pilfering of one’s beloved treasures that one can cope with.  

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But, dear one, don’t be so hard on yourself.  He has been totally charming and I believe given you a little unexpected joy in your vintage years…

Indeed he has dear, but I cannot bear to see the years of hard grafting that enabled me to purchase those wonderful jewels just brazenly ignored in a moment of greed.

Agatha dear, what do you mean?

Well Mary, as you well know us women have to fight for the same wage as men in the same roles.  Before I met Jonty I had worked jolly hard to attain a Senior Management role in the Agricultural Machinery business – tractors and so forth.  But I was aware that my wages fell well below my male counterparts, particularly that smarmy Charles Snodgrass who was certainly a few bales short of a combine harvester.  It always stuck in my craw.

Oh, that’s where you got your nickname Aggie the Rotavator – I always wondered!

No dear, that came from my time as Head of Jam at the WI – less said the better.  Anyway it seems that dear Binky could never understand how precious those hard-won rewards actually were.  He assumed the jewels had been lavished on me by my wealthy late husband.  I do think he saw himself as another Richard Burton – you know he gave her those fabulous emeralds and diamonds after they filmed Cleopatra don’t you?  Now she truly was a goddess and proof that a women of, shall we say, advanced years still has so much to offer.

Agatha dear. don’t get me started – there is that dreadful outmoded assumption that a women with property have been gifted it by a wealthy man!  Women do so much and quite frankly are just belittled by a state that is ruled by historic patriarchal values.  Then of course there is the whole age thing….

Quite, and when all is said and done, Mary,  Binky would never have treated me as an equal and never understood the injustices of the pay gap – or the attractions of an older woman.

So really dear one, you should have left Binky floundering in the Nile at the mercy of the crocodiles.

Perhaps dear (Agatha gazes down into the water)  It would have been an ignominious end for the cad!  

Ah, but fitting one might say!  Still, let’s throw off the shackles of doom and embrace this land that celebrates women and Goddesses.  I’m feeling quite Cleopatra after all that drama!

Yes Mary, I can see that you have unshackled your large frontage – you seem quite free and liberated today! and I must admit it would look splendid adorned with a few choice jewels.

Well, I normally encase my bosom in tweed, but it’s far too hot here, so loose linen is the order of the day, I’m not quite going full out bare breasted like those Queens of Ancient Egypt, not sure if the locals would be quite up to it!

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Steady on dear one!  Anyway, some charming Americans at pre-supper drinks last night mentioned the tombs at Luxor, particularly the majestic Temple celebrating Queen Hatshepsut who was arguably the most successful Pharaoh Egypt has ever seen.  Did you know that she ruled for twenty years?

How fabulous and inspiring darling.  I think we would both have made fantastic ancient Queens ourselves, just think of all the jewellery and bathing in asses milk!

Might have been a bit whiffy in this heat one imagines.  Let’s step ashore at Luxor then,  I fancy poking about in an ancient tomb and admiring the artwork.  

Yes, lets celebrate our Inner Goddess – after the events of the last few days, Agatha, you have certainly earned the title!

Quite dear, let’s just hope we don’t meet any asps!  Tell me, is there any cake?

 

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Agatha and Mary’s Egyptian Oddessy/2

Part two

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Agatha dear one, surely this can’t be IT?

Sorry Mary, but I think it may be.  When I booked the Nile Cruise I was also expecting something a little grander.  I’m sure it will turn out alright though, stiff upper etc.

But where will we sleep? And is there a fridge to keep the drinks cool?  I imagined something a little more Agatha Christie – sharing observations with an intelligent Belgian detective – and so forth.  Elegant dining whilst watching the sun dipping below the horizon from a comfortable deck chair. With nibbles.

It says here on the ticket “An authentic experience on a traditional Nile Vessel.  A Felucca.”  Well, that thing down there, with the patched sail and no apparent place to sit, must be a Felucca – sounds like some kind of exotic dish.

That’s falafel Agatha, we had some last night.  They were delicious but I wouldn’t want to spend two nights in one.

Perhaps we could book ourselves onto a larger boat, I’m not sure I could squeeze myself comfortably onto that small wooden vessel as I’m convinced my thighs have swollen up in the heat

Hold your horses, Agatha.  That chap sitting in the stern, wearing that ridiculous pith helmet and handlebar moustache, that’s the one I saw in the bar, the one I thought was the spit of Binky!

Let me find my binoculars.  (Rummages in a large carpet bag).  No, Mary, it looks more like Hercule Poirot, Binky doesn’t have such a large tummy.   And remember, he has a horror of all things nautical.   Anyway, let’s ask if we can transfer to that rather splendid vessel next to the Felucca.

(After several minutes and quite a degree of bartering the girls are seated on the deck of the luxury cruiser)

boatview

That’s better Agatha, thank you.  Let’s order a quick snifter before we set off.

I think they only serve tea before midday, but I have got my hip flask with me – you know I never travel without a drop of sherry!  (passes Mary the flask) Have you brought your bikini Mary?

Yes, but I don’t believe I will be braving it dear.  After all we are well past our prime and I wouldn’t want to scare the other passengers.

Tosh and piffle. If I can expose my thighs in this great heat, then you can certainly bear your bikini-clad body – who’s going to mind really?  Nobody knows us here.

Maybe you have a point Agatha.  I was reading an article about that super athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill this morning.  She was talking about her battle to get back into Olympian shape after having her son.  Apparently it took her a whole year to regain her six pack.  So what hope is there for us mere mortals?

But, Mary, as she is an athlete it’s her job to be in tip top physical condition, most ladies do not need a six pack to go about their daily lives.  So a little wobble here and there is just proof you have carried a child.

I quite agree Agatha.  And we should be proud of our bodies, whether or not we have had babies, and not shamed by ridiculous media expectations of unattainably flat tummies and thigh gaps.  I personally think it’s a patriarchal conspiracy to keep women down.

Gosh Mary, have you been reading that Feminist book “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf again?  You seem quite impassioned!

Oh, I do love that book, but no.  I just get a little hot under the collar when one is made to feel ashamed of one’s’ looks.  At my great age it really shouldn’t matter one jot.

Quite right.  Tally Ho Mary! Let’s go and change, there are some sunbeds on the top deck and I don’t believe there are any Germans on board so we should have our pick of the best.

(After a quick change the girls are up on deck, suitably attired to catch the sun)

Mary dear, I’ve had a word with one of the stewards – such a lovely man, and he’s arranged for us to have a spot of fizz before luncheon.  It seems that some American’s were here last week and they had a large bourbon every day at around 11.30, so a glass of fizz is absolutely acceptable.

Delicious Agatha!  I don’t suppose you found out any information about the strange Poirot style gentleman?

No, apparently he joined the vessel two days ago but has only been out of his cabin once or twice – dicky tummy apparently!

Oh dear, so I don’t suppose we’ll get a chance to meet him at luncheon then?

I doubt that very much dear, but dinner should be an exciting event as it’s black tie and I believe they have some belly dancers to provide a bit of light entertainment.

Well, that certainly gives me more body confidence – I believe it can be quite arousing.

I wouldn’t know about that dear, but it will certainly be a talking point at embroidery club.

(Loud crash is heard- followed by a splash).  Goodness what on earth was that Agatha?  There seems to be a bit of a commotion.

Well certainly people are rushing around a great deal dear.  Do you think the boat could be sinking?  At least we’re dressed for it and I quite fancy the thought of a dip.

No dear, but I do think someone has wound up in the drink.

Goodness, I hope they can swim.  Had we better go and have a look dear, see if we can help?  Mary – it’s Binky – Look!!!! (and with this Agatha dives overboard and swims to Binky who is flailing in the water)

diving

Agatha dear, oh do be careful.  Here grab hold of the life belt – I’ll pull you up.  My man – would you mind giving me some assistance? (pulling both Agatha and Binky onto the deck) Agatha – you were marvellous, I thought your diving abilities were long gone, but you were stunning – it was quite a show. That triple twist somersault certainly commanded interest!(People standing round applauding).

Mary dear, thank you, but I think we’d better get changed and find out why Binky wound up overboard with a knapsack full of my jewels.  He was hiding it under his shirt, hence the large tummy.  Do you think you could get me a small brandy to calm my nerves.

My good man, would you mind assisting my dear friend here?  A small brandy please, and you can leave the bottle.  Now Agatha, don’t you think we’d better all sit down and let the Captain investigate the case?

 

…to be continued

My Random Musings
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Agatha and Mary’s Egyptian Oddessy

Part One

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Agatha dear, how you are you feeling?  You don’t look as though you’re coping with your camel very well!

I must admit Mary that the saddle has been chafing in this heat and I will be mightily relieved to have a long cool dip in the pool.  It’s been a while since I’ve ridden anything quite so lively!

Talking of that, how did it go with Binky before we left Blighty?

Well, he totally denied he’d trousered my silver punch bowl, maintained that one of the guests must have pinched it during the party when he was a little the worse for wear.  Said he would do his utmost to retrieve it for me.

And do you believe him dear heart? I keep imagining he has followed us here.  I thought I spotted someone with his particular air of entitlement wearing a straw hat and fake moustache in the hotel bar this morning.  But I must be imagining things.  

Don’t be fanciful, Mary. Perhaps you should wear a hat tomorrow, I think the sun has gone to your head. Anyway, it was certainly the right time to get away. I mean, I do adore the chap of course, but I am starting to wonder if I can really trust him after all.  What with all the argy bargy I was feeling quite out of sorts.  This hot Egyptian weather has certainly revived my spirits.

Yes, I had noticed.  Who was that dashing gent you were sharing a gin sling with last night?

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Bedouin dear.  These are his camels, you know, such a charming chap and quite a knowledgeable type. He offered me his tent for the night, but I think he might have been more interested in  my skills as a camel rider rather than anything else –  so I gracefully declined.  I think he was a little piqued at my refusal.

Goodness me!   I did notice your unusual dismount yesterday, right down the neck of the poor beast.  You executed a pretty nimble leap over his head as you reached the ground.  It reminded me of an Olympic gymnastic movement dear one.  Bravo!

Yes, well gripping with one’s thighs right up until the last moment is a good trick. Anyway, Mary.  Did I hear you talking to Algie on the blower last night?

Yes, indeed.  Need to keep up with one’s offspring.  I do worry about them when I’m out of the country you know.

But Mary, both your boys are grown men, with children of their own, isn’t it time you loosened the apron strings a little?

Ideally, yes.  But they are still my little cherubs, they need their dear old mama to pep them up sometimes.  And Algie, particularly, is suffering Brexit wobble – doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.  I think he’s more concerned about his father, the Count, who may be forced to return to Italy.  

Article: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/06/the-mother-of-all-worries-why-do-women-fret-about-their-children-more-than-men-do

I think it’s a woman’s lot to worry about her children, whatever their age, Mary dear.  We spend our lives fretting over what might happen, constantly vigilant to possible dangers. It’s simply exhausting.  Do you remember when Edmund was born?  Oh, the fussing I did!

Yes Agatha dear, you did take it all rather seriously as I remember.  You coped better than I did of course – after all I had the twins to deal with and only a few staff at the time.  Still – do continue while I adjust my stirrups, my steed seems to think I am some kind of ping pong ball, I need more purchase to stay on.

Clench your thighs dear, that’s the ticket.  Yes, it still makes me blush just to remember all the precautions I took. Remember the giant hogweed in the garden?  I had Jones grub it all up and the poor man came out in an awful rash – he was off work for a whole week and my borders ran to weed.  Then I had some rather bonkers idea about Edmund catching Bird Flu from the peacocks.  I made him wear a surgeon’s mask whilst playing in the garden that summer.  In the end all my efforts were to no avail. I thought his number was up when he threw himself into the pond to catch the koi carp.

Yes, I was there.  I think we had had rather too much Pimms, and were a little slow to reach the scene.  But Edmund was triumphant, caught two with his bare hands, quite an achievement at the age of three, I always thought.

Yes, he was always a resourceful boy.  I never stopped worrying of course. Even when he went up to Cambridge and joined the rowing team, I always imagined him getting walloped by a stray oar and flying headlong into the Cam.  Of course, Jonty always maintained a stiff upper lip over these matters.  Danger never seemed to register for him, even though I know he loved Edmund right up until his own demise under the wheels of that blasted lawnmower, driven erroneously by my cousin’s parrot.

Yes, we didn’t see that coming, did we Agatha?  Poor Jonty.  But I agree that it seems curious that men do not seem to fret as much as us on a daily basis.

I agree Mary.  It’s a woman’s burden, and it doesn’t improve, even when they grow up and have children of their own.  But, here we are, I can make out the hotel in the distance. Hang on to your pommel, the camels can smell water – (raises voice as camels pick up speed). Shall we take in the Cairo museum this evening?  I would rather enjoy seeing the mummies up close.

camel

Oh yes, (shouting as camels reach full gallop) lovely!  I saw Tutankhamun when he came to England in the 1970s.  I remember the miles and miles of queuing to take a peek for 30 seconds, quite glorious.  It would be delightful to see it in it’s rightful setting.

Well, dear, (takes breath as camels slow down) that was exhilarating.  I’m quite amazed that you managed to stay on Mary – are you alright – your hair looks a little askew.

Give me a moment (rearranges hair).  I feel quite perked up by that.  Unlike those poor souls who went through the mummification process.  I always likened it to giving birth and the attendant responsibilities of motherhood.

Without removing the brain and the vast quantities of salt to dry out the body of course.

Well, no, but in the first year as a new mother I do remember feeling that my brain might have disappeared to be replaced by nappies and bottles.  And as we get older we seem to do quite well at preserving ourselves in gin!

Absolutely dear.  Let’s order a stiff one at the bar, and I fancy some of those delicious falafel.

Bless you Agatha.

recipe-image-legacy-id--326597_11

Recipe: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5605/falafel-burgers

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So Mary, I bumped into your granddaughter Emma in Wimbledon the other day.  She looked well, her little boy is a bonny lad, sitting up in his pram and chucking toys at me. What a darling!

Oh he is quite adorable isn’t he?  Looks just like his father don’t you think?  Shame about the hairline of course – he’ll be bald by 20, but c’est la vie!  Yes lovely young Emma has caused quite a stir with the in-laws as she’s is thinking about going back to work. Did you know?

No, dear, she didn’t mention it.  But little Hubert is only six months old.  Does she want to go back so soon?

I think it’s more a matter of needs must, Agatha.  But she did used to enjoy her job so I think a part of her is looking forward to working again, and no doubt regaining some of her identity.

Of course in our day, Mary, we had maids and nannies to look after the wee ones when we needed.  And do you remember that fabulous job I had when my offspring were little?

Wasn’t it stuffing teddy bears for the WI, dear?

I only did that once as you well know Mary, don’t you remember that dreadful reaction to the stuffing that I had?  Every time I see calamine lotion I shudder!  No, no, if you recall I was Head of Jam.  It was a much tougher job than one would imagine and of course it was terribly important – I was in charge of ensuring quality, consistency of colour and texture and making sure no one had bought it in Marks and Spencer and switched the labels.  Of course, there was a great deal of tasting involved and one had to be incredibly diplomatic of course.  

Yes, I do remember the time when you got into a heated discussion with Mrs Porpington-Smythe about boiling temperatures.  It was wooden spoons at dawn, wasn’t it?

Ooh you do make it sound quite dramatic Mary dear!  But getting back to Emma and her job, how did she decide it was the right time to go back?

Well, she and her husband Jasper had long discussions, dear.  But I think it was her decision, when she felt “ready” as they say nowadays.  And I have been telling her that she will be absolutely fabulous back in her job and not to worry that she has forgotten anything.

Oh I do remember that “nappy brain” feeling, when you can’t seem to string a sentence together, let alone type a coherent proposal.

Well, Agatha, in your case I think that lack of facility was more to do with too much brandy, after all it seemed to carry on until your children left home!

Oh Mary dear how you do like to exaggerate, it was just a little pick me up as you well know.  Unlike you, I can’t eat too much cake or chocolate because of my thighs!

Point taken Agatha!  But Emma has become so terrifically organised since little Hubert came along – it will help her when she goes back to work.  After all, most new mums find they achieve spectacular things they never thought possible when baby comes along.

Like waking regularly in the night and making a bottle, or changing a nappy, without screaming you mean?

Oh absolutely dear; just like juggling when to wash your hair, or go to the toilet. Sometimes I managed that more than once a week – it was all quite thrilling!

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But Mary dear, in our day we didn’t have any rights so we just had to get on with things, but what about nowadays?   What happens if Emma needs to work, what is it called, flexible hours?  

Well Agatha, she found this amazing spiders web link thing which gave her lots of good information.   

Legal situation: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/know-your-rights-when-you-go-back-to-work-after-having-a-baby

Mary, dear, I think it’s called the Interweb, not Spiders Web – but never mind.  This all looks perfectly splendid to me.

Oh Agatha yes it is, and there are some lovely people out there ready to help you if you need some advice on all sorts of things to do with going back to work after having a baby.  

Women Like Us are a good place to start: http://www.womenlikeus.org.uk/

In our day, of course, you just listened to your husband and did what you were told.

Quite, Mary, except you never listened to the Count, did you?

Never understood a word he said, dear.  Always spoke Italian and I never could get the hang of it.  Still, that’s probably the secret of our successful marriage!  Another slice of jammy sponge?

Oh please, and this must be your own jam recipe no doubt!  I must say as one gets older one does rely more on the support of one’s underwear to cope with the fact that everything is either spreading or heading south.

Speak for yourself dear, the Count commented how ‘fit’ I think the term is, I was looking the only the other day.

Well dear, I find that hard to imagine.

Yes, come to think of it he was talking about that night the four of us invented a new dance.  I’m convinced the lovely Michael Jackson took inspiration from us for his Thriller song.

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But you know what Agatha dear –  I think these young women today are absolutely marvellous.  Not only do they embrace motherhood and all the picalilly nappies that go with it, but they somehow manage to go to work on minimal sleep, juggle babies, husbands and running the home.  And look at the rise of the mummy blogger, how wonderful they are.  But we know that the old idea of “having it all” is not possible. Women don’t need to be juggling a high powered city career with six kids to feel successful.  Just getting through the day and giving your children a cuddle and story at bedtime is a real achievement.

Oh Mary dear how right you are!  We don’t need Super Mums to make us feel like we are constantly failing.  And sometimes success comes from doing what you love.  Just look at that Nadiya from The Great British Bake Off, she’s just getting on with motherhood and doing all the stuff that holds a family together as well as fitting in time to bake a cake for the Queen and write a cookery book.  

I quite agree dear.  I feel we should raise a glass to our fellow mothers, working or at home, who are holding everything together and still finding the energy and commitment to make their lives, and those of their families, better.

Oh admirable Mary dear, I’ll ring for Snetter.  A bottle of the Bolly ’48 would be perfect with your cake.

Scrummy!

jammysponge

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/recipe/jammy-coconut-sponge/

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