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Terror attacks in Africa, fingerings in Canada & a Filipino drag karaoke photo

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith sat on a plane behind a young man…

I occasionally post quirky ‘found’ stories on my Facebook page. A couple of days ago, I posted one about Hatshepsut, The Bearded Female King of Egypt.

Yesterday, this blog’s South Coast correspondent Sandra Smith told me it reminded her of her second trip to Egypt in 1997. Her flashback was possibly also not unconnected with the recent beach massacre of 38 people in Tunisia.

So it goes. Welcome to the 21st century.

Sandra told me:

The Swiss tabloid Blick turned a puddle of water into a river of blood flowing  from the temple of Hatshepsut, the site of the Luxor massacre

The Swiss tabloid Blick changed a puddle of water into a river of blood flowing from Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple

In 1997, we travelled there on the very day that the massacre occurred at Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple.

We went straight to the boat on the Nile, had a meal and did not know until the next day that something had happened. We were not actually told what had happened, but were sent on deck to wait for news from the British Foreign Office. From the deck, we saw men on the rooftops with guns, helicopters flying overhead and a raggle-taggle group of men leaning against vehicles on the quayside.

We found out later that they were the Egyptian Army, awaiting the arrival of the president – but still no information for us.

Eventually, we were told that we were to be taken back to the airport to return home, as there had been an ‘incident’, of which we were told nothing.

We arrived at a deserted airport at around 1.00pm and, during the afternoon, as more and more tourists arrived, we started to hear what had happened – that 60 plus people (the numbers varied in the telling) had been killed at Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple.

I had visited there on a previous trip and could well imagine how exposed they all would have been, walking from the coaches.

We eventually got on a plane at around 6.00pm. Counsellors, were on board to help deal with the people who had been closely affected. We were sitting behind a young man whose girlfriend had had her throat cut in front of him, but somehow he had survived.

We were OK. There was more info in the UK than in Egypt. Reporters were at the airport.

Kuoni, our travel company, told us we would get money back, so we went to Sri Lanka a few days later – just randomly chose it as a destination.

Anna enveloped by the fragrant incense of burning rainforest?

I also got a message yesterday from this blog’s Canadian correspondent Anna Smith. She is not related to Sandra Smith.



Anna Smith sent this update on current life in Vancouver. She lives on a boat.

Quiet and dark… Last Sunday, in the morning, I went to turn on my water and saw a school of dainty fingerlings (a word unfortunately changed to ‘fingerings’ by Anna’s e-mail spellcheck) nibbling on the weeds growing under my boat. They were so pretty that I lay on the dock and tried to take a photo, but it came out too blurry. I am not sure what kind of fish they will become.

When I looked up at the sky, I saw an unusually dark, orange-edged cloud looming over the riverbank.

Junk removal man Brad will “haul anything… but dead bodies!!!”

Soon afterwards, we were enveloped by the fragrant incense of burning rainforest. It drifted like fog over the river. It looks like another planet. People are disoriented. They have been confusing the sun with the moon, not seeing the stars or the mountains. The buildings loom faintly. The river looks like lead.

The sun has not ‘risen or set’ for almost a week in Vancouver… It just turns into a red disc at 6.00pm and falls into the orangey white smoke.

Two hundred wildfires are out of control in British Columbia. It’s all anyone is talking about – the smoke and the fires. The fire risk is rated extreme. The prediction is 30 new fires per day for the forseeable future.

Hundreds of troops have been deployed and firefighters from Australia and New Zealand have arrived. Alberta gets the New Zealanders and we get the Australians.

The high temperatures and drought is said to be caused by The Blob. The Blob is a blob of warm water in the Pacific Ocean stretching from Mexico to Alaska, and is suspected to be caused by global warming

The lawn of the Galilee Korean Presbyterian Church is brown.

The lawn of the Galilee Korean Presbyterian Church: not greener.

Smoke has blotted the sky… It looks like Beijing – people wearing surgical masks, coughing. The grass is not greener.

There is a drought. We had no rain for two months but people are excited now, because we are to get a bit of rain tomorrow.

The smoke and heat is making people grumpy. There are no statistics on the cannabis fire situation lately, except that more and more  shops are opening.

As if the sun being blotted out wasn’t enough – I guess you heard about this as it is international news – hookers and their clients all over the world had their business momentarily but seriously interrupted by a sheriff in the USA who managed to convince Visa and MasterCard to stop processing the Village Voice’s Backpages ads for sex workers. This caused a flurry of worker-to-worker advice about how to use Bitcoin and much confusion which was solved after a few days by the Village Voice deciding to allow sex workers to advertise for free.

Meanwhile, life continues at my marina of Hell. I was woken up yesterday morning by a man yelling: “Fuck off! It’s none of your business!” which gave me the relaxing illusion that everything is normal. So I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Anna also sent me a photo of Vancouver-born screen actress Yvonne De Carlo‘s cousin David De Carlo celebrating Canada Day with a friend. Anna tells me:

David De Carlo with a friend (Photograph by Anna Smith)

David De Carlo (right) with a friend (Photo by Anna Smith)

David De Carlo was conceived in Stanley Park under the south end of The Lions Gate Bridge. I met David on Davie street a few months ago when I accidentally took a photo of his ass which was in the way when I was trying to capture something else. We struck up a conversation and he showed me some very interesting visual art that he makes. The picture was taken at a Filipino drag karaoke show, though that is not my favourite art form.

Yvonne De Carlo was a film actress whom Hollywood producer Walter Wanger described as “the most beautiful girl in the world”. She played Lily Munster, the wife of Herman Munster, in the 1960s TV series The Munsters.

Walter Wanger and Joan Bennett

Walter Wanger and Joan Bennett – barely separate from you

In 1951, Walter Wanger shot and wounded talent agent Jennings Lang in the left inner thigh and groin (or, in other reports, the testicles) after accusing him of having an affair with his wife, the actress Joan Bennett. Wanger served a four-month sentence at the Castaic Honor Farm near Los Angeles.

Everyone seems less than six degrees of separation away from everyone else.

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