A photo of Masum Ali and Ibn Batutta, in 1326, Cairo.
I arrived in the frantic city of Cairo last night, splendid place. Thousands of shops here, so you would probably like it my dear. Mind you I couldn’t find Primark, so maybe it wouldn’t appeal to you after all. I don't know, you women folk are fickle creatures.
Tell you what Bridget I had a bit of a bad experience in Tunis. I'll come onto that later...
Some of my fellow travellers said to me; “By heck Ibn lad when was the last time you had a bath?” I felt very embarrassed by this. The truth was Bridget I hadn’t bathed for about two days and what with the heat of the sun I was just stinking. If truth be told I was rancid. So I parked Masum-Ali, my camel, on a double yellow, decided to take the risk. Apparently, there is only one parking attendant in Tunis and he likes the ladies, so you rarely see him. Anyway, I found this bathhouse, it was just behind the central mosque, in one of the little cobbled stoned back alleys.
I should have read the signs before I ventured in there but I was just too tired to really notice. In retrospect it was glaringly obvious, especially as it had a pink flashing neon light, suspended directly above the main door, advertising its services. Then there was this woman sat outside the entrance, sat on a stool, she looked Eastern European, I think, very short shirt on, long pale skinny legs and wearing a very tight fitting white shirt and smoking Bridget. Yes Bridget, smoking a very strange smelling cigarette. Worst was still to come - I was horrified when I entered the bathhouse I found men in it “wearing no covering. This appeared a shocking thing to me, and I went to the governor and informed him of it. He told me not to leave and ordered the [owners] of the bathhouses to be brought before him. Articles were formally drawn up making them subject to penalties if any person should enter a bath without a waist-wrapper, and the governor behaved to them with the greatest severity, after which I took leave of him." Gibb
Anyway, after that shock the governor of Tunis called me over to his house for a kebab. He apologised profusely, and then he said, “Look Ibn mate, let me make it up to you, follow me …..” He took me out into his backyard and showed me how to do the above trick (see photo above). Masum-Ali bloody loves it and so do I.
His six burqa wearing wives were bloody hilarious; many of them could do hand stands on top of the camel's humps. One of them who was a rather large lady was very talented. She could run, do a back flip and miraculously land sitting astride, in between the camel's humps. The governor took me to one side, (he didn't want his over enthusiastic wives to hear what he was about to tell me) basically, he made a confession to me - with tears in his eyes he said, "I want to start a circus for my wives. You've seen how talented these women are but it's the sultan he won't rubber stamp it. I beg you Ibn, put in a good word for me, with the sultan. He respects you. Please ... no more seedy bathhouses. I promise."
Have you ever stood on top of a camel Bridget? I tell you what lass, it’s like being on top of the world, looking down on creation.
All the Best love Ibn XXXX
Don’t let the fuckers get you down.
I am sending you a telepathic message. It's a challenge actually, one which involves you going on a journey. On one commuter congested Inverkeithing ScotRail service, departure time 0650 hours. Destination Waverley station, Edinburgh, arrives 0710 hours. I know you can do this.