Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thursday 3rd December 1942

This morning,under the guidance of a kind-hearted English lady, Jack and I went into the Muski (the bazaar quarter) and after seeing many stones and many settings, I bought a gold ring, with an alexandrine stone in a lotus setting of gold and diamond chips. It will certainly be an unusual ring on the third finger of an English girls' left hand. Quite apart from the orthodox diamonds, claws and half-hoops which I'd seen the day before in ordinary jewellers' shops.

What is this alexandrine? Never heard of it before! It is a bluish-red stone which in sunlight becomes a reddish-green and all sorts of other colours. I inspected the aquamarines, diamonds, pink topaz, garnets, rubies, white sapphires, blue sapphires and yellow sapphires. I am now an expert on engagement rings!

We descended into the Muski by taxi, sometimes driving precariously along crowded alley ways, sometimes rolling in state along main roads lined with expectant Wogs. They were on the pavements, in grandstands and on roofs – dense masses. I thought this might be for us but asked the English lady and she said no, they were waiting to see the holy carpet pass by, en-route for Mecca.

The shop we found was a nice, clean, quiet place. We sat down and were offered coffee. It was all very pleasant except for five minutes when a crowd of noisy Americans – half a dozen men and two girls – rushed in, loudly demanding rings and arguing. Presently they all filed out and then the shop keeper found they'd taken a yellow sapphire with them... Bastards. The two women were as big-mouthed as the men.

When we came out, our taxi, left a few streets away, had gone and the Procession of the Carpet had begun. Our guide knew her way however and we dodged in and out of densely crowded streets until we reached Ezebekiah Gardens and normality. Jack and I were amused at our English lady. She was very small, and obviously had complete control of Cairo, Wogs and the Arabic language, all of which she treated with amused and tolerant distain.

This afternoon and evening we spent at Music for All. In the afternoon, the quartet played “Fingel's Cave,” some lovely Mozart selections, and Saint-Saens' “Danse Macabre.” All my friends and acquaintances gathered around – perhaps too many of them. Wilbur Underhill was there, Stan Ling, Bob Dewhurst, Johnnie Richardson, “Badgie” Hancox, Jack and George Kerry. Half of 'em didn't like the other half, I reckon!

In the evening there were some good recordings – Elgar's “Cockaigne Overture” and “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 in G” (Ah! memories of Langley Pageant in far-off 1935 and Buckinghamshire!) Before this there was a piano recital by one Aimee Dorra and a Bechstein Grand. I liked her “Prelude” by Albeniz but various pieces by Debussy were away beyond me. And then she played “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Moussorgsky, which April mentioned in a recent letter. “The Old Castle” and “Bydlo” were the best of this.


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