Monthly Archives: March 2011

Beast or Beauty?

Tutankhamun’s mother and father were sister and brother, his wife: his half-sister. As a result from an apparent long line of incestuous lineage, Tutankhamun had a hair lip and was crippled in his left foot. This is in stark difference to the majestic golden death mask left in his burial chamber.

There is now the theory that as the pharaoh died so young his crypt was a last minute affair. He was not buried within a valley hill (the fate of most pharaohs) but on the valley floor. This leads Egyptologists to consider that his chamber was originally meant for a non-royal but was hastily converted at Tutankhamun’s death. This brings me to the gilded death mask left in Tutankhamun’s burial site. There is now some speculation that it may not, in fact, be of the young pharaoh. Due to his unforseen departure, expensive and elaborate items may have been buried with king Tut that were not actually meant for him. At only 19 years of age, there was simply not enough to bury with him to be fitting of a pharaoh’s death. Although this is a contentious issue it leads us to a new question: who is the man behind the mask?

Incest was common among the Egyptian royal family. In particular children coming from sister and brother were seen as fortunate. They kept the wealth of the royal family within the family and they continued the way of the Egyptian gods, whom the pharaohs were chosen by.


A Story in Ethiopia

Following the goat up the wet and weary cobblestone incline, she breathes in the musky smell of discarded fruit peels, chicken shit and sweat. Although alarming, the smell has a particular kind of intimate human scent that she enjoys. Eyes to the ground, she worries about slipping on the slimy hand crafted cobblestones and food waste at her feet.

Women in bright colours look over her, men with scheming eyes meet her gaze. The goat scampers into a nearby school and she stops to get her breath.

It doesn’t come.

It feels like she is in water up to her chest. Her breathing is only half-full. She turns and looks back the way she has come. Something glints in the hazy light. She sees a small beaded necklace amongst the rubbish. She stoops to pick it up. It is bright and un-symmetrical, made from plastic beads coming together in a loop and then falling in a line down the middle. She brushes away the mud on her skirt and pulls it over her head. A man walks past and smiles when he sees it on her. A young girl with a baby on her back walks past and her eyes pop out when she sees it.

A little alarmed, she decides to find her way back to the hotel. The rain gently sweeps over the streets of Harar in a fine mist.

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Storm 2010

Today huge chunks of ice pummelled the parched earth. We felt the first drops of rain as we left the lighting store. Michael, touch lamp under arm, called shotgun. ‘Four touch senses’ exclaimed the lamp box. ‘One of them is off’ said Brendan.

The clouds were straight. It was odd. The familiar Glendalough traffic lights came into view as we rounded the corner and we could see the clouds had turned a heavy shade of green.

‘I like the sky green’ said Julian. Only minutes later and the ceiling trembled with a heavy onslaught of ice.

‘hail! hail!’ It smashed the living room window (smashed is too strong a word, it kind of ripped a triangle out of the bottom panel). It left a perfect, circle sized, hail-hole in the bathroom skylight. It cracked Michael’s car windscreen (although there was a small crack to begin with and the car doesn’t actually work). It destroyed one of the solar panels (and that is the right word) and left small dents all over Michael and Damo’s car roofs. But beside the damage was the extreme power with which the ice was thrown to the earth. We all stood in the doorway, protected by the fly wire, and watched as shards of ice zinged in every direction. Around this time we could hear the sound of smashing glass (the solar panel) and the thunderous drumming against the roof. We rushed from front to back surveying the destruction.

I left Michael’s door open and his room was wet. Suddenly a knock! And Julian rushed in with an amp ‘all my stuff out the back is fucked’ he said. We rushed out to grab his gear, I put two guitars and a bongo drum on the couch. The hail gave way to rain. Damo massaged shampoo in his hair out the back as torrents of water washed it out again. I ran around and threw bits of ice at him. Later when it had all calmed down a bit (and photos were taken to prove to the landlord that all damage was all act of God) we went for a drive.

The beach was silent and eerie. The sun was setting in a sort of hazy unforgivable way and the water was mildly warm. I felt like running. Michael raced me up the path. He won. It started raining again and we went back to the car. Julian was last. After navigating the wet dark streets we came across several cars refusing to cross a flooded road. We couldn’t turn back, could we go forward?

As we debated we met a man stranded by his car on the island in the middle of the two lanes. He asked us to help him push his car onto the other lane so he could turn back. We all got behind the car and exerted force forward. It took a couple of humps but we moved it and the man tossed us a wave as he fled off into the night. We decided to brave the flood. In fact we braved two flooded roads on the way back. Water whizzing beside the doors like a fandangle-modern-day fountain. I let my hand drag through the water as we drove. My toes were wrinkled from the beach. Back at Glendalough we drank more cider and started to make dinner.

A storm can really bring out the best in people.