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It was with some relief that I took a call from my pal Keith about five minutes ago to say that his flight from Cairo (via London) had just landed at Glasgow Airport.
He has promised me some photos for the BLFP ‘as soon as I can figure out how to download them from my phone’. Keith was doing some work in Alexandria when everything kicked off. Whereas holidaymakers are ok as they have a return ticket, Keith is on a flexible contract so buys one way tickets.
Because the internet and all cash machines and phone networks were turned off by the authorities, he couldn’t by a flight ticket. It meant that his wife had to buy a ticket online here and had to TELEX the hotel where she knew where he was last, to let him know he had a ticket.
His colleague, an Egyptian from Cairo didn’t desert him. He stayed with him on the journey from Alexandria to Cairo and then made sure that he got his flight. Good man!
As a good friend of mine waits nervously at a hotel near Cairo airport for a flight home, the word on the street is that the army, having already dispersed Mubarak supporters, are ready to move against the president and seize power in a military coup.
Some of the references in the book brought memories flooding back. There’s a mention for instance for the Saints and Sinners venue in Glasgow which now continues under the name King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut (King Tut’s for short). I was a DJ there back in the day and we called it ‘Saints and Scunners’.
Only the name has changed
As with anything I’m trying to concentrate on, I read a nugget of information and then I’m off on a tangent. I am the very man for a heid full of nonsense and a mind crammed with useless trivia, which is why I was fascinated by the story behind a track which never even made it onto a Blue Nile album.
The track is called St Katherine’s Day. I have always thought it was a rather bleak song and when you read about the subject matter – nae wonder.
Catherine (Katherine) was born in Alexandria and raised a pagan, but converted to Christianity in her late teens. It is said that she visited her contemporary, the Roman Emperor Maxentius, and attempted to convince him of the moral error in persecuting Christians. She succeeded in converting his wife, the Empress, and many pagan philosophers whom the Emperor sent to dispute with her, all of whom were subsequently martyred. Upon the failure of the Emperor to win Catherine over, he ordered her to be put in prison; and when the people who visited her converted, she was condemned to death on the breaking wheel, an instrument of torture. According to legend, the wheel itself broke when she touched it, other accounts have the wheel breaking under her during the torture. Either way she was killed and martyred.
So…..I now know where the expression ‘spinster’ comes from and when you dig out the Catherine wheel from the firework box later in the year you might think where the name originated.
The track is an unreleased demo
Only whilst compiling this posting has the Egyptian theme struck me. The Blue Nile, King Tut and Catherine’s birthplace of Alexandria all have the connections.
I have a good friend currently working in Alexandria and Keith (for it is he) reports that the protesters there were generally peaceful but that the police waded in with batons to try to disperse them and that was when the trouble kicked off.
So, back to a dysfunctional unproductive yet sublime musical trio from Glasgow via a fourth century saint and some current affairs from an on the spot correspondent.