Tag Archives: party

Over the hills and far away

The hat rack of delusions

The hat rack of delusions

Balling in the ballroom

Balling in the ballroom

It’s out of season for Middle Eastern excavation so I’m having to make my own fun. I’m about to buy Sharpe’s Trafalgar in the Kindle store which, I have high hopes, will bring together many of my life’s dirty little pleasures – heroic men in well-fitting uniforms, slightly shoddy literature and Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. This will be the seventh Sharpe novel I’ve read this week in an attempt to stave off the ravages of the real world. I’ve decided that the tawdry and emasculated land of now is not for me and I’m going to form square and repel reality with as many volleys as it takes (aim for the horses lads).

The pre-ball frisbee

Traditional pre-ball frisbee

I solve the croquet/dress problem by tucking my petticoats into my stockings

I solve the croquet/dress problem by tucking my petticoats into my stockings

It’s been nearly two weeks since the end of the week-long house party my sister and me organised for the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, which isn’t even the stupidest thing we’ve ever done. The problem has been the existential hangover, in which I’m struggling to come to terms with hard truths, such as no longer being able to drink my claret on the croquet lawn or ask one of the officers to row me around the boating lake. Why don’t I have a ballroom to hold my balls in? I can’t fit a full sized snooker table into any of the rooms in my parents’ three bedroom semi, and the neighbours stare at me through the front windows when I wear Napoleon’s hat (they’re doing it right now). I think one of them was looking at me from behind their curtains when I was practicing my musket drill in the back garden last night (how else am I going to get up to three rounds a minute?)

The post-ball gambling

I triumph in the post-ball all-night poker

I’m also frustrated that I can no longer resolve simple disagreements by shooting the other person in the head at dawn. I’ve tried demanding satisfaction, but the man who poured me the wrong sort of beer in the pub last week entirely misunderstood me. In the meantime, I can feel my precarious grasp of time, place and appropriate clothing fading away like the paintball bruises on my thighs and abdomen. Why cannot life be always cake and dancing? At least I can still drink all day.

The undeniable pleasure of killing one's enemy with a shot to the heart on the first ball

The undeniable pleasure of killing one’s enemy with a shot to the heart on the first ball

Dawn duelling

Dawn duelling: death in pajamas

Really I should be working – I haven’t been paid since January and I’ve got a monstrous pile of desk work lined up for the summer, but it’s difficult to balance it with the demands of being mental and reading 1.5 Bernard Cornwell novels a day. I’m trying to resist the urge to buy another sword.

I effectively went on holiday to 1815 and refused to come home. Sorry, I am currently out of the office; I have gone to my happy place to fight the French.

Does anyone know how to get port out of a silk dress?

Waterloo dinner, drinking a health to the duke

Waterloo dinner, drinking a health to the duke and confusion to Bonaparte

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Death in the family

Our dead lady with a baby was buried with this necklace of happy little fish

The dead lady with a baby was buried with this necklace of happy little fish

Work in my area of the cemetery is acquiring a distinctly tragic aura as the season goes on. I’m currently excavating yet another multiple burial, this time containing two adolescents and a toddler; the last one had two young adults and a baby, and the one before was a woman and a new-born. “This is family?” asked our Egyptian inspector today, constituting her first ever insightful question (yesterday’s question was ‘what is a pottery?’, which was a bit too existential for my unorthodox grasp of Arabic to cover in the fullest sense). Indeed, is my pit-full-of-children the product of a single awful family tragedy? Well, personally I chose not to think about that sort of thing because it brings me down. I’ve instituted accent day at the Upper Site to keep things light; today we did Yorkshire (is tha’ a bairn in’t pit lass?), tomorrow we’re doing ridiculous French. Life goes on.

On the night of Margaret Thatchers death, the men of the village dance

On the night of Margaret Thatchers death, the men of the village dance

We have our own family ties at the excavation and last night we were invited to a party at the house of our driver; his father having been our driver before him. We took the precaution of strategic gin drinking before the event, so we were all properly disposed to entertain with our outrageous foreignness and willingness to hold people’s children and take photographs of strangers. There was a power cut during dinner, forcing us to eat our Nile fish in the dark, which, all Nilotic factors considered, is almost certainly the best way. I enjoyed the sufi dancing, even though the band’s sound system seemed to be vibrating the teeth out of my head. ‘Larger, brighter, louder’ is the cultural mantra of rural Egypt.

Party pain

The hop-step-point familiar from Morris dancing

The hop-step-point familiar from Morris dancing

I had a dream last night that I was lying in my grave and someone was trying to bash my head in with the butt of a levelling rod. Then I woke up with the most appalling hangover. We had a bit of a party here at the dig house last night for a special anniversary and some of us got a little carried away. Or in fact, literally carried away.

We had a famous band down from Cairo for some traditional dance music. They used to play for President Mubarak when that was an acceptable thing to do, but now they’re reduced to playing in the middle of nowhere for drunk archaeologists. Vive la revolution. We also invited our workmen, and a fearsome number of antiquities inspectors invited themselves, forcing me to consume most of my alcohol covertly in the office.

And then there was the dancing; oh dear. I have a powerful memory of dancing the Egyptian stick dance using a ranging rod from the equipment store while wearing a cardboard Nefertiti hat. My grace and elegance, honed through careful practice on the floors of low-end clubs and my six month experiment with morris dancing, was of course captured for posterity on the mobile phones of numerous Egyptian men. I’m sure a productive day was spent in the village swapping files and laughing.

Pimp my dervish: dancing at the next level

Pimp my dervish: dancing at the next level

In consequence, I’ve spent today on a diet of water, ibuprofen and shame. I’ve watched a lot of DVDs and done a fair amount of shaking, punctuated by ignominiously vomiting out of the living room window half way through Howl’s Moving Castle.

I’ve learned several things in the last twenty-four hours: 1) all traditional Egyptian tunes sound exactly the same, 2) foreign women trying to dance is a class of saleable pornography here, 3) gin – there are attainable limits, 4) Egyptian sparkling wine is not fit for human consumption.

I am going back to bed, it seems I may live after all.