In 1922, Howard Carter, the Indiana Jones of his day, discovered and opened the tomb of the boy king Tutankhamun, thus triggering one of the biggest tourist stampedes Egypt has ever seen. They still reap the rewards to this day.
One can only look on and wonder, and wish that our ancestors had cracked the idea of mummification and the burial of the dead accompanied by lavish grave goods. Look on and wail, ye mighty (well, the people who run VisitScotland).
Oh, for a Scottish equivalent of the Valley of the Kings, perhaps just off the A9, up around the Cairngorms, just past Aviemore, where would lie the glorious tombs of Wallace, lying under a mighty death mask that looks nothing like Mel Gibson, Robert the Bruce with his Braveheart casket on his breastplate, Keir Hardie resplendent under his famous flat cap and Elsie Inglis, whose tomb would be very austere and smell faintly of disinfectant.
No, our ancestors, with no thought to possible future tourist income, opted for a grimly practical approach, which could be summed up as sticking them in the ground and shouting “you’re not burying that perfectly good bronze dagger, are you?”
Anyway, Carter reported back to his sponsor, Lord Carnarvon, that everything was going tickety-boo with the tomb opening and not to worry about such nonsense as the mummy’s curse, unleashing of dark forces, something freaky going on, that sort of nonsense.
By 1923, the doors to the inner tomb were being finally being breached. Did the hiss of a long dead priest escape out into the air, find the man responsible, Lord Carnarvon, and visit terrible vengeance? Six weeks after the opening of the great golden coffin, Carnarvon died suddenly in Cairo. And as the lord breathed his last, the lights flickered and the city plunged into darkness.
It is said his hounds, thousands of miles away, started howling at the exact moment he died. Good, eh? I only mention all this because parts of this city were plunged into the spectacular darkness of a Scottish spring day when the lights went out just as Baroness Thatcher was being dispatched to her tomb.
Was it a power cut as Maggie was sent off, or did the ghost of the Scottish mining industry reach beyond the grave and snuff out the lights? Incidentally, I hate to burst anyone’s balloon here, but Carnarvon probably died of blood poisoning – he’d been bitten by a mosquito a few days before.
Yeah, I know, pedantic to the last.
I saw a flash of granny in those cobalt eyes
Before I forget, why was George Osborne leaking? Was it because he doesn’t know what to do when nanny’s not around? Or were those tears of admiration because he was watching Granddaughter Thatcher – a fine looking young lady, by the way, I assume the looks come from Texas – and thinking this could be the first joint US president and UK prime minister, and by jingo, Scottish First Minister. Those cobalt eyes lifted up over the congregation and I swear I saw a flash of granny – only American, which means a whole lot bigger.
Breakfast ideas are a pizza nonsense
Pizza, I said, quite firmly, is not a breakfast food. I’ve had breakfast, said the teen son. Yes, I said. The bowl with the remains of the chocolate hoops that stain the milk brown is in your left hand. You have a slice of leftover Friday night pizza in your right hand. You are, in fact, eating breakfast cereal and pizza simultaneously. So this is breakfast cereal? He said, waving the bowl about. Yes, I said. So, he said, I can eat my pizza, I’ve had my breakfast. Just to clarify, cold pizza is not, under any circumstances, breakfast food, even if it is rebranded as breakfast bruschetta.
Bearly a hope of panda babies
NOW, as we all know, I am no great fan of the panda. Give me a gallus penguin, whether rockhopper or jaunty emperor. And hold the phone, I’ve just found out that there’s a breed called the blue or fairy penguin. What is not to love? Now we hear from the zoo that the panda programme has come to a halt.
The chances of babies are receding because boy and girl panda are failing to, in the words of the late, great Barry White, “get it on”. Tian Tian (the girl half of the team) is “grumpy”. First of all, how can they tell? What does a grumpy panda look like? It must be like trying to guess the expression of a botoxed supermodel.
Secondly, of course she’s grumpy. Half of Scotland’s press is peering into the panda boudoir and an army of experts is probably prodding and probing. No wonder the old girl is registering ‘seriously miffed’ on the Edinburgh Grumpy Scale.