A monstrous long post, sans oomph but avec pictures.
Another post (forgive me!) without much houseyhousey content, though we do have Moroccan rugs and we do have riads. A post also without much by way of oomph – that having been knocked out of me by a particularly vicious bout of food poisoning courtesy of Mssrs Queasy Jet. I have been rolled utterly flat. Imagine, if you care to, a Tom and Jerry moment. Catering Dept – I salute you – gentlemen and ladies all.
But anyway, starting at the start, one misty moisty morning last week we left the Dorset hollows for the airport. The early morning fields were wreathed in rolling mists, the sun just heaving itself up from off the edge of the world to hang heavy and flat and white, a slice of opal burning quietly away there. Almost another moon really. And the trees were ghostly echoes of themselves, looming out at us from the edge of the road. It was an English morning of such perfect spectral beauty I would have liked to be suspended in it forever.
But no! There were places to go and adventures to be had, and so by means of a car with dodgy brakes, a bus, a plane and a taxi (all this via a lunch at The Prince Albert in East Grinstead – surely the very worst England has to offer – where by rights we should have got food poisoning but did not, escaping instead with only shell shock and perforated ear drums) we found ourselves in Marrakesh.
And oh! Marrakesh! Or as M’Sieur F said “Marrakesh …minarets , mountains, mint tea, mules, medina, mayhem “. But I’m not up to such an elegance of concision (or alliteration) because, dear ladies and gents of the jury, what you have before you is a one woman campaign to get everyone to shift their harrises on over to Morocco. Truly. An encouragingly eclectic crowd went with us on the plane – people on cougar holidays, people on smoking holidays, people on boys’ own holidays. Something for everyone.
And our room:
I had a somewhat dangerous conversation with Henri, the owner, on the last morning. He told me he went to Marrakesh on holiday in 2004, and within three weeks of returning to France had sold all his assets and moved to Marrakeh. Aaah. Be still my roving heart.
And I am ashamed to say (or should be, but am not really) that a galloping consumerist frenzy overtook us while we were there, and we became quite the regular denizens of the souk. The souk, let me tell you, is at one and the same time completely bonkersbarmy and utterly civilised. Really, Marrakesh IS the souk. Slap me if you want.
We were obliged to buy carpets, of course. That’s axiomatic, isn’t it? And anyway, the Regency Wreck had had a two day photo shoot with Harpers Bazaar just before we left and the dosh was burning a hole in its pockets . We could hear it calling for carpets across the dark fields of England at night. Honest guv’nor, no word of a lie. So if you look at it that way it was ineluctable. Our moral duty in fact. And while fulfilling said moral duty I discovered a talent for bargaining that I didn’t know I had. There were the scripts of course – the charming carpet salesman script and the naive tourist script, but there was plenty of room in for a lot of ad-libbing and somehow it always managed to feel personal. And when all is said and done, that’s really all I care about – the personal.
And so it transpired that we bought this
They were made by a middle-Atlas tribe with, apparently, a penchant for abstract motifs and wiggly lines which meander into abstraction. We were told many stories about those lines. They represent the tribal tattoos the women have on their chins. They are the river in which the rugs are washed. Or the meandering thoughts of the women as they knotted them. They came from the Mrit people. From the Azilal. From somewhere else I can’t remember. In the end is it so important to know? They came from Morocco. They were made by hand. Probably women’s. They are not new.
But if you nudge the carpets, the food, the shining hotels, the riads, the snake charmers (oh yes), the men in their fezzes (indeed), the cloud of amber scent which drifts forever behind you and clouds the senses – if you gently shove all that to one side, it was the people, really. It was the old lady in full veil who leant forward from her horse and carriage to say “bonjour Madame” to me. It was the old boy in his jelabah and slippers who promised his wares were ‘as cheap as chips’. It was Said, the maitre d’ from the Amin Riad, who, learning it was my birthday, disappeared and came back with the chef, the barman and a cake with a candle in it and all three of them, shuffling from foot to foot like giggling schoolboys, sang Happy Birthday in a mix of English, French and Arabic.
Am I allowed one slightly negative note? This being a blog and all? It was the donkeys. And the mules. The ones who pulled the vegetable carts and the banana carts. Some of them were sad and rather thin. As sad and thin, I suspect, as their owners’ wallets at the moment. Morocco is not having an easy time of it. Walking past the Sad Banana Mule one evening I put a sketch plan to Mr Pimp – we will move to Marrakesh, buy and renovate a riad and run a donkey sanctuary out in the country. You know, in between doing the Regency Wreck, moving back to the UK and all. He didn’t say no. He didn’t say yes, either. But watch this space…