Typical Weekend Part I

Posted on January 28, 2007

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Thursday evening I betook myself and my Shirley Schmidt outfit to meet the hilarious Amnesiac at Diwan bookstore, where Alaa El Aswany was doing a book signing of his new novel, Chicago. We arrived early and found a (and by that I mean one) seat and there we remained for the best part of an hour, gossiping fiercely and loudly about members of the crowd. This was composed largely of middle-aged women, foreign and Egyptian, clearly engaged in either academic or development pursuits – what I think of as “crunchy granola” people. You know, flowing scarves and “ethnic” jewellery and untamed hair. There were one or two young people in what we considered to be insupportable outfits – indeed, Amnesiac said that such outfits were one of the reasons she left England in the first place.

We continued thus for an hour or so, untrammelled by any arrival of the fabled author himself. We sat there for so long that (delightfully camp) people began mistaking us for an information booth and asking us for updates. When, eventually, he appeared, a host of people gathered around him and they talked with great vivacity. Amnesiac, having greater concern for retaining our seat, refused to leave it to hear the great man’s words, while I preferred to be within shouting distance of the cafeteria from which I awaited two overpriced pastries. As a result, we missed the entire content of his remarks, inquiring about them periodically of The Pig, who – not being as slothful as us – was standing close to him and laughing at his sallies.

Finally we got into the signing line, which was immensely long. We whiled away the time by having the most explicit conversation the world has ever heard – and the world did appear to be paying close attention, in the person of a guy in front of us whose ears were in danger of being detached from his head, and in the persons of a camera crew behind us with a large microphone that was probably picking up every word. So we shut it, waiting in silence for Mr. El Aswany to finish writing doctoral theses in everyone’s books. I, however, am apparently not of enough interest to have him inquire as to every detail of my life like with everyone else. Still, my first autographed copy of anything!

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Posted in: books, friends