Monday, June 11, 2007

Last Girl Before the Sahara

The headline of this post was the wording of the sign I threatened to post on my bedroom door a few years back. My bedroom is a little Middle Eastern as you will see by this photograph of a corner of it. I was reading this evening with a glass of wine (well, I am reading The Story of Wine by Hugh Johnson). The sun was setting and I have sheer curtains that are sort of coppery in colour and the main curtains are made of lavender sari fabric. So the light coming in filled the room with a hazy warm glow. I quickly snapped a picture and there you have it. This is my restful haven.


Captail Luke Wildhaven said...

Aye, Lassie,

Restful Haven? Ha! Not when I am in town, by Neptune! When the four winds of the world blow my ship into port near ye, that haven resembles storm-toss'd seas more like!

Captain Luke Wildhaven

Ange said...

How coincidental that your post touches on the Middle East.

Just yesterday, I began reading a novel that I half-started to read some years ago, but abandoned for reasons forgotten.

The book is called "The Doomed Oasis" and is by Hammond Innes, a British writer who wrote many bestsellers in his day. Books of adventure, many having to do with the sea.

The Doomed Oasis opens in a packed Arab courtroom. A Welsh solicitor is about to take the stand, as witness for the prosecution. The chapter dissolves just as he is asked "Perhaps you will now tell the Court in your own words what hapened..."

The next chapter opens with a flashback to some years earlier when the whole tale began.

The dustjacket says: "This is the story of a quiet Welsh solicitor who goes to the Middle East on business and finds himself plunged into the violence and intrigue of a great struggle for oil. The struggle takes him deep into the little known heart of the Arabian desert, to the courts of emirs and sheikhs, to the middle of a desert war, and to Saraifa, the fascinating doomed oasis that plays a pivotal part in the conflict."

Well, I am chapter II and so far, it is a fascinating, adventurous story. There has already been a thrilling account of a desperate youth who is a stowaway out of Cardiff, and as the story shifts to Arabia, the descriptions of the sea and desert there are like a wildly romantic balm to my city-weary soul....

Ange said...

That sunset glow brings to mind these words from Iris Murdoch's "The Nice and The Good":

"There was something of evening already in the powdery goldness of the sun."

The Nice and The Good was engrossing but--my goodness--there were a terrifically huge number of characters and at times it was a wee bit difficult to remember them all and keep them all straight.

Anonymous said...

Feisal: The English have a great hunger for desolate places. I fear they hunger for Arabia.

Lawrence: Then you must deny it to them.

Feisal: You are an Englishman. Are you not loyal to England?

Lawrence: To England, and to other things.

Feisal: To England and Arabia both? And is that possible? I think you are another of these desert-loving English...No Arab loves the desert. We love water and green trees, there is nothing in the desert.

Ange said...

"A mile or two further on they left the sea's edge by a camel track that climbed the shallow cliffs. Looking back, David got a last glimpse of the dhow that had brought him to the Arabian shore, and then they were bouncing past the Bedouin caravan he had seen moving along the sands. The camels stared with supercilious gaze, padding effortlessly through the sand under their mountainous loads. The men, wild and bearded, raised their hands unsmilingly in desert salutation. The silver mountings of their old-fashioned guns winked in the hot sun and David caught the wicked gleam of khanjar knives and the brass of cartridge belts. He was seeing for the first the desert world that was to be his home."

Excerpt from "The Doomed Oasis"
by Hammond Innes

Blog Princess G said...

Ange: what a wonderful-sounding novel! I must read it ere long.

Anonymous: Truly for some men nothing is written.

Captain: You speak the truth, O salt-encrusted one.

Ange said...

Biographical details of Hammond Innes:

He was awarded a CBE (Commander, Order of the British Empire) in 1978.

The American magazine Holiday paid Innes to visit and write about both the Russian frontier of Norway and The Pirate Coast (today the United Arab Emirates).

Journalist at the Financial Times (1934-1940), then served with the Royal Artillery during World War II, during which he began writing adventure novels. His novels, which take place in many locations around the world and which deal with such topics as spies and intrigue, black markets, counterfeiters, liquor-running, skiing, whaling, exploring, and shipwreck, were popular among readers and reviewers.

Ange said...

oh--I should mention that my previous post on H.Innes bio was excerpted from