Tag Archives: Kazakhstan

Diary Blog, 17 July 2021, including the new book about John Stonehouse

Saturday quiz

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A rare week, in which John Rentoul beat my score. This week he scored 7/10, but I scored only 5/10, a far worse effort than usual. I did not know the answers to questions 3, 6, 7, 9, and 10 (I should have known no. 7, but the mind was blank, so there it is…).

Tweets seen

Sadly, very true, though “Left wing” (eg “socialist”) is not fully accurate, certainly not the full story. The Jew-Zionist element has a near-stranglehold, as it does over the msm. In fact, not so long ago, the fake UK “charity” known as “Campaign Against Antisemitism” or “CAA” was advertising for “volunteers” with their own Wikipedia accounts to “edit” (vandalize) Wikipedia pages.

Wikipedia is one of the best resources on the Internet, perhaps the best, which makes it all the more irritating that Jew-Zionists and others are using it to spread propaganda.

It is absurd, also, that the mainstream UK newspaper, the Daily Mail, cannot be cited as a source for anything, yet rubbish publications such as the Sun, Mirror, even Morning Star, can be! Incidentally, I have no reason to be kind to the Daily Mail, as you will see if you google “Ian Millard barrister Daily Mail”!

Also, we see that the trend for the State to “outsource” things has now led to the “Boris” etc weaselling that the facemask nonsense will largely end (in law) on 19 July 2021, while at the very same time telling the public that they “should” carry on being scared facemask-wearing rabbits, and also telling —or nod-and-winking— to large supermarkets etc, and airlines, that they should effectively demand that their customers continue to be muzzled.

Screw that, and screw all companies demanding facemask use! Rebel any way you can, especially by boycotting those companies. Vote with your feet, and with your wallet or purse!

After 2008, “austerity” (which was the policy not only of the part-Jews David Cameron-Levita and George Osborne but also of Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling), was completely wrongheaded. Now, though, we see almost the opposite —but skewed— policy of vast sums spent, not on useful infrastructure, nor on real education and upskilling, but on schemes over the past 19 months to keep the population at home, eating delivered junk food, drinking heavily, and watching TV.

I too live in one of the wealthier parts of England, yet the roads are falling to pieces, and public services have been cut to the bone.

Early afternoon music

These people should be on our side! When I lived in Kazakhstan (1996-97), I knew several former Russian VDV (Air Descent Contingent…special forces) people. Very solid people.

More tweets

(and in most of the USA, minimum-wage workers cannot afford even a one-bed apartment!).

The same or similar problem exists in the UK. Topping-up pay via Universal Credit is quite wrong; it subsidizes poor-paying-employers vis a vis employers who pay decently. Pay must be sufficient to live on. A measure of State-paid Basic Income will also have to come into existence, because the nexus between pay and work is very loose now, and many do not have paid work at all.

Spy story

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9796639/The-story-John-Stonehouse-told-great-nephew.html

Well-written Daily Mail puff for a new book about the arguably infamous, certainly egregious, John Stonehouse [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stonehouse], who did a “Reggie Perrin” in 1974. For those too young to remember Reggie Perrin, read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fall_and_Rise_of_Reginald_Perrin#Background_and_influence].

Stonehouse was a sensation when exposed as a fraud who had not died, as everyone thought, in 1974, in the sea off Miami Beach (a rather unlkely place to drown anyway). His espionage for socialist Czechoslovakia was not exposed to the public until well after his death.

That was an age when politicians, though hardly honoured, were still regarded as basically straight people. The later tidal wave of mediocre and hopeless idiots had not yet filled the Commons. That was another reason why people were fascinated by Stonehouse’s attempted (and very nearly successful) scam.

Other reasons why l’affaire Stonehouse became a sensation, briefly, were because it coincided with that Reginald Perrin TV comedy series, and also because a few other cases of international (British) fugitives had been news for years, notably that of Ronnie Biggs [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_Biggs].

I recall that, when I had to visit the British High Commission in Gaborone, Botswana, in 1977, at age 20, I noticed a small golden plaque by the entrance stating that it had been officially opened by John Stonehouse in 1966, when he had been a minister in the Colonial Office and its successor, the short-lived Commonwealth Office (from 1968, joined with the Foreign Office in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

Strange to see that inscription, nearly three years after Stonehouse’s disgrace (but history is history, something both the “BLM” idiots and Zionist Jews might note).

The Daily Mail piece also contained the assertion that one Ernest Fernyhough, PPS to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, had also been (one of a number of Labour MPs) spying for the Czech StB (external intelligence organization). His treachery is new to me, and I see that Wikipedia does not mention it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Fernyhough.

I imagine that Stonehouse, who was a bit of a Casanova, and a gambler generally, might have been a fairly useful agent for Czech Intelligence, willing to take calculated risks.

As to the book, to be released on 22 July 2021, I might buy the hardback edition via Amazon when it is put on secondhand sale in a few months. RRP is £25.99, but the book can be bought at £18.99. Maybe when there are good, or as-new, used copies for £2 or so. Or, if you like, “when you get down to 90 kopecks, wake me up again”.

Despite that Daily Mail piece having been interestingly written, it contained one schoolboy error by the author (of both the book and the article): speaking in the strict legal sense, Stonehouse did not commit, as the writer claims, “treason”; his alleged espionage crimes would have been charged, had he been charged, under the Official Secrets Act(s) [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_Secrets_Act#United_Kingdom].

[Addendum, 18 July 2021: I became aware today that Stonehouse’s daughter, Julia, an author and professional ghost-writer, has also just published a book about the John Stonehouse affair (“affair” in both senses): https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9776079/John-Stonehouses-daughter-breaks-silence-46-years-reveal-financial-deceit.html].

Sajid Javid and Boris-idiot

What a co-incidence! The new Secretary of State for Health, and also the person posing as PM, are apparently both now “self-isolating”. Of course, that has nothing to do with 19 July 2021, the day after tomorrow, and the (latest, so-called) “Freedom Day”…

Late tweets

It certainly is “verboten”…see https://ianrobertmillard.org/2017/07/09/the-slide-of-the-english-bar-and-uk-society-continues-and-accelerates/

The organized trade unions, what’s left of them, are basically just System-run, politically-correct, advice organizations, of very little use to British people whether employed or not.

I myself am not a member, nor even supporter (as such) of Patriotic Alternative, but the negative attention that PA is getting from “the usual suspects” makes me think that they are at least on the right track.

Terrible. Abuse of the helpless, disguised as “caring sharing” communitarianism. Typical of this poor country in the year 2021.

I missed Bastille Day, so here’s to Macron meeting with Madame Guillotine!

Late music

Last word tonight

Listening to BBC World Service and, once again, appalled by the poor standards now, as compared to the 1970s and 1980s, when I was a regular listener. Then, mostly interesting and erudite programming, and including some entertainment, ofwhich some eveentertained me. Now, endless black “music” or other ghastly trash, and “BLM”-style nonsense propaganda. 90% of the output now is rubbish.

Diary Blog, 26 March 2021

Morning music

Purge of internet radio stations

There seems to be ongoing, and now intensifying, a purge of dissident “radio stations” on the Internet. The noisy “Campaign Against Antisemitism” fake charity yesterday announced that, at its instigation, Devon and Cornwall Police and CPS had charged someone from Cornwall under the Public Order Act 1986.

I was informed by a blog commentator that a former BBC employee who now runs his own “radio station” online from Nottinghamshire, has also been harassed by the police.

We have seen how others who run, or even just talk on, Internet “radio” podcasts are being subjected to similar treatment. Alison Chabloz is on trial, on a similar basis, next week (30-31 March 2021). Good luck and victory to her!

Britain’s toytown police state is gradually developing into a real one, aided by the weaponization of “the virus”, a supine Bar, malleable or complicit judges, conniving mass media, and a non-existent Parliamentary Opposition.

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Behind much of the current repression are the “usual suspects”, of course…

Tweets seen

The “average Joe” still has no idea that what we are seeing in the UK is effectively the extirpation of what have passed as “democracy”, most civil rights etc, and all —supposedly— because of a virus that, worldwide, has killed about one person in every 4,000 people.

In reality, this is all, or almost all, simply an easy way to smooth the way for the NWO/ZOG “Great Reset” of 2022, and to set the agenda for the years up to 2055. An attempt to control the current of the Zeitgeist

I myself had a very good year in Kazakhstan (1996-1997), despite occasional problems and, indeed, a scuffle or two.

For once, I find myself in agreement with Fraser Nelson.

Afternoon music

More tweets

I am no psychiatrist, but there is a very high incidence of schizophrenia in the black “community”. That may have been the case here (or he may just be a black lunatic who hates white/European people anyway).

Cartoons of either should not be criminalized. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION…

Late music

Diary Blog, 28 October 2020

Criminal Bar

Listening to the BBC Today Programme, heard a representative of the criminal Bar talking about how members of the criminal Bar are now suffering heavily from lack of work, and so fees. The courts have been closed or largely closed for 6 months. Barristers in private self-employed practice are subject to Lenin’s dictum, “he who does not work does not eat“— Кто не работает, тот не кушает [Кто не работает, тот не кушает]. How well do I remember that! I mean life at the practising Bar (1992-1996 and 2002-2008).

My Bar practice, especially in earlier years, in the early 1990s, was very much illustrative of that. I was in pretty poor London chambers at first, which supplied equally poor work, mostly criminal. I had to hustle, as the Americans say, to get work of my own in various ways, because chambers had poor work and the single Clerk was almost useless.

Before very long (it seemed long at the time), the magistrates’ court and Crown Court appearances gave way to High Court (i.e. non-criminal) cases, mostly judicial reviews, and other non-criminal work (mostly contract cases) in the County Court, as well as Tribunal appearances of various kinds. Quite mixed.

One day, a High Court brief marked at (for preparation time and first day or part) maybe £2,000 or even £5,000 for half a day or a day (this was about 25 or 27 years ago; today, it would be far far more), the next day a tiny magistrates’ court appearance at perhaps £100 (or less), or a “Mention” (a brief Crown Court appearance which might be only a few minutes in length), with criminal legal aid fee officially fixed at £46! The following day? Maybe nothing at all. The week after? Sometimes, still nothing at all! Followed by…whatever. Some weeks, one might do work in the thousands or even more; more usually, the fees would amount to a few hundred or a thousand; not rarely, I would make absolutely nothing in a whole week.

My spending was likewise up and down; one week, Rules restaurant, the River Room at the Savoy, Julie’s in Notting Hill, and a weekend at Cliveden [ https://www.clivedenhouse.co.uk/]. The next week might be an egg-on-toast breakfast at a workers’ cafe, and maybe a loaf of bread and a tin of tuna (plus decent red wine, though!) for the evening, and a walk in Regent’s Park for weekend recreation (depending on luck…).

Reverting to the Today Programme, my reaction (apart from Memory Lane reminiscence) was two-fold. I recognize that a civilized society needs a cadre of criminal defenders. Likewise, they need to be paid at a reasonably generous level to reflect their years of study, continuing study, and their responsibility.

Of course, many at the civil, Chancery and other parts of the Bar are not affected much, or even at all, by “the virus”. Still, the criminal Bar and maybe the family-law Bar are affected severely. A serious problem for society as a whole.

On the other hand, when I was attacked by a malicious pack of Zionist Jews, a persecution which led eventually to my unjust disbarment in October 2016, not one barrister spoke up for me, for freedom of socio-political expression (“free speech”) generally, or for fairness. Not one who had known me personally. Not one who poses as a champion of “free speech”, political liberty etc, and virtue-signals accordingly. Not one.

That being so, I have to admit that, harsh though it may be, I am laughing now as many members of the Bar are suffering, nearing penury and even bankruptcy. What goes around comes around, and I am not going to shed too many crocodile tears for people who failed to say one word for me or for free speech.

In fact, a few barristers, either Jews or very tied up with Jews and/or (probably) dependent on Jewish solicitors for work, tweeted joyfully about my getting disbarred; one or two were even gratuitously rude to me directly, either then or much later. Don’t worry— you happy few have not been forgotten.

Incidentally, the five tweets which resulted in my disbarment were all general comments; not one was addressed to any individual, and they were all true! Example? Michael Gove as “a pro-Jew, pro-Israel expenses cheat“. That was all demonstrably true, yet was deemed “grossly offensive“! Now, of course, we know that Michael Gove is also a cocaine-snorting drunk, who was even filmed not so long ago drunk and/or drugged, and staggering, in the Chamber of the House of Commons! Ye Gods!

Tweets seen

…and it would be nice if the young wannabees who now pose as “journalists” could spell, and if they knew the difference between “praying” and “preying”…Stand up, Hull Daily Mail! [Update, 27 November 2020: the Hull Daily Mail must have seen my blog comment (or maybe others complained); they have now replaced “praying” with the correct “preying”…].

The politically-correct toytown police of the UK are unused to real British people standing up for their own and national rights…

Yes, if you made mock of the Jews the way that the Jew Sacha Baron Cohen mocks the Kazakhs, you would get prosecuted (if supported by a well-funded pressure group). That’s no “conspiracy theory”: look what happened to Alison Chabloz…and “they” are still trying to get her.

Incidentally, I know Kazakhstan, having lived there for a year (1996-97).

Everyone in the country should be aware of the conspiracy behind all of this. Resistance must emerge, before we are all just complete serfs of a dystopian nightmare.

Below, a typical System-approved idiot thinks that a “lockdown”, if “strict”, can defeat a virus…

It never seems to occur to that type that “lockdowns”, however strict, merely delay the viral progress without “curing” the situation. Look at Spain now. And France. And Germany.

People who have not thought this through.

What has to be factored in is that anyone who has died within 28 days of a positive Coronavirus test is now deemed to have died of “the virus”, even if, in reality, their reaction to infection was slight and they died of other conditions! It’s mad.

Meanwhile, huge numbers of people are suffering and dying because undiagnosed, untreated, not operated upon etc for non-“virus” conditions. The NHS is limping along not doing its proper job.

In the world in general, only one person in every 8,000 has died from “the virus”; in fact, the statistics are so unreliable that it may be one in 10,000, or twenty thousand for that matter..

More tweets

Diary Blog, 26 September 2020

Jess Phillips

This made me laugh: https://order-order.com/2020/09/23/jess-phillips-sheds-tear-over-obvious-troll-photoshop/

I have blogged about deadhead MP Jess Phillips before: https://ianrmillard.wordpress.com/2019/05/07/deadhead-mps-an-occasional-series-the-jess-phillips-story/

Like so many “democratically-elected” MPs (in fact, first selected, and by a very exclusionary selection process, and only then “elected” in what amounts to a rigged public show), Jess Phillips is a bad joke who should be binned.

Tweets seen

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One of the best tweets I have seen.

The whole Western world needs a cultural revolution and a cultural purge.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-54281993

Well-intentioned, but writing letters and sending emails (or even blogging) only has limited influential effect in a corrupt system riven with Evil. Most MPs are willing collaborators with the forces destroying Britain and all Europe.

When Britain has a real government, it must launch a real inquiry (not the usual toothless “judge-led” or other PR exercise) into the decadence and subversion riddling our society and particularly the msm, which baleful influence has been growing for decades, and which has intensified recently (because 2022 is approaching). Something akin to the Star Chamber, or —for a limited time— the “troikas” of Stalin’s time.

We are presently being subjected to social mass conditioning on the grand scale: the “lockdown(s)”, the facemask muzzling of the population, the attempt to create a forest of fear from an acorn of reality. It is connected with “the Great Reset” and “the Great Replacement”. Look at TV ads, soaps, dramas on TV etc. All part of the evil conspiracy.

What tweeter “@Sputnik71” means, I think, is that if MPs were “dense idiots”, they…well…would never be MPs at all! Ha ha! No doubt kind and well-meaning, but has he ever seen these idiots?! I refer him to my “Deadhead MPs” series for a small selection. A few names might give “Sputnik71” pause: Diane Abbott, Fiona Onasanya, Scott Mann, Iain Dunce Duncan Smith, Jess Phillips; and many more. See the Jess Phillips profile above in today’s blog; or another, such as this one about Kate Osamor: https://ianrmillard.wordpress.com/2018/12/02/troop-cartload-barrel-or-family/

It is human nature to suppose that an MP or political leader must be extremely intelligent or at least quite intelligent, educated etc; otherwise he (or she) would not be there. Likewise, that a very wealthy person must be pretty aware and skilled to have their money. Sadly, no.

Many politicians have had both help and luck (though they do need ambition), while most (I concede not all) of the very wealthy simply inherited the loot. Zac Goldsmith. Where would he be, otherwise? An office bod, at best. Or look at Boris-idiot…

Likewise again, when the public are scared witless by “fake news” about a (real) virus being a kind of plague, it is human nature to comply with the “advice” (in the UK backed by fake “law”) and regulation laid down by “the authorities”.

The truth is that, unpleasant though “Covid-19” Coronavirus is for a relative few who both get it and also cannot fight off the symptoms, it has actually killed (even on officially-inflated statistics) under 50,000 people in the UK, out of over 70,000,000, roughly 1 person in 1,500, and most of the deaths were of the very elderly not expected to live long anyway. That is sad, but simply reality. Like life itself, arguably…

As for the world as a whole, a million deaths out of 8 thousand million people! One death for every 8,000 people living.

There is more behind this. The “virus” may have been deliberately created and/or deliberately released. Whatever the truth of that, it is being used to create a robot-society across much of the world.

“Pfeffel” of course being “Boris” (Boris Johnson, Boris-idiot).

When I lived in Almaty (former Alma-Ata), Kazakhstan (this was in 1996-1997), I once saw, from a car, on the road to the former Olympic skating facility in the mountains (I myself occasionally skated there), a quite large number of Kazakh people bathing naked, or wearing only swimming clothing, in a shallow stream or small river fed by mountain snow and flowing through a wooded glade. This was in October and the temperature in the foothills of the mountains was rather low. Such streams are very cold even in Summer (I know— I tried one once!).

[the ice-skating stadium, Medeo, Kazakhstan]

I later asked what the people were doing there and was told that Nazarbaeva, the wife of the President, had recommended bathing in that place as a cure (for almost anything). She claimed to have done so herself. Those brainless Kazakhs were bathing there because they believed her, and they believed her because she was the wife of the President.

Meanwhile, the formerly quite good Soviet medical facilities in the city (Alma-Ata was something of a showplace) were degrading because of funding being diverted from such spending to the offshore bank accounts of the few at the top of the new post-Soviet society in Kazakhstan. Who needs hospitals and medicines etc when a dip in a cold stream will cure you?…

You may say, “well, what do you expect?”, and I agree, but look at British people all going to Waitrose muzzled, and mainly out of both social conformity and because they have been fed a pack of rubbish by clowns posing as “Government” ministers or “Government experts”.

Some silly rabbits can even be seen walking outside, muzzled even though alone and with strong winds blowing!

Boris-idiot: boo-hoo!

Look at who we have to feel sorry for now! https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8774005/Wholl-bail-Boris-Johnson-taken-vast-pay-cut-PM.html

Apparently, “Boris” was making £800,000 a year before he became PM, from book royalties (about £10,000), scribbling rubbish for newspapers, from after-dinner speeches and from TV appearances. Unbelievable.

It seems that he is whining about only getting £150,000 as PM. Admittedly, that is parsimonious, but at the end of the day, he volunteered, he wanted to show off by being PM (for he has no programme, no ideology, no real ideas), and he can always resign. Why not? He is useless anyway.

In fact, while the report claims that his ex-wife “cleaned him out”, they had two houses worth, together, some £5 million.

It seems that the house “Boris” owns with his present “ho” is now worth over £1.5M. Apparently, he still uses it from time to time. If they are short of money, they could sell it.

If “Boris” complains about the cost of having friends as guests at Chequers (£75 a head), the answer is simple: don’t do it. Also, I doubt that many “ordinary citizens” will feel sorry for him that his Downing Street flat has only a cleaner and no housekeeper, or that it costs him £7,000 a year out of his £150,000 (gross) salary.

In fact, if “Boris” was making £800,000 p.a. (gross) until 2018, did he not manage to put aside any of it?!

Reports of this sort from the “friends of Boris” are more likely to intensify public unease and dislike of the clown.

I suspect that that Daily Mail piece was written, not to create sympathy for the clown posing as Prime Minister but to provoke the opposite. The Conservative Party is ruthless. It stabs underperforming leaders in the back. The latter-day Mrs. Thatcher, Major, Hague, Dunce Duncan Smith, “Howard”. “Boris” is simply not up to the job. It’s a wrong fit for him, something many (including me) realized years ago, but is now apparent to almost everyone across the political spectrum.

My theory is that those influential in the Conservative Party are now thinking how to dump “Boris” and then blame the nonsense of the past 6+ months especially on him. The coming fallout, too.

More tweets seen

Whatever one may say about causation, it is fairly clear that big things are happening climatically. In my view, the only thing that can prevent the Earth becoming a shrivelled husk of what it should be is a gigantic population decrease, and that means a gigantic decrease in the non-white population(s), because white Northern Europeans are now only a tiny percentage of the world population.

Ha. I take Griffin’s point, but am not sure that I agree about any sort of “over-education” in the police, not in the ones I have “met” in recent years!

Meanwhile, Boris-idiot has just given away a total of £800 million to useless WHO and other organizations.

I myself have never met Mark Collett, and know relatively little about him, but he seems at least to be trying to wake people up, and to do something.

Surgeons and operating room personnel are well trained, experienced, and meticulous about maintaining sterility. We only wear fresh sterile masks. We don the mask in a sterile fashion. We wear the mask for short periods of time and change it out at the first signs of the excessive moisture build up that we know degrades mask effectiveness and increases their negative effects. Surgeons NEVER re-use surgical masks, nor do we ever wear cloth masks.

The public is being told to wear masks for which they have not been trained in the proper techniques. As a result, they are mishandling, frequently touching, and constantly reusing masks in a way that increase contamination and are more likely than not to increase transmission of disease.” [Dr. Jim Meehan M.D.]

https://www.sott.net/article/438827-A-classic-fallacious-argument-If-masks-dont-work-then-why-do-surgeons-wear-them

Because we in the UK now live in a toytown police state which is groping its way to becoming a real one…

Late music

When I Was Not Arrested in Egypt

Why Was I in Egypt Anyway?

In 1997, I moved back to London after having spent an interesting year in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Almaty was, even then, a quite large city, was at the time the capital of Kazakhstan, and boasted green spaces, tree-lined streets, pavement cafes, pretty girls in short skirts (or furs, depending on the season), a city as hot as 40C in high Summer, sub-zero and snowy in Winter.

450px-TV-Turm_Almaty_-_3

250px-Almaty-mountains

275731-Trolleybuses_are_best_in_Kazakhstan

275876-ianrmillards_new_Alma_Ata_Page_Almaty

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[immediately above, Pushkin Street, not very far from where I lived at one time]

Almatysnow

[above, Almaty in Winter]

On returning to London after 12 months, in late September 1997, I found that it was easier to be “offered” another overseas position than to actually get one. In the world of the headhunters, words are cheap. I found myself rapidly running out of funds in a London where the weather became wet and then cold and wet; in fact, my very first day back in London, it became necessary to visit Knightsbridge to buy a raincoat (unnecessary in Almaty, where it rains heavily for only a few days in the year). I went on holiday to Minorca and then, after a number of fruitless meetings re. possible contracts (everywhere Russophone from Moscow to Moldova to Baku and back to Almaty) sat down to decide where to winter, in the hope that a new contract might be offered in the upcoming new year; it was by now already early December.

It had to be somewhere both reasonably warm and reasonably (if not very) cheap. I considered the Canaries, Asmara (Eritrea) and a few other locations, before settling on Egypt, partly because I had been there before (only briefly though, a short break at the Luxor Hilton a few years before), partly because I knew that it could be cheap if one did not stay at a luxury-grade hotel, partly because it would be pleasantly warm even in December. There had also just been a terrible massacre at the Temple of Hatshepsut in the Valley of the Kings (across the river from Luxor), which led me to consider that there might be cheap flights and hotel rooms on offer.

What spoiled the flight part of the plan was that after the news media reported the massacre, the package tour and cheap flights people immediately cancelled all flights to Egypt. However, I had already decided by then to go, my resolve hardened by a pointless breakfast meeting at 0730 (!) with a couple of American “emerging markets” hucksters at the Mount Royal Hotel near Marble Arch, after which I got an overpriced taxi back to Little Venice in the pouring rain and chill.

Olympic and Egyptair were still flying, so I bought a ticket to Aswan via Athens and Cairo.

Egypt

Cutting through the detail of my first weeks in Egypt, I stayed in subtropical Aswan (it’s 1 degree North of the Tropic of Cancer) for 2 weeks before spending a couple of dull weeks at an almost deserted, beautiful and undeveloped beach (living in a large tent) near the then almost uninhabited and tiny settlement of Marsa Alam on the Red Sea. Served by one bus every day or two, it was hard to get to and harder to escape from… (now, over 20 years later, that almost derelict area is very different, has luxury hotels and even its own international airport!). From there I went, not without difficulty, to Alexandria, a journey of at least 12 hours by both what in Tunisia is called voiture de louage (a 6-seat car shared by 5 customers and driver) and long-distance bus via Port Safaga, al-Quseir and Hurghada.

I had already selected a small 3-star hotel on the Corniche in Alexandria, thanks to my Lonely Planet guidebook. Walking distance from Ramla, the central place in Alex. However, unknown to Lonely Planet, the buses no longer terminated at Ramla for reasons of traffic control, so I ended up pulling my heavy (thankfully, wheeled) suitcases (inc. portable typewriter) miles along the Corniche (seafront).

After a day or so, I decided to stay in the supposedly good semi-gated beach suburb of Mamoura Beach, at the Eastern extremity of Alex. If possible, I would then rent a flat there via a local agency.

As anyone who has spent more than a brief holiday in Egypt will tell you, organization is not to be expected, chaos is the norm…

At the railway station, which was not busy, I got a local train. It terminated at Abu Qir, which was the place where, in the bay of which, Nelson defeated a French fleet at the Battle of the Nile in 1798 (the westernmost mouth of the Nile itself is now a few miles to the East of that bay).

I had bought a ticket to Mamoura. The train would then continue only for two or three stops until it finished its journey. The seats were polished wooden benches and the train’s journey passed at a snail’s pace. Eventually the train reached Mamoura. I disembarked. It was still mid-morning.

I was not entirely expecting the typically Egyptian scene outside the small station. Crowded streets, traffic, donkey-carts carrying aysh (flat and usually very tasty Egyptian bread), schoolchildren in uniform (this was the first day of Ramadan, so they had probably been sent home early). I had been expecting a quieter sort of place.

What I did not understand at the time was that I had got off at the wrong stop. I had assumed that the nearest station to Mamoura Beach would be Mamoura, whereas in fact the latter was a suburb to the East of Mamoura Beach. I should have disembarked at Montazah.

I had a map, but not a good one. I walked through a couple of crowded residential streets going North, in the direction of the sea. I came upon an Islamic cemetery, the wall of which had a gap on the other side. A small boy was climbing through it. I assumed (wrongly, again…) that he must have been going to the beach, so I followed. When I arrived on the other side, the boy had gone and I found myself in a large open area with some buildings in the middle distance. I saw some soldiers doing road repair on an unused roadway. Their sergeant, when approached, directed me (thanks to my Arabic phrasebook) to where there was the hotel (the only one) on Mamoura Beach, and where I had thought that I might stay. He helpfully wrote the name of that hotel (as I thought) on a scrap of paper, in case I needed to ask anyone else.

I carried on but was surprised to see that the beach, cut off by barbed wire, appeared to be mined. The skull and crossbones motif and a warning in Arabic and English made that plain. As for what I thought was some kind of disused military camp, it appeared now to be, well, an in-use military base. Oh dear…

I walked on and found myself next to a large ground-to-air missile battery, with 4 missiles in place, pointing upward at about 45 degrees.

Realizing that I had to get out, I moved across cut grass towards a distant wall, only to find that a small pack of what seemed to be wild dogs, sunning themselves near the wall, had noticed me. I slowly moved away, tracked parallel to my course by one of those dogs. This was not a military base as known in the UK, USA or even (where I had been in 1977) Rhodesia.

It was at that moment that an officer spotted me and sent over a young sergeant to me to see who was this European wearing chinos, climbing boots and a tweed-style jacket. After I had dropped the half-brick I was carrying (in case the dog attacked), the sergeant escorted me to the officer. A short conversation later (in which I tried to thank them for their help and to walk out of what I could now see was the nearby guarded exit from the base), ended with me taken a few steps to a nearby low building, which turned out to be the Officers’ Mess. Half a dozen curious officers came out, one with a wooden chair, which was placed in front of me. I was gestured to sit. The officers were not unfriendly (several shook hands with me), but just very curious. It felt like being treated as were the shot-down fliers of the First World War. The only thing missing was the bottle of champagne.

Minutes later, a car rolled up, which turned out to contain a major and a captain, who turned out to be the security officer (major) and intelligence officer (captain) of the base. The major searched me, including my boots (while still on my feet), then I was placed in the car and driven away. Thus began a boring but not uneventful day.

The major and captain (the latter more pleasant and I thought probably from a more cultured background, though that was just an impression) questioned me over some Arab coffee (which I like). The captain spoke English, the major none or almost none. There was no rough stuff, no violence or obvious threat. However, they went over my reasons for being in Egypt, in Alex, in Abu Qir and, most of all, on their base.

It turned out that the address in Arabic scrawled by the sergeant I had encountered was not the Mamoura Beach Hotel but a special Soviet-style hotel for officers only, just by the base. Why did I have this in my pocket? Why did I have a Swiss Army knife? Why did I have a map, a small torch, a phrase-book? And so on. One officer casually remarked that, the year before, they had caught an agent of MOSSAD. I have no idea whether that was true, or if so what happened to him, and I decided not to ask, or to appear too interested in what happened to spies in Egypt. I just evinced what I hoped sounded like polite slight interest.

Several times, I asked for the British Consul. The responses were almost amusing, but it was hard to see the joke: “the Consul? Oh, no, the Consul is only for the most serious cases. You don’t want to be treated as a serious case, do you?” or “the Consul will be busy. We just need to ask a few questions more.” When I said that I needed access to the Consul because I was under arrest, the answer was “No, no! You are not under arrest. You are very welcome in Egypt!” (“Ah, so I am free to leave?” “Once we have asked a few more questions…”).

After a couple of hours of such light diversions, including my asking about whether the base had been once a British one, which was me trying to lighten the atmosphere as well as genuine curiosity (they said no), I was informed that I would be leaving, but only because some civilian colleagues needed to speak to me. This was not good news. The Mukhabarat (security police, secret police) is a ubiquitous and feared organization in Egypt. I had entertained a slight hope that the Army might just release me as innocent tourist with a warning not to stray in future. Vain hope.

I was escorted out of the office into a larger reception-style office crowded with ordinary Egyptian soldiers, many of whom were plainly there to catch a glimpse of me, though none said anything. There was also a very sinister body, a civilian, in a light brown leather jacket, with dark glasses and heavy stubble, who absurdly —in that situation— pretended not to have noticed that a foreigner was in the reception area. One of “them”, of course.

I was taken by car out of the base in a car driven by the young sergeant, my fellow passengers the captain and the major. Alexandria is about 20 miles long but only a mile or so deep. It runs along the coast. We were driving now from the edge of the city, past vegetable allotments and near the sea towards central Alex. It was not long before we were in one of the suburbs of Alex not far from the centre of the city (as I thought; I did not then know the city, of course). I thought that we were possibly in the Chatby neighbourhood. The car stopped by a quite high wall. A door was there. We were admitted. On the other side, there seemed to be a fine looking white house, like a small palace, amid luxuriant gardens. There was a little white painted waiting building by the entrance. We waited. The captain left. I lightened the atmosphere by asking the young conscript how come he was a sergeant at such a young age. He blushed as the major asked what I had said! When the sergeant translated it, the major laughed.

A civilian with a long scar down his cheek came to take me into the house. The soldiers left, the major shaking my hand. In a way, that seemed ominous.

Inside, the house was all marble, white and gold. I was shown into a glitz-palatial room, with white and gold chairs around a long low coffee table. It was the very image of the rooms in which Saddam Hussein used to receive his visitors.

Already gathered there were my new interrogators, several Mukhabarat officers. The only one who said nothing was Scarface, presumably there to provide the muscle in case the dangerous spy tried to escape or to kill those present with his bare hands.

A boy came in to take orders for coffee. Displaying all the confidence of my dozen words of phrase-book Arabic, I requested “aqwa mazboot, min fadlak” (loosely meaning Arab coffee with a little sugar please) and one of the Mukhabarat people jumped on it: “oh, so you speak Arabic?!” “I have a phrasebook, that’s all”. “But you ask for coffee with a good Egyptian accent…” and so I nearly became the first man hanged (well, not really, but halfway there) because I owned a good phrasebook. Thanks, Berlitz!

I tried the ask-for-British-Consul thing again, with the by-now-expected response: “The Consul will be busy…You are not under arrest…You are welcome in Egypt…We just have to ask a few questions” etc.

Then the polite but persistent questioning resumed: why was I in Egypt? Why was I on the military base? “What do you think of Israel?”; “I have always opposed Zionism”; “Oh, why would you answer thus to an Egyptian intelligence officer?” Smiles all round, mine by far the most nervous.

Another strange question: “what do you think of Princess Diana?” [who, as mentioned above, had died about 3 months previously]; “I have no particular view of her”; “Really?” [incredulously]…”all Egyptian people love Princess Diana”. Now it was my turn to respond “really?”. “Yes…I myself met Princess Diana here in Alexandria.” I supposed that that was plausible, Mohammed Fayed (father of her lover, Dodi Fayed) having originated in Alex.

Yet another strange question: “why do British government not clear the mines that they put on the beaches of Egypt?”, this a reference to the thousands, maybe millions, of landmines placed under the sands of Egypt (beaches and inland) by the British, Germans and Italians during the Second World War. There are even some on Red Sea beaches. The barbed wire with the warning symbol and English/Arabic “Beware Mines” is everywhere in some regions. I could only nod sympathetically and indicate that I had no influence or power over the British Government or its actions… All in all, this was a very odd little tea party or, rather, Arab coffee party.

In the end, after a couple of hours, it was decided that I had to return to my hotel on the Corniche to get my passport (I carried around only a photocopy). Scarface, a younger officer and a driver accompanied me.

The expressions on the faces of the staff at the hotel were telling: they were petrified. They knew at once who my “guests” were. The officers examined my baggage, my passport etc. They were most interested in the typewriter, my snorkelling equipment (especially the very large “professional”-size fins) and my sole reading matter: Barbarossa, by Alan Clark.

I was surprised that we did not return to the villa, but went to another, possibly more central neighbourhood (not knowing the city, I was trying to see clues to where we were). The driver was a professional, the only one I ever encountered in Egypt who did not use the horn incessantly. It was now drizzling as darkness fell, and as we drove slowly down a street of tall pre-WW2 houses, rather reminiscent of Paris (Alex having been effectively under joint Anglo-French control in the decades up to the late 1940s), the streetlights showed a steel barrier ahead, guarded by a phalanx of uniformed security police with submachineguns, the rain glistening on their short capes, again reminiscent of old Paris. They were ready for trouble, wearing not caps but steel helmets. As our car approached at a snail’s pace, the driver signalled twice using his headlights. The barriers were parted for us.

The car stopped. I was asked to disembark. The air was fresh and cool, as it often is at night in the Alexandrian winter. I was not restrained in any way. After all, to where would I run (even if I were not shot in the back)?

We were outside what had obviously been the townhouse of some wealthy merchant of the late 19thC. Depressingly, the windows were all barred. At first, I thought that I was going to be actually imprisoned in that place.

Above the door, the coat of arms of the Mukhabarat, incorporating the Egyptian all-seeing eye and a hawk or eagle (I think hawk: Horus was “the Hawk of Light” in ancient Egypt; that eye was his eye, “the Eye of Horus”). Also, the words, in Arabic and English, “State Security Headquarters, Alexandria”.

I was led in. At one time in the mists of history (well, pre-1945 anyway) the entrance hall must have been quite grand. A very high ceiling, a wide curved staircase leading up to the next floor, a crystal chandelier, a generally white and gold ambience. An entrance hall for a Hollywood film, perhaps one starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Or some version of Anna Karenina. The effect was spoiled, however, by the general lack of maintenance and cleanliness, the long sofa with its dirty fabric badly torn, and the battered old wooden table, at which sat a scruffy middleaged fellow in a warm jacket, his revolver casually in front of him on the table, together with a clipboard and a landline telephone.

Once I was left there, this individual struck up a conversation as I sat on the sofa that the Mukhabarat might have taken from a skip, so old and used was it. There was no-one else around. Kafka-esque. The “receptionist” told me that I was waiting to see the general in charge of all state security in Alexandria. He would then order my release. I had little confidence in that, having been given the run-around all day and knowing that Egyptians can have an odd sense of humour (and a certain streak of sadism, somehow, too). Still, I had no choice but to wait.

At one point, around 1900 hrs, some people arrived and ascended the staircase. The night shift? Or do secret police personnel find the night more congenial for their work? One fellow, dressed in what looked like an expensive suit, was obviously important, because the scruffy receptionist actually got off his rear to greet him. The new arrival looked rather comical to my mind, in that he seemed almost as broad as he was tall, like the British advertising cartoon seen on posters and TV in my childhood, “Mr. Cube”, who was the face of Tate & Lyle sugar. There was something slightly sinister about this man, though. He stopped part-way up the grand staircase and turned round to look at me briefly. His gaze was or seemed quizzical.

I was later escorted by the scruffy fellow upstairs and through quite bright, well-appointed corridors to a small but comfortable office occupied by, as the reader may have guessed, “Mr. Cube” and a colleague, the largest person I ever saw in Egypt. They were friendly enough, and Mr. Cube (aka General Cube, who introduced himself only as the head of state security in Alexandria) explained that before I could be released, he would have to be satisfied that I was not a spy. So we ran through all the same stuff all over again. Mr. Cube was not unfriendly and had some Turkish or Arab coffee brought in, the best I have ever had, served in exquisite tiny china cups. Very welcome after a foodless day (I had not even had breakfast).

At the end of our talk, Mr. Cube did a strange thing (but one I later read about in relation to both the Soviet and British intelligence services). He just looked at me, straight in the eye, and his friendly demeanour turned into something so chilling and indeed evil that it has stayed with me to this day. His gaze seemed to be penetrating deep into my consciousness. The word which came to mind later was “pitiless”. This was a man who might be capable of anything and quite probably had tortured and killed people. Then Cube turned off the terror as easily as he had turned it on, and pronounced that he thought that I was not a spy, but that he had to get clearance from Cairo before releasing me. He busied out of the office and his large assistant clapped me on the back in a friendly way (which felt like the blow from a large bear must feel).

Half an hour later and Cube was himself driving me back to my hotel in his own (very modest) little car (I think that it was a Fiat). It was almost midnight, about 2300 hours. He wished me a pleasant stay in Egypt (in fact I did stay, for another 2 months) and I entered the hotel again. Again the faces of the staff said it all. They obviously had not expected to see me again. The waiter even raised his arms in the air and quietly cheered, as if a goal had been scored.

Well, I did many other things in Egypt but that’s enough for now. If anyone ever asks me about my longest trip to Egypt and what happened, I just say that I was “not” arrested…

932347-The_Corniche_at_Alexandria_Alexandria

Alexandria, San Stefano (now redeveloped)

932352-Early_morning_along_the_Corniche_Alexandria

Early morning sea view from the Corniche at Alexandria

mamoura beach

above: the main residential road in Mamoura Beach, Alexandria, where I rented a flat a few days after the events described above; I lived there for a month

Mamoura

above: Mamoura Beach. When I was there it was off-season, January, but quite warm in daytime, though cool and often wet at night.

MontazahSta

above: Old Montazah Station, near both the Montazah Palace and Mamoura Beach where I lived for a month.

Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almaty

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxor_massacre

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsa_Alam

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safaga

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Qoseir

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Alexandria

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Maamora_Beach

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Nile

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Qir_Bay

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Qir

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montaza

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavon_Affair

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Intelligence_Directorate_(Egypt)

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/goodbye-mr-cube

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_of_Horus

The short 1946 film below shows mainly the grounds of the Montazah Palace in Alex, not far from where I lived for a while; it also shows the Corniche.

Alexandria was much better under European rule and/or influence!

[above: scenes from pre-Nasser Egypt: Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere]

[below: old Alexandria]

[below: amateur film from, at a guess, a few years ago. It shows some places I occasionally frequented, such as the Brazilian Coffee Stores in central Alex, mentioned in Lawrence Durrell’s books known as The Alexandria Quartet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Alexandria_Quartet]

[below, a critical look at Alexandria as it is now]

Below, another view of Alex as it is now:

Another (less impliedly critical) film, below:

above: scenes of Alex, the one immediately shown above being the Montazah Gardens, surrounding the Montazah Palace. Easy walking distance from my one-time temporary refuge at nearby Mamoura Beach. I was there a couple of times. An oasis of tranquility.

below: amateur video from the city 

A few further thoughts…

When I was first in Alex (as every foreigner calls it before long), my impression was of a kind of Miami Beach, or as such a place might be after large-scale devastation and/or long-term neglect. Ironically, one seafront part of Alex is actually called Miami! Maybe that’s where the more famous one got its name, but [see Note, below] apparently not.

Despite the acreage of decaying concrete there, despite the nuisance of a goodly part of the population, despite the traffic (and noise thereof), despite despite despite, there is something compelling about Alexandria, at least to me. The sea is a large part of that. The sea at Alex is so beautiful that not even the decaying concrete and the often-ghastly people can ruin it. I was there in winter, and it may be that winter, or perhaps slightly earlier or later, is the best time there. In any case, the 5+ million population swells even more in summer, and Alex must be unbearable then. When I was there, in 1998, the settled population was “only” 3.5 million, so has grown by about 50% in just 20 or so years! Before the Second World War, the population was below 1 million.

There is, or was, something indefinably romantic about Alexandria, despite everything (concrete near-ruins, street nuisances, general chaos, tasteless redevelopment —the most egregious example since I was there being the huge excrescence now at San Stefano). I am not sure that I have any wish to return to Alex, but I cannot say that I never shall.

Notes

“[Miami, Florida] was named for the nearby Miami River, derived from Mayaimi, the historic name of Lake Okeechobee “: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami#History

http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/alexandria-population/