Category Archives: Mad dogs and Englishmen

Stories of early travellers and other occasionally odd characters

Waugh in Egypt

Recognise the picture on this book jacket? It’s the same pic that headed my last post. Not that you can make much out with the type obscuring most of the image (the designer also chose to flip the photo). It’s … Continue reading

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The sport of Pyramideering

Every visitor to Egypt goes to see the Pyramids, but at one time that wasn’t enough: you had to climb them too. The ascent was not particularly difficult, only tiring. Detailed advice was given in Baedeker’s guide to Egypt: “The … Continue reading

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Sophia and the sphinx

I don’t know what the background to this image is, I just chanced on it today while doing some internet research. The only information on the site where I found the photo was that it was taken possibly in 1954. … Continue reading

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The prolific Douglas Sladen and his overachieving friends

I was curious to find out more about him. I discovered the existence of an archive of his personal papers and then was bowled over to learn that this was held in the local-history library in my own neighbourhood of … Continue reading

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The dragoman and the Titanic

Object number 22542 in the British Museum is a mummy-board, a cover that was placed on top of the mummy, which was then encased inside the outer coffin. It was covered in plaster to give the appearance of a raised … Continue reading

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Lee Miller invades the Long Bar

Like the protagonist in William Boyd’s novel Any Human Heart, whose life (beginning in 1906) maps the course of the 20th-century experience, over her 70 years Lee Miller (born 1907) made a habit of being in exactly the right place … Continue reading

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Scandal at the Savoy

Sticking with the last post’s theme of London hotels, I’ve been rereading Andrew Rose’s book Scandal at the Savoy (Bloomsbury, 1991). It deals with an infamous murder case of the 1920s that took place at the London Savoy involving an … Continue reading

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A boot with history

Somewhere in Grand Hotels of Egypt there’s a line about ‘officers swanning around with suede boots and swagger sticks’. The suede boots and swagger sticks were essential bits of kit for commissioned ranks in the British Army in Egypt in … Continue reading

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