My cousin Anthony, who lives on Alderney, called me recently to say that he’d lent his copy of Grand Hotels of Egypt to a friend of his on the island and that this person wanted to talk to me. I called her at the weekend. Her name is Ann Lees and I think she is possibly in her 80s. Her husband served in the Indian police until independence in 1947, and then went on to work as a British agent in Baghdad and Tehran. In 1949, Ann told me, they travelled out from the UK to the Middle East on the SS Canton, disembarking at Port Said and spent some time in Egypt. They stayed at Shepheard’s. Sixty-four years later Ann doesn’t really remember much about it except the bathrooms, which she says were “so big”, and also that there were numerous large vitrines in the corridors containing jewellery and objets d’art for sale. Her husband bought her a necklace, which she still has. She visited the Semiramis for dinner, where King Zog of Albania was in residence, and also the Mena House and Heliopolis Palace. Ann is only the second person I have spoken with who actually stayed at the original Shepheard’s – there can’t be too many people who did that are still around. Amazingly, Ann still has several mementoes of her Egypt trip (in addition to the necklace), which Anthony kindly photographed and which I’m posting below.