Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

I've just been checking to make sure I recorded Queen Of Sheba: Behind The Myth properly off the History Channel. (It's the first time I've tried recording from the cable receiver onto the new hard disk recorder, but I seem to have got the settings right.) It was all about excavations at her old capital at Mareb, on the edge of the Yemeni desert, and looks as though it will prove really interesting.

My ass would truly have been grass had I screwed up (hence my checking before the programme was repeated at midnight): Hilary and I are both fascinated by all things Yemeni, having visited the Yemen Arab Republic, as it then was, back in 1987. Our visit to Mareb came right at the end of two and a half weeks, and was one of the high points of the holiday. Quite apart from its archaeological marvels, Mareb stays in my mind because of a memorable breakfast. We were eating our omelettes and tomato salads - the full Arabian breakfast, as it were - in a little cafe just opposite some big Ministry of Defence site or other, and noticed a trail of people coming in. Now in Yemen the carrying of a gun is very much the macho thing for males to do: from teenage boys to decrepit old men, from muzzle-loaders to AK47s, there are enough tooled-up tribesmen to gladden the heart of Charlton Heston. But what if you work in a secure building where they won't let you take your gun in with you? Why, you pop over to the cafe, leave it in their Left Gun Office, and take a cloakroom ticket for later collection, that's what. I still giggle at the thought.


This week has been a good week for televisual reminders of our trip, as over on the BBC Dan Cruickshank visited Shibam (as we did in 1987) for his Adventures In Architecture series. I recorded that, then inadvertently deleted it before Hilary had watched it (hence the ass-grassiness referred to above if I fouled up with Sheba). Fortunately the BBC put Dan Cruickshank's programme onto iPlayer, so Hilary will be able to see the amazing mud-brick high-rises of Shibam once again.

(Top and bottom pictures from here.)


At 20 May, 2008 11:59, Blogger Chip said...

extreme envy here... would love to travel in any part of that portion of the world - and have yet to do so.


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