A Parcel for Alexandra 3,219 words ● 12 minute read.
Spearing wore his hair long even in Egypt. He had the kind of complexion the sun fired to a demonic redness and, in contrast, the hair looked whiter and silkier than it does today. Everybody knew him, by sight if not by name. He never wore a hat. You can imagine how he stood out in a crowd of Egyptians because of this flouncing mop of hair. He was a marked man.
The Baker’s Daughter 3,665 words ● 13 minute read.
‘Will you sell it?’ said the barber and Nora looked at his reflection in the mirror. Her hair was the colour of harvest. He was gently lifting the fine strands with the tips of his fingers.
‘I’d rather as not you’d gone to someone else to cut your plaits off.’
‘I’m too big for plaits,’ she said.
The barber bulked up the mass of hair for the pleasure of seeing it catch and hold the sunlight. ‘And will you sell it after all?’ he said. ‘I’d give you a couple of pounds. No, I mean it. There’s a market for hair like this.’
The Man from Barcelona 5,715 words ● 21 minute read.
‘What have you come to England for?’
‘To go skating,’ he said, still rubbing his feet. ‘Out there, on the lake.’
‘You’ve come all the way from Spain to go skating?’
‘On the lake.’ Jill brought him some slippers. He walked about the kitchen with his trousers rolled up to his knees. ‘It isn’t just skating. There’s a skating rink in Barcelona. It’s skating here, on the lake, at night.’
Uncle Kevork 2,644 words ● 10 minute read.
A long time ago now there was an Armenian shoemaker of Alexandria, Kevork Hamamdjian, who left his modest business to his nephew and assistant Georges, his only relation in the world, on the one condition that Georges would see to it that he was buried in the family vault in the Armenian cemetery in Cairo.
P.H. Newby, CBE: novelist, historian, and managing director of BBC Radio. First winner of the Booker Prize in 1969.
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Detail from The Picnic at Sakkara cover design, Davies Bailey, 1955.