We had planned and we had schemed.
For a year or so we’d dreamed …
of riding bikes along the River Nile.
We had tried it once before,
and of this we were quite sure …
that we really could go for the extra mile.
Well, we haggled and we bartered,
on a price per hour for starters,
with a man in whom we really put our trust.
The bikes, they should have brakes,
and the bones they must not shake,
but bikes with frontal baskets are a must!
Now we were quite specific.
We didn’t expect terrific,
but before we settled business with Mohammed,
we had questioned and cajoled
half of Luxor, truth be told,
and left a lot of locals stunned and aching-headed.
For last year we ambled idly
past a guy with bikes, who kindly
said he’d come along with us ... just for the ride.
He was known as good 'King Jimmy'
and according to his whim (eh?)
he would escort us down and out along the Nile.
It was very, very hot,
and from time to time we stopped
to have a breather and a rest as well.
We cycled over bridges
and many assorted ridges
and into one another (I had no bell!)
But it seemed that in that year
all the baskets disappeared,
‘cos a bike with one was nowhere to be found.
The guy, he was a star.
He found two with no crossbar,
and we paid the price of 10 Egyptian pound.
Now, Christine’s bike was blue.
Mine, a multi-coloured hue,
and was labeled with the name ‘the flying pigeon’.
The saddle had a fringe
and I really couldn’t whinge
‘cos the Scottish would have called the bike a ‘Guid jun.’
A side street was the start
to begin our cycling art
so that nobody would laugh if we fell off.
But a nice horse (with kalesh)
watched us get into a mess,
and politely covered his laughing with a cough!
We had cycled on full power,
and in under just one hour,
we had mastered roundabouts ‘n’ left turns too.
Past kaleshes, donkeys, carts,
‘n’ women carrying carrots,
we felt there was ‘nothing we can't do!’
But we quickly lost composure,
when a coach reversed, and closer
came to knocking Christine off her trusty steed.
My jaw, well, it did sag,
as the bike she had to drag
or be flattened by the wheels … oh yes indeed!
One day the Cornishe beckoned,
felucca men too, beckoned,
but we were on a mission to Karnak.
‘Would you like to sail a while?’
‘Ride a nice kalesh in style?’
‘OK! we'll question you again when you call back’.
‘Do you know how much?’ they say,
and you look the other way,
‘No thank you’ is so often our reply.
They’re undaunted by all this,
but they never take the piss.
They just say ‘OK, maybe later?’ with a sigh.
‘Nice baskets!’ they all cried.
But the sarcasm aside,
they’ve a quirky sense of humour, don’t you know.
‘Asda prices just for you’
‘Would you let me clean your shoe?’
‘Welllllllllcome to Alaska ‘bout the snow!’
They say mad dogs ‘n’ Englishmen
go out in the midday sun and then
get sunburned to an awful crisp and fry.
We went out for a spin one day.
Fell into a bush, and there I lay
till Christine picked me up again – Oh My!
The bridge across the Nile
is off-limits for a while,
and between the dusk and dawn no tourist crosses.
‘You drive those baskets well!’
as we cycled fast as hell
past the roadblocks, policemen and their horses.
The speed, it was excessive
the flies and gnats ... impressive
as big numbers of them, well, we swallowed whole.
The streetlamps were just winking
As we were just a-thinking
that the man would charge us for the bikes we ‘stole’.
In our hurry to leave the bikes
in the place the ‘bike-man’ likes,
we forgot to leave the key that locked the chain.
‘Cos when we left the bikes alone,
we made sure they didn’t roam
by linking them together with a rein.
We climbed wearily the stairs.
Put our shoes outside in pairs,
‘cos they hummed a tune and sweated like a pig.
Then a knock upon the door,
shook us to our very core
and a guy stood there doin’ a little jig.
With his hand outstretched he asked it.
‘Can I have the key to the basket?
I was just around the back having a pee.
I chased you down the road
but you were in a speeding mode
So I had to follow you to get the key.’
At the start of this rum tale
I hope I did not fail
to say how much we did enjoy this game.
These ventures were so funny,
and were for so little money,
that it’s something that we'll want to do again!
© 2008 Susan Corcoran. Reproduced by kind permission.