Take me to the kasbah

I was looking forward to seeing Giles but more than a little apprehensive. It had been six weeks since I had seen him and that meeting had gone a little flat, so to speak. I noticed things that I hadn’t noticed before. His Gallic charm was still there but a hint of controlling had crept in. He suggested for example that I wear a cardigan when we went to the theatre (chicken skin underarms implied) and he’s taken to suggesting we spice things up with basques and belts and a little light handcuffing. O.k. it’s moderately exciting but I am beginning to be ready to admit that I’d rather do a sudoku. Oh dear, does this compete the line from Luxor to Marrakech I was thinking by the time that I arrived.
A riad at night is quite spooky. For all the tassels and ducted heating and flushing loos the fact remains that the building itself is ancient and throbs with a life of its own. I was glad that Giles was there with me in a kingsize bed with cushions as soft as a Tuareg’s eyes. The riad belonged to Giles’ friend Kassim, who had welcomed us with mint tea and honey pastries. When Kassim left we locked the door. The passion was still there but I have to admit that the staying power isn’t. We were distracted by the children playing with a go kart on the cobbled street below. We should have gone out to eat before not after perhaps. By the time we did get out we were in synch but I noticed that Giles kept looking at his mobile phone for messages. I was used to more attention and the food was rather boring-three lumps of lamb and a spoonful of juice does not a tagine make, in my view.
On the way back to the riad we called in an apothocary and I was mesmerised by the ambergris and jars of herbs and spices, tissanes and kohl. Giles was bored so we didn’t stay long. At the door half a dozen dinky tortoises were munching lettuce in a cage. ‘Are they for medicine?’ I asked the charming young man. ‘No, my lady,’ he replied. ‘They are pets!’
Back at the riad we cosied up in bed each reading our book. It felt less than easy. In my heart I sensed something as soft as chiffon had dropped into the space between us. That night I dreamed of the ghost of some disgruntled Berber servant wandering the corridor trying to warn me of something not quite within reach. By morning something had shifted ever so slightly.

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