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Holidays in the Kaiber Kush

To the tune of: Leadbelly – Ham An’ Eggs

All dreams begin and end with an elipsis… …so I’m feeling a bit lonely right now. My friends have all bummed off and left me to entertain myself, except one who I’m just walking up to the top floor of the hotel to say goodbye to, before I go and find something to do. We get to the top floor, and it’s a bit like a modernist pub, with banquette seating and high windows that show arid, impossible old mountains scraping at the air. It turns out my friend is meeting a buncha people including Peter Kay, the northern comedian, so I do my balloon trick (something involving a highly-inflated balloon and pratfalls, as far as I can remember) and Peter Kay outdoes me, without even getting up, by punning about balloons, whilst doing a trick where the balloon cord is trapped under his buttocks.

The landscape is like this, but more craggy.

Deflated, I say goodbye and head downstairs. I head out into the sunbathing area, which is a big crescent of white sand crammed with cheap loungers, that backs up against the brick walls of the hotel. The hotel looks awfully like a power plant converted into a villain’s lair; it isn’t, but it just looks like that. I sit on a lounge and, wondering what to do, stare at “the pool”. It’s a horrible oily dark colour and they’ve just poured water between the (obviously imported) sandbank and the hotel’s thick circle wall. I was thinking about a swim, but now I’m not; especially as a passer-by points out the ominously large outflow in the wall.

Poached egg dish
Good Eggs.

So I go for a walk instead, passing through a gap in the cyclopean wall. Outside, there’s a mountainous desert, with sand-riddled rocks pushing their red extremities up through a thin layer of grey sand. Looking back the hotel is totally alien to the landscape but also very much the focal point of it – how I always imagined Gormenghast to squat in its environs. I go a little off the track and am just turning to empty some receipts out of my pocket.

When I turn back, I’m on a precipice; thinking now, I realise it’s a flashback to climbing Mount Olympus mixed with crawling to the edge of Masada. I have bad vertigo – I can’t go near edges – and here I just collapse into a squat and wait for the feeling to go enough that I can move. There’s a hole worn in the red sandstone that has an excellent view of a desert floor far below. I’m completely concealed from the road here, and I hear lots of noise, shouting and clashes; the hotel’s been attacked! I stay hidden in my cubbyhole.

Abruptly, through another hole to my right, a square pan appears and an Arabic voice instructs me to cook some eggs for their leader. They’ve found me. Quickly, I poach some eggs, and a floating Wii-style icon starts moving them around, feeding them to an unseen face. He mops it all up, though it’s strange to see poached eggs slice themselves open; they’re perfectly cooked, thankfully. Next, the rock fades and a strong, handsome woman’s face appears. Beneath it is a name in stone-cut Cyrillic – Katerin – as I realise my next challenge is Katherine the Great, my focus sort of zooms in on her, as her skin turns the colour of blue frost. I imagine there are more dictators waiting – and I get cooking…

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