AAHA = Amicale
Alexandrie Hier et Aujourd'hui : www.aaha.ch
Logic will take
A to B. imagination will take you everywhere (A. Einstein)
Sunday 23rd October, 2011
Two weeks ago
today, we met at Efes for the 8th
Long live Efes! –
faithful to our ‘rendez-vous’.
Efes has had a facelift and a few changes of
personnel since the last time we met.
Kazim, the owner, I was told, was at home recovering
from a knee operation.
Get well soon Kazim!
The usual menu of
various mezze included many oriental dips, liver morcels and cheese sambousek.
This was followed by the grilled main course – all
of which was served in abundance, promptly and was particularly tasty.
So thank you Efes for making our meetings fun, tasty
and hassle free.
Although I did make
a conscious effort to make a note in my diary and avoid lunches too close to
Halloween, too close to Xmas, too near the Summer holidays, or during the Easter
holidays, somehow I still feel I haven’t got it just right! Many of you were on
holiday, business trips, many were bound by family commitments, one or two
birthday celebrations, others have had workmen
and some have not been too well ( 10 cancellations
in the last couple of days alone)!!
Everyone sent their Regrets and their best wishes.
In spite of
dwindling numbers – we were thirty and we had a lovely time.
I hope you’ve
all had a good summer and that you’ve got your logs ready for the chimney for
the cosey winter ahead!
Magri-Overend and Dr Janice Boswell took over the accounting (my bête noire).
Thank you Veronica and Janice for sorting it out.
This was very much appreciated as it allowed me the
ease of meeting and greeting the guests.
Grech and Marie-Therese Smith were the first guests to greet me with some lovely
dates (the edible kind).
They looked lovely having coffee in the sunshine at
the entrance of
Thank you for remembering that I crave for Balah
(dates) at this time of year.
us at our last meeting, Alex Benakis came with his illustrious friend Dr Philip
Philip Mansel, is a historian of France
and the Middle East.
He has studied in
Paris and has lived
He expertly took us through the colourful history of
the French alliance with the
Ottoman Empire through to their decline.
He accentuated the importance and the influence of
Mohamed Ali in promoting education, language and the arts and his particular
preference for Alexandria and the importance of
being an ‘Alexandrian’.
He also read for us an
excerpt from one of Cavafy’s poems.
Among the books he
brought with him was ‘Constantinople City of the World’s Desire’ a portrait of
the Ottoman capital as an international cross-roads between 1453 and 1924;
‘Sultans in Splendour’ with many photographs of Sultans and of the Egyptian
Royal Family; as well as his latest book ‘Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on
the Mediterranean’ a first history in English based on unpublished family papers
and diplomatic documents of modern Alexandria, Smyrna and Beirut.
He sees them not only as individual cities but also
as part of the Mediterranean
and Levantine worlds.
briefly explaind the origin and the existence of the Capitulations which were
contracts/concessions given to foreigners by the Ottoman Empire to other
European powers, particularly France.
Harold Beaton’s father was once a citizen of
and only got out with the help of the Royal Navy when the city was burnt down by
Magri-Overend stated that the origin of these concessions were the desire of
Louis XIV, in the 17th
Century, to find an ally outside
Europe when he was
being threatened by European Powers at home.
Mansel also brought to our attention the existence of a research group called
‘Levantine Heritage’ – an informal, non-political group and discussion forum for
people interested in the heritage of
These comprise both academic researchers as well as
descendants of those communities, the various aspects of their culture,
including genealogy, cuisine, architecture and economic history.
If you would like to join their network and share in
their research, please get in touch with
Craig Encer (Coordinator)
again to Raymond Levy, whom I had met at a different venue a few months ago,
Georges and Annette Psaros
who had to travel
long way to get here
- well done and thank you for coming.
Georges promised to give me a hand with the
editing of the photos and I need lots of help!
It was nice to see
Arlette Gotkine, we missed you - any new poems in the making?
to Solly Gabbay and Ronnie Harounoff,
would not have been the same without you and hello to Natasha and Spyros
Konidaris from Barnes.
Hello to my
mother Anne-Marie and my brother Piero and thank you, as always, for your loving
and constant support.
Hello to the
Vellas Oscar and Marjorie, Ivan and Giovanna and to the Wirths Gilbert and
Rosemary, Herbert and Renate nawartouna! (you brought light to us!)
Gilbert and Herbert have
promised to provide us with a little light musical entertainment at our next
meeting and I am personally looking forward to it.
to Herbert and Veronica Magri-Overend and hello Dr Janice Boswell who came back
for your free yearly dental check-ups!
In her spare time she also trains dogs for the
Yseult Camalich and her lovely daughter Victoria who, being the youngest member
of our group, has promised to bring new fresh ideas for communication within
Thank you all
for coming today and for making it a particularly fun day.
Friends of Malta Luncheon on the 5th
of November, which I advertised, has come and gone and was also a very pleasant
and successful do with a small orchestra, a lovely lunch and lots of enticing
raffle surprises which comprised 4 tickets to Malta.
announced, I took the photos in small groups as opposed to the usual table
photos and the group photos and they have turned out reasonably well.
Do let me know what you think.
summer I went to Italy
in the Mountains near Torino
and I stopped at a friend’s Bed & Breakfast in the countryside in Roppolo
- it was a delightful
peaceful place – all the more because my friend, Loretta, who is the owner, is
herself very charming and an excellent hostess.
thought you might like the links for when you find yourself in the area :
Loretta has also lived in Alexandria
for many years in the 80s.
Newsletter and Cahiers
subscription is Euro 20.-
or equivalent for those of you who wish to receive a
copy of the Newsletter and Euro 5.- for any of the Cahiers see this link:
Alexandrie Info No. 37 (Decembre 2011) will be ready within the next few days.
Sandro Manzoni has
sent me the list of the people who receive the newsletter and I have noticed
that many of you have not yet sent your participation for the current year.
Kindly let me know if you wish to continue to
receive the said newsletter or whether you are no longer interested.
Our next meeting
Sunday 25th March 2012
Please make sure you let
me know as soon as possible if that date clashes with any anniversaries,
birthdays, travel plans, meetings, etc… and confirm to me which of the Sundays
in March you would prefer.
I almost forgot Harold Beaton’s Nocta as told by
frollowing is my little story (nocta):
The last AAHA luncheon, pleasant as it was,
found me facing a group of eager ex Alexandrians waiting for a funny story and
realising that my stock of such stories is invariably unprintable and
scurrilous. So what's to do? I decided to talk about a dear
school friend of mine, now sadly departed, who led a wild bohemian
kind of life and put an end to it very prematurely, possibly drug related.
Wagui Ghali was a Copt, hence a true
Egyptian, and as such was fiercly nationalistic, with many a friendly yet fierce
argument between us as to the rights and wrongs of the British presence in
Yet for all that he made his way to
and was becoming recognised as an up and coming journalist. He eventually
published a novel called 'Beer at the Snooker Club', a somewhat autobiographical
account of his time in
Sadly, this novel is now out of print.
Suez affair brewed
up and Eden's
government went to war, two men from the Home Office called in on Wagui and
escorted him to
and out of the country, as an undesirable alien. However, after some years he
did, in fact, return. This is when I met up with him and heard this account from
On arrival at
Calais, or Ostend,
what could he reasonably do to earn a living. Being an Alexandrian, he started
translating between the various languages Alexandrians are blessed with. He must
have taken in German because he drifted over there and did some work, even as he
admitted to me, for the British army as one of his clients. In fact, he
admitted, some of the documents were classified. So much for military
intelligence. Et voila,
that's the story of poor Wagui Ghali. We don't know why he put an end to himself
a little while later as he would have become famous.
taken during the reunion
AAHA = Amicale
Alexandrie Hier et Aujourd'hui : www.aaha.ch