By Philip Whitfield
La Jolie Plage North Coast (30 June.) Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and the riff raff at the back, welcome to the Couch Party annual general meeting. Or as my wife put it when she sent me packing, welcome to the Couch Grouse. Founders of civilisation, interim riparian cotenants of the River Nile and purveyors of the Cheops Pyramid thrice, I am proud to call myself a Couch Grouser.
We Couch Grousers number 50 million, an indisputable majority. We have endured intolerable depravity these past 12 months. Now is the time for our discontent; to send a message that will reverberate along the corridors of power in capitals across the globe striking terror among the upper crust.
(Applause and sabre rattling.)
Let there be no doubt. Some parties salt the nation’s wounds with vague falsehoods. Not us. Our commitment to democracy is robust, transparent and irrefutable. Unless our demands are met, we will stop recycling potato crisp bags. We will abandon them with the takeaway boxes. Read my lips: redux recycling rightly risks railroading.
(Wild explosion of raspberries and sabre-rattling clashes.)
History records lascivious lovemaking by that minx Cleopatra and the bigamist illegal immigrant Mark Antony, the Holy Family’s B&B touristic vacation and the toing and froing back and forth across the Red Sea’s turbulent waves. (Why didn’t they build a dam and settle it once and for all if they were so damn smart?)
The world celebrates the art of Egypt’s artisans, the art of Egypt’s singers, the art of Egypt’s doctors and nurses, and the art of choosing fake Chinese Ramadan lanterns.
But let’s be clear. Egypt’s new history is the art of doing sod all. Let history show that the Couch Grousers fiddled while Cairo burned. The wanton palace rex casts the nation’s wealth into the Nile. Couch Grousers will introduce efficiency and productivity. The Corniche will glow from the pyres burning every pound in the treasury – a spectacular five-minute display.
(Raspberries and sabre rattling.)
One year ago Couch Grousers could drive to any one of a myriad of petrol stations scattered across this land. A full tank, a windscreen wipe and a gob of cringing servitude could be acquired for a tenner and a half-pound tip. Now you queue for six hours to be insulted by a child holding you hostage to a ration of a litre or two.
Yes, fellow Couch Grousers, we remember when half a pound got you a parking spot. You could shout down, lower a basket from the balcony, and order a hapless passer-by to run and get you a box of smokes. You could have bags of groceries carried a mile or more and the car cleaned before dawn.
Such is the inviolable rite of the Egyptian Couch Grouser. Our motto, turn the other cheek, is aptly transposed: Alatool fool. You might well ask: How on earth did everything go to hell in a hand basket?
I have been researching an answer for you on 2facedbook.org.
Top Dog, an Egyptian 2facedbooker, points out his wife Top Cat and their kids, the Diddly Fiddlers are down to their last $1.2bn. Can you believe it? A family in Egypt has to get by on a footling few thousand million dollars? Next there’ll be an outbreak of dysfunction, Top Dog’s is extremely contagious.
What will a million get you in a couple of years’ time, with inflation the way it is and dimes are as scarce as dames in the Muslim Brotherhood?
What about the new shaving tax: 200 pounds for a close shave? Gentlemen, it’s your patriotic duty to keep your chins up. Don’t be flannelled. Lather and polish your brow.
Ladies, the 150 pounds tax on each square millimetre of visible female flesh is a violation of the UN’s basic code of human rights. The Minister of Injustice should be ashamed. I know we can count on you to show a solidarity leg at the next General Assembly in New York.
(Raspberries and sabre rattling.)
I turn now to the event being staged in Tahrir Square today. Many of you will remember the award-winning Al Jazeera serial Tahrir Tears, screened in 18 back-to-back episodes. Couch Grousers were spellbound by the drama, especially the camel-racing episode. SCAF Productions (Egypt) LLC captured the earnestness of the jockeys and would-be Olympians practicing hammer throwing and avoiding high jumping. Their rooftop camera people caught the exhilaration of youth dressed up in bright bandanas and neckerchiefs playing cowboys and Indians.
What about the blazing building scenes and the close-ups of marksmen shooting bullets to prevent rabble-rousers seeing properly? It all looked so realistic. But of course SCAF Productions’ skillful team choreographed the event superbly at Media City, with an assist from American players who arranged for banks of fog to roll in from behind Mogamma.
Kudos to SCAF who won a Golden Globe for their film portraying the deaths of three soldiers outside Maspero. How astute was it of them to edit out footage of 28 Copts dying and 300 being injured?
Alas, we are missing the reprise of 11 February 2011 in Tahrir Square today. We applaud the patriotic Tahrir Players, as they act out the first annual version of a plot as old as Father Time: Death of democracy.
Hark. I hear the sound of distant gunfire approaching…the plop plop of ammunition, no doubt releasing innocents, incarcerated behind high wire and walls to wend their weary way buggering and burglarizing whom they come upon.
What’s that you say? It’s the what?
Forgive me. I mistakenly mistook the Champagne corks being popped by our brethren at the back as incoming.
Finally, I give you an Egyptian toast, a proverb: It-tikraar yi3allim il-Humaar. As children we are taught it as repetition teaches even a donkey.
Grown-ups are more familiar with the ditty chanted in Tahrir: practice makes perfect.
(Applause, raspberries and sabre rattling.)
Philip Whitfield is a Cairo commentator