Saturday, 12 February 2011

The People of Egypt

Posted by Tania Kindersley.


(Picture by Reuters.)

I can't quite believe they did it. I had accepted that there would be a long, painful dragging out of the status quo. Mubarak would surely keep clinging to power with his old, crabbed hands; he would go on dying his hair and making those peculiar speeches. The people would become disillusioned and drift home. A small hard core would stay in the square. Then one day, they would be gone, no one knows where.

And then, just like that, the man left. The people had won.

It seemed quite astounding. I had to read the news story twice. But there they were, shouting and cheering and crying and letting off fireworks.

I know there is realpolitik to consider. I know that it won't all be flowers in people's hair. I know that there will not be a perfect transition to an open democracy. Commentators will start shouting about Islamists, and Israel, and the Muslim Brotherhood. It might get messy, but then freedom is messy.

But just for one day, I'm not going to think about all that. It's not every day that you watch a people liberating themselves. Today I: walked the dogs, looked at the lichen, made my mother and stepfather some soda bread farls, listened to the enchanting Graham Norton on the wireless, went to the shop for floor cleaner, took some photographs. What did the people of Egypt do? Overthrew a dictator.

They did it not with bombs and guns, but with patience and determination. They just kept gathering. They stood strong in the face of thugs on horses and camels, mobs throwing stones and rocks, and the secret police coming to take people away in the night. (Journalists who were also arrested spoke of hearing ghastly screams coming from next door cells.)

Reality will bite, but today is a day of jubilee. How can you not take off all your hats, in awe and wonder, when an entire people sets itself free?

Pictures of the day are of the trees and buds and raindrops.

It was a murky old day, with black skies and wandering cloud, and yet, it had a bleak beauty all its own:

12th Feb 16

12th Feb 16-1

12th Feb 18

12th Feb 20

12th Feb 19

There were sudden, astonishing slashes of colour:

12th Feb 21

12th Feb 9-1

The wonderful viburnum was in full swing:

12th Feb 8

12th Feb 8-1

12th Feb 9

There were glorious raindrops on the bare branches, sparkling like diamonds:

12th Feb 4

12th Feb 6

12th Feb 6-1

12th Feb 10

12th Feb 11

There were hopeful buds, presaging spring:

12th Feb 3

12th Feb 7

There were SNOWDROPS:

12th Feb 2

The ladyships were in serene, contemplative mood:

12th Feb 12

12th Feb 14

(Notice though the cocked left ear. She is uncertain whether she has heard a small mammal rustling in the undergrowth, and is wondering if she should go and chase it.)

I looked at this, and thought of Robert Frost:

12th Feb 15

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep.

My hill today is lost in the mist. There is just a low space where it should be:

12th Feb 1


  1. I was also one of those who thought it would just drag on and then people will get dispirited and drift away. Nice to know I am wrong. That I have still got a lot to learn about the human spirit.

  2. Wonderful isn't it? Just astonishing.
    The misty woods and hill photographs are beautiful and I adore that poem, and of course the 'shipseingess too.

    ~have just read the awful news about the horses at Newbury and thought of you~

  3. Mystica - hurrah for the human spirit!

    Anne - the Newbury thing is awful. It looks as if the horses were electrocuted, which is the most bizarre thing I ever heard. Very sad.

  4. Thank you for your words and photos. They've calmed my soul. The snowdrops are so uplifting, precious little sprouts presaging spring at last.

  5. I went to bed last night just as the news was breaking, and woke this morning sure that it was too good to be true and I would be disappointed when I checked the news. But I was not! Today is definitely a day to celebrate the human spirit.

    I also thought of you when I heard about the horses at Newbury. So sad and strange.

    Thank you for the snowdrops. The crocuses are coming up here, and they are pretty, but there is something very special about snowdrops.

  6. As I scrolled through the pictures I quietly hoped for snowdrops. And there they were! I was so glad you ignored my earlier 'moved to tears' comment and posted more.
    We are still snowbound here in Massachusetts but today the mercury is above zero so hip,hip,hip hooray! Our snowdrops are out there somewhere and they must be doing something in anticipation of the sun's caress.

  7. There was a very moving interview with an Eygptian novelist on Front Row last night. Many of his family we imprisoned during the state of emergency. Some of his cousins and uncles have just been released. he is hoping to at last get some news of his father, who was also imprisoned, after many many years. For me this personal story hit home more than the crowds in the square. My Iranian half is hoping that Iran is next domino to fall but I think I hope in vain.

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  9. It's things like this that make me very proud of the world. And they went back to the square today and tidied up after themselves! Revolution followed by cleaning; it's oddly wonderful.

  10. Did they really go back and tidy up the square? How utterly wonderful. For a long while I was afraid the army was going to step in and take over, but thankfully that didn't happen. Lovely to see quiet persistent determination win the day. ANd did I hear right that Mubarak went off to Sharm-el-sheikh? As if for a restful holiday now he can finally give it up....? No....

  11. I'm afraid I haven't visited in a long time. But on a Sunday morning in a Mediterranean climate, it does make one's little heart sing to see snowdrops. I am so glad I came. Have a lovely trip South.


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