In 1986, aged nine, for twenty-four consecutive Saturday mornings, I bowed before a revolving magazine rack in a corner of Hobart’s Angus & Robertson, mesmerised by the twenty-four Adventures of Tintin. The half-hour it took to read and twice re-read each book was an immunisation for the half-hour of pallid, ludicrous Anglicanism I endured the following morning.
……..The Ancient Egyptian pantheon had bewitched me at an earlier age (my bibliophilic parents would deliver me to the State Library—my preferred childcare centre: so many heathen texts—and pick me up hours later). Accordingly, my favourite Adventure was—and still is—Cigars of the Pharaoh: the eccentric Doctor Sophocles Sarcophagus who, struck by one of the Fakir’s poisoned darts, eventually went insane (‘Well, between you and me, I AM SECRETLY RAMSES THE SECOND’); the introduction of Thomson and Thompson, the bowler’d, bumbling detectives; the rank of mummified Egyptologists, gothic, catalogued (one—‘Lord Carnaval’—a nod to George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, Howard Carter’s financier); the vivid hieroglyphics and the gleaming uraeuses that might have been Xeroxed from the volumes I pored over.
Cigars of the Pharaoh instructed me to keep writing, to smoke opium, to visit Egypt.
I’ve yet to take my trip.