This is what happens when you don’t have satellite TV

“Ya 2amar”

A scene in an Egyptian soap opera tonight featured a couple walking into a nightclub- type establishment before being guided to their seats by a waiter. Being a consummate professional and connoisseur of old-school restaurant etiquette the waiter stood behind the lady’s chair as she sat down, and then did the holding-onto-the-back-of-chair-and-pushing-slightly-while-lady-sits-down-thing. Now this is all very Omar Sharif and chivalrous etc, but the lady was sitting in a tank-sized leather sofa, which resulted in the waiter having to adopt a stance similar to that one adopts when pushing a car which has run out of petrol up a slight incline.

This took the edge off the rage induced by accidentally hearing thirty seconds of a song by suberstar Yousra. I do not know the name of this atrocity but it is the one where she bleats on about everyone needing love, in Arabic, English and French – because she’s international and debonair, people. The chorus features accompaniment by a choir of children whose voices have not yet broken: a musical crime of the first degree. It seems to have escaped Yousra’s notice but there is a reason why microphone stands are so high: it is to prevent precocious little tuneless individuals sneaking into studios and recording songs with which to torment us. You may be angelic, Derek, but you sound like Tinnitus.

Why must Yousra sing? She is a good looking actress of a reasonable standard who can boast that her lips have been within two centimetres of Ahmed Ezz’s face – surely her work is done? Seeing her in the vicinity of a piano makes the Jaws soundtrack play in my head, and during her rendition of La Vie en Rose in the Yacoubian Building I found myself biting on my knuckles, while trying to curl myself into the smallest ball possible – a defence mechanism used by small mammals in response to danger from predators. It didn’t make the pain stop. I literally felt embarrassed for Yousra, whose unctuous, tuneless, supposedly seductive warbling is essentially poor man’s Dalida, and induces a mixture of rage/vicarious embarrassment every time I hear it.

Speaking of His Majesty Omar Sharif, and I take any opportunity to do so, I saw him in his mole-bedecked glory days in ‘Men agl Imra2atin’ yesterday, and nearly passed out while contemplating his beauty. Those slightly scary intense eyes! Those lips! The man was a god, and I can in fact boast to having met him for exactly two minutes after my Bridge-playing auntie smuggled Mildred and me into a Bridge tournament hundreds of years ago. I am pleased to report that he still had his certain je ne sais quoi-ness goin’ on then, and the motor is still revving now – if his antics at the latest Cairo Film Festival Awards anything to go by. The contrast between his polite but tepid greeting of male winners, and the old fashioned mental undressing treatment he gave the ladeez was a joy to behold. At one point a breath-taking statuesque Italian beauty with enormous bazookers glided onto the stage dripping sex. Omar’s jaw dropped and he immediately began fanning himself theatrically with both hands. During her (faltering but sexy) speech Omar was clearly visible whispering to (Dr – how come?!?) Ezzat Abo Auf and his toupee – while all three checked out her endless legs. He was probably saying something along the lines of “eih el ta3ama deih” only in French, cos he’s sophisticated, innit.

Afterwards while all the fabulous people on stage formed a line and smiled, and the ordinary people in the audience clapped them, I kept my eye on cheeky Omar. Sure enough he edged his way gradually towards Bazookers using a sideways-stepping crab motion before standing on tiptoe and whispering something in her exquisite ear. She looked briefly baffled before herself edging away, both of them all the time clapping and smiling rigidly, leading me to conclude that he may indeed have whispered “eih el ta3ama deih” only in Italian, cos he’s sophisticated, innit.

Meeting Omar seems to be a family tradition, because my mother used to see him – only in black and white – in the Gezira sporting club during the sixties. Both she and I share the same tic of involuntarily sighing ‘ya 2amar’ [moon] whenever we see a black and white Omar on screen. God forbid that anyone should think my mother missed a romantic opportunity all those years ago, because she is now married to a librarian and lives in Croydon, where she can enjoy its first-class tram service.

Lest anyone think I am name-dropping, allow me to state that I have not met any other celebs apart from a pre-Olympics British pole-vaulter who never made it. I did once however enter a restaurant just as Amr Waked and his green eyes were putting their coats on and leaving.

Note: Never before have I hyper-linked to so many men, I feel quite the trollop.
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