Miriam hasn’t come on the excursion to the Kom Ombo Temple, she’s got one of her heads. I’ve left her in our cabin making her version of a ‘tisane’, the noxious brew beloved by that little Belgian twerp, Poirot. She’s obsessed with Agatha Christie. Reading and re-reading all the books, devouring every film and TV adaptation, insisting we go everywhere Agatha went. Hotels, Greenway, Burgh Island, the Orient Express, we’ve done them all. And now we’re on the SS Sudan, the Karnak in Death on the Nile. It’s long been my dear wife’s dream to do this trip, as it’s long been my dream to find a way to banish her headaches forever.
The minute we got on board, even before we’d unpacked our bags, she was in the lounge, squealing with delight.
“That’s where the gun was kicked under the sofa, over there!”
A couple sipping cocktails at the bar turned to stare.
“Keep your voice down, you’re disturbing the other guests, dear.” I hissed.
“Any sign of the bloodied handkerchief?” she giggled.
Martini man rolled his eyes and smirked at his Daiquiri-drinking companion.
I thought, just you wait, a few more days of my wife and you’ll be wishing there really is a loaded revolver under that settee.
I managed to coax her out onto the deck where a young woman was gazing serenely into the Nile.
“Not casting a mysterious package overboard, I hope!” My wife bellowed. The girl smiled indulgently before walking away. I’ve no doubt most of the passengers will have an interest in Christie’s novel, one reason why they chose this fabulously expensive cruise, but unlike Miriam, they don’t feel the need to relive the whole perishing script.
My fellow passengers murmured regrets that poor Miriam wasn’t well before we disembarked in a jovial mood, heading for the Temple. While I’m drinking in the awesome sights, Miriam will be sipping the tea she made from her stash of nettles, twigs, withered flowers and berries, gathered from the hedgerows back home. I’ve secretly added a special ingredient to the mix, something I picked up in Aswan, guaranteed to put her out of her misery.
Ironically, I’ve got Christie to thank for the remedy, however, I did have to dismiss most of what I found in Miriam’s comprehensive library. Agatha’s villains might own a gun and know how to use it but I don’t. Her stabbings are remarkably quick and effective whereas I know I’d be jabbing away for hours, making a right bloody mess. Similarly, I’m sure bashing Miriam over the head would be a very hit-and-miss affair. The answer lay in her well-thumbed copy of A Pocket Full of Rye…and a Yew tree in Egypt.
By the time we get back on board, she’ll be gone.
“Oh, my darling!” I will cry, in anguish and disbelief. “Dead? Poisoned? But she’s an experienced forager...”
Actual tears will be a challenge but I’ll give it my best shot.