Series Two: Pharaoh and Mummy in the Late Covid Kingdom
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The pestilence which had plagued the land during what became known as the ‘Covid Intermediate Period’ had begun to subside in many areas. Pharaoh’s Kingdom still had many rules and regulations in place to restrict the activities and movement of the populace but alas, there was great inconsistency and many people were angry as they tried to navigate the regulations as well as manage their lives, families and businesses. A new archive of material from this period, the Late Covid Kingdom has just been uncovered which may shed some light on the trials and tribulations of daily life at this time.
As well as Pharaoh, Great Royal Wife and the bandaged anomaly known as Mummy, the archive provides insight into the lives of a travelling ‘historian’, Khaemwaset and a foreman from the village of the tomb builders, Paneb.
Pharaoh, GRW and Mummy celebrate the easing of lockdown restrictions and the start of a new era, the Late Covid Kingdom, with a slap-up meal delivered by the enterprising Senbi of Meir's Roast Goose Emporium.
Pharaoh was becoming a bit miffed by the behaviour of certain 'Rulers of Foreign Lands' so decided a military expedition to Kadesh was in order. Unfortunately on crossing the border, he found a two week quarantine had been imposed. Plans ruined, Pharaoh had to make do practicing his smiting at home with Mummy.
Questions were being asked. Where did the pestilence come from? GRW took offerings to Sekhmet in the hope she would view the assembled suspects and indicate the culprit - was it the mutant bat? Was it the Lab? or was it a Man? Sekhmet's answer was so perplexing, GRW dropped her bowl of blood, splashing her frock. 'Look to the genetic sequence of the RNA' Sekhmet roared. What could it mean?
Prince Khaemwaset took to travelling around the land delivering lectures on his excavations and restorations. Because of the speed at which he travelled in his go-faster chariot, and indeed the speed at which he spoke, these informative talks became known as 'zoom lectures'.
To prevent the spread of the pestilence, the people needed to keep their hands clean. Mummy tried out a natron-based hand sanitiser unit, code named 'The Mummifier', which proved to be very effective. However Pharaoh could not licence it for use by the populace as it had a tendency to dry out the skin leaving the hands dehydrated, wrinkled and generally unattractive.
One could easily think those in power had lost the plot. Fortunately Pharaoh had not lost his marbles - they were at Mummy's faience and glass workshop. Mummy was trying to invent a protective but see-through screen. Did he succeed? to be continued...……...
It was agreed that screening was crucial. spr-mrkt was thrilled to have one of Mummy's new sparkling see-through screens to protect her when selling at the market. No pesky pestilence would get her now!
It was well known to Pharaoh's tomb builders that the cobra goddess Meretseger could inflict sudden blindness on miscreants, so while the gang stayed in the village, the red-headed foreman Paneb took himself off on a jolly jaunt in order to test his eyesight. How Paparazzi the crocodile snapped away!
How did the tomb-builders spend their time during covid close-down? Fortunately the Scribe of the tomb kept records and it appears that brewing was a favoured pastime. Pharaoh tried out Paneb's latest home brew while Mummy examined the absence from work ostraca to see who else might have beer going spare.
The App, or Advanced Populace Protection was encouraged. It was basically a game of track and trace - Pharaoh and a tracker dog gave it a trial run, but could find no trace of Mummy. Perhaps Mummy didn't smell?
Paneb was in trouble. The workman Amen-nakhte had denounced him to Pharaoh for breaking the lockdown rules. The self-righteous workman had accused the red-headed one of staying overnight with three different women - and married women at that! Was the accusation true? Or was it a mis-interpretation?
Alas, isolation caused some people to literally fall apart. Pharaoh enlisted the help of that expert and experienced 're-assembler of body parts', the Goddess Isis to try and help rebuild the damaged ones.
Khaemwaset, the renowned Egyptologist, delivered a lecture on why gods were often depicted with animal heads. He believed that during a period of pestilence in ancient times, the Gods were required to wear face masks. For a laugh, some made amusing animal headed masks - a practice which, alas, somehow found its way into the iconography.
Single people could now live in a bubble with another household. Bubbles being in somewhat short supply, Mummy set to work producing froth galore. Pharaoh thought it was all great fun but failed to see how anyone could actually live in a bubble.
It came to pass that there was anger in foreign lands and people took to the streets to protest and pull down statues. In alarm, Pharaoh and GRW checked for damage and found "two vast and trunkless legs of stone and near them on the sand, a shattered visage". GRW was rather taken with Pharaoh's romantic and poetic turn of phrase but the big question remained - was there dissatisfaction or did the earth move?
During the pestilence, the people stayed inside. 'The Wild' re-asserted itself and began to reclaim the land resulting in some very strange wildlife goings on. Fortunately for posterity Pharaoh was able to record his observations on papyrus.
People were afraid of 'the second wave'. No one was sure if it would happen, and if it did, when it would happen. So people practiced self restraint and kept their arms close to their sides just in case they started a second wave.
As the land slowly heals and a semblance of normality returns after the pestilence, Pharaoh, Great Royal Wife, Mummy and all the Gods of the Great Land say farewell and wish you Life, Prosperity and Health.
Watch out for the occasional post in the future.
As the Late Covid Kingdom dragged on ad infinitum with no respite in sight, Pharaoh and Mummy continued to muddle through as best they could.
As lockdown restrictions were lifted, Mummy took great delight in meeting up with his very very very old friends in the 'Ka park' for an evening of bread, beer and fun.
Great Royal Wife and her Sniffer Test and Trace Squad (STATS) were in so much trouble with The Master of Secrets, D3ta. She had somehow broken the Data Protection rules. Easily done as no one really understood these laws.
Pharaoh was wondering if all those bandages were affecting Mummy's hearing. He had definitely NOT asked for a new hall of pillows!
Pharaoh was surprised to see that many citizens had adopted 'Mummy Chic'. The ample bandaging acted as an extension to the face mask to create a full body protective suit. Safe from the pestilence but sadly restricted in movement.
During the Late Covid Kingdom, people were so desperate for entertainment that an inexplicable trend for looking at 'unboxing' imagery took off. Pharaoh and Mummy (with a plentiful supply of wine) took a peek at Paneb's display of unboxed paraphernalia.
Hands face space was the new pithy slogan. Pharaoh wondered if Montu has somewhat misinterpreted the space element with his impressive moon motif!
So why was it that the enraged workman Paneb chased his adoptive father Neferhotep through the streets that night? Word on the grapevine has it that the elderly foreman tried to call a halt to Paneb's illegal rave.
The temperature had soared, common sense had evaporated, and everyone had gone to the Oasis beach. So packed was the beach that Mummy was reminded of his little helpers in the shabti box. An outing not to be repeated in a hurry!
Pharaoh was on a diplomatic freeby to meet with the Ruler of the Keftiu and to restock his wine cellar with a half decent vintage. If he had fingers, he would have kept them crossed that an unexpected two week quarantine would not be imposed on his return home.
Pharaoh thought some positive self-promotion was in order so Mummy suggested a traditional lion hunt and commemorative scarab. Alas, the result was somewhat underwhelming and nowhere near the previous record of 102 fierce lions. Pharaoh was more inclined to feed the actual beast rather than the propaganda beast!
The race was on get home from Yam before quarantine was required. The boat was so packed that Harkhuf had to leave behind his dancing 'Deneg'. So frustrating as now we will never know exactly what it was - a small person? a chimp? Such are the unexpected consequences of rushed decisions.
Because of the pestilence the young scribes could not sit their final exams. It was decided to randomly assign grades based on .... neatness of handwriting! What a fiasco! Young Kenhirkhopeshef was distraught for he was a notoriously messy writer. Would Pharaoh intervene? Would Kenhirkhopeshef become a fully qualified scribe? And would his handwriting improve?
There was news that a certain ruler of foreign lands had made an anti-pestilence device - the Poo Tin. GRW's Lab could not imagine how this would work. Barking mad! His own wa-sn (va'cine) amulet was a shining example of proper procedure. May the Force be with you.
GRW experimented with ways to look absolutely fabulous whilst wearing a mask. The dramatic eye look was an obvious winner.
With eyeliner in such demand, Mummy's Super Duper Makeup Trading (msdmt) Co. was overwhelmed with orders. The citizens were eager to follow not one but two trends - 'Fab in a mask' and the 'Celeb Shades Precursor' looks.
Khaemwaset explained 'Cancel Culture'. If peeps were not in line with current policies and sensibilities they were removed from the historical record. The danger, he pointed out, was that in about 3000 years time there would be no history left because absolutely everyone would have been erased by the 'Thought Police' for some misdemeanour or another.
Pharaoh needed a test for the pestilence but alas, the closest canine-sniffer-test centre was quite a trek.
Pharaoh contemplated the new rule of six and tried to decide which 3 of his nine parts he could manage without. His Ba, Ka, Akh, Khet, Ib, Ren, Sah, Sekhem, or Shut?
GRW was thrilled at the return of her favourite entertainment, The Great Egyptian Bakeoff. This week the star baker was Anubis with his 'red dessert' but sadly, leaving the competition was Mummy with his dried out buns.
Citizens took great comfort in watching favourite box sets. Mummy was somewhat underwhelmed.
There were rumours of a 'circuit breaker' being imposed. No one quite knew what was meant by this, but Mummy had a go at breaking Pharaoh's heb sed circuits. Ouch.
Advanced People Protection or APP was now operational and HAPY was tasked with enforcement. He used the inundation technique to quickly isolate high risk areas - the problem was that once the flood gates were opened there was no controlling the consequences