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Sahara

Day 3: Tangier

Michael Palin - Sahara'You see that?' she cries. 'Birdie did that!'

'Birdie?'

'His bird. Bit me on the leg.'

Birdie, it transpires, is a cockerel who lives in Jonathan's apartment. He doesn't attempt to deny it.

'Bit a great hole in her leg,' he confirms.

I said he was lucky not to be sued. Jonathan looks uncharacteristically sheepish.

'Well, he did bite a very distinguished American woman and she thought it was rather funny, but after three courses of antibiotics and massive doctor's bills, I'm afraid it was a bit of a strain on the friendship.'

We walk down the path away from the church. Through the trees, across the road, I can see a façade with the faded lettering, 'Grand Hôtel Villa De France'. Green louvered shutters swing in the wind. It was from one of those rooms, Room 35, that Matisse looked out and painted this unique Anglo-Arab church and the trees and the sea beyond, as it all looked ninety years ago.

'He is a misogynist, I'm afraid,' says Jonathan, by way of explanation. 'Only ever bites women.'

I don't think he meant Matisse. But who knows.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Sahara
  • Day: 3
  • Country/sea: Morocco
  • Place: Tangier
  • Book page no: 21

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