Mary Irvine’s Blog: Ashurbanipal


A Long Needed Break

Haven’t been away for some fifteen months. Just didn’t happen, partly because as I get older the less I want the hassle of travel. However, I saw there was an exhibition at the British Museum that I really wanted to see. It was a display of the reign of Ashurbanipal whom I’d last heard of when first studying theology nearly fifty years ago.

I started to plan. I checked dates my free accommodation was available and then proceeded to the EasyJet website – as I thought. Long story but there was a website almost identical to EasyJet – a Rumanian one! It all worked out in the end but could have done without the stress of getting it sorted. Caveat emptor!


My son drove me to the airport, the special assistance I now need was in place, the flight was fine and my friends were waiting at the airport. It was nearly two miles from the plane to where my friends had had to park so I was grateful for the electric wheel chair. The ‘driver’ stood on a platform behind the chair to ‘drive’ it.

The visit to the exhibition was a long day but well worth the effort. Lindam my friend, and I had complimentary tickets thanks to Alkistis, an ex-pupil of mine from Spetses, now living and working in England and hoping to stay. Ashurbanipal* was quite a man, ruling over a great civilisation in many ways. Fortunately he left copious written records both official and not so official. The art was also impressive. The British Museum is now the biggest repository for Islamic Studies due to recent deliberate destruction of the structures in situ as well as the collections in museums.

The three of us went to a local chocolatier and had hot chocolate which we needed to eat with a spoon!

Another day Angelos, another ex-student of mine, came to lunch. I’ve written about him before. He arrived bearing gifts of flowers, chocolates and wine. No need to beware of him.  It’s lovely that they keep in touch and the meetings are so natural and relaxed, eventhough they are infrequent.

A third day was a visit to an hydrotherapy centre – for dogs! Ruffus was having treatment following quite a serious operation. Great fun – for us. Not sure that Ruffus was totally happy about it. He’s now fully recovered for those readers who are doggy people.

Did a lot of reading while I was down there. Was trying to read books I wouldn’t normally read but so many were ‘not for me’. Many had a sameness about them and I found myself skip reading them. I found only two authors new to me whose writing encouraged me to look for other books by them. Will let you know which two later.

In the meantime…

Caveat Emptor

I recently booked a flight to attend an exhibition in London. I always travel with EasyJet as have always been highly satisfied with their all-round service. I put EasyJet get into my search engine and then clicked on the first link that came up. It looked absolutely kosher but I didn’t spot any ‘add-on small print. The link opened up and the booking form also looked kosher although there were some slight changes but as websites are always being updated I still believed I was on the official EasyJet website. I filled in the form and booked the flight I wanted. I could even check-in. Boarding cards would be sent 48 hours before flying.

Still no suspicion. Having completed everything I realised I’d missed the ‘special assistance’ request. Trying to re-access my booking was difficult. I succeeded eventually, although at one point I entered a non-English website which I later learned was Rumanian. There appeared to be no way to contact anyone re amending my booking. Fearing I had been scammed I went to Trust Pilot and discovered many customers had been misdirected in this way. Many horror stories were being told. However, 75 % said they were happy with the service but 25% were not.

I contacted EasyJet to ask if I was definitely on the flight. The gentleman who dealt with my enquiry couldn’t have been more helpful. He confirmed that a ticket had been purchased in my name. When I explained re the problem of ‘special assistance’ being required and being unable to contact the company, I now knew as ‘esky’, he again was helpful and gave me all the information necessary to arrange the help I needed.

I still had qualms about whether or not I would get boarding passes in time and I was glued to my emails! Both passes arrived safely. For me everything worked out well.  However, it has taught me to be extra vigilant re accessing the correct website. 

An Old Friend ( inspired by above visit)

I first met him some 55 years ago, when I was studying Theology. It was only this week that I encountered him again.  Quite an arrogant man, always banging on about his aristocratic parentage. We got on well considering he had an appalling attitude towards human rights. He came from Syria or Iraq, not quite sure which. He did travel extensively and became a powerful force in his business, taking over many companies. He was good at negotiation if somewhat forceful in his approach. One of his other talents was administration. The influence he exerted was so powerful that when he finally relinquished control the whole business came crashing down.

He was interested in literature and sponsored an extensive library preserving many texts which might have been lost. His other passion was sculpture and he was a great patron of the arts. He was also instrumental in restoration of ancient buildings. I lost touch with him until his name cropped up online yesterday. I’ve arranged a meeting with him in the New Year. I wonder if I’ll feel the same as I did when I first met him 55 years ago.

Mary Irvine, May, 2019

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This section: Mary Irvine: Writer and Philhellene

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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