An amazing trip to Cairo: a plane in which there were about five seats per passenger, and a destination in dire need of jumbo-jets full of tourists. But tourism is in suspension in Egypt, whose economy depends on it. The American State Department's advice, on the day I went there, was not to go, and so Americans don't go; the British Foreign Office advice is not to go to some places and go cautiously to others. My unofficial advice is to GO NOW! You'll be welcomed with enthusiasm and be able to negotiate massive price reductions in hotels. The Mena House Hotel, 5 stars and in normal times jam-packed with customers, was completely deserted. When we went there for lunch, ours was literally the only occupied table in the whole huge dining room. We wandered round a pyramid almost alone. And most exciting of all, we were able to see the Tutankhamun exhibits in private. I've been in the same room as these treasures three times, at the London exhibitions in 1972 and 2007, and in the very same rooms in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, but could never see more than little sections framed in other visitors' backs. This time my Egyptologist daughter and I were alone in the room with The Pharaoh's gold mask and coffins and jewels and furniture - an amazing and unforgettable experience. Outside the museum, in Tahrir Square, there were tanks, and an unrepaired hotel burnt out in the revolution of 2011, but few people and no trouble.
While I was away The Spectator Magazine ran a review of Dead Woman Walking. Andrew Taylor called it "a complex and chilling tale" and said that "The quality of the writing shines out." It was a very nice surprise to find on my return home.