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I asked Loraine to dance with me, in the garden where Charlton Heston rode his horse while filming The Ten Commandments and in the shade of the hotel where Roosevelt met Churchill to plan the invasion of Europe during World War II. Our Dance Pact – entered into before we married – means that we will dance with each other in any place, at any time, and to any music, if one of us asks the other to dance.
Mena House Hotel with pyramids - Giza, Egypt
I took her hand and asked the waiter in the restaurant next to the pool of the Mena House Hotel to turn up the music on the small radio he had hidden behind the counter, and we danced, with the ancient pyramids of Giza as our company.
A royal lodge for the Khedive Ismail, the Mena House Hotel has a fascinating history, and an illustrious guest list – click here and here for the very interesting history. In the 1880's the lodge was converted into a hotel and named after Mena, the first king to unify Egypt.
As we danced, I wondered whether we might see the ghosts of past visitors. Would Heston come riding into the garden each day after his filming was done? Would Churchill come wandering past, cigar jutting from his bulldoggish mouth, pondering where exactly to invade France and throw back the armies of Nazi Germany. In 1943 Churchill met President Roosevelt at the Hotel – an R.A.F. observation post was mouned on top of Cheop's Pyramid to give warning of any attack by German forces.
Churchill at the Mena House Hotel
From our hotel room we could see the pyramids, barely 700 meters away and mysterious in the quiet Egyptian night.
Arthur Conan Doyle, having killed of his character Sherlock Holmes, stayed here for the winter of 1895-1896, with his wife, who had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. And in 1979 Jimmy Carter spent time here, in the Churchill Suite, during the peace negotiations between President Sadat (who stayed in the Montgomery Suite) and Menachem Beghin (in suite 908).
We never did meet the ghost of Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, Robert Taylor, Omar Sharif, Barbara Hutton, Mia Farrow, David Niven or Peter Ustinov, nor were we able to sit down for a chat about the life of authors with Agatha Christie.