Monday, November 07, 2005

A Casablanca Story

Tickets for the auction party on the 26th Nov are very nearly sold out. If you are unable to attend, sealed bids and telephone bidding can be accepted. To email for further details, or to register for either method click here

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Not long after Rick turned and walked away for the second time from his beautiful Ilsa, leaving her with only a song and a memory to console her, a handsome young Frenchman, about to embark on a life of travel and adventure, was flying into an airport in North Africa for the first time. He was visiting his uncle, Count Pierre de Leusse, the French Ambassador to Morocco. Africa was another world to him. Coming from hard-hit post-war France, the sights and sounds, the alleys and souks of old Casablanca, were hypnotic. The sophisticated glamour of the Embassy with its magnificent interior courtyard, fountains, and amazing gardens, where politics and intrigues were negotiated behind closed doors, contrasted with the vivid life and energy of the merchants in the streets below. The ambassador's private plane flew him on to Rabat. Morocco was of such strategic importance to France that it was the only embassy granted the privilege of a private plane.

From Rabat he travelled around the countryside in a sleek black Citroen DS to Fez, Mecknez and Marrakech. Dressed for the heat and dust of the desert like El Lawrence with loose fitting trousers, flowing robes and head-dress over his face, he and the Ambassadress explored the souk together, accompanied by several Officers des Affaires Indigenes.

Fifty years later, having traveled the world, a beautiful, heavy vintage Berber rug, bought as they wandered the narrow streets of Marrakech together and kept close by as a treasured memory ever since has been given for us to auction by that French boy, now living in the Norfolk countryside. Each earth coloured thread interwoven with the history of the twentieth century and memories. This is surely the promise that is costing the donor most to give and we are very grateful.

Note - the rug has been expertly cleaned for the auction by Holt Dry Cleaners. Many thanks for their support.

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