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THE SHARK OF ARABY
Clive Gammon
October 16, 1967
It was an ordinary Red Sea holiday—fishing with an Egyptian reel-wrecker, a Cairo city boy and an aggressive ex-Nazi, Then came barracuda, eaten to the accompaniment of an oompah band
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October 16, 1967

The Shark Of Araby

It was an ordinary Red Sea holiday—fishing with an Egyptian reel-wrecker, a Cairo city boy and an aggressive ex-Nazi, Then came barracuda, eaten to the accompaniment of an oompah band

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Hopping about with glee, for all his 90 years, he produced his gear: a great meat hook, 12 feet of chain and a coil of ship's rope. He rigged a bunch-of-bananas bait just as they do in the Mediterranean: half a dozen mackerel, hooked through the eyes. When all was ready he laid it out carefully on deck. No chuck-and-chance-it for Ahmoud. He was going to wait for a shark to make an appearance in the chum trail.

It took less than 15 minutes before a black fin and a gray back swirled 50 yards behind the boat, and Ahmoud gently fed the bait out to him. There is a convention in salmon fishing that it should take about a minute a pound to land a fresh-run fish. For Red Sea shark, fishing by the Ahmoud method, the ratio is nearer one second a pound. There was a huge, white, frantic, thrashing turbulence behind the boat. We all strained and held grimly onto the rope, and the boat began to move slowly under shark power. It didn't last long. Within 10 minutes a tiger that couldn't have been much under 300 pounds was at boat side and getting the treatment from Mustapha's iron cosh.

We made a big impression that afternoon when we tied up at the hotel jetty. I suspect that a few of the more sensitive members of Neckerman Tours gave up undersea fishing there and then, but Rudi moved toward the shark gesturing and talking in German. I wasn't going to give him away. Mr. Sabreez brought his wife and the six little Sabreez girls down from the village. They all inspected the shark, and Mr. Sabreez spoke Arabic, saying the same-thing, possibly, as Rudi had said in German. At least he kept looking over his shoulder to see if Ahmoud was within listening range.

That Christmas night the three of us went back to the Desert Fox beach to collect some of the magnificent pink conch shells that were there, but suddenly the stillness was shattered by the roar of powerful motors. Three big Mercedes came bouncing up the track. A dozen men poured forth, Europeans. The first one reached me. "It is Herr Gammon!" he said, all out of breath. This, then, is fame, I thought complacently. Nothing of the kind. They were German engineers working in Cairo, down for the weekend. They had called at the hotel, and there was a cable for me, which they had brought at once, such things being rare and ill-omened in Hurghada.

I opened it. REPORT TO SENEGALESE EMBASSY CAIRO FOR VISA DAKAR TRIP, it Said. HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND LOVE WHERE IS THE GARAGE KEY QUERY. It was from my wife, a clear indication that it was time for me to move on.

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