THE TANGIER SCRIPT Snug House Publishing 2005
(First edition published in 1991 by Simon & Schuster)
Paul Bowles said
Tangier had been
designed by Dr. Caligari,
with the classical dream
equipment of tunnels,
dungeons and cliffs.
A Sufi mokkadem
The Tangier Script is a work
of fiction and Miriam-Ann,
Antony and their contemporaries
live only in our imaginations. But
also in the exciting narrative are
the all too true characters of
Samuel Pepys, Hercules, the
spies of World War II and
Cleopatra's daughter. The action
moves from the film and music
industry of Wardour and Old
Compton Streets to the
centuries-old back alleys of
Tangier and Fez. .
Barker at the Continental Hotel
In Tangier, Europe and Africa meet
Everywhere - music.
Minor arcana fall from above....
Is there a tunnel back to London?
Walls covered in kufic script.
A Berber daughter of Fatima
One-time leading actress and
filmstar Miriam-Ann Dunne is in
Morocco with her younger lover,
cinema verité director Antony. They
stay in William Burroughs' old hotel
room and stir the ghosts of wartime
spies Burgess and MacLean.
Samuel Pepys walks the same alleys
and Antony succumbs to the local
narcotics. Truth and dream mix
From this colourful and violent
material Antony is trying to fashion
"Her glass of mint tea is to the
right. Her sunglasses lie to the left.
The table is tight against the green
iron railings at the front of the café.
The sun shines on the blue formica
table tops across the square at the
Café Central. Above her head the
green-and-white striped awning of
the Café Tingis keeps the worst of
the heat and the glare from her. The
blue, red and gold ink on the Tarot
card fragments is faded. She
wonders if she should ever have
picked them up when they fell,
confetti-like, onto her shoulders.
She was walking, idling through the
narrower streets and alleyways,
thinking she knew where she was
and then finding herself in some
square where she had not expected
to be. She'd been walking toward
the port compound, hoping there
was a way up to the Rue de la
Marine. She'd stopped when she
saw only the dock gates ahead. At
that very moment the fragments of
card had descended on her,
together with a sweep of assorted
The author in the casbah, in a street full of imaginary characters.
shabby little hotel rooms,
particularly with Antony.
Though he's just as likely to
book them a suite at The Ritz.
So they lay around in room
nine and munched majoun
fudge and played some weird
music on the cassette player.
Best kif in the Rif, Antony said.
It was the kind of flippant
remark that really irritated her, an
indication of some parallel and
less likeable personality at work.
But later, in the bar of the El
Muniria, Abdul told her that
Room Nine was a popular
request. Of course it was Naked
Lunch that Burroughs had been
She drops a few dhirams onto
the table, slides them out from
among the fragments of cards
towards the waiter's lethargic
fingers where they tap at the
edge of the marble, thin and
brown and wrinkled like prune
skins. She watches as the
waiter's fingers walk slowly
across the moist surface, the
pink pads of his fingertips
exerting just enough pressure to
drag the coins silently across the
marble to drop off the edge and
into his tray with a tiny metallic
dust and dirt from the street
above. A sprinkle of minor
arcana. Nothing unusual in
this enigmatic space in time.
Ever since she arrived she
has been aware that it is not
only the spoken language
she doesn't understand. The
whole place vibrates with
messages, in a thousand and
one unspoken languages.
Sometimes shecan literally hear
them all at once,
translated into a vast rumbling in
her head. It happens when she
walks too long in the sun on her
own, or lets herself get too
caught up with one of Antony's
experiments with majoun. The
majoun is okay if that's where
Antony is at. She knows she has
given in completely to whatever it
is that he is attempting. She no
longer worries. Only now and
then, when her head is clear of
kif and she is freshly showered.
Then she worries. He's an
extremist. Always playing
around with the camera,
continually re-assembling the past
or positing the future. Street
theatre carried to extremes.
Room nine at the El Muniria was
a case in point. Why the
somewhat shabby little room, she
didn't query. She is used to