How Curses Work

We’ve all seen him.  He’s swarthy, usually (though not always) with a dark beard.  He’s often wearing a fez (no, I’m not going to say it) and robes of some kind.

A fanatic.  And friend.

Sometimes, he leaves his home desert and comes to England.  He may be dressed in Western clothes and live in a house with Western furnishings, but he’s got a secret room, or a shrine, or a sanctum behind a billowing curtain, in which he keeps his infernal idols amidst clouds of suffocating incense.


(cue dramatic music)

…the Egyptian Fanatic!

When he comes to England, he becomes the mirror image of the English Explorer Who Has Just Returned from Egypt (henceforth, the Explorer).  This man goes to Egypt for the love of antiquities and discovery, and comes back enchanted and bewitched by the place (by the place, mind, not the people); filling his big, wood-panelled home with Egyptiana.  The question of whether the Explorer has any right to this Egyptiana is raised only by the Egyptian Fanatic in England (henceforth, the Fanatic).

The Fanatic has come to England from his native land in search of something, some inscrutable justice, some devilish retribution.  He nurses a grudge.  He clothes himself in Anglo, middle-class normalcy.  He speaks impeccable English, albeit in a heavy accent.  (It doesn’t have to be an ‘Egyptian accent’, just a generic foreign one will do.)  He is usually treated with courtesy (at first) by the bemused English middle classes amongst whom he mixes by default because of his wealth.  These people may come to suspect and despise him, but they’re often tolerant enough at the start, though a working class or yokel character may get to utter some ignorant dislike of “strangers”.  The middle class characters may even initially tut at this sort of hostility (what with them being so open minded and everything) but it will turn out that the yokel’s xenophobia was (accidentally) quite justified.

I’m a racist stereotype.  Racist stereotypes are cool.

Because the Fanatic is there to cause trouble.  To raise the mummified body of a long-dead Egyptian High Priest from its slumber inside a sarcophagus and set it the task of killing all those infidels who dared to trespass upon the sacred resting place of the Pharaoh, etc.  The Explorer will be the target of the Fanatic’s superstitious rage (it will continue to be looked upon as superstition, despite the fact that the spells work and the mummy really does come to life).  The Explorer was just trying to further the cause of science and knowledge, to preserve the ancient Egyptian past, perhaps to delve into mysteries Better Left Undisturbed… sometimes the Explorer has been arrogant in his treatment of the Egyptians, sometimes he was rude and dismissive to the particular Egyptian Fanatic who is now persecuting him, usually when said Egyptian Fanatic turned up and begged him not to open the pyramid / break the seal on the scroll / disturb the body / take the mummy to display in England. …

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