The undead spirit of Tutankhamun has stalked the earth for exactly 90 years.
Accidentally re-tuning all the buttons on the Internet radio to pick up BBC Radio 3 isn’t quite as appalling as it sounds. Sometimes you learn things.
This morning, when they played Pour l’égyptienne from Debussy’s 6 Épigraphes antiques the presenter announced it was ninety years since Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon first entered Tutankhamun’s tomb on 26th November 1922.
By breaking the seals on King Tut’s tomb, the explorers activated an ancient curse. Horrifying events ensued. Within days someone’s canary had been eaten by a cobra. The next victim was Lord Carnarvon* who cut himself shaving and died of blood poisoning. Then, just seventeen years later, Howard Carter was to succumb to the Curse of the Mummy, dying from lymphoma at the age of 64.
* the Daily Mail records the chilling and unexplained events on the night of Carnarvon’s death, 5 April 1923. “At the moment of his death, it was said that all the lights went out in Cairo, while the faithful Susie, back at Highclere, cried and died.”
For clarity, I should point out that Susie was Carnarvon’s dog. But perhaps most unsettling of all is that Highclere, in Hampshire, would become the setting for mysteriously successful Downton Abbey.