Spring, snails and other things



Well, Spring has more or less sprung in this part of the world.  I say more or less because this is Britain and we’re nearing the end of May. So, believe it or not, there have been a couple of warmish days with sunshine but this morning, it seems, is not one of them — so far.  Nevertheless, we have been promised no rain and sunshine later in the afternoon. … (and it actually happened!)


…  However, the flora in the gardens don’t seem to be paying too much attention to the meteorology; they just appear to respond to the climatology and get on with their of job making the place seem a bit more friendly and colourful than would otherwise be the case.


Light grey. Typical Spring.

When not discussing the weather, one comes across  all sorts of “interesting” things, like the carton of apple juice pictured below.  This was placed on the table in front of me at a birthday party last weekend.  Initially, I didn’t think that there was much of interest in a carton of apple juice but when I looked again, I saw that really, there was.

The first thing I noticed was on the side of the carton, which told me that it was pressed apple juice and not from concentrate.  So far, so good.  I also learned that the apples came from Ireland. Not only were the apples grown in Ireland but the juice was packed there, though whether this happened in Northern Ireland or the Republic, I can’t be at all sure, at all, at al.  Either way, whether it was packed in Sion Mills in Country Derry or Ballybofey in County Donegal, it was packed a long way from where its potential drinkers are located.  I know this because of what appeared in the middle of the carton, something that fascinated me because this was not apple juice produced for any common or garden apple juice drinkers as it bore the imprint of the the Haredi (Strictly Orthodox) rabbinical court of London.  Moreover, not only is it kosher but it’s also sufficiently kosher to be drunk during Passover.  I assume that Mulrines, the company that produces the stuff, had agreed to have its manufacture supervised by a mashgiach (a mashgiach is a Jew who supervises the kashrut status of any kind of food service establishment, including, food manufacturers, butchers, &c., usually working as an on-site supervisor and inspector).  The thought of one of these lads (and they can’t be lassies) travelling all the way to northwest Ireland to check that not a single iota of leaven or leavening agent might have been floating around while the apple juice was entering the containers just beggars belief.  But there you are!  Then when I turned the carton around, I was in for another revelation …

… for there I read a commandment in Hebrew and English, one which reminded the potential drinkers that the carton should be opened before “Shabbos / Yom Tov (Ashkenazi accented Hebrew for Sabbath/Festivals), and this because the plastic lid needs to be turned anti-clockwise and thus snapped off , something that would constitute work, which is forbidden on such days. So after opening the carton you are free to drink the liquid without antagonizing the Holy-One-Blessed-Be-He or his helpers.  (Regarding this issue, a learned friend in the Holy Land, having read this post,  has just written to me as follows: Opening the bottle on Shabbat (for those who so things this way) is not because it is “work” but because it is the ‘creation of a tool’. Until you open the sealed bottle you could not put liquid into it, but after you opened it, you turned it into a vessel.” — which to my simple mind is much the same as “work”.  Amen!



Last week, we went to the Tate Modern, ostensibly to view two exhibitions — more below — and on leaving, I took a photograph of two of the tower blocks that stand opposite the gallery and was reminded of a Supreme Court ruling of several months ago.  The apartments in these buildings were termed “luxury flats” and the case involved five owners of four flats in the development taking action against the Tate over the estimated half million visitors “staring into their homes” annually from the gallery’s viewing platform, which opened to the public in 2016, four years after the flats were completed and is just a stone’s throw (34 metres) away. The platform provides a panorama of London but also looks on to a direct view into the glass-fronted flats.  The owners who took action claimed that they face an unacceptable level of intrusion that prevents them enjoying their homes and sothe Supreme Court ruled.  In what was not a unanimous decision, the court decided that the owners faced a “constant visual intrusion” that interfered with the “ordinary use and enjoyment” of their properties, which apparently extended the law of privacy to include overlooking.

Bearing in mind that some visitors to Tate Modern’s viewing gallery  photograph the interiors and post the images on social media, one of the judges noted that: “It is not difficult to imagine how oppressive living in such circumstances would feel for any ordinary person – much like being on display in a zoo.”  Quite!  However, the judge was clear in his opinion that this was a specific case, as the Tate’s decision to open a viewing gallery was “a very particular and exceptional use of land”, and did not mean that residents could complain of nuisance because neighbours could see inside their buildings.  All five of the judges concerned had disagreed with an earlier appeal court ruling that visual intrusion did not fall under the scope of the law of nuisance, but they were split on the appropriateness of the Tate’s use of its land.  One dissenting judge had agreed that it was possible for visual intrusion to be considered a private nuisance, but he suggested that although the viewing platform was not an “ordinary” use of the Tate’s land, it was nevertheless reasonable. Citing “the principle of reasonable reciprocity and compromise, or “give and take”, he noted that the flat owners could “take normal screening measures”, such as putting up curtains.  Again quite Quite! (again)!  Another judge, supporting the decision, said that asking the residents to put up curtains “wrongly places the responsibility to avoid the consequences of nuisance on the victim”, noting that judges would not ask someone to wear earplugs to block out excessive noise.  However, in this respect, one of my neighbours suggested a while ago that I should use a hearing aid when listening to television or music because the noise disturbs him (my audiologist disagrees and so do I—heartily as it happens) so rather than tell him that he should use earplugs, I decided to close the door, whereupon there was something of an uproar on the landing for a few minutes.  Someone else causing a nuisance, perhaps

St. Paul’s from the Tate Modern

The ostensible reason for the visit to the gallery was to view two exhibitions. One of these was Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, which I had apparently missed in Tel Aviv last year.  The other was  to see what the Tate had described as “the visionary work of Swedish painter Hilma af Klint” and to experience Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian’s “influential art in a new light”.  (Mondrian apparently lived a couple of hundred metres up the street from where I’m writing now and has a blue plaque to show for it but quite when and for how long, I have no idea.


Although they never met, af Klint and Mondrian both invented their own languages of abstract art rooted in nature — they had both been landscape artists at the start of their careers and at the heart of each of their artistic journeys was a desire to understand the forces behind life on earth.

I wasn’t overly enamoured of af Klint’s later abstract work but I did enjoy looking at Mondrian’s abstract stuff.

The other exhibition, of work by Kusama, Infinity Mirror Rooms, was mind-boggling.  Just two installations and a little extra.

One comprised a single chandelier but the mirrors turned it into something else entirely.

To view the second installation, we were told that there was water on either side of the “walkway”. which comprised two steps forward, two to the left and a right turn and then two steps forward again.  You find yourself in a really tiny room but the mirrors make it seem as if it’s something else entirely.  As I said, absolutely astonishing!


And just when we thought we had come to the end, we encountered the Thamesmead Codex, which, in its own way, was equally astounding.


And when we were done, we came across this!

It’s hard work work walking around galleries and looking at pictures!  Tate Modern, May 2023

And a little later, emerging from the depths of Aldgate Underground Station, I came across these gastropods, which weren’t quite what they seemed to be.

And so the week ended, and I’m taking off for a short break.



From Corona-nation to Coronation-nation

Last weekend the citizens of the United Kingdom were celebrating (or at least most of them were) the coronation of King Charles III, a 74-year old man who has served an apprenticeship lasting half a century so he should know by now what’s expected of him.  The ceremony itself, held at Westminster Abbey, was on a Saturday morning but the whole weekend had been dubbed “Coronation Weekend”, with the status of a Bank Holiday, something about which it seems to me the British have become increasingly fond in recent years.  There had already been an “Early May” Bank Holiday and there’s another one due to come at the end of the month.

Some of those more avid loyalists had been camping out on The Mall, the road/street that runs between Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch, from early in the week so that they could observe the new king and queen going to the ceremony from “home”, i.e. the palace, to the abbey and back again, thus fulfilling their duty as loyal subjects and thereby “participating” in the event.

The ceremony itself was full of pageantry—lots of prayers and religious oohing and aahing, lots of crowns, lots of swords, lots of singing and dancing, two orchestras each conducted by one of the country’s foremost conductors, John Eliot Gardner and Antonio Pappano, etc. etc.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, eventually placed the crowns on the heads of King Charles and Queen Camilla but seemed to have some difficulty in putting them on their heads so that they didn’t fall off but in the end, everyone seemed happy if not altogether comfortable.  And then there was the rather creepy moment when the king was anointed with olive oil (apparently kosher) and from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where his grandmother is buried but this solemn and mysterious ritual took place behind four partitions that had been wheeled in to shield him from the prying cameras and the eyes of millions while he was disrobed.

To my mind, the highlight of all the pomp and ceremony was the way in which Ms. Penny Mordaunt, Lord President of the Council, carried out her responsibility for bearing the Sword of State and presenting the Jewelled Sword of Offering to the King – the first time the role had been carried out by a woman. (The Lord President of the Council is the presiding officer of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and is the fourth of the Great Officers of State, ranking below the Lord High Treasurer but above the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal (really!).  The Privy Council is one of the oldest parts of the government and advises on the exercise of prerogative business and certain functions assigned to The King and the Council by Acts of Parliament and is, therefore, the mechanism through which interdepartmental agreement is reached on those items of government business which, for historical or other reasons, fall to ministers as Privy Counsellors rather than as departmental ministers. The Lord President of the Council has ministerial responsibility for the Privy Council Office, which manages Privy Council business.

The ceremonial sword that she carried for 51 minutes while standing, walking, and singing is apparently the heaviest in the royal collection (I’ve never personally weighed them, you understand, so I have two take it as for granted) and weighs 3.6kg in its gold-encrusted sheath. Ms. Mordaunt is a Member of Parliament and a Cabinet Minister. Amongst other things, she served in the Royal Naval Reserve for ten years,  from 2010 until 2019 and was appointed honorary commander in 2019 and was promoted to honorary captain on 30 June 2021.  She said that she just took a couple of painkillers to help her get through her role of carrying the two ceremonial swords (the second one was apparently considerably lighter) during the Coronation and that she had not been doing press-ups for half a year beforehand as some of the tabloids had apparently reported.  She had also been a contender for Leader of the Conservative party during last year’s shenanigans in her party following Boris Johnson having been shown the door by his erstwhile colleagues.  Had she come to party meetings brandishing her swords, who knows but she might have actually won that competition.  In addition, I can’t imagine any of her predecessors managing to do what she did although I can imagine Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man who appears to live and personify an English gentleman of the 19th century, with a sword attached to his waist.  Another of her forerunners, one Chris Grayling, when he was Minister of Transport some years ago, had managed to injure a passing cyclist when he opened the door of his parked car without paying due attention, so goodness knows what he might have managed to do with a steel blade to hand!



The Lord President of the Council and her sword (Blairs to the right)

The whole shebang was broadcast throughout the day and you didn’t have to even stay indoors to watch it.  I could have stood in the rain and viewed it on a large screen on the side of a parked van not 200 meters from home.  I mean why watch it from an armchair while you can stand under an umbrella in one hand and try to focus your iPhone with the other hand why trying not to get wet?  English weather being what it is, on the day of the coronation, it poured from morning till evening but the following day, with street parties in action and lots to eat and drink all over the place, that yellowish ball in the sky, the name of which I have forgotten, made an appearance.

Even the nearest postbox was dolled out for the occasion in red, white and blue!


And now that the king and queen have been crowned, what else is there to become excited about? Why — the Eurovision Song Contest, of course.  This year in Liverpool, Land of the Beatles, &c., rather than war-torn Ukraine.  Thank goodness I’m going to the theatre and won’t be tempted to watch it.  It’s come a long, long way from Sing Little Birdie, Puppet On A String, Waterloo and all that.  It used to be about songs but now it’s something else entirely and why it’s still called a song contest beats me!  Seems like I’m getting to sound even grouchier than normal.

Anyway, this is spring in London.  Or, at least that’s what my calendar—and some of the flora on the streets— tell me…

… yet here we are in the middle of May and there have been one or two warmish days when the temperature has risen all the way to 20 degrees and the sun (the yellow ball in the sky— I remembered) has appeared for a few minutes here and there while precipitation precipitates precipitously and persistently (I don’t know if that makes much sense but it looks good!)

So what else?  Well, there was a party two days after the coronation to celebrate a birthday.  Like many other things, it being May, it was meant to have taken place in a garden but inclement atmospheric conditions being predominant that day meant that it was held indoors — and not a bad decision to have to make as conversation moved around the room and all 24 people manage to talk to the other 23 at some stage of the proceedings.

We also went to a performance of Frank Loesser’s wonderful Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre, near Tower Bridge, in London.  I’d not been there before and I was very taken with the theatre space and more especially with the production itself.  I love the music and the lyrics and have seen the show several times—but this production, using all the facilities of the theatre — revolving stage,  parts of the stage that can be raised and lowered at will, audience participation (a large number of the audience members stood throughout the performance as the “policemen” moved them this way and that to allow the props to be brought in and out and moved around as needed) . There wasn’t a dull moment in a show that lasted 2½ hours.

And leaving the theatre on our way back to the Underground, there was an opportunity to see one of London’s landmarks, The Shard, at night and up close!


So what’s left? I suppose few photographs from way back when, that keep appearing on my screen as screensavers, would do.

Unsmiling and unlaughing!






Aye-aye. The London Eye.


Would you argue with this gentleman?


Just about the way I feel sometimes!


A very rare bird indeed!  (Look carefully to see why)


The Last Time I Saw Paris

Well, Passover had passed us over thus concluding a week of chewing and consuming a cardboard-like material which has a tendency to block the system. Another year had gone by and it was time to recharge the batteries and do something rather different so it was decided that the best thing to do might be to escape from the confines of the United Kingdom or Israel and spend just a few days in Paris.  So quotinge from the first line of the old Oscar Hammerstein song, the last time I saw Paris seemed to have been a long time ago.  And even though I had a clear memory of the last visit there, I couldn’t quite remember how long it had been. It actually turned out to be much longer than I had thought because when I checked the photographs that I had taken on that visit, it turned out to have been in August 2009, almost 14 years ago.

On that visit, I had travelled on an early morning Eurostar from London with my daughter Tami, intending to return late in the evening. The morning passed uneventfully and we were on our way to the Left Bank to have lunch in a restaurant that had been recommended by an Israeli gourmet pianist when, boarding the Métro, a group of young women were exiting the train.  On arrival at our destination, I put my hand in my pocket only to discover that the pocket that had contained cash and cards had been relieved of its contents.  I sent a text message to Shuli in Tel Aviv to cancel all credit cards and, wondering how we would manage until the evening sans cartes de crédit or argent comptant, I received her response that her Israeli gourmet pianist friend was still in Paris and that I should call him.  I did as I was told and received the information that Tami and I should make our way to Châtelet station and wait there and about 30 minutes later, Iddo turned up with 200 euros, some bananas and some chocolate.  We now had the means to buy a meal before returning to London but not before I had spent an hour with a policeman at the Gare du Nord station, armed with an English-French dictionary vainly trying to file a report of the dire deed that had been discharged a few hours earlier.  So returning to Paris recalled that memory quite clearly.

This time around, Isabel and I set off for St. Pancras station in London to board the Eurostar for Paris.  Now that the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union, it seemed to me that the bureaucracy involved in travelling to an EU country was a little excessive but as an Irish citizen, I was waved through fairly quickly while Isabel’s UK passport received a stamp delivered with what I thought was an excessively loud thud.  Anyway, red tape completed, we had a longish wait before boarding so while she went off to look around the station and make some purchases, I chatted to the man next to me who was, he said, from rural Kent and had not been in in London for a decade.  He was on his way to Brussels and thereafter to somewhere in Germany to pick up a cousin who had gone to visit his daughter a week or so earlier and while in Germany had suffered a detached retina and was unable drive home, so this cousin had kindly volunteered to pick him up and drive him back home to the UK, home being somewhere in rural Somerset, the whole process, including travel and rest, taking a week.  I thought myself lucky that I was only going as far as Paris for four days.

Arriving in Paris we took a taxi to the small hotel that we had booked near the Opera.  It was a small hotel with small rooms and was manifestly run by an organization with an environmental sense of right and wrong, in this case demonstrated by a keenness on saving electricity. That notwithstanding, the location was wonderful…

The hotel lobby as experienced

The hotel lobby as it should have been but was never seen as such









… There were cafés, bistros and restaurants galore within easy walking distance. One could quite happily drink the coffee and eat the croissants whilst simultaneously inhaling exhaust fumes from cars, vans, buses and such like. However, it was this outdoor-ness that initially struck us a contrast with London.

Next door to the hotel was a small bistro, Les Bacchantes with a menu that changed by the day — and what was on the menu was photographed each morning by the chef.


What Paris seemed to have that London is missing was people on the street — talking, walking, jogging, running, sunning, and whatever.  Paris streets seemed to exude life.  But not everything or everyone on the street present a happy sight, as the image below illustrates.

Street people


Taking a break from sleeping rough. Place des Vosges.

There were all sorts of interesting things to observe, such as this woman struggling to get her bike, trike and baggage into the IKEA store while opening the door on her own—all in one go.  However, somebody decided to lend a hand!

… or this professional taking a break from cooking in the relative cool of the street outside.  What made this image particularly interesting is that the gentleman in the photo shows everything that is au fait in the 2020s — cellular phone, tattoos, vape, and mask.


Something else that struck us immediately and which we had seemingly forgotten is the elegance of the apartment blocks.  Most people in central Paris live in apartment block and in addition the grand boulevards, it seems that the architects have given some thought to the external appearance of the buildings in which people live, it being the balconies and and the curvatures that contribute to this.

Place des Vosges on a sunny day

King Edward VII à Paris.  What’s he doing there?

No trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to an exhibition.  We could have spent the entire time at our disposal in museums and galleries but we chose just two — one at the Musée d’Orsay and the other at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Bois de Boulogne.  The former pitted two  friends and competitors from the 19th century (Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas) against one another …

whereas the latter set two 20th century artists, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

To my simple mind, the former had too many pictures and too many people viewing them in poor light and badly hung.  Moreover, there was hardly room to move let alone view the paintings at leisure.   With regard to the latter, I’ve never been a fan of Warhol even in his Campbell’s soup and Marilyn Monroe days and I wasn’t exactly struck by Basquiat although I’m told that he appeals to younger people.


Of more interest were the people in and around the museums.

Paid-for boredom. Fondation Louis Vuitton


In the queue. Fondation Louis Vuitton


Fondation Louis Vuitton, Bois de Boulogne


Three baguettes and two croissants in 45 minutes, outside the Musée d’Orsay

The other great thing about Paris is, of course, the food. On the second evening there, I had the best tuna I’ve ever eaten anywhere …

(I didn’t eat any of these but they do make a wonderful picture.)

and on the last day, the Marais, the best felafel anywhere.

A falafel queue in Le Marais


Hardly a talmudic street discussion. Le Marais.


At work. Le Marais


Tea and cake at Illy’s


Believe it or not, the picture below was in a café!


And, penultimately, just a few photos  …

Ready to retire at 62?

Fondation Charles de Gaulle

Finally, searching for the gentleman’s loo at the Gare du Nord en route back to London and although the French undid their monarchy over two centuries ago, this is what I found  to direct me!   It must be the coronation that’s got to them!

And then it was back to this United Kingdom where, in my absence, the Deputy Prime Minister resigned, another was appointed, a new Minister of Justice was put in place and one member of the Labour Party had the whip withdrawn which, in British parliamentary parlance means that she no longer sits in parliament as a Labour MP but as an independent.  In a letter that Diane Abbott MP sent to The Observer newspaper, is response to an opinion piece that had recently appeared, she wrote that people such as Jews and Irish travellers did not suffer racism but experience prejudice.  She then went on to state that such people in apartheid South Africa or pre-civil rights America were not required to sit on the back of a bus and were permitted to vote—but she’s writing about Britain!  In her eyes, only black people experience racism.  Try telling that to the families of Jews who perished in the concentration camps — because they were of a non-Aryan race and only “experienced prejudice”.  And what is “race” anyway?  And anyhow, “Irish travellers” used to be called “tinkers” and anyone who speaks with a Dublin accent knows that most Irish t(h)inkers went to university!  Diane Abbott went to a Univerity.  She studied History at Cambridge earning a 2ii (a lower second class degree) but it doesn’t seem to have made her particularly appreciative of history, does it?!


Springtime for everyone


It’s just a week since I returned from a week’s visit to Tel Aviv, the purpose of which was to be with the family as my daughter, Shuli, had to undergo surgery and wanted me to be around while it was happening.  Happily, the operation was successful and she was home within a day of the procedure, something which somewhat surprised me.

However, although I was there a week and planned to be back in London in time for the Passover holiday, I found myself strangely detached from the country in which I had lived for most of my adult life.  Although there have always been strains within Israeli society, there has never been anything like the events of the past three or four months.  And as the taxi from the airport to the flat where I was about to spend a week exited the motorway and the driver waited for the traffic lights to turn green before he made a left turn, I witnessed the start of one of that evening’s demonstrations against the so-called “judicial reform” initiated by the new religio-fascist government that is now ru(n?)(i?)ning the country.  Men and women with children carrying Israeli flags out to show their displeasure at what is occurring and not any signswhatsoever that this was a demonstration by groups organized by the so-called treasonous left-wing political parties.  To me, it looked like a rather spontaneous family event.

Nevertheless, the Prime Minister appeared on television the following evening and described the protestors as anarchists and told viewers that this must stop and then, in the next sentence, he announced that he was proud of (“loved” was the term he used) the counter-demonstrations by right-wing protestors (gatherings that had been organized by political parties).  He went on to call a temporary halt to his government’s “judicial reform” until after the Knesset’s Passover recess but as soon as the coup would be completed (he didn’t actually use the word “coup” but that’s what is being attempted) he would get around to “unifying the people” something that made me laugh out loud because Mr. Netanyahu is about as capable of unifying the people as I am capable of cooking a lavish Indian banquet for 200 Chinese guests at an hour’s notice!

Although I understand that the relationship between the government and the judiciary needs revision, the way that this government has gone about things is, in gross understatement, approaching the criminal.  Meanwhile, the cabinet approved in principle the establishment of a “National Guard”, independent of the police and answerable only to the repugnant Minister of Internal Security, Mr. Ben-Gvir, and which would me manned by volunteers — which, in effect,means the thugs who support him, and which to me carried echoes of the SA, (Sturmabteilung) the “Storm Detachment”, the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, which played a significant role in Hitler’s rise to power inGermany of the 1920s and 1930s.

To my rather simple mind what needs reforming as much as the relationship between the executive and the judiciary in Israel and what would enhance its efforts to retain its democratic credentials is the electoral system, for the current system is totally inadequate to meet the needs of a democracy in the 21st century.  Some people counter this argument by stating that the Israeli electoral system is totally proportional.  In other words, the distribution of seats in the Knesset is in direct ratio to the votes cast for the parties (it is, more or less)  but that’s exactly where the problem lies because the members of the Knesset are not answerable directly to any electorate, only to the party.  Citizens have no direct representation in parliament; they have no MP or Member of Congress  to turn to if they wish to raise an issue. Unfortunately, the only way that this system can be changed is by an act of parliament and the parliamentarians look after themselves more carefully than they do the electorate, although, of course, they would never admit it!

Anyway — enough of this constitutional nonsense.  It’s Passover again and looking back over the past few years, I noticed that I’ve mentioned this on previous years.  One blog post stood out and as a former academic, I have few qualms in reproducing in edited form what I had previously written.

DSCF5427 Aaaargh!.jpg

Unleavened bread — so soon again?????

This week, Jews around the world are celebrating either Pesach (Passover for the uninitiated) or Easter, which means that it is a paschal weekend.  Given that paschal is the adjective for describing things related to Easter, it’s easy to see the historical and etymological connection between paschal and Pesach. I might add that this year, as the Moslem lunar calendar does not add and extra month seven times every nineteen years as the Jewish calendar does, Ramadan coincides with bot Passover and Easter, which is a small part of the problem relating to the disquiet in Israel and Palestine.

Pesach is not one of my favourite Jewish holidays, mainly because of the biblical injunction, in Leviticus 23:6 (amongst other places): “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.”.  Well, really!  This is both cruel and unusual punishment and in many enlightened countries such a penalty would be expressly forbidden in the legal code.  A hard God, a difficult God.  Does he really love his “chosen people”, a stiff-necked people or is he simply giving expression to the vendetta against us and our digestive systems and about which we receive this annual reminder?

Pesach commemorates the exodus (of the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt).  It’s celebrated, if such is the correct term, for seven days (eight days if you’re unfortunate enough to live as a Jew outside the paradise that is Israel).  We no longer sacrifice a paschal lamb (although some do try and a few even succeed and the current Israeli government might choose to make communal slaughter of ovines obligatory) but we do sacrifice ourselves and our digestive systems to the vagaries of unleavened bread, otherwise known as “matzah” or “matzo” or as it is referred to at the seder table on the first night of the festival, “the bread of affliction”.

In Exodus (12:8), we are exhorted to eat meat, with matzah and maror (bitter herbs) and later, we are told to eat this bread of affliction for a week  “for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste. Thus you will remember the day you left the land of Egypt as long as you live.”  How could you not?

It is also decreed that not only must we eat matzot (plural, meaning you can’t get away with biting off the corner of one board) but we must not touch, let alone consume, anything that has to do with leavening (chametz) — so not only bread, but no beer, no whisk[e]y, no porridge, no pizza or no pasta. For those of you who have not had the experienced this substance, it’s looks like and tastes like cardboard. Nevertheless one is required to consume it!  It’s hard to start off with but melts in your mouth once you get it out from between your teeth and unstick it from your palate.  What happens to it further down the digestive system is God’s revenge on the Jewish people for disregarding most of His/Her other decrees.  It usually comes in square boards (occasionally circular disks) with perforations, which I always presumed were to be an aid in breaking it into more manageable bite-sized portions.  This, however, rarely works, leaving jagged sharp edges that are even more hazardous to a human’s survival than the action of the stuff itself on your innards.  

Bread of Affliction 2

There are invisible fault-lines and submatzotic fissures and these, more often than not assume a lethal priority over the official puncture marks so that when you have spread something tasty on the board to give it some flavour (because it really does taste like pasteboard) and apply pressure along a perforated line to break off an easy-to-hold, easy-to-eat piece, more than likely you end up with a small piece in one hand and a larger piece that lands on the table or the floor, invariably the wrong side up.  What really amazes me is that in the hi-tech jungle called Israel, nobody has managed to invent a means of dividing these pieces of edible board in two directions simultaneously or of producing a dedicated robotic matzah cutter that allows one to cleave or sever a piece cleanly so that you don’t cut your finger transferring it from plate (or kitchen paper because it tends to break when pressure is applied to it on a plate) to mouth.

In the video clip below, the gentleman, Mel Brooks of The Producers and Blazing Saddles fame, among other cultural gems, has something to say about matzah. This happens 70 seconds into the clip but you really need to listen to what comes before to fully appreciate what he’s saying.  (I must warn those of you who are less than familiar with the work of Mr. Brooks that you may find what he has to say offensive.  Much of what he says and does is offensive.  In his defence, he would claim that all that he is doing is just reflecting human behaviour and, of course, that’s what makes him so funny. I would say that part of his offensiveness is that he offends everyone and omits no-one and therefore nobody can take umbrage from the fact that they might have been forgotten.  In this particular case, he’s just laughing at himself and his own kind.) However, in this era of political correctness, strictures against ethnic stereotyping and charges of anti-Semitism, if, as they used to say on the television when they announced the outcomes of soccer matches, you don’t want to know the results—or very simply if you don’t like Mel Brooks—look away now.

All of these Pesach urgings, of course, have given rise (no pun intended) to a whole industry of regulation, regulators and certification programmes that offer protection against this proscribed and ungodly process of dietary dilation.  But things aren’t all that simple.  Ashkenazi Jews also forbid the consumption of other grains and pulses, just “to be on the safe side”.  Sephardim and other Jews of Middle Eastern and North African provenance permit rice and pulses and are generally more munificent about how our stomachs and intestines should be afflicted.  Of course, all of this can lead to absurdities, especially in Israel, where the same package can have two labels, one permitting followers of this or that rabbi to happily eat without worry of offending the deity whereas the other promises you hellfire and brimstone if you as much as touch the stuff.  However, you can always repent six months down the line on the Day of Atonement.

There is another version of matzah that is eaten by the Strictly Orthodox, called matzah shemurah,  literally, matzah that has been supervised by kosher pixies following the grains and specks from field to oral orifice so that there is not the slightest possibility that they have come in contact with any leavened or leavening material or any vessel that may have been in contact with any such like.  Having consumed this stuff on several occasions, in my jaundiced opinion, the matzah shemurah industry is sponsored by the World Dental Federation in order to drum up business, just as consuming regular matzah is strongly encouraged by the International Society of Internal Medicine.

Import of Shemurah Matzah, Israel to UK. Heathrow Airport. March 2023

But to return to my recent Israeli trip … my daughters are teaching their daughters to be good citizens, part of which involved removing dog-poo from the footpaths so that others do no tread on it.  Unfortunately, no everyone has been so instructed!

I was able to observe a mother-and-daughter daily exercise routine …

I was also able to participate in Gali’s 12th birthday celebrations


Happy families

I returned to London a week ago and was met by signs that suggested that Spring is on the way if not already here.


And then looking through my photographs of the past few weeks, I was reminded that we spent a morning at the Wallace Collection on Manchester Square, one of London’s many art galleries and one that is often missed by tourists but which has a collection than is little short of amazing, including several by Canaletto that I could look at over and over again, and that amazing Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals.

Finally, I promise that the next post will be totally apolitical and will deal with faces and such like!


It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

If somebody had asked me yesterday when I last posted to this blog, I probably would have said “a couple of weeks ago” but when I looked, here I am a couple of days after St. Patrick’s Day, and I  discover that my last post was on February 17!  Over a month ago!  I  never would have believed it.  But then …

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 16.20.11

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, indeed! One for the birds, I would say!



Champagne and cigars.jpg

 Just above the shitline: The Netanyahus — Champagne & Cigars.  Case 1000: Bribery

I’m a retired academic and several of my species that I have known over the years have few qualms about re-using material that has previously been published.  In my case, this is attested to by the three images above and the text that follows in blue immediately below, (all of which appeared in a blog post four years ago).  It seems as if very little might have changed at all, even though indeed it has and, in gross understatement, not exactly for the better! I hadn’t actually planned to start this post in this manner but in the course of writing and under the circumstances of the day, this is what happened.  I hope that I can be forgiven!

Contrary to what some of you might be thinking, having read this blog for some time now, and having become familiar with the substandard and unacceptable levels of cynicism to which I am occasionally inclined to sink, the edited and abridged paragraphs quoted below have absolutely nothing to do with Israel’s embattled Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who was recently indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases involving him and wealthy businessmen. In fact, the original and unedited version of the piece above appeared in the June 22 2006 edition of The Economist newspaper—a paper little loved by Mr. Netanyahu, as its Israeli correspondent is his nemesis and who last summer published a biography of him [entitled Bibi], explaining much of his paranoias—but was part of the obituary of another rather smart but also corrupt politician, Charles Haughey, Ireland’s former Taoiseach (Prime Minister).  

Foes and critics alike praised [his] … panache, his brains and his energy.… he had mansions, estates and a private island. He liked antique furniture, and fine art, horses, clothes and wines. History may well judge that he was the most gifted … politician of his generation. But it is harder to argue that he put those talents to good use.

Few charges against him stuck … [and m]any had long wondered how he supported a lavish lifestyle on a politician’s salary. [He] had warned [the media] “I can be a very troublesome adversary”.

[R]evelations were tantalisingly partial: … He brushed off … allegations, arguing either that “finances were peripheral” or claiming a precedent: had not Winston Churchill been financed by business admirers too? 

Perhaps, but only when out of power, and Churchill did not plunder the Tory coffers … Even his greatest fans would not call him fastidious. It was best to call him simply “Boss”. There was cronyism for chums and thuggish treatment of the rest. Unfriendly journalists’ phones were bugged. His justice minister even considered having dissident members of his parliamentary party arrested.

… He preached austerity, yet practised prodigality, doling out favours and privileges with flair and precision.

In opposition, as evidence of his heavy-handed ways came to light, [his] party split. But [he] had little time to enjoy the fruits of this rare period of goodish government. Old scandals resurfaced and new ones broke. He left politics for good … his reputation increasingly tattered, and with a lot worse to come.

I thought I might be able to avoid writing about yet another political situation that has evolved over the past few months.  I’m referring to the one in Israel that is unfolding in front of our eyes and all too vehemently. The current coalition is interested, so they say, in reforming Israel’s legal system or perhaps more accurately the relationships between the parliament and government on the one hand and the judiciary on the other. Without an adequate understanding of how the system operates, (I’m neither a political scientist nor do I have legal training), I probably should not be writing anything about it at all.  However, or so it seems to my simple mind, they’re not really interested in reforming the judiciary but in taking it over completely, in its entirety. I have no doubt that the judiciary or the relationship between the judiciary and parliament needs some tweaking but in a state that has always been regarded as a democracy, such changes need to be be brought about by broad consensus among all concerned rather than being something pushed through parliament at breakneck speed in order to save the skin of a Prime Minister and to meet the demands of more several fanatical political factions, both religious and xenophobic. Sadly, what we are observing in Israel is a clear demonstration of the fragility of Israeli society.

It’s an appalling thing to have to write but Israel’s current coalition is led by a man who is no longer under investigation by the police and nor under indictment by the judiciary. No matter how much he denies what he’s accused of, he is actually on trial on three different counts of alleged bribery, fraud and breach of trust.  Moreover, the man who is effectively the Deputy Prime Minister (the term that appears on his Wikipedia entry is Vice-Prime Minister (with my emphasis on the first word) has served time in prison, having been convicted of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in 1999 for which he was given given a three-year jail sentence and is currently on a suspended sentence for the same. However, things being what they are in that part of the world, when he did return to politics, he was installed into the same Ministry he had occupied at the time he perpetrated his crimes.

In a country in which service in the military as traditionally been regarded as a great leveller in society, of the leaders of the three other parties in the coalition, one has never served in the military at all (because he, one should understand, is a soldier in the “army of God”) and many (but not all) of his supporters neither work nor pay taxes but do demand and receive money from the state, money that is derived from taxes paid by those  people who do work. Another one did manage to serve 14 months in the army, in comparison to “ordinary people” who do a three-year stint, and then serve in the reserves for another two or three decades. He is the Minister of Finance and is a minister-as-appendage in the Department of Defence, with authority over civilians in the West Bank. No doubt the two functions are somehow related.  The fourth “leader” is possibly the most “interesting” of all for he was rejected by the army as being unsuitable and in the intervening three decades has become well-known to the police on issues related to (Jewish) terrorist activities. So irony of ironies (actually, it’s not irony but pure bloody-mindedness), what better job to give him that Minister of Internal Security, with authority, among other things over the police, an institution with which he has become so familiar?

So it’s quite understandable that there are sections of Israeli society that are revolting in one sense of the word whereas there are other sections that [who] are revolting in another sense. This brings me to Timothy Garton-Ash’s recent book Homelands, which has an fascinating chapter on Hungary and its leader Viktor Orbán who, to my mind, has been for several years now the model for Mr. Netanyahu to aspire to and who actually visited Israel a few years ago as his very welcome guest.

But enough of all this.

Why time flies: A Mostly Scientific Explanation, by Alan Burdick, is a book I bought and sort of read through a few years ago and was also one of the first books I unloaded from the cartons that arrived in London from Tel Aviv a few weeks ago.  Before I made the move, I had to decide what books I was going to dispose of and what I was going to send to London.  In this respect, I was “fortunate” enough to be able to donate a couple of hundred volumes to the University of Haifa Library and gave a lot more to a used book seller on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv.  The rest — almost all of which are books that I had read and want to re-read (and some others that I had bought and never got around to reading at all) turned up here and one of the first I unloaded was Why Time Flies. And how it does!

Part of the reason for my misperception of time is that for the past three weeks I’ve had decorators in the flat and I’ve been “lodging” at Isabel’s place —  not that that’s been anything but pleasant but it does mean that what resembles a regular regimen has had to go by the board.  So today has been “moving back day” after pictures and mirrors have been rehung, so by tomorrow, I should be back to a somewhat more orderly routine.  But as I sit writing this, I’m wondering how my timing of moving to the UK has been little “off” as the former “Great Britain” is wracked by strikes (Wednesday and Thursday it was the Underground, last week the turn if the junior doctors, teachers, universities and probably trains somewhere throughout the country) causing considerable chaos as Britain descends from “First-World” status to something that is less than glorious, with a government that appears to be unable to meet some unreasonable demands made, sometimes by those truly aggrieved (e.g., junior doctors, nurses, etc.) and on other occasions by union leaders interested only, it would seem, in contributing further to the mayhem.  It’s a shame — and reading the chapters on Britain in Garton-Ash’s Homelands, which is, incidentally, a fascinating book about the up-and-down relationships between nation-states in Europe since World War II until today, there’s little to be overly optimistic about.  After 12 years of rule and misrule by the Conservative party, which has conscripted five Prime Ministers in the process, the Labour Party is preparing itself for government—not that I have any conviction at all that they would be able to do much better at treating the malady from which Britain (although I think that perhaps I should write “England”) suffers.

Meanwhile, spring is making an appearance in London (sort of).

Camden Lock

Daffodils are all over the place …


…sometimes accompanied by rain…

… and at other times (and this is mid-March) by a light covering of snow.


Not that that makes too much difference to my London grandchildren as they take a break from running, swimming, tennis, piano, etc.

Over the past few weeks, decorators and temporary lodgings notwithstanding, I’ve taken in some culture.  We went to watch the movie The Banshees of Inisherin.  In some of the reviews, it was regarded as being too “stage-Irish”. However,  I thought it was brilliant and brilliantly acted.  It received nine Oscar nominations and came away with not a thing — but at least the donkey (or its lookalike) made an appearance.  We also saw The Merchant of Venice 1936, a new adaptation of the Shakespeare play, this time set in the East End of London in 1936 when Oswald Mosley’s fascists were rampant. Though written by William Shakespeare, this adaptation with the changed setting, was redacted by and starred Isabel’s daughter, Tracy-Ann Oberman, who plays Shylock.  It worked wonderfully and after a fortnight in each of Watford and Manchester, moves in the autumn to The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon.

 Photo: Marc Brenner

We were also fortunate to have been invited to lunch at friends last weekend in Belsize Park.  Besides the fact that the meal was super, Dawn is a sculptor (sculptress is a word no longer acceptable, it seems) and when I asked if I could take some photos of her works, the request was met with positive response.


Dawn in full working gear

Finally, I went to the Royal Albert Hall to hear an evening of music from shows entitled Let’s Face the Music.  It’s quite a while since I had been in this venue and had forgotten just how enormous it really is.


Finally, for some peculiar reason, every now and then someone sends me a picture of a fire hydrant.  This one and its caption (much appreciated) was sent to me by a colleague of my daughters who on normal days is a Professor of Musicology and a violist.

Caught taking a leak (with thanks to Yoel Greenberg)


Some of you may have noticed a prolonged absence from this blog though I’m well aware that many of you might not have.  This is not because I have been neglectful — or at least any more negligent than is usual in my case.  There is, however, a very simple explanation—I was away from home (i.e. from London) and without a keyboard and monitor, I find it difficult to write.  iPads and mobile phones are useful instruments but not when you are trying to compose a couple of thousand words and somehow tie them in together with pictures.

So, where were we?  We were in Tel Aviv but in a part of the city into which I had wandered maybe three or four times over the years I lived there, and South Tel Aviv or at least that part of it in which we were located — Florentin — is as different from the north as could possibly be and still be in the same city.

A grey London

We arrived from a grey London late on a Thursday afternoon and it was the first time I’d been to Israel in 50 years without a home base and it felt really rather odd, having neither home nor car and, moreover, being in an area that I hardly knew.  We were staying in a modern apartment in what seemed to be a rundown neighbourhood undergoing a process whereby the character of an old and impoverished urban area is changed by more prosperous people moving in and, in the process, encouraging construction, as well as attracting new businesses.  However, on the negative side, this gentrification typically displaces most of the incumbent inhabitants.

At ground level, the streets were filled with small wholesale warehouses…

…with the walls of many of the buildings becoming outsize sketchpads for artists specializing in graffiti.

On that first evening, after a 5 a.m. start and travelling for half a day, the main objective became finding somewhere to eat.  We had been informed before we travelled that the area in which we were located was “trendy”, meaning, I think, that it was less than appropriate for older people.  Nonetheless, we were directed to a restaurant no more than about 300m distant which, at first, was difficult to find but eventually we made our way up a dark staircase and there we were.  In retrospect, I think the pair of us without any effort on our part brought the mean age of the clientele, which numbered perhaps 100, up to about 70 years.  My guess would be that there was nobody in the place over 35 except us although on leaving, I think I espied a woman who looked to be in her late 60s accompanied by a younger woman who I suspect was her granddaughter.  Clientele notwithstanding, the sea bream was out of this world.

We were also located close to one of the more colorful food markets in town …

… and although it looks very pretty and colourful, when I revisited it the following day, the pigeons were in full sway having tasting sessions while plodding around the nuts and dates and dried fruit — and presumably bought and consumed by the locals (No comment here!)

Then one morning, I decided to see how long the bus ride to North T-A to visit family would be, a distance of just over 11 kms.  (The answer was two buses and an hour and 10 minutes).  On approaching the bus stop, I noticed something that I thought might be worth photographing and that was when I discovered the advantages of using English rather than Hebrew in Israel.

I approached the gentleman in question and asked him simple English whether he would mind if I took his photograph.  I half expected him to tell me that producing images are forbidden but he answered me in just-about-comprehensible English that it would be fine.  So while I readied the camera, he readied himself by gently twirling his curls to ensure they were suited to the composition of a graven image in the making …

which, when that was completed resulted in what appears below and he was ready to complete the pose and I was ready to click and he seemed to enjoy the idea that someone would wish to take his photograph.

All in all, the neighborhood has its attractions!


On the Friday morning, the day after arriving, we went to the Nachlat Binyamin Art Fair, a weekly live art and handicraft street exhibition.

… and they say that Israel is an apartheid state …

The following Friday, we took in a bit of culture with the Carmel String Quartet at the Israel Conservatory of Music in North Tel Aviv, with a programme entitled Musica Britannica, which included music by Haydn, Dowland, Purcell, and Britten.  Wonderful!

Music wasn’t the only cultural detour during the fortnight.  A trip to Tel Aviv Museum of Arts took in an exhibition of the work of an artist who, in my ignorance I had never heard of, Pinkas Bursztyn, who was born in 1927. The exhibition is entitled My Name is Maryan and follows his life and career through Poland, Auschwitz, Jerusalem, Paris and New York. He was born in Poland to an Orthodox Jewish family and was 12 when the Nazis invaded and in 1943 or 1944 was sent to Auschwitz where, on the the night he arrived, was selected to be shot, but he survived. The only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, when Auschwitz was liberated, he was found “wounded among bodies in a lime pit”, and had his leg amputated after which he spent two years in Germany in a displaced persons camp. In 1947,  he moved to Palestine but found himself alone on the pier at Haifa Port.  He was “adopted” by a kibbutz but was designated as “handicapped” and the kibbutz to which he had been absorbed elderly and disabled immigrants.  He left the kibbutz after five months and was admitted in the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and gave his first solo exhibition at the Jerusalem YMCA.  In 1950 he arrived in Paris, to study at the Ecole National Superiure des Beaux-Arts for three years, where he took on a new name, Maryan Bergman, “borrowed” from a colleague at Bezalel, Marian (Meir) Marinel, who committed suicide a few years later.  After 10 years in France, his application for citizenship was rejected and he migrated to New York and became involved with the Beat movement, dying there suddenly aged 50 in 1977.

I include two photographs below of his many works on show and have written what I’ve written because although I didn’t think that his paintings were artistically so remarkable, it was the only time I’ve ever visited an art exhibition and stood looking at paintings and cried because in every piece, without exception, was reflected the experiences that this individual suffered as a result of the Holocaust.  Truly remarkable.

And just before we exited the museum, we noticed a different kind of exhibition entirely for on the ground floor were 400 birds made of wax standing still on the gallery floor, each one of which was painstakingly sculpted and handpainted by Shira Zelwer, based on the book Birds of Our Land Atlas. Though it is soft and pliable, wax is a stable material bit is in danger of melting, qualities somewhat analogous to human vulnerability and Zelwer uses it to create a parable about place, identity, and belonging.


A day in Jaffa and a visit to view art by Reuven Rubin and it was time to return to London.

And what greeted me on arrival at the apartment in London was … a slew of boxes that had arrived the previous day and which contained materials I had sent from Tel Aviv three months ago.  And here I am, 10 days later, and the mess is almost — but not quite — cleared.

And stepping outside the morning following, I was reminded that I was back in the United Kingdom!

And then it was off to partake of some of what London has to offer, such as the exhibition at the Royal Academy, Spain and the Hispanic World, made up of works from the Hispanic Society Museum and Library, and at which we spent two hours and couldn’t quite believe it when it came to an end.  There are over 150 works on display, including masterpieces by El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez and Goya and includes sculptures, paintings, silk textiles, ceramics, lustreware, silverwork, precious jewellery, maps, drawings, illuminated manuscripts and stunning decorative lacquerware from Latin America.  The exhibition also features the famous World Map of 1526 by Giovanni Vespucci, (nephew of Amerigo) and I was fascinated by the fact that on this map, the Red Sea is colored in thick red whereas I was always led to believe that “red” was a corruption of “reed” and that the biblical parting of the waters occurred along the reeds of the Nile Delta!

And maybe this is as good a time as any to display some Waterman art, this piece done by my 11-year old granddaughter, Gali!

Then, to relax, I walked from Hungerford Bridge towards the Tate Modern and back, taking in the scenes as I walked.

Finally, we spent a day at Battersea Power Station, which, like the Bankside Power Station that was transformed into the Tate Modern 25 years ago, has been turned into an enormous and, I must say, very attractive shopping centre and …

… in one of the art shops, we were able to view amongst many other interesting items, a thumb by none other than Salvador Dalí, on sale.  So if you have a few grand to spare, it can be yours!

Dali’s thumb!


P.S.  My apologies to family and friends in Israel who live north of T-A.  Having no car and the weather being so atrociously wintery that I had no way of getting to where I wanted to be for a day or two.

P.P.S.  You may have noticed that I have not expressed any opinion about political goings on either in Israel or the UK.  This is not because I am disinterested — that couldn’t be further from the truth.  The “save Bibi from the fate he might deserve” offensive, if the judiciary was permitted to do its job is tearing Israel apart — to which an assorted cabal of hoodlums bearing grudges of one sort or another — against Arabs, against secular or cultural Jews, against Ashkenazi Jews (of which the Prime Minister is one although they might have forgotten that) &c., &c. — has attached itself — and will exacerbate the already miserable situation that has unfolded there, not to mention the increasingly disagreeable relationship between Israel and the Jewish diaspora.  Meanwhile, in the UK, the Conservative Party is ripping itself apart—and the “Bring Back Boris” song is being heard once more, while the folly of Brexit is beginning to make itself clearer day by day, with trade and the Northern Ireland protocol leading the way. Meanwhile, the country is wracked by strikes and other forms of “industrial action”, and Great Britain seems to be very pale shadow of what it once was!

Home and Away


Some Reflections

Primrose Hill Road, London NW3. January 2023

At the end of my last post, given that I had been referred to not long before as “young and ‘andsome” and “young and beautiful”,  I wrote that perhaps I needed to engage in some self-reevaluation.  However, at almost 78, a reassessment of my own persona seems as if it might well be time wasted.  Nonetheless, I thought that some reappraisal might be in order, if not of the body then of the soul.  So, in that vein, I’ve decided to examine part of this blog, which began all of seven years ago, in December 2015.

I thought I’d been posting to the blog fairly regularly, about once a week, but the first thing I discovered when I started to look through the 275 posts was that initially, I was composing these pieces approximately once every other day! Furthermore, what I’d written in them has long escaped my memory.  Mostly, I think I’d have an idea, write about it and then post it—and that was that.  So … I decided to go back and if not read what I had written, at least look at the photographs that I’d included if only because I had decided at the outset to give the blog the utterly unoriginal title PhotoGeography for reasons that were obvious to me, if not to others.  Consequently, I decided to look not at the text at all but at the pictures as people sometimes ask me what kind of pictures I take, to which my flippant response is usually “whatever the camera is pointing at”.

What the camera saw!

But first, a few words about maintaining a blog, which is basically fun.  I just spill out whatever’s on my mind for it’s not all that difficult to concoct a few hundred words.  Moreover, it doesn’t really matter who reads it or if anyone reads it at all—but nevertheless it’s nice to know if they do. I suppose it’s a bit like what the thousands of journalists who write for daily newspapers or presenters on TV do although it has the added plus in that nobody is paying me a salary for filling up space or time with my rubbish!

Of course, one of the problems with all news media is the curse of a deadline. But as a former academic, I know that if you don’t have one, some things will never get done at all.  However, a deadline for a professional journalist intimates that a column must be seen in tomorrow’s newspaper with another perhaps a couple of days later, or a newscast has to fill a specified time, so if a correspondent has nothing consequential to write about, s/he still has to fill the allotted column space and the TV news show still has to make up 60 minutes, so the programme has to be padded out with inane stories.  But as an amateur blogger, I am not bound by any deadline though having one, even one set by myself, helps me get something out.

The bloggers’ guru, although most people wouldn’t recognize him as such (though even he might have possibly been chuffed by that designation) broadcast a programme that lasted a period of 58 years.  Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America was broadcast on the BBC Home Service between 1946 and 2004 and these pieces were veritable treasures.  He defaulted only once on his deadline, towards the end of his very long life, by which time his lung cancer just allowed him to to talk with great difficulty.  His formula was a gem of compactness and erudition.  The slot was 15 minutes long and the opening was a short pithy statement about something topical. The middle section, which usually occupied the bulk of each “letter”, was another topic loosely — but never artificially — affixed to the opening, while the epilogue reverted to the opening and was linked logically to the middle section.  Reading these pieces decades on is a pleasure for it was pure art, well practised and honed to perfection—and a model for all bloggers to emulate.  It certainly is for me.


Well, it’s taken me nearly 700 words to get to this point so I’ll try to respond to that query, namely, what sort of photos I take or what does my camera see.  I’m ignoring the texts of that first month of posting to the blog and I just look at the photos because until I looked at them again last week, I hadn’t given them much thought for seven years.  In the event, I “discovered” that there are all sorts of things there — such as photos of

Landscapes (I used to be a geographer),

Holiday pictures,

Grand Canal, Venice

Pictures of people, 

Wayne Rooney

Street signs and such like…

… like this one that appeared just after he had become Leader of the UK Labour Party and it was neither the picture nor the headline that caught my eye but the two captions in the bubbles, partly hidden by the lattice!)

And inevitably, even a family picture!

The thrill of winning! Lily Waterman, aged c.3 yrs.

So, let me present some of the pictures that appeared in my blog posts at the end of December 2015 and in January 2016. (I warn you in advance that there are a few more than usual!)

The first is a didactic photo from August 1972 of Bingham Canyon Copper Mine in Utah.  I used to use this photo to explain the concept of scale, as illustrated by the more than 70 goods wagons that appear in it …

… and this is followed by a picture from 1974 following the melt of the winter snow on the Canadian Prairie. Just after the plane had taken off from Winnipeg Airport en route to Calgary, it illustrates the North American system of land division, when the pilot generously circled around twice at low altitude so that passengers could appreciate the scenery …

In recent years, spending time in both Tel Aviv and London, I’ve taken lots of pictures on and from Primrose Hill and at and from Tel Aviv Port and the Yarqon Park, all of which have provided me with subjects galore.

I have photographed these trees towards the southwesterly corner of Primrose Hill at various times of the day and in various seasons …

… even when many people might not think it worthwhile taking a photograph.

Three trees fog 3


Seasonal differences. Primrose Hill, London


Towards the summit, Primrose Hill (1) 

Towards the summit, Primrose Hill (2)

Primrose Hill also afforded me a location from which to view various stages in the construction of London’s tallest building, The Shard, south of the River Thames.


And in nearby Regent’s Park, some years ago, summer would bring us the annual “Tango in the Park”


Though most of the scenes I’ve shot in Tel Aviv were enhanced by bright light and sunshine, I often found that winter photographs provided stronger images …

… and the aftermath of a winter storm often resulted in something resembling the image below.


First rain, Yarqon Stream, Tel Aviv

One of the things that has attracted my eye in both Tel Aviv and London is the plight of homeless people.  I photographed the man who appears in the poster below many times over a four-year period, from 2010 until 2014.  I photographed him and he knew what I was doing—but to my great shame, I never spoke with him.  Then, one day, in May 2014, he had vanished and on enquiring at the greengrocer’s opposite the empty bench, I was told that he had been taken away … to die.

This young man below was a regular rough sleeper in the Yarqon Park over a lengthy period and I could never help but feel sorry for him — until one day, opposite Rabin Square in Central Tel Aviv, I caught site of him at a cash dispenser and waited until he had counted out 2,000 sheqels (over £500 or $600). Gone was the pity.

The man below was one of two individuals I used to see in North Tel Aviv lugging their belongings around at all hours of the day; there are obviously many more in the city.

And while walking in the park one day, I came across this individual.  What caught my eye was not the man himself but the headline in the paper he was reading, which reads “I’m going home

There were other images, too, such as this individual stretching on a cool winter’s day after a run through the park.

Friday morning in Tel Aviv Port also meant a farmers’ market and the opportunity to photograph fruit and veg — as well as people.


Romanesca Cauliflower

Artichoke (in flower)

Occasionally, I also photograph animals — sometimes on the move …

… and sometimes when they pose for me.