This morning I was at the dental hygienist at 07.30 sharp for a half-yearly clean-up when my dentist popped in to say hello. After I returned the formality, he requested “More pictures, less words” in my posts. I did that last week on the occasion of the 50th post and I’ll do it again this week, as I explained to Steve (a Londoner, by the way) that I’d already written all the words I wanted to write in a rant about the “Brexit vote” that I posted to Facebook on Friday afternoon, which some of you might have read. If you didn’t, then I’ll place it here and if you want to spend 5 minutes of your time reading it, then well and good. (My view hasn’t changed much in the intervening period.)
I was going to start this post in a heavy Dublin-accented “This United Kingdom …” but that would have too subtle and/or cynical for most for folks to latch on to, so I shall just present you with a selection of Brexit-related pictures with not-so-subtle and overly cynical captions and leave it at that. All the pictures (except the sheep, which was photographed at Much Haddam (yes, there is such a place!) were taken in London.
Cameron recalled the good old days … but why?
… and I thought “Oh, oh”. Here we go
But the British were always the black sheep of the family
They think that this is what the French and the other Europeans think of them!
But what the Tories wanted to do was shake off the European contamination
They wanted “Bye-bye, EU”
So they went to the polls and said “Hump off, Europe”
Soon, things would change and the UK would be all alone
There would be no more need for signs like this
… or for signs like this!
But this is multi-culti Britain! People don’t want it any more?
Are the lights going out over London?
“KEEP OUT”, we say!
No more foreign bread? Just London Bloomer?
What? No German Shepherds???
What? No more French onion-sellers?
What? Stay at home? No Costa Brava any more?
Exchange this …
… for this?
But all is not yet lost! Getting out might be more difficult than they thought at first!
All is not yet down the loo!
Boris will come to the rescue!
And meanwhile, without having had to do a thing, Labour has a problem.
When I started this blog on December 28 last year, the aim was to try and see if I could stick with it for a couple of months and perhaps produce 20 posts. I wanted to be able to write maybe 20,000 words or so, which might give me the impetus to produce a book. 60,000 words or so later, I think there might be a nucleus of something that could lead to a draft by 2017 (the end of this summer is probably too ambitious). At any rate, I have work for the summer months and beyond.
So to “celebrate”, I’m just going to post some favourites from my own photographs, with no commentary — just captions. Some have appeared in previous posts but then they were part of a “story”. Here, they’re just an assemblage of pictures that I take some pleasure in looking at occasionally.
Man & child. Hampstead Heath
The crow that dreamt of becoming a trapeze artist. Tel Aviv Port
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And she did! Tel Aviv, 2014
The lookalikes. Primrose Hill, London
Israel in Miniature — sharing space — but no eye contact. Ve’idat Katowicz Street, Tel Aviv
I’m Winning! (The competitive spirit). Lily at three and a half.
The Spider’s Web. Belsize Park, London
I can see you down there. Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv
Venice. The Grand Canal
Gordes (Vaucluse, France)
Winter, Primrose Hill, London NW3
After a meeting of the University Senate. (Dublin Zoo, c.1966)
Drawing the Line. Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv
Sunrise over Canary Wharf from Primrose Hill
Sea, sun, surf and seagulls. Tel Aviv Port
When the sea has an upset stomach! Tel Aviv Port
An unfriendly Mediterranean. Tel Aviv Port
Rings and things. Tel Aviv Port
A damp but sunny morning. Tel Aviv Port
First view of America. New York, September 1969
At the manicurist. Catania Fish Market, Sicily
Look sharp, there! Barcelona, Gothic Quarter
Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia (interior). Barcelona, Spain
Last week, we went to visit family in Netanya, a 30 minute drive from Tel Aviv. Ordering lunch, the waitress informed us that the trout came with potato purée, rice or chips — and which would we like, please? This prompted a smart-aleck query from yours truly as to whether the chips were just spicy or very spicy. She looked a little taken aback but I was able to explain. I had looked carefully at the menu and read the English side (as I am wont to do) and it distinctly said that the choice of sides included, as we had been informed, “potato purée, rice or French fires“. I thought it sort of amusing because there’s nothing that amuses me more than misspelt or confusing signage. It also annoys me because it illustrates sloppiness. It’s as if the proof reader, if he exists at all, was blind.
In the previous post, I showed a sign intimating that somewhere further down the road there was a humped zebra waiting to cross (probably alongside the fabled chicken). This was misleading enough to send me through London looking for said zebra and I even reported that I had found one. However, I didn’t think it sufficiently misleading to believe that someone might think it real — but, apparently, I was wrong!
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All this reminds me of a true story to which I was witness over 35 years ago. I was en route to the annual meeting of the Association of Irish Geographers, which was being held over a weekend in Limerick, about 220km southwest of Dublin. I was a passenger in a car driven by a friend and we set out from Dublin. An hour and a half or so into the trip, I noticed a a road sign that read “Limerick — 90” so I reckoned on another hour or so. Then, as we continued further down the main road, my eyes and brain were struck by a sign that read “Limerick 120″. This, of course, prompted me to ask of my friend, the driver, the perfectly logical question as to the direction we were travelling — to or from. The signs certainly pointed to Limerick and we hadn’t U-turned but the distances seemed to suggest something else. Naturally, the answer was perfectly logical — when you’re in Ireland: “The country’s going metric and they change the old road signs as they rust!” Really, it’s a true story!!!
What prompted me to write this piece was a sign I came across the other morning while out walking in North Tel Aviv. When I have a camera in my hand I am reasonably observant — in a strictly secular sense —as I’m on the lookout for pictures. Walking along Yirmiyahu Street from Hayarkon to Dizengoff Streets, I saw this large, glaring sign advertising the imminent opening of a new business, which apparently will help you add some glamour to your appearance, if not to your life. As I looked at it, I couldn’t help but laugh — and inwardly scream — at the same time. I mean, what is this squad going to do to your hair after they “dese” it?
Perhaps it’s hair design or — er — dressing with the “e” and the “r” gone missing. Who knows? And who knows what the victims might look like after they’ve been through the desing machine?
Or perhaps, in the de luxe treatment you might be glammed up to look like this?
Who knows? But given the accuracy of the sign, anything could happen!
There was another sign a couple of years ago that also caught my eye. It didn’t actually say where the project is but one assumes that some of them have a view of the Mediterranean somewhere in Tel Aviv. But what did strike me was not the ad as a whole but the spelling of what was apparently being marketed, printed in [very] large capital letters, and which made me wonder about the quality of the construction in what was being advertised.
Am I too skeptical about things? Am I a cynic? Who knows — and who really cares? However, I can understand errors occasionally creeping into small print — French fires, indeed — but in the things that really stand out — unforgivable.
Spelling errors in street signage, too, is unpardonable. This apparently alcohol-flavoured street is located around the corner from where we live. Actually, it stands out because it’s the only one of several signs along the street that is incorrectly spelled, so I suppose the late Justice Brandeis might not be too upset.
I’m not so sure that Mayor Dizengoff would have been pleased with this variant of his name at the junction of his street with Ben-Yehuda. On the other hand, it is not too far from Hebrew convention in which the vowel sounds are not transcribed at all!
I like signs to be straight and to the point, leaving you little room for guessing what it is they want to tell you — such as these from the West End of London — even though the message isn’t always heeded.
Now that’s telling you!
Then, there are signs that are not wrongly spelled at all — just confusing. I’ve been puzzling over the meaning of this sign in Tel Aviv Port for several years now. I think I understand half of what it is trying to say but the other half confounds me entirely. The Hebrew says “Entry of vehicles and motorcycles forbidden”. That more or less takes care of the north and east of the sign — but the rest? Your guess is as good or as bad as mine!
Finally, there’s a sign I see in London that always nonplusses me. There’s a fast food chain called Yo! Sushi. Its signs are all over the place but any time I look at it, what is see is the four Hebrew letters יפני, which as any Talmudic scholar will tell you is Hebrew for “Japanese”. So, what I want to know is: Is it crypto-kosher?
I’m absolutely gobsmacked each time I go out because each time, there’s something new I hadn’t seen before. Maybe that’s because it wasn’t there before or maybe because I’m not particularly sharp-eyed but even when it looks like it’s going to be a rather poor day in terms of pictures, it usually turns out quite differently. And so it’s been over the past few days — so much so that I’ve had to put topics that I’ve more or less prepared on a back burner.
But before I recount the past three or four days, let me entertain you with something I was reminded about yesterday when we went to visit family north of Tel Aviv. During the course of conversation, we got around to talking about this blog and some of the pictures that appear in it and the question arose as to whether or not I use Photoshop to alter the images, to which the response was “Hardly ever!” — “though I regularly use Capture One to enhance them”.
Very occasionally I do bring Photoshop into play. The sign below, announcing a barely credible phenomenon, appeared in the summer of 2009 on the street where we live when we’re in London. I walked up and down the street searching for this odd creature, but in vain. This was because, I suppose, I really didn’t know what I was supposed to find.
However, a few days later, I was in town. As I was walking across a bridge with traffic flowing underneath, lo and behold, there it was! They had simply erected the notice in an inappropriate place!
I never would have guessed that such a beastie actually existed. And they say a camera never lies!
The incredible announcement
The actual thing
Anyway, back to this week in Tel Aviv. Just for a change, we went into the park of an evening and I decided that wouldn’t take the camera with me, which proved to be a mistake and distinguishes me from a professional photographer. )I’d made the same decision three times in the past month and each time, I’ve missed what would have been a prize-winning photograph.) This isn’t a prizewinning photo nor is it one that I noticed myself as it was pointed it out to me. I was just about to regret again that I had no camera when I remembered that I had an iPhone — not that I can always remember quickly enough where the camera is on that machine. However, I captured the two-legged dog.
The following morning, a couple of benches away from where the dog+ had been the night before, I observed a leg. From my considerable experience with such things, I knew that it was more than likely that the leg was attached to a body. However, so isolated did it seem just dangling there, that I actually felt the need to go over and check. And, yes, there was a body attached.
Crossing the river and walking westward towards the sea on the north bank of the Yarqon a couple of days ago, I came across four members of the lawn ballet club performing supine pirouettes on the grass. Well, they might have been pirouettes if they hadn’t been rooted to the ground. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you try.
And then, this morning, in more or less the same area, I came across several capsized calisthenicquettes hard at work, too — totally oblivious to a clicker passing by. Oh for such dedication to a job (them, not me)!
Across the bridge and into the park with the usual complement of joggers and cyclists, pedestrians and pêcheurs sportifs. Looking for something a little unfamiliar, I found a camera angle that looked sufficiently different for me to think it worthwhile taking the photograph.
A little further along, I also found my daily cellphone user. I already have perhaps a couple of hundred photos of people with cellphones and it’s amazing how many people you see either playing Quasimodo, hunched up over a tiny instrument or squinting hard in the sunlight to see what’s written on what is probably another inane — or insane — text message. However, today’s victim (sorry — subject) was interesting because she went through a whole exercise routine without once taking her eyes off the phone’s screen. Perhaps the exercise routine was playing and she was just following instructions. Who knows? And more precisely, who cares?
And, of course, one mustn’t forget the wildlife amongst all this human activity. The egrets seem to be fewer and further between this year than they have been in previous years. Or perhaps it’s just my imagination or my ageing process.
I was just about to exit the port at the southern end when my eye fell on something that I think I had photographed before, about two or three years ago. Trying to make people sufficiently aware so that they might consider kicking the cigarette habit comes in many forms and this display makes the point quite clearly indeed, more clearly than most!
Out into the real world again and on to Ibn Gvirol Street where I encountered this little red man. There are people like this dressed in bright red overalls scattered throughout the city as, I presume, there are in other cities in Israel. These people are paid, probably peanuts, to give away a freebie newspaper, Yisrael HaYom (Israel Today), graciously funded by Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate (Forbes ranks him as the 18th richest man in the world with a fortune of $28 billion) who supports our Prime Minister Netanyahu and has poured money into the campaigns of right-wing politicians in the USA such as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney and has endorsed Trump for President, pledging as much as $100 million to support his campaign. So I don’t read Yisrael HaYom and wouldn’t even if Mr. Adelson were to pay me to improve my increasingly rusty Hebrew!
A couple of days ago on the same street, I spotted this individual. I waited until he passed me by and then wondered whether or not I should take a photo. I scurried along past him and tried coming in the opposite direction but although he was “interesting”, I pulled back from pointing the camera directly at him. Ultimately, I figured out a strategy. Starting off behind him, I set the camera to take a fast burst of pictures, took five as I passed him at some speed and hoped for the best. And it turned out quite well. Hairy and scary.
(N.B. Note his outfit. It was 7.45 a.m. and already 28ºC!)
Finally, here’s one that needs some explanation for both Hebrew and non-Hebrew literati. I obviously spend far too much time doing cryptic crosswords. You know the kind, where the setter gives you a clue or two or three strictly in order to mislead you. After 50 years or so at this mind-bending pastime, you see words that really have no association with one another at all but nevertheless you make the association.
On the left of the picture below is a small house with a municipal plaque informing you that when he was on the run from the British authorities, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, then commander of the riight-wing Irgun militia hid there. It’s a bit of a hovel, really, and looks as if it hasn’t been painted since Mr. Begin was a guest there.
The van in the driveway apprises us of the fact that it’s a haulage van, which translates into Hebrew as הובלות, pronounced “hovelot”. The juxtaposition of the hovel and the hovelot was just too good to miss!
I usually have an idea of what I might write about before I sit down to compose (which is a good idea in itself) but this time, I seemed to be bereft of ideas. I thought I might do another “black & white show” (and I will some time soon) and I have to do a display of fruit and vegetables mostly from the Friday morning Farmers’ Market at Tel Aviv Port, which always offers a treasury of colour. However, looking through the images from the first three mornings of June suggested that I’d manage a post from those without too many problems.
Purists might disapprove of me not using the stairs to descend but one floor but it’s my choice. So here we go … literally.
Out into the park and you realise that the park is a space for everyone. Although at first glance, it seems that the joggers, the people with their personal trainers, the cyclists, the rowers, are all under 40, you look around you and realise that many of the people enjoying the park facilities are your age — or even older.
I observed this gentleman doing stretching exercises. Getting the foot up was a bit of a struggle but not as much as extending the leg fully and then getting it down again after the stretching was done with.
And then there’s Leon. I’ve photographed him several times over the past couple of years as out paths cross frequently. He tells me that he walks the park every day. He manages to keep a steady pace, interspersed with rests on the park benches, and usually carries to small rubber balls with him as he walks to exercise his hands. What I noticed the other day was the the two balls were actually miniature globes — and as a geographer I found that appealing!
Although you can see them most days, Friday morning is when you are most likely come across disabled tricyclists. There is a large number of different models and designs. In some, the rider sits up and in others (as below), they are almost supine. How they manage to see clearly is a bit beyond me. All these machines come equipped with some braking mechanism although to some not technically adept, it appears that the brakes must be difficult to operate because if you’re walking in front one one of these lethal weapons (and their operators seem not to enjoy riding slowly) you are likely to hear a call of alarm or a shrill blast on a soccer referee’s whistle from behind, the first indication that you are in bodily danger, as these machines all seem to lack any kind of bell, hooter, horn or whatever.
Although you often come across them individually, as often as not they comes in convoys of twos and threes — and then you simply have to make room for them or suffer the consequences!
This Friday, as I was walking over the footbridge that spans the Yarqon just before it enters the sea, I came across several tricyclists and as I stopped to photograph them, I noticed the municipal automobile removal team hard at work removing a car illegally parked in a space reserved for disabled drivers (something which occurs far too routinely in this congested city). At any rate, this time, they got their man (or woman) and as far as I’m concerned, I hope the driver spent more than just a few anxious minutes thinking his/her automobile had been stolen and then trying to find out where it was. The interesting thing is that as the car was being hoisted prior to being driven away to the pound, each of the tricyclists, to a man, cheered as they passed by.
Just before I walked across the bridge, I took a short detour to photograph this rack for parking bicycles. At least, that’s what I think it is although I’ve never seen a bicycle parked there. I’ve tried it several times, with different lenses on the camera and from both extremities, in colour and black & white, and I think I’ll settle for this one.
As I entered the port promenade, I came across a rare occurrence — and then another one. Two of the many anglers who frequent the area had actually caught something on their lines, less than 200m from one another. In eight years of walking this route, I’d only seen three “catches” before and here, together, was a double whammy. The first had caught a crab, the second a catfish. Both men were struggling with their victims and I wondered why. So, on asking, I learned that neither wanted to kill the fish, both wanted to throw it back into the sea — but the hooks had caught and they couldn’t release them. Returning them whence they came and would have meant cutting the line, which I presume means it costs money. Big dilemma—but not mine, so I let them figure it out on their own and continued on my way.
Continuing through the port on Friday morning yielded these two images of the several I took as I walked through.
Exiting the market and continuing southward, I couldn’t resist this sweet picture of a couple engaged in taking a selfie. It’s one of those pictures that street photographers take on the sly as they walk past, without as much as glancing through the viewfinder or looking at the monitor, but knowing that if you get it right, it’ll be a nice image. And it is!
Just as I was exiting the port to walk home, something caught my eye. In a skip (for non-Brits, a skip is “a large transportable open-topped container for building and other refuse”) there was a wooden frame with strips of mirror facing the port. As I approached it, I saw the picture, with its caption “The hidden photographer”. I thought it was a really good selfie, taken with a proper camera and not with a smartphone. Unfortunately, none of my immediate family could understand what it was all about — a disappointment as I had nobody to share my enthusiasm with. A pity — but if you look hard, you may just see me, the hidden photographer!
En route home, two items in particular drew my attention. One was a series of bags designed to catch flies and other flying insects suspended from tree branches outside a café/restaurant on Dizengoff Street. The other was a flower with the most brilliant yellow and orange hidden in a garden along the busy Nordau Boulevard.
A detour from Nordau caught a scene somewhat reminiscent of the one I mentioned earlier in connection with the driver illegally parked in a disabled parking bay. Here, the driver had solved the parking problem of the previous night by coming to the conclusion that as it was a one-way street and thus there was no right turn, drivers making a left turn on to Ben-Nun street would simply have to make it a rather wide one.
As I turned into Ibn Gvirol Street, I noticed this woman on a bike stopped at the crossing. She was texting (or is it SMSing?). It must have been a long message or else she simply hasn’t realised that you can talk the message into the machine. I stood at some distance looking at the dog seated in the front basket. It was really the very embodiment of canine patience. Nevertheless, after about a minute, it did what dogs do best. It looked up with those eyes and without uttering a bow or a wow or a woof, said: “Madam, don’t you think it’s time we made a move?”
Finally, as I continued down Ibn Gvirol, I was reminded that Friday June 3 was the date of Tel Aviv’s annual gay pride parade, and the flags and banners announcing it had gone up a couple of weeks before. I’m sure the parade went off peacefully and was very colourful. However, as I’m not very keen on crowds, I gave it a miss!