Sometimes I’m at a loss as to how to decide what to write in the blog. If I don’t have an idea, I wonder whether I should perhaps leave it for another week or fortnight until something gels and I can get started. And then I think that perhaps I might not have an idea or that nothing will ever gel thus presenting me with a real quandary because I think that that might be end of the blog as a whole. You know, writer’s block or blogger’s blockage or something like that. That’s when I feel that I’ve just got to do it, so perhaps I have become a little obsessive about the whole thing.
But why should I behave like a journalistic hack doing dull routine work, who even if s/he has nothing worthwhile to write has been contracted to produce x number of words per day or week or fortnight or whatever and thus has either to fill an allotted y inches of column or go hungry? Or be like the daily roll-around news programmes in which even if there isn’t anything really worthwhile to report, an hour has to be filled instead with a series of nonsensical showbiz gossip and equally preposterous political speculation? News used to be news. You know, people used to report to you about those events perceived as important and add some commentary on what had actually happened (note the past tense). This is in contrast to what today seems to an ageing doom and gloom merchant (i.e., cynic) that it’s just another show with people spouting on about what they think, working the listeners and viewers up into a totally unnecessary frenzy (that is, if anyone bothers or cares). I often wonder how you can get five minutes of news at 7 in the morning that tells you most of what you need to know for the day while the “news” bulletins and current affairs prattle and jabber and programmes that precede them and follow them can occupy hours and hours?
So, I have little to write but I’m under no obligation—contractual, moral or otherwise to produce anything. So why bother? I suppose it’s because I enjoy it—most of the time.
I was in this predicament a few days ago. It’s been a week since I last posted and since I started this blog almost two years ago, I’ve been averaging one post every five or six days so by the time a week had passed, I was beginning to get fidgety but had nothing to write. I was thinking about this as I went out for my morning walk on Wednesday and although I’d promised myself last week that I’d go to a part of the city with which I’m less familiar at least once a week, I still ended up as I do most days and turned left as I entered the park to head towards Tel Aviv port. And just as well I did because it was then that I had a moment of sudden and great revelation, an epiphany perhaps.
Now, one of the merits of following the same path over and over again and photographing what you see is that you can record changes that occur over time that you might otherwise miss. And so it was on Wednesday morning. When I reached the sea, it was rough; there was a really strong wind blowing stormy although there was no rain; a stormy sea with giant waves and heavy rain falling at the same time is really dramatic so the stormy though it was, I’d seen higher drama than this.
Anyway, one of my favourite photographs is this one which I took not long after I started this photography lark.
It was on an equally stormy day, early in February 2008 at 8 o’clock in the morning as I was walking north along the promenade. The sun came out for about two minutes and as I turned around to watch the waves break, it highlighted everything. There’s a lot of motion in this photograph — the sea, the waves, the spray and, of course, the gulls, which are an important aspect of this picture. Now, if you look carefully (and you don’t have to look too closely), the waves are smashing against a structure at the end of the breakwater at what would have been the entrance to the port when it was a working harbour. I tried a few years ago to find some reference to what the structure was but to no avail although I’m sure that if I search further, I’ll come across some reference to it. I can only assume that it must have housed people who observed the boats entering and exiting the harbour.
At any rate, during the decade that I’ve been passing by, it has never been occupied although the breakwater serves as a perfect position for anglers who seem to sit there for days on end thinking what to write in their doctoral theses in philosophy. And over the years, I’ve photographed it from several different angles and distances, on calm days and in storms because it always presents a different facet to its character.
Then, passing by one morning about a year ago, I noticed something odd.
Something was different but initially I couldn’t quite figure out what. Then I noticed that the rear wall of the structure, the wall that faced the sea and which received the most violent pounding from the elements, had collapsed. It simply was no longer there. On walking by, you could see the horizon through the opening where, presumably, a door had once hung.
Well, it had stood for 80 years and been pummelled many times and, as happens with the passage of time; withstanding repeated thrashings was impossible in the end. Nevertheless, the rest of the structure remained standing and although the authorities had marked off the area as potentially dangerous if not inherently lethal, the fishermen continued to philosophise, and/or be wrapped up in reveries …
… or doing whatever else deemed to be essential.
So when I reached the sea last Wednesday, I had a feeling of what Yogi Berra, the American baseball player of yore, might have said: “It’s déjà vu all over again”. Except that this time, it was a re-view and there was nothing to view in the vu! It had simply collapsed. It was, to paraphrase from Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch, an “ex-view”.
Put very simply, it was no longer there. Now, not only could I see the horizon when I looked through but I could see an unbroken horizon.
But changes to physical structures are not the only things to observe as you walk the same route on a fairly regular basis. A few years ago, I came across this animated pair playing backgammon, known locally as “shesh-besh”. It’s the sort of game which, if you haven’t been brought up to appreciate its intricacies as a child, you will never quite get it. Afficionados usually play it at a speed that makes it difficult to follow what’s going on and, as the pair illustrate, can result in great excitement.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I came across this pair. Initially, I photographed them from the opposite side and then the guy on the left of the picture “invited” me to take them at play. They didn’t exactly pose and they were engrossed in what they were doing but they knew I was there. Then when I uploaded the day’s images, I thought that he looked fairly familiar and went back discovered that it was one and the same person.
And then looking further, I came to the conclusion that this site should be renamed shesh-besh corner.
And a similar thing happened when, on Friday, after I had photographed the first images of the collapsed structure in the port and walked on through the Friday morning farmers’ market, I came across this face — and, yes, yet again, discovered that it had appealed to me a few years ago, albeit with a hat—and what looked like a haircut— then.
Of course, there were some other worthwhile phenomena as well to focus on in the course of the past 10 days or so, such as these to sailing boats that seemed to be on a collision course from my vantage point but which missed one another probably with 2 or 3 m to spare.
Then, just adjacent to the Farmers’ Market, I came across this vehicle, used for pumping waste from sewage tanks, a malodorous means of making a living if ever there was one. Why was it parked where it was parked and why was it driverless?
Then the answer presented itself to all and sundry. It was a Friday morning and of course all the driver had been doing at the time was buying flowers for Shabbat! To which she-who-must-be-obeyed commented: “And that wasn’t enough of a hint for you?” as I once more neglected to buy weekend flowers for perhaps the 2,500th time in 51 years of married life!
And there were other things, too.
The image of the rusting street lamp with the chimney of the Reading Power Station in the background prompted the caption that accompanies it.
Then there’s the image of the self-conscious hydrant just off Hayarqon Street.
Finally, on Friday’s walk, an exercise class at the port in full view of everyone, including the photographer.
And a final finally (really, this time). I received this video clip from my daughters this morning. The pianist in the picture, Iddo Bar-Shai, will be performing Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos in E flat Major with the 94-year old Menahem Pressler and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra on this Wednesday night. Believe it or not, he first of all needed to practise and perform for the Waterman daughters and granddaughters to get in the groove, as it were. Breathing is not his forte while playing piano. Makes a change though from Mozart and Haydn, Chopin and Couperin in European concert halls!
Have a lovely week ahead!