Canines, avians and some more music

This may well be my last blog post of 2017.  I started on December 28 2015 and here we are, two years and 133 posts later and I’m still at it.  I’m truly amazed — really.

All in all it’s been a quiet week.  The only thing of any particular interest was the resignation of the coalition whip (chairman), David Bitan, a.k.a. Bibi’s faithful attack dog, amidst the corruption investigation against him.  Though Mr. Bitan is a key figure behind the “recommendations law”, which would prevent the police from publicizing their recommendations on indictments, thereby shielding the Prime Minister, he is being investigated by police on suspicion of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes while he was deputy mayor of Rishon LeTzion, none of which is unrelated to the ongoing corruption probes against Netanyahu himself.  Well, all politics are local.  The amazing thing about this little episode is that he resigned—a rare occurrence in Israeli politics.   I guess that he might have time to write about how he came to the decision if and when tried and if and when found guilty. 

Master & Rottweiler

That leaves Israeli law enforcement agencies, such as the police and the prosecution service, not to mention the press, at the mercy of another of Bibi’s loyal assault hounds, David Amsalem, a man even more menacing than the unwaveringly loyal but apparently well-liked Mr. Bitan.  Mr. Amsalem bears grudges, which he expresses at any and every opportunity.  He bears one against the “Ashkenazi elite” who he perceives as having humiliated his immigrant father decades ago; he dislikes American Jews and has a grievance against Reform and Conservative Judaism in particular; he has a resentment against the police, the prosecution service and basically anyone who doesn’t see eye to eye with him.  Nice man!

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These characteristics make him admirably suited to carrying out Mr. Netanyahu’s bidding and make me think that Bibi’s ability to think clearly these days is limited to little more than his own political survival.  Meanwhile, he spent an evening last week doing what he does best—casting gasoline on and then fanning the flames already alight under his loyal Likud supporters—by denigrating the police, the prosecution service, and the press, all of which are institutions essential to the maintenance of any democracy anywhere.  His paranoias concerning persecution in what he sees as the most notorious witch hunt and broadcasting of fake news in Israeli history has reached new levels.  All those victimising him, of course, are those infamous “leftists” who just rejoice in maltreating the innocent, in other words, Bibi & Co.  All this while conveniently forgetting or ignoring the fact that these “leftists” haven’t been in power for most of the past 40 years.

Anyway, enough of Israeli politics.  

I have been overly conservative with walks over the past week.  I know that I resolved to spend at least one day a week in parts of town that I don’t know very well or at all but somehow I have been stuck on almost exactly the same course for the past fortnight — home, park, port, Nordau Boulevard, Brandeis Street, home.  The amazing thing about this is not the sameness that one might expect from walking the same route over and over again but quite the opposite.  There’s always something new or different or something neither new nor different but which I hadn’t noticed before even though I have passed it several times a week for the past few years.  And, as I mentioned last time, you never quite know who will cross your path.  Last Friday, within the space of less than half an hour, I encountered in the park the Mayor of Tel Aviv, the Governor of the Bank of Israel and Israel’s only Jewish Communist member of the Knesset.  And in none of those three cases was I quick enough to focus and click so you have to take my word for it.  So much for Waterman the paparazzo.

The park is showing signs that winter is on its way even though there’s been precious little rain this year up until now.  Having said that, the weather people are promising us a wet Christmas rather than a white one and yesterday (Sunday), the rain duly arrived.


The enclosed dog pens in the park along both banks of the river offer many opportunities for both the dogs and their owners to get to know one another, even if the methods they use to acquaint themselves with each other differ somewhat.

Getting to know you

Dog in Pen 1Dog

There seemed to be a plethora of birds to photograph this last week or so but probably no more than on other occasions.  The herons and the lapwings seemed to be out in force…


… as were the cormorants, one of which did a vanishing act — now you see him, now you don’t.

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The egrets, usually ubiquitous, seemed to be missing but the gulls and pigeons, the geese and ducks, and others more than made up for their absence although I did manage to catch one in flight as it flew across the promenade at the port.

Egret in flight




Bird time

The hovering kingfishers aren’t as easy as some others to catch but if you persevere, you can usually manage one or two good pics.

This morning


But the pick of the week was a mynah.  Mynahs are birds that usually congregate in gangs in the morning, wondering who or what they can terrorise later on but this one was on its own.


And then, of course, there are the birds that you don’t expect to pop up right in front of you,  This one was an older bird than she thought she was.

Younger than springtime

There were the usual sights in the park — blade runners and bottoms up…

Blade runnerBottoms up

… and then elsewhere, there was yet another bottom up… 

Bottoms up 1

People walk, run, or cycle through the park and port though at times, it’s necessary to take  a break from whatever it is you’re doing and catch up with friends and family.

Taking a break


Taking a break 1

Out on the streets, there were things that I’d seen before and other things that I’d missed although how I managed not to notice this spectacle on the wall is beyond my ken.  Potentially quite shocking, I imagine!

Shock treatment

I usually take notice of signs but this one, which I hadn’t seen before turned up in front of me the other day on Basel Street and I’m still wondering about whether or not it is supposed to have some meaning.  (For non-Hebrew readers, it says “Martin Buber was right — Google”.)  Perhaps some bright spark can offer an explanation.

Martin Buber

And I discovered that in the Land of Nutters, there are also knitters.  This individual was settled in a shopping mall in central Tel Aviv knitting scarves and he told me that he just loves knitting, so much so that he can’t stop himself.  He even told me that when he wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, he takes out the needles and the wool and starts knitting, not an activity conducive to getting back to sleep, I imagine.


And, of course, there were the inevitable members of the fire hydrant fraternity posing for the photographer.

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what I think I see, my dear?


A pale shadow (of himself?)

A pale shadow of his old self

And then on Dizengoff Street I noticed is a flower shop that I can’t recollect ever having seen before.

Flower shop


Now, this is the season when Israeli musicians living abroad try to combine a family visit with a professional performance so for music lovers, in the period between around December 10 and January 10, just about every day you can find a concert or recital (often more than one) worth going to.  In addition to these “homecoming” concerts, just before I left for London three weeks ago, I received a telephone call from the producer of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Masters Competition telling me that last Thursday (December 21), there would be a piano marathon at the Israel Music Conservatory down the street.  There would be three recitals and would I like a pair of tickets for each?  I thought that was such a nice gesture that in my pre-dotage, I asked her if she would like me to take some photographs.  And, of course, the response was both immediate and positive. So I found that not only would I be listening to three quite different piano programmes but I would also be “working”.  

The recitals were being given by Daniel Ciobanu, a Romanian pianist studying in Glasgow who won 2nd prize in last May’s competition and Sara Daneshpour from the United States, who took 3rd.  In addition, the third recital would be given by Luca Buratto, the most recent winner of the Honens International Piano Competition in Calgary, who in addition to the kudos attained by winning was also the recipient of the Honens’ $500,000 Artist Development Program.  Not bad for a pianist at the start of his career.

So, in order to “earn my keep”, I took myself off to the auditorium at 4 in the afternoon to photograph the rehearsal.  Actually, it was less a rehearsal and more of a run-through to try out the piano because unlike string and wind instrumentalists, unless you’re someone like Vladimir Horowitz, you don’t travel with your piano in tow.

Prior to the run-throughs, though, I sat and watched the tuner prepare the piano for the evening’s performances.  It’s always fascinating to watch these people at work.  They manage to practically strip the instrument, tighten the strings to the correct tension, prod and poke the hammers and carry out various other maintenance procedures in double quick time — and then put it all together again so that the performers can perform.


As it happens, the performers were late in arriving and in the event, only two of them — Sara and Luca — turned up.  Daniel is quite the showman and he was apparently confident enough and sufficiently well prepared to strut his stuff on whatever instrument was provided and in whatever condition it turned out to be in.  So once they were in place, I took some pics.  I enjoy taking pictures during rehearsals more than during performance because it gives me extra freedom to walk around and find interesting angles and views.

Hands on

Sara Daneshpour


Luca Buratto

Once the dry-runs were over, I walked the 300m home and returned in the company of my better half and waited for the show to begin.  While we were waiting, I noticed Sara peep out several times from the wings just before she walked on to the stage so I decided to keep the camera focussed on that spot and the image below was the result.  She was simply doing what I’ve seen many other musicians do before a performance; she was just trying to size up the audience.  It’s always an interesting phenomenon to observe.  


Different musicians combat stage nerves in different ways.  Years ago when the kids were starting out on their professional careers as musicians, it seemed as if all their friends were on mild beta-blockers prior to performing and I thought that if artists were treated like athletes, many theatres and concert halls might fall silent.  I know one musician who just has to walk through the lobby of the performance space he’s playing in before a concert to listen to the chatter and “get a feel” for the audience.  For five years, I had an office less than 50m from the stage door of the Wigmore Hall and had plenty opportunities to observe performers in various stages of nervousness.  I remember once witnessing a world-renowned pianist outside the door about half an hour before an afternoon performance of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata go through what seemed like a whole carton of cigarettes in 10 minutes (obviously I exaggerate to make a point).  I really couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing; his hands were shaking so much that I thought they might become detached from his wrists.  The performance shortly after was stupendous.

A couple of minutes later after carrying out her reconnoitring exercise, Sara was on the stage totally composed and in complete control playing pieces by Rameau, Chopin and J.S. Bach, musicality personified.  The whole evening was worth it just to hear her play the third movement of Chopin’s second sonata (the funeral march) although judging from some of the comments in the lobby later on, we were clearly in the minority.

Sara Daneshpour

The two male performers added generous dollops of testosterone to their performances.  Buratto’s performance, half of which I hear from outside was interesting although I wouldn’t normally have paid money to hear the programme he played.  Ciobanu, however, is ever the showman pianist and although he’s very talented, I wish he had played a little more piano on the pianoforte.  I’m always fascinated by hearing how three different pianists can get such different sounds out of the same instrument.  All in all, there was one recital in which I heard mostly music and two in which I heard a piano.  Still, on the whole, it was an enjoyable evening.

Daniel Ciobanu

Daniel Ciobanu

But to put everything in perspective, having heard the winner of the 1st Prize at the Rubinstein Competition 2017 perform three weeks ago in London, I think that the jury in that competition got it about right.

Finally, for all those of you who are celebrating Christmas and New Year, have a wonderful time with family and friends.  And for those who are not, have a wonderful time with family and friends, too.



Pianos and Capitals

Yes.  I know.  It’s been a while.  

However, last week, I received a surprise gift from my womenfolk when they told me that I could enjoy some peace and quiet in London.  Actually, it was only half a surprise because it had been mentioned several times in the previous month or so.  The ostensible objective of this exercise was not just to hang around doing nothing but to see whether I could manage to compose a draft of a chapter I’d been invited to prepare for a book edited by a colleague in the United States.  Two bookings and one cancellation later, a cab arrived at 04.45 at the start of last week to take me to the airport and six days later, in London, at an equally unpleasant hour, another cab took me to Heathrow Terminal 5 to ferry me back to the Holy Land.  At the end of five days, I had succeeded in writing 6,500 words and when I eventually get around to reading back what I’ve written, I’ll be able to assess whether or not it has the makings of something I can cobble together as a book chapter or whether it’s pure codswallop.

It was an unusual visit to London this time because (a) it was so short and (b) I was alone.  In fact, it was so strange that for the first time ever, I think, I didn’t even get outside once to walk across Primrose Hill or Hampstead Heath but made do with an exercise bike for physical activity.  What is more, I only removed my camera from its bag once in the five days and that was to photograph the end of autumn and start of winter as seen from the desk at which I was working.

End of Autumn

The end of Autumn

Start of Winter

The start of Winter


However, I did manage to start my few days with a bit of culture.  I felt sufficiently awake and alert to take myself to the Wigmore Hall for a 7.30 p.m. piano recital by Szymon Nehring, the 23-year old Polish pianist who had won the 1st Prize in the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition earlier this year in Tel Aviv, the recital at the Wigmore being part of the prize.  I hadn’t expected to be there so it was a nice feeling to see one of my photographs (the bottom one)  on the programme (even if it hadn’t been credited to me).  (And I give you, my readers, the uncropped original.)

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Nehring original

That means that in addition to seeing and hearing Shuli perform perhaps 15-20 times on the stage there over a period of a decade and watch Dov tune its Steinway piano, the Waterman/Wigmore tally has now reached three!


Although I was in London, I couldn’t really avoid news about Israel. (Actually, I could have had I elected to keep the TV and radio turned off, not read the newspapers or followed events with absolutely unnecessary updates on my phone).  So, on the Wednesday came the news that the President of the United States had announced that he would move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and I have some mixed feelings about this.  

Now, this is The Holy Land, the Promised Land, the State of Israel.  And when the United Nations decided to partition the British Mandate territory in Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947, it recommended a Special International Regime for the city of Jerusalem.  

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But if there had been a partition plan, it was put on hold because following Israel’s Declaration of Independence in May 1948, there was a war (with various narratives, depending on sides) which resulted in an Armistice Agreement signed in Rhodes the following year, supposedly to have been a temporary arrangement until permanent borders would be agreed.  (Sixty-nine years on, we’re still waiting and as far as I can see, we’ll still be waiting long after my generation is well and truly gone.)  In the interim,  things moved on and Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital and went ahead establishing facts by moving the parliament, government offices and Supreme Court to its capital city, just as other states do, making it a real capital de facto.

This move was never recognised de jure so that foreign embassies for the most part have been located in Tel Aviv and the diplomats reside in and around Tel Aviv rather than Jerusalem. Understating the fact, this is a little bit of hypocrisy.  Really.  Everyone knows that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.  Resident diplomats and visiting politicians all meet with ministers and bureaucrats in Jerusalem.  The state President receives the credentials of the diplomats in Jerusalem.  Anwar Sadat addressed the Knesset in Jerusalem, not in Tel Aviv, as have numerous heads of state.(  Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.  

So Trump’s declaration broke with convention (what else?) just by saying what had previously been the unsayable.  Politicians and diplomats could pretend that Jerusalem wasn’t the capital but they acted as if it was. (And is.)  The only thing non-Israelis tended not to do was to say this aloud. And when it was said aloud, it seemed that the dam had burst.  Which made me think, in some way, that the problem is not Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but the existence of Israel itself.  But perhaps I overstate.

The President then went on to explain to his listeners that his action was in the best interests of the United States when, wonder of wonders, it was rather in the best interests of Donald Trump and the Evangelicals who voted for him and are enthusiastic about things like the return to Zion and the end of days.  

However, when logistics are taken into account, moving an embassy to Jerusalem, according to Dan Shapiro, the American ambassador to Israel under Barack Obama, could take five to 10 years.  (Moreover, when Israelis seeking an American visa discover that they have to schlepp all the way to Jerusalem to stand in line for hours in the rain and wind rather than by the sea in Tel Aviv with cafés all around, they’ll be less happy than they appear to be now.  As, no doubt, will the diplomats.)

Had it not been for the Jerusalem episode I think I might have managed not to hear anything about Israel during my short sojourn in the United Kingdom.  However, I was treated to an overdose of Brexitology.  Just to hear the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, testify before a House of Commons committee the other day that his office has carried out no economic impact assessments whatsoever on the potential effects of Brexit and that he doesn’t believe in economic models because they always get it wrong anyway just beggared belief.  How can anyone take Britain seriously again after this episode concludes is beyond my ken.  And America?  The less said the better.  

BTW, I was asked me the other day what would happen if Mr. Kim in Pyongyang fired his nuclear rockets at America.  So I responded that Mr. Trump would flatten North Korea but before the American missiles landed there, Mr. Kim would do the same to South Korea and probably also to Japan.  The main upshot of this, of course, would be that there would be no more Samsung cellphones or Honda cars to buy any more.


Anyway, time for some photos taken just before and just after the London break.

The other day, while in one of the W.H. Smith stores at Terminal 5 (W.H. Smith is a chain of high street, railway station, airport, port, hospital and motorway service station shops which sells books, stationery, magazines, newspapers and entertainment products—but nothing in particular) looking for something to bring home for my granddaughters when who should I spy on the other side of the shelf I was looking at than Sir Antonio Pappano, amongst other things, pianist and the music director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden?  Tony was off to Rome, it appears, to conduct a few concerts with among others, his favourite tenor, Jonas Kaufmann.  

I couldn’t believe my eyes as only a month ago, I had written him a letter (which included the picture below taken 22 years before at the Verbier Festival) to say how much I appreciated his brilliant BBC4 TV series The Classical Voice.  I had actually been quite cunning and gone to some lengths to increase the probability that he, and not one of his PAs, opened the envelope by arranging for the envelope to be hand-delivered to him at the end of an orchestra rehearsal at Covent Garden itself.  I was so flabbergasted that by the time I realised that I should have said something to him there and then, he was gone.  And it wasn’t an apparition.  My loss if not his.


Anyway, the following morning, I was out with the camera in Tel Aviv and, as I’ve written before, you can never be sure who might pop up in front of you in this city.  And so it was that walking towards me was a face I recognised.

Shachar Peer.jpg

It was a slimmed down version of Shahar Peer, who, at the height of her career in 2011, was ranked #11 among the world’s female tennis players and who reached the Doubles Final of the Australian Open in 2008 with Victoria Azarenka.


The week before last, I was witness to a traffic jam of an unusual kind.  As I was walking home along the west side of Weizmann Street, a taxi drew up and a person got out and proceeded to cross the street on the pedestrian crossing (more or less).  To say that his rate of progress was slow would be the grossest of gross understatements.  I mean that the proverbial tortoise would have won over a 20 meter race.  He seemed totally oblivious to the fact that the traffic was snarled up for about 100 meters to the north and everything came to a standstill while the slow soft-shoe shuffle was being acted out.  The most amazing thing of all, given that this is Israel, is that there was absolute silence while this drama was being enacted.  Not a single car horn was sounded either in anger or frustration!

Traffic can wait

And then after that little episode wound its way molto lento to its conclusion, I came across this crow avidly reading a newspaper that it had come across.  And I thought “How apt!” because the news these days is really fit for the birds and the birds alone.

News for the birds

And then, the day after I returned, I came across another corvine thug doing what crows do on Sunday in the Park, with or without George.  It takes some time but before long (and I can guarantee that it will be before the cleaning team arrive to pack the plastic bags from the previous day’s mess into the van to carry it away) the contents of the plastic bag will once again be strewn across the vicinity, requiring extensive repackaging.

Sunday in the Park (Crow).jpg

Just before I went away, I noticed these posters going up all across the city.  Yes, wonder of wonders, Ozzy Osbourne is travelling the world to say goodbye to people and Tel Aviv is one of his stops!  Wow!  And then I wondered who Ozzy Osbourne is— except that his demeanour seems be almost as frightening as the hammerhead crane at Tel Aviv Port!


Angry crane

And then last Sunday, as I was waiting to cross Nordau Boulevard at Dizengoff Street, and sort of daydreaming, I looked up and found myself wondering who or what causes so much pollution in the air.  In this particular case, I don’t think is was the bus!



And a little bit before that, I had caught sight of this young woman and assumed, because of the hour, that she was on her way to work — or maybe on her way home from night shift.

En route to work



About a fortnight ago, I was accosted by this gentleman sitting on the footpath near a public park off King George Street who tried to convince me of the therapeutic properties of putting on phylacteries, while offering the appropriate blessings.  I remained unconvinced.  But he seemed happy enough when I offered to take his photograph.


Red Nose Day

Then, walking south along Dizengoff Street one morning this week, I noticed this.  In addition to the beard and the footwear, I was somewhat perplexed by the functions of the clothes pegs and the towel although there must be some reason for either or both.

Mo bike

Finally, walking across our street yesterday morning, not long after I had read the news that the UK Conservatives had lost a vote on an amendment to the Brexit bill in parliament, I came to the conclusion that party is, indeed, over.

The party's over

Happy Chanukah to everyone (even those of you to whom it doesn’t directly apply!)


Cataracts and tsunamis

The past week has been a wonderful week for news of all kinds.  Here in Israel, the Prime Minister, who is under police investigation in several cases involving him directly and his associates has instructed his Rottweilers and German Shepherds in the Knesset to fast-track laws that would shackle the investigations and even make the law retroactive so that it would affect ongoing investigations, including his own!  Shame or contrition are not in his lexicon.

Master & Rottweiler

The Master commands his faithful Rottweiler who to bite hard today


And at the same time, he shamelessly and brazenly capitulated to the whims and demands of his Strictly Orthodox coalition partners to prohibit essential work on the railways on the sabbath.  However he and his minions stopped short of the demands to close down the railway system and do the essential work on a designated weekday instead, thereby upsetting the journeys of thousands of travellers.  One proposal even had it that the work be done on the sabbath by non-Jewish workers—and that a team of non-Jewish sabbath inspectors be dispatched to scrutinise the non-Jewish credentials of those workers!  How this was to be done was left unsaid.  Has everyone in this country gone stark raving bonkers or just the politicians?  

All of this brouhaha brought about the resignation from the cabinet of the Minister of Health, a member of one of the Strictly Orthodox political parties and more specifically of a specific Hassidic movement headed by an individual from whom all followers take orders, including government ministers.  However, in one of those patching arrangements that regularly take place here to sew up the fraying edges of governing coalitions, he will remain as Deputy Minister of Health but—importantly—he will not sit at Cabinet and thus can’t be held responsible for any Cabinet decisions, including those that affect the sensibilities of the people he’s been sent to represent.  Mr. Netanyahu will then add the Health portfolio to the Foreign Affairs portfolio, which he also holds.  And in regard to Foreign Affairs, his deputy let loose an inflammatory tirade last weekend aimed at non-Orthodox American Jews that was incredibly insulting and even more than that, stupid beyond belief.  But she’s still in office, as if anybody in government could care the slightest.  It’s not at all funny even though it might seem so.  Even the most inventive Booker prize-winning short-story writer would find it hard to dream up scenarios like these.

Add to this local story the fact that the President of the United States woke up again the other morning in a foul mood and decided to retweet three videos (the authenticity of which has been strongly challenged) that originated with an outfit called Britain First, a far-right British political organisation formed by former and extreme members of the already extreme fascist British National Party, one which campaigns mainly against multiculturalism and “Islamisation of the UK” and champions “traditional British culture”, whatever that may be.  The White House first claimed that Trump was trying to “elevate the conversation” in sharing these videos (whatever “elevating a conversation” might purport to be) but then acknowledged that it didn’t believe that he was aware of the identity the person who first posted the films.  Interesting — and scary because one would think that the President of the United States might have other, real things on his mind and on his plate, all of which only confirms to me that in my humble opinion he is deranged.  The world as we have known it is beginning to come apart at its seams.

And then, there was the really spine-chilling news that the thugs who run North Korea have successfully tested the launch of a missile that could potentially reach any and every city in the United States.  What wonder of wonders!  But only something that recalls how some of Tom Lehrer’s work from 50 years ago is still appropriate for today’s world (even if some of the names have changed!).

So, to counteract all of this wretched “news”, I watched an old BBC TV programme of the late Arthur Rubinstein, the pianist, being interviewed by the journalist Bernard Levin where he talked about music and culture, about satisfaction, happiness and love and all the things that don’t generally come up on the daily news shows.


Now after that little outpouring of fulmination, it’s time to report on my personal journeying of the past week.  I returned to Tel Aviv Port to see how last week’s collapsed structure was faring and discovered that no authority had bothered to remove what remained of it and also found out that the fishermen-philosophers—or at least one of them—who sit there for hours on end, occasionally moving to recast their lines but as far as I can see never actually catch anything resembling a fish, had returned after a few days’ absence.

And then, I looked out further south beyond the port and observed something the likes of which I’d never seen before.  It didn’t seem to be a naval or a merchant vessel; it had masts but no sails.  It seemed to be some kind of passenger vessel but there was something odd about it.  And then opening the newspaper when I got home, I discovered that the vessel had been docked in Haifa the previous weekend and … 


… it turned out that this was the world’s largest and most expensive sailing yacht, with an exterior designed by Phillippe Starck, with eight decks, a helicopter pad and its own underwater observatory in the keel.  It is owned by billionaire Russian oligarch Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, who also owns another similar one. It is 144 meters long, was built in the Kiel and cost €400 million.  He’s welcome to it.  Let’s hope he doesn’t get seasick too often so that he can enjoy his toy.

And while I was in the port area, I came across these felines and decided that it was worth photographing them as they squared up to one another and stared one another down.  I don’t think that two heavyweight boxers get quite this close when they face up to one another after a pre-fight weigh-in.  I watched and listened as they stood there for quite some while and purred heavily and I wondered what might happen next.

Face off

Then the third cat appeared to interfere, causing concentration to be broken for a couple of seconds while s/he got told to mind its own business and stay out of it.  However, just as things looked as if they might get interesting, someone came running out of one of the adjacent buildings to shoo all three of them off and I got on with my business.

You keep out of it!

Now, I’m really not a tabbyphile (I can’t stand them) but they do have something going for them as far as photographs are concerned.  They pose.  Well, if it’s not exactly a put-on stance that they do, at least they stay still for a long time.  So, as I was making my way home, I photographed another one of these purry animals in a garden of one of the buildings near us.

As usual, it stopped, looked at the camera for long enough for me to focus and take the picture that I wanted.  I didn’t notice anything odd with the mog until I uploaded the picture on to the computer and looked. And then I stopped and looked again —and again.


The body was definitely feline; it looked like a cat and it moved like a cat but the cat’s eyes didn’t seem like the eyes on cats that I’ve photographed before, such as the one  pictured below.  I mean, the pupil of its right eye seemed, well, sort of human, which prompted one friend to ask when I put the picture on Facebook whether it was a robot.  Another thought it was just a fat cat and that I’m overthinking!!! Unromantically, he added the cat doesn’t care one hoot (actually, one miaow) who is taking its picture that I might have just as well not been there for all the cat cared.  True.

But if it was robotic, then it was a perfectly programmed automaton because there was was nothing in its movement to suggest that it wasn’t real. But it was the left eye that I really found unusual.  It looked as if perhaps it really was a not authentic and that the eye socket  might have contained a small camera to spy on passers-by and for all I know, there might have been a Mossad agent controlling ti from the inside.   You never really know these days who is keeping whom under surveillance. But it couldn’t really be that sinister, could it?  

Therefore, I just had to conclude that the poor animal was not really a cat actor but might just be suffering from a cataract.


I always thought that Israel provided enough real reasons for worry without unnecessarily having to add to them with superfluous street notices but once again I was proved wrong (I hope).  Walking up from Dizengoff Street to Rabin Square, I came across this notice (and others with ever-decreasing distances).  I suppose Israel is in an earthquake zone and that there is some risk of a tsunami in the Eastern Mediterranean but the thought of hundreds of people running up Frishman Street along a tsunami evacuation route seemed a bit far-fetched.

Tsunami Evacuation Route

Then going to the dentist the other day along Weizmann Street, I was reminded of the advice I was given (and which I’ve mentioned before) about looking for interesting things above eye level.  Walking along the western side of the street, I glanced across the road.  Now it’s true that this is a street I usually drive on and as there are other madmen behind the wheels of their cars besides myself (in addition to cyclists to whom, it would appear, rules of the road are totally non-existent) I don’t usually look about.  However, we’ve been here for 12 years and I have walked this street many times but I’d never before noticed the mural on one of the residential buildings on the eastern side of the street until last week.

Behind the trees

The tree in front of the building obscures it almost totally when looked at from the side of the street I was walking and completely when you’re crossing the street.

Hidden by tree

When, however, you get to the other side and look almost vertically upward and come armed with a wide-angle lens, you see how attractive it is.  Such a pity it’s barely noticeable by pedestrians, motorists and, of course, the residents of the building itself!

Between the treesBetween the trees 1

Finally, one of Tel Aviv’s landmarks Dizengoff Circus, is undergoing change (once again) and returning to something more less akin to its original form. Built in 1934, as part of the urban plan by Patrick Geddes and designed by architect Genia Averbuch, it became a popular location and a landmark in Tel Aviv’s White City World Heritage Site

However in the 1970s it was redesigned in a split-level configuration with Dizengoff traffic flowing beneath it in an effort to ease traffic congestion with the pedestrian area elevated and connected by ramps footpaths while traffic used the lower level.  Whether this eased traffic flow is a moot point.  

Dizengoff overpass 1Dizengoff overpass

What it did do was spoil the overall architectural arrangement, so much so that it was lost entirely.  In the 1980s, Yaacov Agam’s kinetic sculpture fountain took pride of place in the middle of the elevation.

Dizengoff fountain by night

The work now under way restores the glory of the square to its former attractiveness and allowing the  lines and curves of the buildings surrounding it to become clearly visible again.

Dizengoff Circus