Amber = caution?

Well, they surprised everyone and rather than Edward, Albert, Ethelred or some other true blue-blooded English name, Baby Cambridge got a French-sounding one—Louis.  Arthur and Charles, old faithfuls used by the child’s father and grandfather, were runners-up as middle and ultimate names.  Named after Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, mentor to the child’s great-grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh (the man who spent the past seven decades walking with his hands behind his back), he gets as his first name the one that his father and grandfather carry as middle names.  I suppose it’ll be shortened to Lou or lengthened to something like Lolly but preferable to Ludwig.  And I  also suppose it’s something else to keep people’s minds occupied while less important things are happening. 

And, oh yes, there’s a Royal Wedding coming up in just over a fortnight’s time (of Harry & Meghan, of course) to keep the minds fully occupied with the important things in life just a little longer, such as whether Prince Philip’s new hip will be able to stand up to the excitement.  Meghan is, as we all know by now, a commoner, and not just an ordinary commoner—but an American one and an actress to boot—and as an additional sign of the times, a divorcée.  What is the world coming to? Or, at least, what has Britain become? 

All that, of course, happened just a couple of days ago and I doubt whether many people  other than purist royalists will remember that the baby and his name(s) happened at all.  Meanwhile, the past few days have been filled with other minor news items.  The British Minister of the Interior (or as the British prefer, home secretary), who rejoices in the name of Amber Rudd, resigned in the midst of a scandal concerning whether or not she knew that her office had set targets for removing some people to had immigrated to Britain as youngsters (some of them just young children) but who didn’t have the paperwork to prove that they had lived in Britain all their adolescent and adult lives and were thus legal residents.  As a consequence of this, some had been deprived of their rights to receive basic services from the state and were fighting deportation to their “country of origin”. 

In what has become known as the “Windrush Scandal”, it turns out that Ms. Rudd said that she wasn’t aware of the fact that the government had targets for ferreting out illegal immigrants but that she should have known, which prompted one senior Labour politician to suggest that she was either negligent or incompetent and should resign.  Ms. Rudd might have been pointing a finger at the overworked bureaucrats in the Home Office who had failed to point out to her negligence and perhaps it was one of those officious officials who leaked to the press the document which indicated that it was in her briefcase and she therefore should have been aware of it.  Shades of Sir Humphrey and Jim Hacker. 

At any rate, Ms. Rudd resigned late one evening and that was that.  I must admit that I felt a little sorry for her, especially as her predecessor in the job for seven years was none other than Mrs. May(be) herself and who surely must bear some degree of responsibility.  However, what never fails to amaze me in all stories of this nature is the ineptitude of some people who reach the highest offices of state and even more so the self-righteousness of opposition politicians, sounding off as if they would be any more moral or competent when they achieve power.   

And what also astonishes me, having lived so long in Israel, is that a minister in fact resigned.  I mean, a minister actually accepted responsibility for her error and handed in her notice, called it a day, hung the keys to her ministerial car on the ministerial garage wall.  That sort of action would be extremely unlikely to happen in this country unless the perpetrator(s) had intentionally decided to break up the coalition and bring down the government or when someone if forced to resign office because they are about to be imprisoned for criminal behaviours of various kinds.

One of the ironies emerging from this story is that Ms. Rudd was replaced by Sajid Javid, a millionaire former investment banker, son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver who chose to personalise his office by hanging a portrait of Margaret Thatcher on the wall. (In contrast, another son of yet another Pakistani bus driver was elected Mayor of London and was, it appears, responsible for nominating Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate to lead the Labour Party in order to “broaden the debate” but then, having realised what he’d done, chose not to vote for him.  Which only goes to show that one shouldn’t generalise about ethnic groups, religious groups or whatever.)  And another irony of the ruddy affair is that the journalist for the left-of-centre Guardian newspaper who researched and uncovered the story, Amelia Gentleman, is the wife of Transport Minister Jo Johnson who in turn is none other than the younger brother of right-of-centre Boris Johnson, the loose cannon who serves as Mrs. May(be)’s Foreign Secretary.  It’s all in the family/families.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 11.10.12

Meanwhile, here in Israel, alongside a disaster in which ten teenagers lost their lives in an incident of unadulterated Israeli idiocy (it’s dangerous so let’s do it)—a flash flood on an outing to the Negev desert—ignoring the advice of the Meteorological Service of the danger from flash floods in low-lying areas in the desert, we were treated to a further episode in the long-running “Bibi Show”.  Our Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Minister staged a performance in which he unveiled a wall of folders and a cabinet of CDs taken by Mossad agents in Tehran and smuggled to Israel, proving, as he put it, that the Iranians lied about their intentions regarding the production of nuclear weapons and therefore couldn’t be trusted.  (Iran is a genuine problem and its increasing presence in Syria and its ability to act independently on the territory of a foreign state, is worrying, to say the least.)

However, without presenting any evidence as to whether or not the Iranians had breached the agreement they signed three years ago, it was clear that the audience for this show—because that’s what it was—broadcast on prime time TV, was aimed at a single individual, i.e., Donald Trump, using terms he was likely to understand, in an effort to persuade him to dump the deal.  The previous week, Trump had received the President of France, Emmanuel Macron (in a meeting described in The Economist as “Jupiter meets Mercury”) who had gone to Washington in an attempt to coax the American president to do exactly the opposite, i.e., to look for a way of changing the terms of the agreement with the Iranians and stick with his European allies.  From the comments of the American president, uttered as Bibi concluded his show, it seems as if Mr. Trump got the message and had already made up his mind—although on past experience, half an hour is a long time in the mind of Mr. Trump; ample time, in fact, to alter a decision and tweet it to the world several times.

So now I’ve finished my rant for this month or so, some pictures—at last.

One morning last week while walking down Nordau Boulevard in North Tel Aviv at about half-past eight, I observed this gentleman for a couple of minutes.  He had emerged from the building at #33 and opened the door to his car, presumably to drive off somewhere but then discovered that he could neither move forward nor backward.  He got out of the car and evaluated his situation and after a minute or so came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going anywhere soon as he evaluated his situation and came to the conclusion that there probably wasn’t even room for a pair of ants to negotiate the spaces between the car in front him or the one behind. 

How do I get out?

How do I get out? 1

From his body language, I thought that he thought that he might somehow be able to drive away but finally he gave up and trudged back into the building either to locate the perpetrators or possibly to call the towing outfit employed by the Municipality and which is usually quite busy on this particular street at this specific time of the day.  I was surprised that he had expended so much energy on what was patently going to prove such a futile effort.

Another one bites the dust

Then walking through the park, I came across one individual who has found an answer to overpriced cups of coffee by bringing his own — his coffee, his coffee pot, heating apparatus, gas lighter and drinking vessel and all the rest of the paraphernalia.

No Starbucks for me

Meanwhile, out on the street, I ran across this guy who is indubitably quite proud to enlighten the world about the fact that he is a Jewish marathon runner, the information permanently imprinted on his skin.

Jewish flying marathon runner

By the time I got to Tel Aviv Port, I heard a whoosh behind me on my left-hand side and I managed to lift the camera and click just as the cyclist overtook me, coming rather too close for comfort in the process.  Two versions of the photograph appear below, which only illustrate that you don’t have to have everything in perfect focus to produce a decent photograph.

Cycling thru the Port

Cycling thru the Port 1

On these morning walks, you never quite know what you are going to see.  Sometimes I return with perhaps 40 or 50 pictures; other times, like this past week, less than 10.  I even had one day this week—and this hasn’t happened for at least five years—when I returned home with nothing.  And I don’t mean nothing that was worth keeping; I mean I photographed nothing because there was nothing there that caught the eye. At all, at all.

For instance, walking through the port, I came across a pile of what seemed to be metal frames, perhaps for strengthening corners inside a building prior to plastering and painting.  At any rate, my eye is attracted to symmetry and uniformity so I took a photograph, really to see what I could make of it afterwards.  And I think that what emerged from this image (which, incidentally, is not a black and white image) is something that is quite attractive.  Well, at least is appeals to me.

Squares 1

The original


The reworked

And, as I said, you never quite know what you’re going to bump into each morning and my eye isn’t just attracted to piles of symmetrical or regular pieces of metal…  

What you bump into

While doing some stretching exercises prior to walking, I noticed at the distance a person who seemed to be asleep on a park bench yet not quite in a sleeping position.  I got on with the stretching and then when I set off, I walked past him and true enough, he was asleep, fast asleep, really.  

Half asleep.jpg

I thought his face seemed interesting enough to stop and photograph from close up.  I approached; I cleared my throat; I coughed; I clicked.  I presume that he felt comfortable enough to sleep but it really wouldn’t have been my choice.  And looking at the photo, I seem to remember having seen him similarly situated on various park benches throughout the area over the past couple of years. 

Asleep on a bench

And there are always other absorbing images that recur in and around the park that I photograph from time to time.

The evil eye

The evil eye 1

Row, row, row your boat

Ménage à trois

Ménage à trois


Kingfisher 2Kingfisher 3Kingfisher 1

And just before I take my leave, I must return to the politicians. Boris Yeltsin, the pre-Putin president of the Russian Federation is reported to have said (when he was sober, I guess) that there are numerous irritants to being a politician.  The first of these is that ordinary life suffers. Secondly, there are many temptations to ruin you and those around you. The third, seldom discussed, is that people at the top generally have no friends.  The late, great, Dave Allen, an Irishman known as one of the most controversial comedians in the United Kingdom for frequently highlighting political hypocrisy (as well as demonstrating his disregard for religious authority) used to sit and watch politicians with great cynicism—absolute cynicism, in fact. 

So am I too cynical in thinking that while Mr. Netanyahu was unveiling his folders and CDs, his associates in Likud and those further to the right, were beginning a process of dismantling democratic Israel as we have come to know it by introducing two pieces of legislation — one on the nature of the Israeli nation state and the other on the role of the Supreme Court?  An amber light? Or a red one?

I can only hope that Abraham Lincoln got it right when he stated “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” 

Only time will tell, I suppose.


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