The Mondial and Body Art

I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the world but here in Israel, it seems that there’s only one subject worth talking about—and it’s not the state of the world or even the flying inflammable kites that are landing in that part of Israel surrounding the Gaza Strip and which have transformed hundreds of hectares of farmland to burnt out waste over the past few months. No—it’s not even the indictment of Sara Netanyahu for allegedly using state funds to pay for private meals from gourmet restaurants when the cooks at the PM’s residences were “demoted” to the status of “maintenance personnel” in order to justify the meals to satisfy the appetites of Mrs. Netanyahu and her famished family and friends.

No, Silly.  Of course it’s the FIFA World Cup or as it’s referred to in some parts of the world “the Mondial”.  Turn on the TV and you find that the First Channel is showing the live matches each day. That amounts to six hours of live football a day. And then when they’re not actually showing the live matches, there are teams of pundits, mostly male, talking about them.  There are even TV quizzes about earlier World Cup competitions.  Meanwhile, the sports channels, all 13 of them it seems (although it’s not quite) showing repeats of earlier matches.  And Israel isn’t actually competing; it hasn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1970 when it was eliminated at the Group Stage of the competition.  I can’t imagine what things would be like here if this country was actually playing.

Wherever you go, there seem to be small assemblages of [mostly] men of all ages sitting in cafés or standing on street corners and when you walk past them and catch snippets of the conversations (which is always interesting), the words that stand out seem to be “kick”, “corner”, “penalty”, “goalie”, “free kick”, “red card” and so on.  The other day, while walking the length of the Carmel Market, I was reminded of a geography class in school—Senegal, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Serbia—as the vendors reeled off the names of places, the existence of which they may not have been aware until this competition began.

The highlights of the competition thus far as far as I’m concerned have been Cristiano Ronaldo’s free kick in the match against Spain as much for his mental preparation prior to landing a boot on the ball as for the kick itself, which was a work of art and the political statements by the two Kosovar players in the Swiss team after scoring goals against the hated Serbia.  On the odd occasion that I’ve bothered to watch, some of the games seem more like all-in wrestling than football but that might just be my imagination!

In retrospect, it looks as if Argentina could have done with that warm-up game against Israel a few weeks ago as it would have instilled them with some self-confidence (or not, if a miracle had happened).  But if they are eliminated from the competition at the Group Stage—and that will only become evident on Tuesday afternoon—then their scapegoat can be Mrs. Regev, Israel’s Minister for Culture and Sport, whose insistence that the warm-up game be played in Jerusalem rather than Haifa led to the cancellation.  And I, for one, would be quite happy to ship her off to South America to face the wrath of the Argentines!

As for the visual presence on the World Cup on the streets of Tel Aviv, I came across this poster outside a bar one day last week.  The presume that the idea is to keep you in an air-conditioned bar for all three matches; in other words for eight hours on the trot. However, as I’ve mentioned before, I just love misspelled posters, street signs, menus and the like and as far as I’m concerned, the larger the better.  This one struck me as a good example and for more than a single reason.  

First of all, I know that summer has arrived and we’re most probably not due to see rain again for the next four or five months.  Still and all, although I’m aware that wine can be “dry”, I can’t see the Mondial as a reason for manufacturing or advertising dry beer. Second, if you did stay in the bar for eight hours and drank all the beer with no limits, then I assume that you would get 49, 59 or 69 ills—or is that just my own misspelling?



Walking around the city one comes across some fascinating things.  One of the things you often see but don’t always get an opportunity to photograph is tattoos.  I find tattoos rather repulsive but that’s probably because I belong to a generation for which people who had their body parts tattooed were generally the sort of people who you might have preferred not to meet—merchant seamen with a woman in every port or people who had spent time behind bars.  Anyway, you’re not supposed to call these graffiti “tattoos” any more but “body art” and given the patterns and colour in use today, it’s probably a term which reflects the situation better.  I still find it repugnant.  Here are two examples from last week.


Maybe it comes off in the bath — but then what should you clean the bath with?


The pinks clash with the green


Tattoo, watermelon purse, short shorts and a bunch of keys. Nordau Blvd., Tel Aviv

However, I might now be about to be accused of unoriginality and auto-plagiarism, as what follows here appeared in a post nine months ago.  At any rate, those people who carry around with them indelibly punctured pieces of pigmented epidermis, prior to having their bodies modified in the name of art or love or whatever else, should at least be encouraged to read the short story written 65 years ago by Roald Dahl to which I [again] provide a link below, just as a warning of what might or could happen to a person with a tattoo, especially an aesthetically pleasing one!

Skin by Roald Dahl

I might add that it’s not only tattooing that I find objectionable.  I find that things like dreadlocks, shaven heads, nose-rings, navel rings, rings and pins in places that can’t be mentioned—even pierced ears—are not to my conservative and evidently dated taste. However, if people want to mutilate their bodies or their general appearance, that’s  really no business of mine as family members often inform me.  They can do what they want.  I just don’t like it.  Really detest it.  But what can a grumpy old man do?  Nothing.  Which makes me even grumpier.


At an event last week.  Do I know his identity?  Yes!

But then, of course, there are tattoos and there are tattoos …

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… and there’s body art and there’s body art!

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Tel Aviv Port yielded several images worthy of display over the past few days.  The crows have been out in force recently and they are inventive if nothing else.  This one was working so intently when I passed that I stopped to observe.  It knew there was food in the bag and I have no doubt that it succeeded in extricating said food from the bag and gorged itself on the contents leaving the park authorities to clear up the mess, just like lots of the people who spend time in the park.


Later on, outside the park, I watched this one decide on what to do with the plastic box that contained the remains of someone’s meal, which may or may not have been placed in a waste basket after use.  If found the box on the street and had a good look around to see whether another one of his tribe was eying the same box.  It picked the box up and moved it down the street, holding it in its beak while it hopped along.  For all I know, it might have been testing it for weight and then eventually decided that the best thing to do to prevent its brothers from enjoying the contents was to fly off with it to one of the trees lining the street.  Problem solved.  QED.

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The crows manage very well for themselves.  The pigeons tend to hang around waiting to be fed.  And, as I’ve asked before, would these people who feed these winged vermin act in the same way with tailed vermin.  I think not.


Winged vermin at feeding time

And while on the subject of God’s creatures, there was this engaging scene I noticed on Ibn Gvirol Street the other day.


Canine revenge

As for God’s other creatures, we’re still seeing our flying ants invade the kitchen from time to time.  We’re told that it’s the start of summer and perfectly normal although I must say I’ve never seen these particular little bug[gger]s before!


Submission (actually, down and out)


Coming out of the park on to the streets,  this roller-blade performer passed by.  I had noticed her coming through the park and thought that she was safe enough but then she emerged on to the street.  Yes, she has lots of protective equipment to keep her from injury lest she fall but, as usual, I think that the music that might be bellowing through her head might be a little distracting should a car driver hoot his/her horn at her as is occasionally known to happen in this part of the world.  I suppose if there were no reaction, they would blare louder, as is also known to occur in this corner of the globe.


Still, she looked less out of place than this gentleman who appeared out of nowhere in the port as pretending to be an oarsman but one who’s afraid of water.


… and this one who in a temperature of 28ºC at 8 in the morning looked as if he were practising his cross-country skiing technique without any snow to be seen (or at last as far as I was aware!)


An early morning visit to the market yielded not only cherries and olives …


… but also an array of headgear for the secular and religious alike without discrimination.


The walk home produced an image of someone trying to push the car into the flow  of the traffic on the street although someone might have informed him that the handbrake was on …


… while this early morning cyclist was finding it difficult to stay awake—which on Tel Aviv’s streets and given the respect paid to cyclists here in Israel could be fatal.


And a little further along, these came into the camera’s viewfinder and words most appropriate to the accompanying caption seemed to be “brief” and “why bother?”


Then while on the bus on the way home, I was reminded of “The family that prays together stays together” and thought to myself, as I often do, how the world survived in pre-smartphone days.  Looking at people in the streets of Tel Aviv, it seems to me that about a third of the population is reading texts, another third is writing them, about 20 percent are actually using them as phones and the remainder are looking at replays of Messi missing or messing a penalty shot or how Ronaldo managed to kick the ball so high and curve it so sharply.  There are times when I think that staring at the tiny screen of a mobile phone is about as close as most people come these days to having a religious experience.  And there you are—my cynicism has emerged yet again!


Finally, Friday morning at Tel Aviv Port gave me three views on ultra-relaxation …

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Oh, and the flame tree did its best to show off last week, too!




Flying ants and Reality TV gone mad

My morning walks to and through the park often yield some interesting photographs if and when I keep my eyes open.  As I’ve noted before recently, the weather has turned warm and summer is upon us and that brings all sorts of insects, in particular cockroaches and ants.  This year, we’ve been hit by a plague of flying ants, which appear to be nesting somewhere in the walls of the flat.  Occasionally, they find an exit at which point, I am called into action.  And, as has happened on a couple of occasions, they egress 20 and 30 at a time but because you can’t quite locate where they’re coming from, it’s annoying, to say the least.

Flying ant

Then you go out for a brisk walk in the morning and note that there are hundreds of relatives of these little things all around you out in the street, going about their business, schlepping things that seem way too big and heavy for them from somewhere to somewhere else and somehow you can’t quite help yourself admiring Mother Nature.

Ants at work

One of these days, and seeing that I’m supposed to be interested in recording the geography of the mundane, I’ll do a separate post on activities in the park, which are many and varied.  However, here’s a small sample of images from the past week.

Deep meditation

Reflection and Contemplation (1)

Mandarin contemplation

Reflection and Contemplation (2)


Reflection, contemplation and relaxation

Still asleep

Pure relaxation

Like another apparently homeless man who I photographed on street benches at the northern end of Dizengoff Street over a four-year period between 2010 and 2014 until one day he vanished, “removed by authorities to die”, as the shopkeeper closest to his last sleeping spot put it, this young man can be found most mornings on the northern side of the last footbridge across the Yarqon stream before it enters the sea.  He’s a semi-permanent fixture in the landscape and I had guilt feelings whenever I photographed him, feeling quite sorry for him; he couldn’t be any older than in his late-20s, if that—but, I reasoned, he’s in a public space and usually asleep.   The guilt feelings vanished, however, when one day, I came across him in town, quite some distance from his early morning snoozing spot, at an ATM.  I stood there, mouth agape, and watched him count out 2,000 shekels in banknotes.  So there’s more to this young man than meets the eye or the camera.

Walking around one bumps into the odd hydrant that hasn’t seemed to have turned up before.  As I’ve explained before, I photograph these “people” in situ, meaning that if people dress them up to add character, that’s OK with me—but I don’t behave that way with these precious beings myself.

Nonchalant hydrant

Nonchalance (1)  Tel Aviv Port

Hydrant tie

Nonchalance (2)  Near Ibn Gvirol Street, Tel Aviv

Gum & dog

Nonchalance (3)  Tel Aviv Port


About a year or so ago, the park authorities decided to plant fruit trees in a small area not far from where we enter the park.  As an educational device for urban kids (and grown-ups), they also printed labels beside each tree as, for the uninitiated, identifying the trees before the fruit on them has ripened sufficiently to be recognisable can be difficult.  Last year, my then 6-year old granddaughter who had taught herself to read was overjoyed when she realised that she could run from tree to tree and call out the names of each thereby enlightening her grandparents.  So, little pomegranates have appeared on the pomegranate tree and should be ripe enough to eat in a couple of months.


Meanwhile, the neighbourhood contains a profusion of vegetation, adding colour to the otherwise blandish streets.

PetalsPetals on carFlowersFlower

Of course, an excess of urban vegetation can have adverse consequences.

Owner on vacation

Owner on vacation.  Nordau Boulevard, Tel Aviv

And I found this slice of orange on the boardwalk at Tel Aviv Port.  No need to move it — just to stand over it, aim and click.  Post-production work consisted simply of adding a bit of saturation to the colour of the orange and reducing the level of exposure of the surrounding board.  A humdrum snap became a picture as a result.

Orange slice

Then, I thought this view of mother and son waiting for washing at the launderette says something about present day society.  The boy has ear pods and is presumably watching a movie or something like that.  He at least appears interested in something whereas the mother takes another drag on her cigarette.

Fag and cellphone

And then it was back home again to contemplate the news of the week.  This was, of course, the much-heralded, on-again-off-again get-together in Singapore and the opening of the budget-wrecking FIFA extravaganza in Russia.  

In case you’ve been asleep all week, let me remind you.  Fresh from dumping America’s closest allies, deriding Canada’s prime minister as a person “very dishonest and weak” into the process, and apparently absolving America from any moral—not that moral means anything to him—obligation to be the leader of the free world, Air Force One brought Donald Trump to Southeast Asia.


Trump & Kim enjoying a good joke before waving to the world.  Singapore vi/2018

Shortly before ten o’clock in the morning Singapore time early last week, President Trump and Chairman Kim emerged from the library at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island after a meeting that lasted approximately 45 minutes whereupon they walked to a balcony to smile at and wave to the world.  This whole bizarre event presented a situation in which Mr. Trump feels distinctly comfortable—a really real reality TV show —and what’s more, he was playing to a worldwide audience.  The happening has been described over the past few days as an historic meeting.  However, by my simplistic way of thinking, I’m of the opinion that in order for something to be described as historic, a little time is needed for reflection and scrutiny.  Unique, perhaps.  Historic?  Maybe in twenty years’ time.

Anyway, when President Trump was asked by reporters (who, of course, can never be trusted because they only invent or manufacture fake news) how the discussion had gone, he responded that it was “very, very good” and reiterated that the two men have an “excellent relationship”.  This short tweetup between these two chaps with like interests would have been a one-on-one meeting except for the fact that they were accompanied by the State Department interpreter Yun Hyang Lee.  I am assuming that there was just one interpreter as a North Korean one might well have shaken so much in attempting to give an accurate translation that they might have feared for their life as well as the lives of family and friends. (Remember folks, this is because this is the same Mr. Kim who had his uncle killed in a purge just 5 years ago.  Then, North Korean state TV aired a special broadcast which showed troops arresting the man in the middle of a politburo meeting and marching him out of the hall to meet his end.  This is the man who also had his brother poisoned last year, actually not all that far away from where he was meeting Mr. Trump.)  But why should that matter to common or garden people like us? 

As Kim, who it has been reported on and off, was educated in Switzerland, probably has enough English to “chat” with someone with as limited a vocabulary as the American president, I can only assume that Ms. Lee was there to blur some of the imprecisions in the president’s utterances, to be creative in masterminding words for those that the American president’s vocabulary lacks—and to report back to her seniors at the State Department.  


In addition to praising Kim as being “very smart” and having a “great personality” with a sense of humour (sorry: humor), Trump declared in an interview soon after the meeting that Mr. Kim “loves his people”.  He also brushed off concerns (or were they just rumors???) about his (Kim’s) well-documented history of human rights abuses (“abuse” is, perhaps, an understatement).…/02/a_nation_of_racist_dwarfs.html

But as one American commentator noted, when Trump mentioned that Kim is “rough” and “tough”, these words are “Trumpspeak for the kinds of brutality he considers necessary.”  Trump had said that he spoke “relatively briefly” about human rights during the meeting with Kim.  I’m sure that brief must mean brief (a monosyllabic word, you see) rather like Brexit means Brexit—but Brexit is disyllabic!

The question that everybody seemed to be asking is what really went on at that short one-on-one-plus-one meeting.  Given that Trump had stated prior to the encounter that he would only need one minute to size up his former adversary and now newfound friend, what actually happened during the other 40 minutes or so?  Well, my theory is that the two gentlemen actually discussed something other than denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and talked about another, mutually consequential, issue.  

Kim really wanted to know (so that he could inform his barber) quite how Trump’s stylist manages to get the hair to sort of float horizontally most of the time and maintain its light golden colour.  (The answer to that conundrum is to be found in nanotechnology.  The hairdresser erects translucent rods of nano-scaffolding on the top of the president’s skull to which each individual strand of his airy-fairy hair is attached; moreover, there are nano-light-emitting diodes that beam out a sort of golden light and that’s what holds it in place and gives it its characteristic tint.  In a strong wind, however, the scaffolding can collapse and the carefully constructed coiffure with it.)

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In turn, the American leader was curious to learn how Chairman Kim’s friseur manages to get the lines so straight and whether the back and sides are razor cut or if it’s done with some sort of chemical weapon developed in a bunker somewhere deep in downtown Pyongyang but some not as lethal as that which killed his brother.

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Together, they’re a swell couple.

Still, it’s interesting how hair is important to so many politicians.  Just think of how Maggie’s changed during her tenure of No. 10, all done in order to give her a softer image—which was an impossible task, as we all now know.

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Angela’s hairdresser hasn’t had much to worry about over the past 13 years.  Just brush it out in the morning and that’s it done for the day—and it’s really nothing to smile or write home about either.

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On the other hand, Putin doesn’t even have to think about such mundanity at all.  With no competition for votes, there’s no real reason for him even to try to look nice.  As long as things don’t fall apart at the FIFA World Cup over the next few weeks, he’ll be fine.

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Bibi favours a sleeked down approach, which makes him look friendly and even respectable—but he did try something a little different a while ago, which got so many laughs that it was gone in no time at all, even though Mrs. Netanyahu disagreed with the rest of Israel on this issue.  

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Thankfully, as did good old Silvio a while back, he hasn’t gone the whole hog if I can be permitted use that phrase seeing as it might upset the Ultras in the coalition and cause it to collapse.

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Top prize, however, goes to the British Foreign Secretary for his utterly instantly recognisable and personal style of tail-wagging Olde English Sheepdoggy shagginess.

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And  there are many others out there who, if they only had the burning desire to enter politics,  might be able to run Boris a close race indeed!


And given the state of Italian politics at the moment, this might be the time for a comeback for Ilona Staller, better known as Cicciolina, who served in the Italian parliament for a while about 25 years ago although I must confess that that I don’t recall anybody seeming to be particularly interested on what was going on above her neckline.  This, of course, is the lady who, while a Member of Parliament, and before the onset of the Gulf War, offered to have sex with Saddam Hussein in return for peace in the region.  It goes without saying that this was undoubtedly the most creative piece of diplomacy of the second half of the 20th century, easily trumping Trump and Kim.  Sadly, she was not re-elected in 1991.

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Hair notwithstanding, there might very well be a connection between the Singapore business and the Russian festivities in that if Singapore made a North Korean dictator kosher then FIFA is doing a similar job for Putin.  Looking at the smugness on the latter’s face at the concert gala the night before the competition started and at the opening ceremony, I couldn’t help but think that old Vladimir Vladimirovich must be well pleased at the behaviour of his American protegé.  

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Air Force One landed at Moscow Airport in a month’s time, just in time for the kick-off of the World Cup Final and the President of the United States emerged to read from a slip of paper: 

“The settlement of the Korean problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all the world may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the Russian President, Mr. Putin, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine. Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you: ” … We regard the agreement signed last month in Singapore with Chairman Kim as symbolic of the desire of all peoples never to go to war with one another again.”

Sound familiar?  

Hardly likely, though, as soccer is definitely not America First and is a game for sissies, as we all know — although try explaining that one to the rest of the world!

Fortunately, the week ended on a high note at the Israel Conservatory of Music when the lovely Carmel Quartet performed Schubert’s amazing last quartet, a performance that we really wished wouldn’t end. (The linked recording of the 2nd movement is by the Hagen Quartet.)

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The Carmel Quartet: Rachel Ringelstein, Tali Goldberg, Tami Waterman, Yoel Greenberg

Meanwhile, however, there was one question that remained at the end of the week: What did go on at that one-on-one-plus-one get together in Singapore?  Perhaps they were rehearsing the Sand Dance, which they would perform just before what World Cup is presented to winning team?




Messy Business

The news at 6 o’clock last Wednesday morning led with an item that, on the face of it, might have seemed slightly surprising.  The issue at hand was that the Argentinian Football Federation had decided to cancel a friendly match against Israel prior to that country’s participation in the World Cup, which is due to get under way in Russia at the end of next week. 

Interpretations of what happened and why vary, depending on who is doing the interpreting and why they need to.  Some reports have it that neither the Argentinian team nor their head coach were particularly happy about breaking their training schedule in Barcelona to come to Israel for an exhibition match.  After all, their main objective is in bringing the FIFA World Cup Trophy back to Buenos Aires.  But there was a sponsor and apparently some Argentine football administrators found it was financially attractive enough to go ahead with it.  

The game was originally scheduled to be played in Haifa—at the express request of the Argentinians.  Then, Israel’s Ministeress of Culture and Sport, Ms. Regev, decided to intervene by buying out the sponsors and announcing that not only would the game be played in Jerusalem, Israel’s only and eternal capital city, but the star of the South American team, Lionel Messi, would  shake hands with the Prime Minister and would also kiss the hallowed stones of the Western Wall (for good luck in Russia, of course). 

Ms. Regev may well have interpreted her actions as no more than fulfilling her duties as Sports Minister and not as the politicisation of a sporting event.  However, she was grossly mistaken and her Palestinian counterpart, Jibril Rajoub, saw it as an opportunity to enter the fray and apply pressure to have the event cancelled.  Rather than kiss the Western Wall, should Mr. Messi be so bold as to place one of his golden boots on the hallowed turf of Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, Mr. Rajoub would bring his masses out on the streets and make sure that he (Messi) would experience the ignominy of observing a mass burning of football shirts bearing his name!  Mr. Rajoub is among other things, President of the Palestinian Football Association and is, like Ms. Regev, rather political in his views and actions.  Not only that, of course, but it should be remembered that prior to his appointment to such “apolitical” positions as President of the Palestinian FA and of the Palestine Olympic Committee, he served as head of Palestine’s Preventive Security Force and was appointed by Yasser Arafat as national security advisor, in which capacity he was accused of using torture to stamp out political dissent and launching a major crackdown on militant Islamic groups.  Not a particularly apolitical or  pleasant man, it would seem.  

So rather than be distracted from the aim of winning the World Cup, the Argentinian soccer bosses decided to cancel the Israel trip, thereby resulting in a 1:0 victory for the Palestinian Football Association.  Ms. Regev always strikes me as a woman whose belief in free speech is limited to the period in which she herself is speaking—and in her case, it’s free screech—and is so bedazzled and deafened by her own words, it makes her oblivious to what the rest of the world might be thinking and saying.  And here, in Mr. Rajoub, she had more than met her match.  (Ironically, the names Regev and Rajoub are written in Hebrew with the same letters—רגב and רג’וב.)

(Recording of Ms. Regev interrupting during a debate in the Knesset)

After the cancellation, she squawked that the cancellation had nothing whatsoever to do with moving the event to Jerusalem but that it was due to terror threats against poor old Messi and other team members, a claim that was seemingly confirmed by the Argentinian foreign minister.  But the question remains whether anyone would have paid attention at all if the match had been played as planned in sleepy old Haifa.

She had embarked on an all or nothing policy (it just had to be Jerusalem) and when you embark on such a policy, it occasionally yields a large 


As Oscar Hammerstein II reminded us 75 years ago: 

With me it’s all er nuthin’.
Is it all er nuthin’ with you?
It cain’t be “in between”
It cain’t be “now and then”

Take me like I am, er leave me be!
If you cain’t give me all, give me nuthin’
And nuthin’s whut you’ll git from me!

It was a spectacular own goal.  It was as if, as observant Jews do, facing Jerusalem, she had run blindfold the length of the football pitch, kicked the ball into her own goal and proclaimed victory.  As the liberal daily Haaretz unsubtly put it, “[With this] soccer fiasco, Who Needs BDS?”

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All in all, then, a very Messi business!


Of course, Israel .v. Argentina is just a diversion, no more than a minor manifestation of the whole situation in this part of the world.  Over the past couple of months, the world’s media have been focussed on the “Marches of Return” along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, marches at which it has been reported that Israeli armed forces have been shooting at, killing, and maiming unarmed civilians in their hundreds as they march peacefully on their side of the border, with occasional attempts by some headstrong youths to breach the barrier.  However, these same media have paid little attention to another border phenomenon in the same region.

When Palestinians fire mortars and launch rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, at least the media understand that Israel is responding (disproportionately, of course) to Palestinian belligerence.  Israel’s mobile all-weather air defence system, the “Iron Dome”, designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and shells and whose trajectory would take them to a populated area, is a hi-tech response to such attacks—and it works.  And Israeli hi-tech has also done a decent job at detecting and destroying attack tunnels dug under Israeli territory and designed to exit, there, too and cause damage and destruction.

However, the latest phenomenon comprises nothing more sophisticated than simple kites with primitive incendiary devices attached, launched from the Gaza Strip and carried by the wind.  They come to earth in Israel, igniting and burning to cinders thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves.  So far, nobody has been killed by these volitant Molotov cocktails but I can only suppose that should that happen, or when a building with people inside goes up in flames or when the breeze carries one of these devices far further than previously and it lands in an urban area, thereby producing good television images, the media might become interested.  Until then, blackened fields are not particularly attractive; they’re not coloured and they don’t move.  

More significant, however, is that Israel has not yet produced a successful response to these distinctly lo-tech devices and whoever thought them up as a dangerous but not yet lethal irritant has to be “admired” although I imagine that Israeli ingenuity will eventually come up with some response.

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Of course, living in the bubble called Tel Aviv, both the Messi saga and the flaming kites appear as no more than news items and in many ways, it makes you think that you’re far away from the action.    (In reality, I am just over and hour’s drive away from the kites should I wish to see the activity up close—but I have no desire to observe the march in real time just as I had little desire to observe the local Gay Pride Parade, which took place in South Tel Aviv at approximately the same time.)


Now, part of my early morning ritual consists of grinding coffee beans, putting paper in the filter and pouring after which I sit back to enjoy a breakfast consisting of a slice of toast with a thick layer of tehina spread on top so that I can better contemplate the state of the world as reported a few minutes earlier on the 6 a.m. news broadcast.

I’ve been making filter coffee for over 40 years.  (Prior to that I used a percolator until I learned that boiling water circulating through a closed system, repeatedly scalding the grounds doesn’t do much for the aroma or the flavour of the stuff.) So my main frustration of the week was discovering that I’d run out of filter papers.  I thought I had a spare pack but I was wrong on that account.  

However, my annoyance arose from the difficulty in finding filter papers over the subsequent days.   I hadn’t imagined there’d be a problem as I popped into the local supermarket to buy replacements only to discover that they no longer stock such lo-tech devices.  Widening the search, I tried a rival supermarket chain—but the same story ensued.  Nor, I discovered, do the convenience stores in the area.  

What the supermarkets do stock instead is a variety of in-house capsules that are supposed to work with an Nespresso machine.  The absence of paper on the one hand and the abundance of capsules on the other made it seem as if someone in authority had determined that the only kind of coffee that’s kosher these days is espresso.

Nespresso capsules

However, nil desperandum.  I had to pick up a new pair of spectacles later in the morning and I knew that close to the optician there’s a shop that sells just about any and every kind of cleaning material on the market.  In addition to cleaning materials, they also stock many kinds of paper—tissue paper, toilet paper, kitchen towels, cellophane paper, paper bags, wet-ones, and the like, so it was logical that I’d find them there, no?  No such luck.  “And have you any idea where I might be able to get them around here?”, I asked.  “The supermarkets stock them” was the stock response.  Back to Square One, then.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I can survive without a mug of filter coffee at 6 in the morning.  I could, at a pinch, take a spoon and extract a heaped spoonful of instant coffee but although that might provide me with a similar caffeine rush to the one I get from the filtered stuff, it wouldn’t furnish the same pleasure to the two senses—smell and taste—that deal with this sort of addiction.  


might also have utilised the machine that my three loving children presented me with a few months ago on the occasion of my 73rd (!) birthday but that produces a beverage that is long on shortness and intensity whereas I prefer to take my time in the morning.  I know that I could have gone to the coffee shop in the Carmel Market and found what I was missing there but being naturally indolent I couldn’t quite contemplate that journey.  

Espresso machine

So after several days of preparing the stuff in a cafetière and forgetting on each occasion that the finer grounds are not trapped by that method thereby ending up with coffee mud between my teeth, I remembered that there’s a coffee shop relatively close by, albeit one that doesn’t sell Kenya AA beans.  Success! And I discovered in the process that not only do they sell filter paper but filter paper of a different shape to that which I’ve been using for over four decades, one that fits into any filter and doesn’t jiggle about while you pour the water at 96ºC over the ground beans.  So, I’m in business again for the foreseeable future.

Ground coffee 3

And now for some images as I am reminded that I am supposed to be recording images the geography of the mundane.

As I exited Tel Aviv Port on to HaYarqon Street, I encountered two individuals on two-wheeled vehicles both of whom were stopped at the traffic lights while waiting to make a left turn.  They were literally, as the phrase goes, sitting ducks for a pseudo-papparazzo and as soon as I saw the first one, the caption flashed to mind.

But for the Grace of God Go I

Bellicosity? Or there but for the grace of God go I?  HaYarqon Street, Tel Aviv

That caption led logically to the next one, which is was affixed to the rear of the motor scooter.

Trust in God

Trust in God.  HaYarqon Street, Tel Aviv

On the way home, waiting to cross Nordau Boulevard at Ibn Gvirol, I encountered a pink lady who scooted in front of the camera lens, causing my index finger to twitch and record this image on the sensor.

Pink lady

And then closer to home, on Stricker Street, there was this picture, a reminder of the never-ending struggle between man and nature.

Man & Nature

In Tel Aviv, one of the signs that summer is approaching is the appearance of insects of various kinds in places that you don’t necessarily expect to see them.  This year, it was ants (largish ones) in the dishwasher.  How they managed to get there in the first place and then to survive a hot wash cycle with dishwasher cleaning fluid is beyond my comprehension.  That sort of thing wasn’t in The Lives of Ants by Laurent Keller and Elizabeth Gordon (Oxford U.P.) that I read a few years ago.


Anyway, we called the people who deal with these things and evacuated the flat for a few hours following disinfection/disinsection.  Before we left, the fumigator informed us that he would spray around the house at ground level just to be on the safe side.  The upshot of that good turn was that on the following day, I had to clean up at the bottom of the stairs in what had become a veritable cockroach cemetery.


Then, the following morning and just to complete the picture (I hope), while stepping into the shower this creature—deceased of course—was occupying the left corner of the stall.  This was, paraphrasing the words of John Cleese, an ex-spider.  Nevertheless, I thought it interesting enough to remove it from the shower cubicle and place it on the sink to photograph before ultimately removing it to its final place of rest.


The image below is of the Illawarra Flame Tree, one of three around the corner from where we live.  I think I posted something like this last time but it struck me the other day that sometimes you take a photograph not to record what it is but because it can form the basis for something else.  Given the number of applications for enhancing photographs on the market today, I spent an hour or so embellishing this one.

Poinciana Original

The original

Poinciana RedPionciana OrangePoinciana Yellow

If you keep your eyes open as you walk along the streets, you occasionally come across small things of interest.  What I initially saw in the garden where this cactus and that flower were growing were just the cactus and flower.  And then I noticed that the prettiest thing of all in the picture was, in fact, the snail.


This egret, to which I’ve appended the sobriquet “the eternal optimist” (and I’m pretty sure it’s the same one I photograph all the time; the tag on its left leg is a giveaway) hangs around people fishing at Tel Aviv Port, flying from one to the other in the almost forlorn hope that one of them will catch something and throw it in her/his direction and sometimes, s/he is, indeed, lucky.

Optimistic egret

And I couldn’t quite resist this remains from what looks like had been an fine Irish féasta, which was adorning a dustbin near the north end of Dizengoff Street.  No distinction was made between Catholic or Protestant in this case.

An Irish party

Finally, a new installation has just gone up about 300m from the flat, outside the Israel Conservatory of Music.  I have as yet no idea who the artist is but I guess that will be revealed at a later date.  (They’re metal, by the way.)


Have a great week!