Blocks, booths and birds of paradise

Some readers of this blog add comments to things I’ve written occasionally; most never do; a couple are frequent correspondents.  One of these latter wrote after the last post: “Your two buildings as extras were also well appreciated.  I think the first one was already shown in an earlier blog … I always like to look at those things.”  Like me, he’s a geographer and landscapes and buildings are part of what we like to observe.

So continuing and developing this in a logical manner, I decided that it was time to include some photos of a development that has been taking place just around the corner from us over the past 30 months.  Actually, I’m a little early with it because the project is still ongoing and the apartments are as yet uninhabited but there’s little doubt that by the  time spring rolls around, there will be another 30 or so households in the neighbourhood, all with cars, dogs and kiddies to accompany them. (And this development is only a small portion of what’s happening around thus tiny corner of Tel Aviv.)

Late in 2015, planning notices were posted regarding the impending demolition of two or three old residential buildings at the corner of Brandeis and Bnei Dan Streets near us prior to the construction of a new building on the site.  Then, one day in March 2016, demolition equipment turned up and—yes, you’ve guessed—demolished buildings that had stood for more than 50 years in a matter of a couple of hours.  For a few months after they had cleared the rubble, the work of excavating prior to laying the foundations of the new buildings began but I didn’t photograph any of that because (a) it was shielded by a high temporary wall and (b) I didn’t think that it was all that particularly aesthetic or interesting. In retrospect, perhaps I should have for the sake of completeness.  However, by the time time we got back from from a trip abroad in September 2016, what had been a substantial hole in the ground was now a hole in the ground with a large red and white crane.  I would have liked to have seen the construction of the crane itself but I missed that as well.

At any rate, the crane was in situ for about a year and it was in place in July 2017 before we once left for a few weeks away.  By the time we had returned in September, the crane was gone, so I also missed its unbuilding.  Since then, I’ve been photographing the site at irregular intervals as the new building has taken shape.  The exterior looks as if it is now more or less completed and they are now working on the interiors and, as I said a couple of paragraphs ago, I expect that the new residents with their assorted paraphernalia will move in by spring, if not earlier.  It should be fun to document those moves as they occur over the coming months.

(Dates on the photos above have been labelled chronologically so with no more ado, I summarise.)

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So here we are near the end of September, more than halfway through the “festivals period” that brings life in Israel to a series of stuttering fits and starts as people struggle to discover what’s open full time, half-time or not at all.  We are now (Wednesday 26/ix) in the third day of Succoth (Sukkot[h]), a festival variously translated as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Ingathering or the Festival of the Last Fruits. 

The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah (a booth or a tabernacle), which is a temporary walled structure usually covered with plant material such as palm leaves. As a sukkah is also the name of temporary dwellings in which farmers used to live at harvest time, it is meant to connect with the agricultural significance of the holiday; it is also supposed to remind us of the fragile dwellings in which the Israelites lived during their 40 year schlep through the desert after exiting Egypt for the Promised Land.  

People decorate these makeshift structures with all sorts of oddities and prizes are awarded for “sukkesthetics” and such things. Religiously observant people eat their meals inside their sukkot and many really pious devouts sleep there as well even though they don’t have en suite bathrooms.  There are all sorts of other customs associated with this festival but being a geographer (or to paraphrase John Cleese, an ex-geographer) I’ll stick with just the visible landscape effects.

This is, of course, that these temporary structures spring up in all sorts of places as soon as Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) has concluded.  Indeed, it is regarded as a mitzvah (a moral deed performed within a religious duty) to kick-start the construction of these temporary shelters as early as possible after the fast has terminated.  Consequently, one can often hear the sound of hammers on nails almost as soon as the hunger has been alleviated.

In the past, most of these structures would have had a simple wooden frame.  Today, most have a metal frame which consists of rods or poles that interlock with “walls” that are pieces of material strung between the uprights.  You can see them in gardens or close to the streets all over the place — although North Tel Aviv is perhaps not exactly the best environment in which to observe sukkot in abundance.  Nevertheless, several typical examples can be found along almost any street.

DSCF3576Woodframe Sukkah

Woodframe sukkah

DSCF3608Barebones sukkah

Barebones sukkah, with walls airing and doors open

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Domestisukkah (1)

DSCF599120514Succah

Domestisukkah (2)

DSCF3538Succah 1

Balconosukkah

T-A 10 2015 81Succah

Publisukkah

DSCF3562Succah

Restosukkah (1)

DSCF3514Succah

Restosukkah (2)

DSCF3561Succah

Sukkah-by-the-Sea

 

And then there was this sukkah below, a Sukkamobile — or as it is referred to in Hebrew, a Suknoa, which is much the same thing, and which is in a class of its own. It is Tel Aviv’s answer to the Popemobile, the main differences being that the Pope is clean-shaven, prefers a white outfit to a black one, doesn’t usually roller-skate along city streets amongst the traffic and doesn’t have klezmer music blaring out of some hidden loudspeaker.

In any normal country, this guy would be defined as a traffic hazard and would be taken off the road for endangering the lives of drivers and their passengers, not to mention pedestrians and cyclists and their pets. (He has been observed and even photographed before whizzing along on the footpath jeopardizing the life chances of common or garden pedestrians.) However, in Tel Aviv, skating along a main street amidst traffic, he hardly gets a second glance and if the authorities were to be so foolhardy as to suggest that he be prevented from endangering the lives of his fellow citizens, it is not beyond reason that such action might foment a political crisis, which could bring down the government.  (I’ve just had a bright idea: My distorted logic therefore dictates that he should be forced off the street immediately, the sooner the better!)

Having said that, though, perhaps he should be left on the road and others encouraged to follow him in their masses. (That is an unintended pun and has nothing whatsoever to do with a popemobile.)

 

(For this piece of mobile frivolity, I am totally indebted to my co-grandparent, Nira Querfurth, who obviously thought it might appeal to my addled brain, which is the main cause of my warped sense of humour.)

In my last post, I mentioned the arrival in Israel of Mobike, a Chinese bicycle rental company which effectively allows its rental riders to park or leave their bikes anywhere, without fear of them being stolen and without the need to return them to a rental station or lock them to a tree, a signpost or a railing.  These things have sprouted in the past few weeks and have rapidly become a public nuisance as almost none of the riders seems to give a second thought to the fact that, having left their machines wherever the desire to dismount hits them, other people might like to walk along the footpath without having to shift a heavy bike somewhere else in order to pass by.  The situation, apparently, will only get worse as rental scooters come online, as I believe they may already have.

All of this only adds to a situation in which Tel Aviv Municipality has spent considerable sums creating cycle lanes between the roads and the footpaths, carefully marked out with arrows to indicate the direction in which cycling is permitted, with occasional reminders that there’s a not inconsiderable fine for those straying from what has been sanctioned.  

As this is not the Netherlands where, I am told, people are born on bikes and live most of their lives on them (my information might be a bit outdated because I haven’t been there for a few years), it seems that very few of Tel Aviv’s pampered cyclists might be even in any way be vaguely aware of the directional arrows and, in fact, many of them seem to be completely oblivious to the bicycle lanes themselves, continuing to ride on the pavements giving rise to multiple close shaves with forgotten footsloggers, a forlorn breed if ever there was one.

As a matter of fact, many cyclists also seem to be under the impression that one-way streets do not apply to them only to motorised vehicles (but not including motorised bikes or scooters, of course) and that they can ride wherever they wish—and they do.  If it hasn’t happened yet, then one day some unsuspecting automobile driver will make a right turn on to a one-way street, in the correct direction, only to drive headlong into a cyclist—who is not wearing a crash helmet although at least one of the two kiddies riding pillion might have—who is reading a text message and if it happens at night, s/he will no doubt be without a light—coming in the opposite direction.  After that, there might be better enforcement of the rules.

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Now, with all these other things to photograph, I’ve been a bit lax with the real stuff. However, I did manage a couple of modestly decent images over the past week.  

Walking home the other morning, this flower in a garden abutting the street caught my eye and I thought it made a pretty picture.  At the same time, I thought I could make something better out of it if I sat down and did some serious editing.

DSCF3535 1Flower

And this is what emerged after some work on the image—much more mysterious and exciting.

DSCF3535 2 1

And early yesterday morning, crossing the footbridge at the sea end of the Yarqon Park, I caught this couple coming in the opposite direction and thought it worth a try.  Again, I thought a little editing might help.

DSCF3552Footbridge 1DSCF3552Footbridge

Finally, walking home this morning along Pinkas Street and literally at eye level, this Bird of Paradise flower, about to emerge came into view — so there was only one thing to do.  

Click!

DSCF3602Paradise

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On birds and bikes

Pomegranate time.jpg

Pomegranate time

It’s been a little longer than usual since the last post on this blog and that reminds me of my late mother.  One of her favourite maxims was “If you’ve nothing to say, say nothing”. She was a fount of common sense and was usually right in most things, such as this. It turned me into a listener and also turned me away from any ambitions I might ever have entertained to enter politics or to become a political pundit. (To some extent, it also contributed to my capacity as a cynic once I had learned that much of what passes as information or news is little more than sophisticated noise).  Mind you, she also told me that I should be congenial towards men of the cloth and that I should on no account ever say anything bad about them, something I find increasingly difficult to bring off as I age.  

Yet another of her pet aphorisms was “There’s good goods in small parcels”, which could usually be heard when I told her of bullying or attempted bullying at school (there were two or three bigger kids at primary school who were particularly adept at applying headlocks in order to relieve smaller kids like me of any sweets or such items that they may have been hiding in their pockets at lunchtime.)

I seemed to attract tormentors because I was the second smallest in my class in the Jewish primary school in Dublin.  The smallest, who has long since grown up, achieved some fame as pharmacologist who specializes in cell death. There’s no way I could possibly compete with his achievements. What some might regard as a highlight of my career was to have given the keynote address at the Regional Meeting of the International Geographical Union in Tel Aviv nine years ago.  There, as the final speaker in a session with three others, I was forced to edit down my piece in real time as each of the first three speakers overran their allotted time. Either the timekeeper’s watch was in poor working order or the trio were all hard of hearing and therefore missed their exit times.  (In Dublin’s Zion School in the 1950s, there was another slightly built guy one class below us who ended up (amongst his many achievements) as Chief Economist at the U.K. Department of the Environment although, believe it or not, he didn’t regard this as the attainment that he ranked most highly.)  

However were I to follow my mother’s advice now (“if you’ve nothing to write, write nothing”) then I think there might well be a hiatus in the flow of this blog as I do try and produce something every week or so (and a fortnight has already passed, the longest gap between posts since I started this exercise three years ago).  So with nothing really to write, here goes, as we set out on what for me will be something of a magical, and shorter than usual, mystery tour.

Back in Tel Aviv, it was as if nothing had changed in nearly six weeks away.  Just a few days before we departed, we had received notification from the Municipality that during the week following our departure, residents were to expect temporary disruptions to on-street parking arrangements as they prepared, after a year and a half of replacing the infrastructure, to apply a permanent surface to the street.  Any thoughts I might have had as to our good fortune of not being around while this operation took place were dashed when, on our return, we found that nothing had apparently happened in our absence.  Then, miracle of miracles, as if to mark the 79th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII, the job was completed on September 3, almost 20 months after it had begun, much to the feverish excitement of one young lad whose father had to restrain his more animated gestures as he watched the men paint the zebra crossing at the junction near our house.

The end of the street (2)The end of the street

Anyway, here we are in mid-September, now well and truly embarked on the three weeks of “On” & “Off” that extend from Jewish New Year (last week) to the end of the Succoth festival in just over a fortnight, a period of time during which one can never be quite sure whether shops and offices will be closed or open, and if open, what their operating hours might be.  The long New Year weekend—Friday (half-day), Shabbat, Sunday (half-day), Monday and Tuesday— coming relatively early in the season means that outside, it’s still rather warm (last week saw daytime temperatures of 30+ºC and nighttime temperatures hardly any cooler and feeling more humid, all of which means for many people a day indoors with air/con working overtime.  In my case, it meant an opportunity to work on my granddaughter’s prowess at draughts and I was impressed by an almost-six-year old’s ability to concentrate and learn for almost half an hour without a break.

Lily & Saba-1 1Lily & Saba-2 1

Of course, there are other kids who have much hippier grandfathers who take them for rides on their motor scooters!

Cool grandad

Walking through the Yarqon Park one day last week, I came across mother and son out for a stroll together, blithely chatting away as they staggered along on their roller blades.

Mother & son (2)

Mother & son (1)

And on another morning, in addition to the egrets, the herons and the pigeons in abundance, I encountered these two [quite different] birds.  The crow was making his intentions quite clear to all.  There was also the ring-necked parakeets, pretty birds but also members of an increasingly evident invasive species, and just so that looks don’t fool you, it’s an aggressive avian in fierce competition with native birds such as hoopoes and wagtails as they increasingly move into nesting spots preferred by local birds and incidentally wreak havoc on crops like sunflowers and nuts.

Keep off! Stay away!

I said “Keep far away from me, otherwise …”

Parakeet

I’m an aggressive invader, so I am

All sorts of things have appeared in the park over the past few months.  One of the things that I noticed is the increasing ubiquity of what looks like a new kind of bicycle.  What struck me, in addition to the bright orange-red colour of the wheels and the absence of spokes is that all the bikes seem to have a built-in lock and many of them appear to be parked anywhere — on street corners, on streets, or in this case, hitched to the branch of a tree.  

What interested me was how anyone could affix a bike to a tree and not to worry that it might be stolen.  So I decided to investigate by googling the name on the frame; “Mobike”. It was then that I discovered that Mobike is a company founded by Beijing Mobike Technology Co., Ltd. and is nothing less than a fully station-less bicycle-sharing system and is the world’s largest for-hire bicycle operator.

Unchained melody

Access to these bicycles is through a purpose-built Mobike application and requires “a minimum deposit of one unit of country-specific currency” (whatever that is supposed to mean) to ensure the user supplied payment details are correct with each user registering by using their cellphone number.  The mobile app unlocks the bike and records the distance and duration of the trip and the energy the user spent using the bike and at the end of the rental, the cost is deducted from the user’s account.  

Apparently, Mobike has engendered several issues, one of which concerns the complaints of many residents in the cities in which it operates about the parking problems it causes.  Since Mobike’s whole purpose is apparently to make accessing the bikes as convenient as possible for the renter-riders and its “beauty” is that there are no fixed-station parking locations, this accounts for the fact that so many of them appear to be parked anywhere — on street corners, on streets, or in this case, hitched to a tree— and, it seems, blocking roads and footpaths as well as attracting vandals.  

I’ll keep an eye on things.

And still in the park, I thought that this tree trunk might produce an interesting—and attractive—photograph.

DSCF3400_Painterly

Actually, I keep an eye open for tree trunks because not only do they often provide the makings of an attractive picture but they sometimes have interesting notices attached to them.  I haven’t checked the veracity of the number on the tree notice below so I can’t say whether they deliver abroad but if you do call from outside Israel, remember that the dialling code is +972 and omit the first zero.  (I also refrained from correcting the grammar.)

Cannabis Express

Well, I’m nearing the end of my magical mystery tour but before I do, I thought I’d include two further images.  One has appeared on this blog before and the other not.  

The first is a picture of the façade of the building at 11 Leonardo da Vinci Street and this appeared almost two years ago. It was (and is) an amazing painted mural depicting Tel Aviv, and which surrounds the entrance to the building and windows on each floor. Bauhaus architecture, the sea, Jaffa, the demonstration at Rabin Square to commemorate the assassination, cyclists, Theodor Herzl, gay parades, Reading Power Station, the high rises, Meir Dizengoff, the iconic first Mayor of Tel Aviv himself are all depicted.  So much is all there on this schematic map of the city.  

Leonardo

The last picture demonstrates what can happen when you point your camera vertically rather than what is much more prevalent—i.e., horizontally.  This picture was taken on a visit some years ago to Canary Wharf in East London, an area that contains around 1,500,000 m2 of office and retail space.  The tall office buildings are very impressive but when the camera was pointed up at the clouds, you get a completely different perspective and an exciting picture.

Canary Wharf

Well, that’s it folks.  Perhaps, if I had nothing to write, I should have written nothing but then I have an obligation to myself to turn something out at fairly regular intervals. And although I wished to avoid it when I started this blog, perhaps I am becoming something of a hack.

P.S.  The more perceptive among you might well have noticed that —somehow— I’ve managed to avoid any mention of Brexit, BB, JC or DT.  Perhaps it had something to do with the Ten Days of Penitence from New Year to Yom Kippur?  Nevertheless, I can’t resist a quote from this week’s issue of The Economist newspaper entitled: Britain’s equilibrium of incompetence: The country’s political parties are exactly as inept as each other  “The two major parties are incompetent as well as divided. Their leaders, a charisma-free robot and a superannuated Marxist, are two of the most unimpressive in recent history.”  And that’s saying quite something!

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Jeremy and Jews

DSCF3221_Enhancer Hampstead Heath tree

On Hampstead Heath

Time passes so quickly and it’s now back to the heat and humidity of Tel Aviv after a few relatively cool weeks in London.  So last Wednesday morning, the minicab arrived to bring us to Heathrow airport. and we loaded the suitcases and various other peripeheral equipment into the car.  Sometimes you get a cab driver who’s chatty and then again, at other times, it’s like you’ve got a bit part in a silent movie.

Ironically (for irony: see below) whereas London’s Black Cab drivers are mostly “White” or whitish (what the American police or Census Bureau might call “Caucasian”), London’s minicab drivers tend to hail from various parts of the Subcontinent or West Africa, and more recently, from Afghanistan or Iran. Now I’m usually pretty good at recognizing accents but I couldn’t quite locate the origins of last Wednesday’s driver but before I could strike up a conversation with him, he informed us that he had just returned to London from a family trip to Turkey.  So that’s it, I thought; he’s Turkish and that’s why I wasn’t quite able to place the accent.  However, as it turned out, I was wrong (yet again), for when I asked him if he still had a lot of family in Turkey, he explained that he’d been on a family vacation with his wife and children and that he’d never been to Turkey before.

It transpired that he was from Afghanistan and that he’d come to Britain 17 years earlier. His three children who, given my wonderful sense of character recognition, I had assumed were of school age and were thus able to have a family holiday with their parents were, it turned out, all university students.  One daughter had graduated with a degree in politics and economics and another was studying for a Master’s at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and his son was in his final year of a degree course in engineering.  Rather a typical successful immigrant family story, I feel.  No doubt his children, all educated in London, will grow up feeling British as that’s what immigration is supposed to be all about.

Of course, Britain is a country in which immigration played a major role in the2016 drama called the Brexit referendum, a ballot in which many people expressed a disenchantment with immigrants by voting “Leave” (it wasn’t the only reason, of course; they fully understood the economic implications of their decision as it had been explained to them by politicians). “Leave” might very well have been what a majority wanted in other parts of the United Kingdom but not in the London Borough of Camden, which voted 75% “Remain” on a turnout of 65%.  An all-day visit a couple of weeks ago to the Accident and Emergency Room at the Royal Free Hospital illustrated once again (as if we really needed reminding) the extent to which Britain’s National Health Service (at least in this little corner of the UK) seems to be dependent on immigrants from all across the globe and in all departments of the hospital, from cleaners to administrators to consultants.

As we were leaving London, the main political story of the day was the same one that had greeted us on arrival five weeks earlier — that of the Labour Party and anti-Semitism.  I found it hard to comprehend how this story has dragged on for so long and I was simply nonplussed to hear it appear on news bulletin after bulletin, and thinking that reports that had appeared in Israel had been embellished through Zionist embroidery.  An old friend asked me what my opinion of Mr. Corbyn is/was.  I wasn’t expecting the question as we don’t normally discuss politics when we spend the day together but my response was that I’m not sure whether Mr. Corbyn himself is anti-Semitic (his supporters keep telling us that he hasn’t a racist bone in his body but that is often insufficient for people who have memories of Europe 80 years ago) but that he has lots of people close to him who aren’t too keen on Jews.  (Actually, they don’t usually say that but that they see the establishment of Israel as a mistake or at least an injustice, or words to that effect.)

The issue with Mr. Corbyn, as far as I can see, is not so much a matter of whether or not he is an anti-Semite but in his almost complete lack of leadership qualities and his lack of ability and/or willingness even to attempt not to be divisive—quite the opposite, in fact. Another problem involves the company he has kept over the years and who he regards as his “friends” (among them Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Hamas, Hezbollah, the IRA when it was killing people on the British mainland, and so on).  And his situation will worsen as time goes on as more people uncover all sorts of other things he said as an MP in the past when he thought that nobody was listening to him.

I don’t expect him to change.  After all, he’s 69 years old, never held a real job, dropped out of higher education (a course in Trades Union Studies) and made his reputation by voting nearly 500 times against his own party’s whip. However, if he had any leadership qualities other than rallying the faithful (to him) he could have ended this anti-Semitism nonsense even before it started. But he doesn’t so he can’t.  And I think it is beginning to dawn on people within the Labour Party that when it comes to an election, he might be, how shall I put it, a liability.  In other words, his inability to reach out to the middle ground will hinder his party’s chances to pick up voters beyond traditional Labourites. In that sense, he resembles Margaret Thatcher in being so ideologically bound as to be incapable of behaving in any way than what he’s always been (and the same applies to Benjamin Netanyahu, for that matter).

One source of worry is that if Labour fails to win the next election (whenever that will be held) or does much worse than they expect, there will be rumblings that “the Jews” are responsible, i.e., the anti-Semitism issue grew out of all proportion and turned people off. That’s his own fault but his supporters won’t see it that way.  

However, his insinuation (made a few years ago) that some people, who have lived most of their lives in Britain, even those born and educated there and lived there all their lives, can never be properly British, was invidious, stupid and thoughtless.  Nevertheless (and this is my take alone) he would hold that British cricket supporters of Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan origins, waving their sometime national flags and cheering for the non-British team are a true reflection of “multi-culti” Britain.  This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for some people and which prompted Jonathan Sacks, a former Chief Rabbi and a person not known for hyperbole, to write in the New Statesman that Corbyn is an antisemite, and to say that his comments about Zionists at a conference five years ago was the most offensive statement by a senior UK politician since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech half a century earlier.  And that is quite saying something! 

Whether the Labour Party can replace him (after all, they changed their rules so that the “membership” votes; he has packed all the committees with his supporters; there are many new members, all young, turned on by him but who, in gross understatement, do not have a sense of history.  In fact, they have no history at all) is a moot point.

Having written all this, the situation is probably not as bad as some people would have you believe yet it’s also plausibly worse than some others would have you believe.  It’s not 1930s Europe and I don’t think it will be.  People are not scared but they are concerned. Jews in the UK probably have more to be troubled by from an older anti-Semitism — that of dinner tables, golf clubs, etc., than this new form. 

As Brendan O’Neill wrote in Spiked last Friday “Corbyn’s critics exaggerate the scale of anti-Jewish hatred in Labour circles while his supporters underestimate it. The truth is that Corbyn’s 2013 comments were not as bad as Sacks and others claim they were – but they were worse, far worse, than Corbyn’s supporters will admit.”   And that’s the crunch. This is what needs Corbyn—or preferably one of his close associates, if he can’t bring himself to do it—to speak out about loudly and clearly.

However, the ultimate put-down came from Jonathan Lynn, co-writer of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister (and, incidentally, nephew of Abba Eban, an erstwhile Israeli Foreign Minister) in a Letter to the Editor in Saturday’s Times.  (The paper also published other letters on this issue, both defending and attacking Mr. Corbyn.) Lynn wrote that the most appropriate response to the Labour leader’s denials of antisemitism came from Sir Humphrey Appleby, Yes, Minister’s fictional Whitehall mandarin, who said: “Never believe anything until it’s been officially denied.”  He (Lynn) wrote: “I am Jewish. Although I wrote Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, Corbyn says I don’t understand English irony. My co-writer Tony Jay was only half-Jewish, so perhaps he half-understood irony and was able to supply some.  The Labour Party continues to deny that Corbyn is an antisemite but as Sir Humphrey said, ‘Never believe anything until it’s been officially denied.’”  He also added that Mr Corbyn’s speech “ironically, reveals what seems hidden to him”.

Sorry, folks.  This has taken more words than I thought it would but it was on my mind and now it’s off it.  And now to some pictures.

DSCF3209 Straight talking, Honest Politics

Oops! (Fleet Road, London NW3)

The trees on Hampstead Heath this summer seem to be advertising their potential for providing material for mushroom omelets and quiches although I don’t know enough about such things to evaluate whether ot not these large fungi might be acceptable to the digestive system.

DSCF3079 Tree omelette???DSCF3085 Tree omelette???

Meanwhile one of the herons on one of the ponds on the western side of the Heath seems to be in reflective mood. 

DSCF3093 Heron

And when I return from London, what I miss is its quirkiness—such as the man in the back of the removal truck who decided that if he needed some calisthenics, why not use of the roof of his truck before it gets filled up again …

DSCF3099 Exercise where you can

… or the seemingly illogical house numbers … 

DSCF2998no. 12.5

… or the three zimmer frames doing what looks like a soft-shoe shuffle that appeared one morning on the street outside the house, going nowhere slowly.

Zimmer frames

Getting around London often involves sitting around on the trains or buses (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat).  Having said that, either I don’t know whether it’s my imagination or not but I have the impression that younger people seem to be offering me a seat if there isn’t one whereas that never happened in thr past.  Am I really beginning to look that decrepit? Perhaps it’s just my fancy—but I don’t refuse when it happens.

On the train itself, as I stood beside the middle gentleman of the trio on the platform at Tottenham Court Road station, I thought he might fall onto the tracks, he was swaying so much.  And the minute he sat down opposite me, he was asleep.  He looked so exhausted and it was quite obvious that he had been involved in heavy physical work.  I was hoping for his sake that he was getting off at the last stop on the line!

IMG_4936 On the Tube

On the platform itself, you often find yourself staring at things until all of a sudden, it dawns upon you what you are looking at — in this case, an ad for Zoopla, a website from you can discover what properties are for sale or rent all over the country, what their current estimated value is and what prices they sold for the last time they came on the market.  IMG_4933 Tube Station

Finally, in this trio of staring images from the London Underground, I found myself thinking about the chutzpah of this plant at Finchley Road Station for even thinking that it might be able to grow on a wall at all!

DSCF3102 Wall plants

Homelessness is rife in London and there are signs of it everywhere.

DSCF3138 Homelessness

Near Chalk Farm, NW3.  Note the milk bottle, not beer.

DSCF3147 Homelessness

Camden, NW1

DSCF3136 Tent ex-bridge

Opposite Chalk Farm Station.  More sheltered than on the bridge where it had been parked a week earlier 

 

And there’s homelessness in Tel Aviv, too.

DSCF3231 Unfortunate

And, yes, I still see faces everywhere, like this rather sombre looking dark-eyed gentleman as I was exiting Hampstead Heath towards Highgate Road.

DSCF3211 Eyes & Nose, Hampstead Heath

Which, of course, brings to me once more to fire hydrants.  Walking through Tel Aviv over the weekend, I came across my favourite hydrant at Tel Aviv Port.  It’s favourite in the sense that I’ve photographed it several times over the years in different poses. Strangely, I had always thought of it as being male but as I looked at it, I realised that it had had a complete facelift in the few weeks I’d been away, so perhaps it might be female.

DSCF3249 FACELIFT

On the other hand, although women indulge in facelifts perhaps more than men, it’s not unknown for the males of the species to do it, too.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 18.40.08

And while on the subject of fire hydrants, I’m always amused when someone sends me a picture of one they’ve taken because it somehow reminded them of me.

IMG_20180815_163700588 JUDITH RUSSELL

ein Schweizer Hydrant.  (Courtesy: Judith Russell)

20171206-11 17 24 ROGER LEE

In the hole he goes (went?)  (Courtesy: Roger Lee)

Irma's Bees beehiving

Beehiving like a hydrant (Courtesy: Irma Zaslansky)

Finally, sometimes I take a photograph not to record what’s there — or not simply to record what I (or the camera) have seen but because I think at the time that I can turn an ordinary image into a better picture.  

Two examples are provided by an installation currently (this summer) in the sculpture garden at Regent’s Park and by a tree on Hampstead Heath that I photographed several years ago in black and white but decided this time to be a little more creative — and it worked.

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DSCF3222_Enhancer Hampstead Heath tree

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