Pianos, Pavarotti & the perils of smoking

There were two highlights to last week and both of them were musical.  Last Wednesday, I went to the first of two concerts of the Israel Chamber Orchestra in which the Georgian pianist, Eliso Virsaladze, performed all five of Beethoven’s piano concerti on the same evening.  I went to the first concert at 18.00 hrs and heard the second, fourth and third concertos; then, an hour after that concert concluded, at 21.00, she performed the first and the fifth (The Emperor).  

Irrespective of whatever one might have felt about her interpretations of what Beethoven had composed, simply the sheer audacity of performing all of these masterpieces in the space of four and a half hours was mind-boggling. Yes, I know that she has probably performed each of these pieces hundreds of times but just the energy needed to sit at the piano and perform them from memory is nothing short of phenomenal.  Yes, I have heard András Schiff perform Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier in a single evening and Yo-Yo Ma do the same with Bach’s six cello suites but somehow performing with an orchestra is something extra.  Given that the lady is almost 77 years old, she radiated more than enough energy to keep the orchestra players, most of whom are about half her age, on their toes and on top form.  

I had forgotten that two years ago she had been a member of the jury of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv and that I must have photographed her then — so when I extracted the archive, there she was, centre stage standing directly behind the 90-something year old Menachem Pressler and Lady Annabel Weidenfeld.

Rubinstein Jury 2017

That event was on the Wednesday night at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and came compliments of Shuli who leads the viola section of the orchestra.  The following night at the Tel Aviv Opera House was something different entirely—a performance by the Revolution Orchestra in which Tami is a member of the cello section.  The Revolution Orchestra is an exciting and young musical organization creating a series of unique performance concerts in the Opera House.  In this concert, entitled RE:PLAY II, they took us on a journey of music and video art in the footsteps of the musical legends who inspired them, bringing back to life on the stage some favourite deceased artists to play with the orchestra, their reincarnation occurring through video projections with the orchestra providing music, all coming to life in a musico-visual multi-sensory experience lasting about 90 minutes.

So it was that last Thursday night, Jacqueline du Pré was paired with Jimi Hendrix, Édith Piaf with Astor Piazzolla, Marvin Gaye performed with Yehudi Menuhin, John Lennon and Glenn Gould formed a wonderful musical collaboration, Billie Holliday partnered Amy Winehouse and finally, as the climax of the evening, there was a “competition of kings” between Luciano Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury. (Guess who won the audience prize in that contest!)  

Even if it was not one of those cultural experiences that leaves you on a very high high, there was certainly a feeling that you had experienced something entirely different and quite unique.  And the performance even produced an curtain call—a live performance conducted by Danny Kaye in which the audience only saw Kaye as the conductor as he faced the Revolution Orchestra which turned around, with their backs to the live audience, and played for him—replete with the [very] out of tune trumpet.


And after this brace of cultural highlights, its was back to recording the geography of the mundane in the streets of North Tel Aviv.

There is—or there was—a municipal car park in the neighbourhood on a street named after one, Gedalia Bublick, a Yiddish writer and Zionist activist from the first half on the 20th century. When we came to Tel Aviv 13 years ago and went to view the flat we eventually purchased and have lived in since, we were told that we could park the car in the Bublick car park, which we misinterpreted as the “public car park”, and so Bublick remained public for 13 years.  And then, a fortnight or so ago Tel Aviv Municipality announced that the Bublick car park would be no longer a public car park and that the space would acquire an alternative use, with kindergartens and play schools to be erected to cater to the increasing youthfulness of the neighbourhood.  Construction, they announced, would start in August.  However, with some abnormal efficaciousness, the authorities decided to get started straight away and the area was fenced off last week—much to the bewilderment and perplexity, I should imagine, of some people who left their cars there while taking a short break abroad and who will find on their return that there is no uncomplicated way of releasing their forlorn automobiles.

Bublik 2

Bublick Car Park, Tel Aviv, facing east.

Bublik 1

Bublick Car Park, Tel Aviv, facing east.

Bublik 3

Bublick Car Park, Tel Aviv, facing south.

Now in a city like Tel Aviv where, on average, cars have more bumps and scratches than in many other cities due to the absolute premium on parking spaces and the couldn’t care less attitude of many drivers, this new construction not only means a reduction of about 80 or so parking spaces in the neighbourhood but also the addition of tens if not hundreds of automobiles in the mornings and afternoons as parents, grandparents, childminders and other handlers drop off and pick up their darling little charges in an area that already comes to a near standstill for that very reason as there is already a primary school opposite the car park, which makes getting out of the neighbourhood at peak hours almost impossible.

And while on the subject of cars and car parks, Gal and Michal have decided to rent out their parking space on Yeshayahu Street for a year (a parking space with a gate, mind you) on contract for the princely sum of NIS850 (about $240 or £190) a month!  And I suppose they’ll be piling up at the gate at such a bargain price for something that is almost impossible to come by in this area.

Parking rental

And on the subject of parking space, some morally principled person decided to signal (via the windscreen wipers) to all those drivers who had parked their vehicles in what s/he had decided was an unfriendly manner (i.e., had they moved their car another meter forward, they might have left space for another driver to fit his/her car into a space that was currently too short to fit anything other than a Smart car parked sideways—of which there actually are several).

Parking controller

And while still on the subject of parking, I took a few minutes to observe the a ritual on Nordau Boulevard before 08.00 the other morning, one that occurs the world over on a regular basis.  First off, the traffic warden slaps a parking ticket on the grey Mazda — 250 shekels down the drain (i.e., into the Municipality’s coffers).  Then he makes contact with the tow truck that proudly displays the logo of Tel Aviv Municipality.  The truck driver positions the crane to just above the offending car and then exits the vehicle and affixes straps to each of the four wheels and presses the button that hoists the car above the surface of the road. The car wobbles a bit and I think that this is going to be one of my lucky days as I capture municipality employees damaging a[n albeit illegally parked] private vehicle. But no such luck as the driver attaches larger and robuster thongs and up it goes to be driven off to its temporary resting place where it will eventually be located by its rightful owner who will then be asked to make a further contribution to Tel Aviv Municipality’s account.

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It all reminded me of an incident in London many years ago of when I went to the theatre with my late sister-in-law and she parked the car on Charing Cross Road close to the theatre in a spot in which parking was prohibited although she said that because it was evening, nobody would do anything about it.  On exiting the theatre—no car—the outcome of that being a taxi ride to the underground car park at Marble Arch where a police computer located the car in a pound near King’s Cross Station.  So another taxi to the floodlit car pound where a surreal scene presented itself in which people almost came to blows as they battled for the right to part with £75 to release their car that evening rather than have to return the following day—and then probably to be charged an extra fee for overnight parking!

A little further up Nordau Boulevard I watched a woman demonstrate the advantages of hands-free mobile phones and she was able to talk freely and use hand gestures to the full, gestures that I’m pretty sure her interlocutor was unable to see.

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And not far away a street library was parked, one of several dotted around the city, from which people are encouraged to borrow books, read them and return them. One morning last week, I encountered a woman who had decided to make alternative use of the library by reading to her children there and then on the spot as they sat there fascinated.

Street library

A balcony on Jabotinsky Street yielded what looked like the remnants of a bizarre party that had recently come to an end, leaving the participants frozen in various shades of ecstasy.

Some party

And as I’ve mentioned before, travelling by bus as often as not can provide us with interesting pictures. Last week was particularly hot and humid (not in the bus, which was like sitting inside a mobile refrigerator) and this couple of tourists got on.  To say that they were suffering from the heat and humidity might be something of an exaggeration as she didn’t seem to be but he definitely was.  And not surprising, too, as in addition to lugging what looked like a solid and rather weighty suitcase, he had quite a bulky and equally weighty rucksack on his back as well as a loaded camera bag on his front and even occupying two seats, he seemed to be quite uncomfortable. 

Travelling light?

The Yarqon Park afforded its usual complement of images:

Even the dogs are bored

The lady was busy exercising but the two dogs found it all a trifle tedious — and rubbish is rubbish whatever way you look at it!


And then there were some images that I edited a little at home.

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They’re cherries, in case you didn’t realize

Water lilies

In the pond 



A hoopoe on a tree (and the colours are real!)

Abstract (menu holder)

Falafel holders

And then, on one more visit to Nordau Boulevard, I noticed that I couldn’t recollect ever having seen a bench in Tel Aviv commemorating a person who had died even though such things are commonplace in the places I walk in London.  As I passed this one, I read the caption as if it had been written in English and said “Poor Claire” — and then I realized it was actually in French and should have been read as: “For Claire”.  But it really was Poor Claire who used to sit and smoke on the bench.  Didn’t anybody ever warn her of the dangers of smoking (or of fuming)?  Poor Claire, indeed!

Poor Claire


From Basil and Manuel to Rothschild

Settling into this new stage in life in which we now have a full-time caregiver living with us in what is not a very large apartment takes some getting used to. Arnaeth arrived from Manila to just as the person for whom she had come to care had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Ichilov Hospital, the day after we had been given to believe by the head that Unit that her situation was, in gross under stataement, dire.  Well, she’s home again and making steady, if slow, progress; hopefully she will eventually return to the state she was in before the last hospital stay.

Meanwhile, in between home visits from therapists of many kinds—physio, dietician, speech, occupational—we try to keep ourselves occupied one way or another during the day.  It turns out that the most awkward time of the day is the hour and a half or so between dinner and bedtime, so we’ve taken to filling up that time by watching TV, something that doesn’t take too much effort.

Last week, we decided that instead of watching something “serious”, like a documentary programme, we’d catch something that didn’t take much effort at all and we settled on a few episodes of Fawlty Towers.  Viewing this sitcom called to mind the question of what constitutes a classic, for Fawlty Towers is classic by any stretch of the imagination.  (There were only 12 episodes in all, six of them broadcast in 1975 and the other six four years later,  a fact that seems to surprise many people when you mention it.)  You may have seen them many times before and you know exactly what’s coming next, yet you laugh just as much as you did the first time you saw them and in that way, it’s a bit like that reading Roald Dahl’s short stories for adults in which there’s always a sting in the tail, for they, too, are also classics in their own right.

Anyway, we settled down the other night to watch a couple of episodes and Arnaeth, our caregiver, joined us in the living room.  Now, I have always regarded Fawlty Towers as unambiguously comprising English humour and that if you haven’t been brought up on material like that, you couldn’t possibly understand why it was quite so hilarious.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.  However, as we sat there, there were screams of laughter coming from the sofa to my right as Arneath was obviously highly amused by it all.  I tried to correlate her chuckling and chortling with what we were seeing on the screen and I could only conclude that the crude rudeness of Basil Fawlty, the barbed wire relationship between Basil and his wife Sybil and the utter stupidity and suffering of Manuel, the Spanish waiter (“Que?”, “Please excuse him, he’s from Barcelona” and “I know naathing”) are what make it understandable and amusing to all. (BTW, I had it on good authority that when Fawlty Towers was aired in Spain, the translation had it that Manuel was from Italy!)

Yes, the patter is distinctly and distinctively English but there’s enough slapstick in each episode to make anyone and everyone laugh.  Nevertheless, I came to the conclusion in the end that the Spanish must enter into Filipino humour somewhere along the line because the loudest howls of laughter coming from my right-hand side was each time Andrew Sachs as Manuel uttered some inanity in broken English or cracked up quasi-pseudo Spanish!

(By the way, there was an interview with John Cleese that I saw somewhere quite a while ago in which he testifies that the idea for Fawlty Towers came when he and another member of the Monty Python comedy team were staying at a hotel in Torquay in which the owner was so rude that he would have made Basil Fawlty appear to be the epitome of genteelness.)


In my post of last week, I included a picture of a bronze cast of cellos that had appeared several months ago in the forecourt of the Israel Conservatory of Music down the street without any indication of who the artist was until the plaque on the right suddenly appeared.  One of the readers of this blog, without a shadow of a doubt my most regular correspondent, did what I might have done were I not prone to being sidetracked several times a day in my role as principal carer.  What Herman did was do a Google search on the artist, Arman, and came up with a website with images of several other of his creations.


“L’Heure de Tous”, outside the Gare St. Lazare in Paris and a sculpture called “Long Term Parking”, located at the Château de Montcel in Jouy-en-Josas, France, were particularly appealing.  The latter installation is 18m high and consists of 60—mostly French—cars set in 18 tonnes of concrete.

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L’Heure de Tous, Gare St. Lazare, Paris

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Long Term Parking

What a pity Arman didn’t specialise in politicians!

But back to Tel Aviv streets. Our equivalent of street art and installations are these rather unsightly cages that are found throughout the city into which responsible people can deposit their plastic waste.  About once a week, a truck with a mammoth trunk arrives and sucks all the plastic into its belly for, I presume, recycling off site.  Noble as this may be, recycling other materials such as glass or metals, is far behind what has become common procedure throughout much of the rest of the developed world.  Getting rid of surplus glass and metals means finding somewhere to store them after use and then bringing them to the local supermarket.  Recycling cages for such materials don’t exist, at least not in our backyard.

Plastic bottle cage

Now, as I’ve said before, one never knows who one is about to meet on the streets.  This gentleman was parked on a bench on the street outside the greengrocer’s the other day and looks like lots of other middle-aged males in the neighbourhood, tapping out what are undoubtedly important messages on his cellphone.  However, the following day, I saw him again, this time wearing his working clothes explaining to all and sundry what had been happening in Israel and the world on that particular day.  Yaron Dekel is one of Israel’s most experienced political reporters and has made a recent return to our screens after an absence of some time (that, at least, is my impression).

Dekel Greengrocer

Dekel at work

And while on the subject of greengrocers, the summer colours are so much more vivid than those of other seasons.


One of the features of summers in Israel is the appearance of watermelons.  Aeons ago, tents used to appear on the roadsides, inhabited by a temporary watermelon seller and a large mound of the fruit.  These days, the roadsides (and the footpaths) are speckled with automobiles of various sizes and the watermelons—as befits a country which considers itself more “civilized” (whatever that means)—the watermelons have retreated into large plastic containers outside greengrocers or remain inside supermarkets.

Watermelon time

One of my daughters sent me the cartoon below, which I thought was quite amusing —  if only because it so reminded me of Tel Aviv.


And why did it remind me of Tel Aviv?  Well, my nephew, who came to visit last week informed me that what typifies Tel Aviv is that when people wait to cross the street at a crossing controlled by traffic lights and the green light informing pedestrians that it’s safe to cross lights up, nobody moves.  (Think about it!)

And crows are pretty smart birds, so smart sometimes that they cause you to question the disparaging nomenclature “birdbrain”.  I watched the individual below pick up the package in its beak and quite deliberately turn it round so that the open end was facing down, shake the contents on to the road and prepare to partake of a feast,

Smart crow

And I would not have been in the least bit surprised if this individual had managed at least to figure out the principles behind riding a bicycle even if there might have been some physical obstacles in the way of making it become a practical proposition.

Crow 0Crow 1

And as usual, while walking through the park, there were a couple of additional bird pictures that looked photographable.  (The smaller birds are more difficult to photograph not because they’re smaller but because they seem to stay still for less time.)


Sing, little birdie

And while in the park, I witnessed a small collision as three sets of rowers seemed to home in on the same stretch of water at the same time.  I’m truly amazed that that sort of thing doesn’t happen more often, though.

Traffic hazard

And rowing and running or walking or cycling are not the only activities going on in the park.  I watched this father and son enjoying — at least from the comments of the father — what seemed to be a serious chess lesson.  The pieces were large plastic pieces and the “board” was a black and white chessboard towel.

Check mate

And still in the park, I came across something that exaggerated the expression “two’s company and three’s a crowd” as more than a dozen small snails crowded together to discuss the implications of the most recent appointments to the transition government by the Prime Minister, Mr. Netanyahu.  (BTW, Mrs. Netanyahu this week finally signed a plea bargain, confessing in a Jerusalem court, briefly and quietly, though publicly. to a reduced charge of intentionally exploiting another person’s error in the misuse of state funds, in lieu of an original and far more serious charge of fraud.  However, she now has a criminal record even though the charges were reduced as part of the agreement.)

Snail mail

On another subject entirely, the other day, our granddaughters came to visit and found a hat that someone had left after a visit a few weeks ago, removed my glasses (commenting as they did so that they couldn’t understand how I could see anything through them) and then posed for the camera.

Lily hat

Gali Hat

Finally, one of the forgotten plusses of being related to a member of an award-winning music ensemble is that there are often pleasant surprises.  Usually, these have something directly to do with music such as hearing your offspring perform with well-known artists —Bronfman, Aimard, Dresslet, Ogrintchouk—or playing a piece that you’ve only ever heard on a recording.

So in July 2003, when we were living in London, I flew to Bordeaux for a couple of days to hear the Aviv String Quartet, in which Shuli was then the violist, compete in the finals round of the Bordeaux String Quartet Competition.  They shared the top prize in the competition with the Ebène Quartet from Paris and won the audience prize.  However, at Le Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, in addition to receiving the usual monetary prizes and, more importantly, concerts at some of the world’s top venues, there was an additional prize— actually two— and if I remember correctly, the audience seemed to be as excited about the content of the extra prize when it was made public as they had been then the winners of the competition had been announced a few minutes earlier.  Actually, they seemed to be considerably more excited.


I was given the task of lugging two magnums of fine wine back to London and by a stroke of fortune, the contents made their way to Israel sometime later.  The first of this pair was consumed in July 2008, shared by several people at Kibbutz Kfar Blum at the annual chamber music festival held there.

Cheval Blanc.JPG

But we’d forgotten about the second bottle!  It had been lying in a cask under Shuli’s bed for 16 years and she only rediscovered it a few weeks ago.  Perhaps the storage conditions had not been ideal but they could have been far worse and it would have been difficult to sell the stuff because it had not been ideally kept.

So what to do?  We arrived at the conclusion that there was little alternative but to drink the stuff.  But then what is good wine for, if not for drinking?  We opened it and to our pleasant surprise, although it may not have been absolutely in mint condition, it was still several levels higher than anything you could possibly buy in a local wine store.


Some connoisseurs might think it an abominable act that such glorious liquid should pass across such uncultured palates and down such unrefined throats but such is life with its many surprises! Nevertheless, I have to admit in all truth that consuming something that checks in at c. €75 a glass did leave me with some twinges of conscience but, oh boy, they were such extraordinarily pleasurable pangs!


My Tel Aviv mornings return

Well, after a week of respite in London a month ago (it might as well have been a year ago such is my perception of time these days) which might not have been exactly a week of rest and recreation, it was back to the “excitement” of life in Tel Aviv.  Without going into details, things in the Waterman household have improved enormously over the situation over the past week and even if they have not yet stabilised, we are looking forward to further progress in the weeks that lie ahead—literally, step by step—although we are some way away from a situation that we would regard as approaching normal.  Still, one has to be thankful for small mercies and several weeks after abandoning the streets, it was back to being a photoflâneur in North Tel Aviv.

This year, summer has arrived early and even before the end of May, the summer temperatures and summer humidity had already set in and they look to be with us until October at least, four to five months of climatic hell from which, for this summer at least, it looks as if there will be no easy escape or no escape of any kind.

Bloody awful, really.

Bloody awful this fog

Bloody awful, really.  Yarqon Park on a foggy day

The bloody awfulness of the weather one day towards the end of last week was probably the cause of the damage the gentleman’s left leg as it appears in the image above.   The sharav fog was so dense that invisibility in the park had become the norm.  The chimney of the Reading Power Station (In this part of the world, Reading is pronounced to rhyme with “bleeding” even though it was named in honour of Rufus Isaacs, the First Marquess of Reading which, as we all know, is pronounced to rhyme with “wedding”).

Can't get a Reading

Reading’s gone missing.  Yarqon Park.

Barely a Reading

Can’t get a Reading—or a reading—on this one at all!


Swimming prohibited—except for egrets

Even the sea was in a haze.  (Obviously, the sign does not apply to egrets!)

Walking through the park, one stumbles across all sorts of interesting objects.  I’ve always been fascinated by what’s in the bucket of the man who maintains the order and cleanliness in the stretch of the park from the rowing club to the Bar Yehuda Bridge.  In addition to the bucket, its wheelie, the brush and the plastic bags full of rubbish dumped by park users over the previous day, there is the receptacle into which he sweeps the rubbish as he ambles along his daily route.  This yellow repository is no more than a sawn off plastic cooking oil container put to better use after its oil has been used to cook something, probably rather unhealthy yet eaten by many.  It’s a good practical way of recycling although I dread to think of how the final stage of its recycling is effected.

Cleaning tools

Proceeding from park to port, I observed this gentleman at work (or on show).  Whereas a few weeks ago he was attempting handstands (albeit not entirely successfully), this time he was showing off his stretching prowess.  I had actually thought that he might try balancing on his hands again, using the two wooden blocks under them as props but all he was doing was swaying back and forth and from side to side, showing off to all and sundry his athletic abilities in the style he has chosen.  Although I photographed him, I didn’t notice  that for all his efforts he was attracting much attention from any of the other bystanders or passers by.

Will he won't he?

And while he was feeling the heat, a hundred metres or so away, it looked as somebody else was feeling rather chilly.

Relaxez-vous 0

Sweet dreams of winter

No comment

Not sure if these are hot or chilly but they shout out loudly for themselves


Summer .v. Winter

27ºC, 80% R.H.  Hot or chilly?  Who knows and, honestly, who  cares?

Out on the street, the same conundrum applies, as our gentleman friend steps out after his morning shower …

Pants Up

… and then prepares himself for the day that lies ahead—watch, sunglasses, belt for whatever he needs to carry, and he’s ready for the day ahead.

Ready for the day

A little bit further down (or is it up?) the street from where this gentleman readied himself for the day is a small boutique hotel, the Yam.  I couldn’t help but wonder as I passed by if the hotel was full to overcapacity and whether the caravan parked outside was where the management embedded their overflow.

Yam Hotel overflow

Round the corner and little further down the street I came across this canine.  Whereas in my previous post I included a photograph of a man wheeling his dogs in a doggy stroller around Primrose Hill in NW London, in Tel Aviv there was this dog with a gammy leg shlepping itself around the Tel Aviv streets with the aid of a canine rollator.  I was captivated—but didn’t hang around long enough to observe how he manages to cock his leg up with that contraption in order to do what doggies do to foul the streets!  Still, well done for courage!

Haunch help

Haunch help 1

And from a canine trooper to a feline mother-to-be …

I'll have kittens

If I don’t manage to fit through here, I’ll have kittens!  (“I’ll have them anyway!”, she says)

The enhanced mobility of the doggie above in question reminded me that I’ve also come across several examples of pillion passengers over the past few days.  In the first instance, the dog appears to be totally relaxed as its owner pedals through the park, taking in what was going on throughout its surroundings.

Pillion passengers

The couple in the picture below emerged onto the street from a house around the corner, he wheeling a bike and she behind him, donning a crash helmet.  I looked around to see where her motorbike might be but there wasn’t one.  She just hopped up on the back of his bike, held on to his neck and shoulders and off they went, shopping or whatever.

Pillion passengers 1

Every now and them, you come across people in relaxing mode.  This couple had each found a different way of feeling at ease, he on the grass and she perched on the forked trunk of a tree by the river.


And then, on Dizengoff Street, renovation work on one of the café-restaurants (there’s always renovation work on one of the café-restaurants on Dizengoff Street) but before work begins, time for an early morning nap in full view of passers-by.

Relaxez-vous 1

Then I had almost forgotten that the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Tel Aviv last month.  It’s not all that surprising that it slipped my attention because during there run-up to the competition, I was in London and when I returned to Tel Aviv, there were other, more pressing, things on my mind.  However, the signs are still about (literally).

Eurovision 3

As I passed by the stands for the rental bikes throughout the city, I was further reminded of this great cultural event and the ballyhoo that surrounds it.

Eurovision 1

Eurovision 2

However, yesterday, I came across one bike that I was convinced must have been a mistake.  I thought that some over-enthusiastic rear-wheel decorator had erred or was dyslexic and notwithstanding the colours on the wheel, had mistaken Austria for Australia for, as every geographer knows, Austria is in Europe whereas Australia is in another part of the world.  But things often happen in this world of which I am unaware and not being an avid fan of the Eurovision song contest, I had missed that fact that Australia had become part of Europe in 2015!  Come to think of it, Israel isn’t part of Europe either, is it?  And Azerbaijan?

Eurovision Australia

People of my age might remember the Eurovision Song Contest when it began in the late 1950s, based on the model of the San Remo Music Festival, of which the big hit song of theperiod was Volare (“Nel blu, dipinto di blu”, blah, blah, etc., etc.).  Well, the Eurovision Song Contest has come a long way from the likes of Volare and of Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson chanting charmingly:

Sing, little birdie, sing your song
Sing, you’ll help our love along
Sing, little birdie up above
Sing a song of love

Yes, there have been some memorable and hummable — even singable — songs over the years (not all of which actually won), such as Abba’s Waterloo, Gali Atari’s Hallelujah, Cliff Richard’s Congratulations or Sandy Shaw’s Puppet on a String.  However, over the years, the contest has transmogrified into the Eurovision Weirdo Contest, where if you are obese, or a woman with a beard, or a transvestite or a transgender, and are surrounded by lots and lots of gyrating and skipping and bobbing dancers, you have a good chance of winning — provided, of course that the audience and the judging panels judge the “songs—shows—performances” on their merits and not on the basis of some sort of crude political dalliances.  However, I must be getting old and the part of my brain that deals with the Eurovision Song Contest must be close to the part of my brain that reacts adversely to people who have tattooed bodies.


And as summer has arrived in full force, it’s the time of the year when the flowers on the pomegranate trees in the park are transformed into fruit.  Quite fascinating to observe.

And back on the street, in case you might have been in any doubt as to which country you might be in, the owner of this automobile is quite keen to remind you!

In Israel???.jpg

And back on the street, you never quite know what you are about to meet.  On Nordau Boulevard last week, as I was passing this gentleman, a song came to mind.  It turned out in the end that I’d got the lyrics slightly wrong, for I should have been singing “We’re in the money” whereas what was going through my mind was “You’re in the money”!  I wonder why?

In the money

A couple of years ago I decided that my one splash of self-expression in what I wear should come from the socks that I choose.  I know that these socks with the wide bands are a bit loud but I liked the arrangement of the colours.  Last week was gay pride week and the flags are still up in Tel Aviv Port.  It was only then that I noticed that there might be some hidden signifiers in my socks of which I hadn’t been aware when I bought them.  Oh, well.

Penultimately, last week I managed a couple of hours at the Tel Aviv Museum to attend a rehearsal of the Dvořák String Sextet with Shuli on the viola and then went to the performance a couple of days later.  The six of them seemed to be having great fun at rehearsal and just as much, if not more, in the performance, which made both a pleasure to be at.  I always think that this is what most people in an audience are unaware of.  They think that six talented musicians just walk out onto the stage for a 30-minute performance and that’s that and don’t really realise that in order for those 30 minutes to sound the way they should requires several hours of preparation — even if all the players have performed the piece many times before.

And a similar event occurred at home the other day when the Swiss violinist, Cordelia Hagmann and Shuli on viola, rehearsed just a few bars of a piece by the Norwegian composer, Christian Sinding, a process that took well over an hour, until they felt they’d got it right.

Sextet Rehearsal

Shuli & Cordelia

Finally, I posted a picture of this installation, which appeared outside the Israel Conservatory of Music a few months ago without any indication of who the artist might be.  A query to the conservatory turned up a response that they hadn’t a clue.  Well, some time in recent weeks, a plaque was embedded beside the structure and now we all know.

cellos 1cellos