Sugar, sea and everybody’s friend

August in Tel Aviv continues in its apparent perspirituity.  The heat and humidity are awful and I’ve concluded that it’s detrimental to people’s physical and mental health.  Moreover, everybody seems to be away enjoying themselves in cooler climes, which hardly makes me feel better.


Guess where they are! August 2019


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On top of the world.  Ben Nevis summit.  August 2019

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Shaggy waterproof  raincoats with horns to frighten away the storm goblins.  Skye 2019

So while all and sundry are living it up abroad, I continue to be fascinated only by what I can observe on the streets in North Tel Aviv!

For instance, this morning, while walking along the river, I espied some bright colour where there generally isn’t such.  I would have preferred to have had a different lens on the camera at the time but one must make do with what one has.  I tried from several angles and this is the one I chose.


Leaving the house this morning and yesterday, I encountered a phenomenon that seems to have become more common recently.  People clear out their closets and give away old clothes but rather than take them to one of the bins provided, they dump them on the street benches, the nearest one of which was literally outside the gate, with the others about 100 meters away.  Any semblance of civic pride seems to have gone out the door—and straight onto the street!

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Not far away, I couldn’t resist commenting upon this little macabre juxtaposition.  Electricity pylons on the streets carry a warning from the Israel Electric Corporation that reads in Hebrew, English and Arabic “High Voltage: Danger of Death”. Directly underneath this one was a notice informing passers-by of the death of one the residents of the street, who had seemingly passed away a few days before.  Being me,  I couldn’t help wondering if poor Carmela didn’t read any of these languages and as a result …

Carmela RIP

Turning the corner on to Yehuda HaMaccabi Street, I came across an ambulance, which, in a way, sums up part of the Israel story quite well.

The Israeli story

And yesterday on Nordau Boulevard, I observed this guy for some time, obviously in need of a fix.  I waited several minutes to see whether a sympathetic driver might stop and give his battery the jerk that it so obviously needed but although least a dozen cars and vans passed him by and his plight was plainly visible to all, none stopped or even slowed up, so figuring that I needed to be home within the half hour, I reluctantly left him and his jump cables standing beside his immobile automobile. 

Needs a fix

On the way home, on Brandeis Street, I found yet another example of urban drip irrigation — or perhaps it’s spray irrigation.  I didn’t hang around to have a closer look.

Urban drip irrigation

Passing a small grocery store on the way home and looking at the sugar for sale in the form of chilled soft drinks …

Sugar time

… I was reminded of a song that was popular 60 years ago!


And yesterday morning, just after I spotted the kingfisher, I noticed an unusual number of individuals, apparently dressed for cooler weather although it was already 27ºC and not yet 8 a.m.  They came across the footbridge near the river mouth in their droves and I walked along with a small number of them just to see where they were headed.  They stopped when they arrived at the sea and gazed at it for several minutes in what appeared to be absolute wonderment.  Perhaps it was the first time they had seen the sea and hadn’t realised it was made of water and wet—and salty, too.  Who knows?  Anyway, after a few minutes I concluded that they probably weren’t going to supply me with any more (or any better) images and I left them there pondering.

The sea, the sea

And they wondered and pondered, I found that yet another song had somehow or other lodged itself in my head and as I left them, I was humming along!


I debated for quite a long time with myself whether this post should be politics-free and after much exchange of views between me, myself and my alter ego, I decided that there’s too much politics going on in the world that bothers me, so why shouldn’t involve you as well?  After all, the mess that has been brewing in Italy for months finally has come to a head, Boris Kerfuffle is refusing to budge, Corbyn fancies that he can become Prime Minister by almost as democratic a method as Boris did, Trump becomes more outrageous, obnoxious and appalling day by day and is dragging a more than willing Israeli Prime Minister along with him … so…  

As you alight the Number 25 bus on King George V Street in Tel Aviv just before it reaches the headquarters of the Likud party and look across the street at what is undoubtedly one of the ugliest buildings in the city, these days you are reminded that Israel’s Prime Minister is fighting not only for his political life but also for his personal freedom.  Somehow, his utterances and decisions over the past few weeks and months suggest that he’s losing the plot and the Lord only help us if and when he finds it again!

Win the election, the second of this year, in four weeks’ time and we’re in for another few years with him and company, by which time the disassembly of the institutions of a democratic state will probably have been completed; lose it and there’s every chance that there will be a move from the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, which his wife seemingly abhors anyway, to even less comfortable surroundings in Maasiyahu Prison in the city of Ramla, southeast of Tel Aviv, an institution that has in recent years been home to Mr. Netanyahu’s predecessor, to a former President of the state and to several individuals who served as ministers in Israeli governments, not to mention a former Chief Rabbi.

Last time around, in April, Mr. Netanyahu tried to convince voters that he belongs “in a different league” by decorating the hideous building with an image of himself shaking hands with the President of the United States.  Move ahead four months and this time around, in his efforts to convince Israeli voters that he is a senior member of the Premier League of world leaders, in fact the only person who can keep the Israeli ship afloat, the Likud building on King George Street has recently been adorned on three of its four sides by large images of the Prime Minister with some of his “friends”. These have been designed to illustrate that not only is he best friends with Mr. Trump (as he was last March/April) but that he simultaneously has more friends like him all over the world.  (Shades of a nascent North Korean look about, I fear.)

The interesting thing here (to my addled mind, at any rate) is that when Bibi looks outwards from his window on the world at large, he can catch a glimpse of many friends in high places but when he looks around him inside the confined borders of this itty-bitty state, all he seems to be able to perceive are enemies, who surround him day and night.  Some of these enemies were actually once very close allies indeed, if not exactly friends, three of them so much so that if Mr. Netanyahu fails to get a majority in the Knesset that will do his bidding and change the law so that a sitting Prime Minister will be granted immunity from prosecution (and in his mind, persecution), they are willing to turn state’s evidence and testify against their former puppeteer.  Bibi knows where he’s likely headed if things go wrong for him and will do everything to avoid that situation.  And on that score, I can’t really blame him although maybe he should have given that some more thought several years ago.

Modi - 1.jpg

Moody Modi


Everybody's friend 1

His trump card


Everybody's friend 2

Putin’ on the style

And if he fails to win the election, then perhaps we might regard his fate as being similar to young Albert in the story recounted by Stanley Holloway. (BTW, you might need to listen to it more than once if you’re not familiar with a broad Lancashire accent.)




The Silly Season

“The Silly Season” is a name originally given to that part of the year (approximately August/September) when Parliament and the Law Courts were not sitting and all sorts of  frivolous news stories—“silly” stuff—were inserted into the newspapers for padding when there was little of “importance” to report.  The term is also used to refer to those time periods outside the traditional seasons of competitive sporting competitions such as soccer, basketball or cricket when speculation of all kinds regarding possible changes involving players, staff, and teams arise. Whether the speculations remain just conjecture or actually bear fruit, the moves and the discussions they generate help pad out or fluff up what we read and what we are forced to hear and see if and when we turn on the radio or the TV.  The Silly Season was also the time of the year when the former Prime Minister of the UK, Harold Wilson, used to take off for his annual retreat in the Scilly Isles (purely coincidental, of course.) So, if this is the case, we are now theoretically in the silly season—except that it appears that this time around, the silly season seems sillier than usual.  

The current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom appears to be of a mind to operationalise the “will of the people”, (i.e., those 51½% who voted three years ago to leave the European Union) by October 31 come what may.  And from what I am reading these days, if that means proroguing (i.e., discontinuing a parliamentary session) in order to prevent parliament from passing a law forbidding leaving the Union without an agreement, then so be it and screw the consequences, the people and the country.  If that is actually the case, then it sounds to me a bit like the way dictators operate, dictators who find opinions that differ from their own to cause irritation and to be insufferable—but who am I to proffer an opinion being just an outsider, an onlooker, a bystander?

In this corner of the world where we prepare ourselves for a second election within the space of five months things are not all that much different.  The top 40 candidates on Likud’s list of candidates were required (yes, required—it was made compulsory!) to sign a pledge that they will support the Prime Minister to form the next government and will not make any attempt to replace him.  The pledge reads: “We the undersigned candidates on the Likud list for the 22nd Knesset emphasise that we will not be dictated to from any other party.  Without regard to the results of the election, Netanyahu is the Likud’s only candidate for prime minister, and there will be no other candidate.”  


At Tel Aviv Port

Think less, feel more

Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv

(Our Prime Minister, you understand, is surrounded by enemies everywhere he looks—except at home where he’s surrounded by people who truly love him and remind him ceaselessly that he’s surrounded by enemies.)  My guess is that even some of the enforced 40 are considered as foes. As all this is actually the case, it, too, sounds to me a bit like the way dictators operate, forcing flunkeys to sign a pledge of allegiance is rather like dictators who find opinions that differ from their own to cause irritation and to be insufferable.  But who am I to proffer an opinion?  In this case, I’m just a disgruntled and almost completely disillusioned voter.

So there, that’s all the soul-searching for today.

Summer is now operating in full force in this part of the world.  Daily maxima in the low 30ºs Celsius, Relative Humidity 70-80%, nighttime minima in the mid-20s.  In other words, unpleasant in extremis.  This is only the second time in two decades that I will have spent the whole of August in Israel and I can only say, honestly and truly, that I do not find it to be pleasant in the slightest.  The only solution is to stay indoors and hope that the air-conditioning continues to function properly, which, as I wrote these words yesterday, it was not and I awaited the arrival of the technician.  When he eventually arrived, added gas to the outside compressor and it is now working better than well!

The nights here are so humid that stepping out into the park at around 7 a.m., it’s not unusual to find bodies splayed out in some position or other trying to find some comfort at night.  They don’t look to me like regular homeless people just people looking for somewhere relatively cool to sleep.

Asleep 2

Asleep 1


And for all I know, he might have been there all night too, except for the fact that he’s got a stack of Bibi’s freebies that he’s going to try and foist upon un suspecting passers-by when he wakes up.

Taking a break

Mind you, not everyone in the park is trying to cool off and there are those who go out of their way to work up a decent sweat.  I presume that the earpieces are for listening to music as I can see no sign of a smartphone anywhere although I must admit that I didn’t look behind as we passed one another … 


… However, the man below is wearing a timepiece as I suppose he has to work out how much time has has before he needs to change for work and look a little more respectable …


… and there are even others who take a more leisurely approach to walking through the park.

A work in progress

A work in progress (in its early stages)  Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

Even the sunflowers given to us by a friend who came to visit a few weeks ago succumbed to the heat although they were not in direct sunlight.  I was reminded by these pictures of—yes, you’ve guessed it—Vincent van Gogh, whose sunflowers I could stare at for hours on end.  I was also reminded of Vincent yesterday when I was reading Kassia St Clair’s fascinating book The Secret Lives of Colour, one of the [too many] books that I dip in and out of, in which she writes about the biographies of 75 colours from Lead white to Pitch black.  Writing about Chrome yellow (p.79), she writes: “Sadly for artists and art-lovers alike, chrome yellow has a nasty habit of browning as it ages.  Research carried out on van Gogh’s paintings in Amsterdam over the past few years has shown that some of the chrome yellow in the flowers’ petals has darkened significantly, due to the reaction of chrome yellow with other pigments in sunlight.  Van Gogh’s sunflowers, it seems, are wilting, just as their real-life counterparts did.”  Time to view Vincent again before we all get browned off with him or he with us!

Sunflower (1)

Sunflower (2)


At Tate Britain, London.  May 2019

However, not everything during this silly season is a case of wilting and browning, as the picture below clearly shows.

Urban drip irrigation

Urban Drip Irrigation, Tel Aviv.

Anyway, there are all sorts of unconventional ways of cooling off if you get really desperate!

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I must say that I often get some strange looks when I photograph trees and tree trunks …

Tropical paradise

A tropical paradise? Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

… and I suppose that the reason I sometimes get strange looks is that everywhere I go, can can see faces — sometimes sad or worried …


… and at other times, just astonished by what they see around them.

Treeface 1

Not all trees have faces and there are those that offer a resting place for the smallest of birds …

Bird on Tree

… while there are other birds that seem to be able to manage quite well, thank you, without any arboreal help at all.

Stuck on???

Walking home the other day and passing a shop that has changed hands perhaps three or four times in the past couple of years but which in its current persona seems to be making a go of it, I couldn’t help noticing the advertisement in/on the window for events that they are prepared to cater for.


And at the end of our street, there is an example of one of the ugliest type of municipal installations to be found in the city—a plastic recycling cage.  Recycling in Israel is its infancy and the infancy seems to be extended.  Yes, there are containers for paper and cardboard dotted along the streets but hardly enough of them.  Glass needs to be lugged to a supermarket where they will refund you some petty change for bottles (I suppose that having containers on the streets with shards of glass in them might be regarded by some or many as a security hazard); I have no idea how metal might be recycled but clothes seem be dumped on street benches for people to sort through and take although there are containers for old clothes scattered about here and there in inconvenient locations.  However, recycling of plastic is a big thing—as is bottled water although there’s nothing really wrong with the stuff that comes out of the tap.


Every now and then, a truck with an elephant-sized vacuum cleaner suck up the contents of these plastic cages although what happens after the is anyone’s guess.

Plastic 1

Finally, a comment about walking the streets along a fairly fixed route.  While there’s always something interesting that one never seems to have noticed before, there are also “fixtures” and if I pass a small coffee kiosk on Nordau Boulevard between about 8 and 8.30, more than likely I’m likely to find the same gentleman enjoying his coffee and his cigar and viewing his phone—except that this time around, he’s got one eye on me.

Coffee & Cigar

And just a pair of images to end up, a cactus from Tel Aviv Port and the pomegranates from the Carmel Market.



Pomegranate time