Time off!

Boots.jpgI returned to Tel Aviv last Monday night in time to cast my vote on Tuesday morning. For the first time, I had made up my mind about what I was going to do long before the election so I was able to vote with a clear conscience.  Nevertheless, I assumed it was going to be a futile vote as it’s always seemed to me that lending my support to some person or organisation or issue is like the kiss of death for the things and people I support.  And in addition, for once, my good lady and I parted ways, she voting for a different party to me but as there wasn’t such a big difference, I have nothing I could really complain about.  

Compared to last April during Round 1 of Israel’s election marathon, the polling station this time around was practically empty.  Whether this meant any more than that people were enjoying a day off or something more serious needs to be examined in some detail. (Election day in Israel is a holiday and there’s no such thing as a postal vote.)  Yet here we are on Thursday and I can’t see that there’s much to celebrate about as it looks to me as if we are stuck with the same situation as we were in five months ago, only worse.  And although I could be mightily wrong, to my simple mind, it seems to me that if his party could only see that King Bibi has become an electoral liability rather than being an electoral asset and if they would only explain to him that he would be doing them (as well as the Jewish people as a whole and the rest of the world) a favour by resigning, then it should be fairly easy to put together a grand coalition (or “unity government” as it’s called here, which is, of course, an old Jewish joke).  But given that the man is battling not just to hang on to political power but is also fighting for his own personal freedom, haunted as he is by the prospect of three trials for assumed crimes he has committed, it’s more than unlikely that that will happen.

The timing of this election, between the end of the summer holidays and just before Jewish New Year led to a somewhat subdued election campaign, a campaign that only seemed to take off at the beginning of September.  However, my visit to Britain made up for whatever lack of excitement there might have been here in Israel for they are gearing up for an election. The date may be unclear, before or after Britain’s much postponed exit from the EU, if and whenever that might be, but the campaign is well under way.  From what I could gather (and from what I’d managed to glean beforehand) the British people[s] are even more split and splintered than us here on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean—and that’s really saying something.

Straight and narrow

Definitely not a politician: he’s on the straight and narrow.  Tel Aviv, September 2019

So—a week off in London for [what is generally considered] good behaviour (I needed a break) to see family and friends.  I did very little of cultural merit other than make a single visit to the Tate Modern in mid-week.  I slept for most of the first two days, finally managing to feel just about awake on the third morning.  

No visit to London—for me, at least—can be regarded as real until I have stepped out on  to Primrose Hill and gaze at the London skyline.  And so it was, in semi-stupor, I schlurred  around the perimeter of the hill and climbed to the summit. (Schlurre, by the way, is a Yiddish word that my mother used to use a lot, usually accompanied by the admonition “DON’T”, and stems directly from the German word schlurren, meaning to shuffle, scramble, walk slowly while dragging one’s feet.)  And, as usual, when I eventually got there, it provided that most wonderful view.  It was, I think, the first time in a decade that I’d been there without a camera and had to make do with what comes inside my phone, which did a decent enough job, I feel.

Primrose Hill

View from Primrose Hill

I returned a few days later to photograph “my six trees”, which mirror the curve of the hill (or so it seems to me) near the southwestern corner of the park, trees that I have now photographed under all sorts of lighting conditions and in all seasons, in full leaf and when the branches are bare — and they always look quite different.

Still summer (just) Primrose Hill

On my third and last visit to Primrose Hill, I spotted a squirrel as it darted at top speed down the hill. It had obviously spotted something that it deemed as potentially useful for the forthcoming winter,  even though winter seemed at the time to be a a long time off! (It’s not!)

Readying for winter

From Primrose Hill

St. Mark’s Church, Regent’s Park, from Primrose Hill

One of the pleasures of being in London is seeing the development of our two London grandchildren. How they manage to fit in running, tennis, chess, Hebrew lessons, reading, regular school and all the rest  is quite beyond me.


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At the Tate Modern in midweek I paid a visit to the exhibition In Real Life, work by Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist whose sculptures and large-scale installation art employ materials such as light, water, glass and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience and have been displayed in this gallery several times. Walking through a corridor in extremely bright light with artificial haze was scary but its intention was to help us seeing people understand better what unseeing people have to endure, day in, day out. (In 2003 Eliasson installed The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall, and the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern is a location always worth coming to experience just for itself.


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I even managed to take a selfie (of a different kind if only because I can’t get my fingers in the right place to take a selfie on the phone) while I was there!

Self-portrait Tate Modern

As I sat in the cafeteria, I noticed something out of the ordinary about  the woman a couple of tables away and it took me a while to realise that it was the saturated colours on her head.

Rainbow girl

And there were interesting images in and around the area between the Tate Modern and St. Paul’s, across the river.  Outside the Tate, I observed one of these people who stand unmoving (except for the odd blink of the eyes) all day long as people pass by and call it work.  I photographed this particular guy before his “work” started, on his way to “work” and at “work”!


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Crossing the Millennium Bridge, I came across this unmoving woman who is, for better or for worse (note the lunchbox and the drink to the left) part of the urban landscape…

Beggar your neighbour 1

… as was this individual in a doorway photographed in Camden Town one morning from the bus, unfortunately an all too frequent sight in London.

London doorway

Meanwhile, back on the north bank of the river, near the Millennium Bridge, I observed a man who, so it was explained to  me, is trying hard to renounce the smoking habit.  Well, you could have fooled me!


Vaping helps one escape from smoking.  Really?

And a little further along, overlooking the steps opposite the Cathedral, I chanced to look upward (it’s always a good idea to look up and down when you’re searching for a photograph) and watched the window cleaner cleaning windows although in this location I doubt that what he saw was what George Formby’s window cleaner (see below the picture) saw!

Cleaning windows

Another day saw me have breakfast with my one and only son at Coal Drops Yard, part of the enormous development just to the north of King’s Cross Station and near where he works.  Afterwards, Dov suggested we go have a look at the Samsung Showroom, which he hadn’t visited before.  Lots of gadgets and electronic stuff, one piece of which was a 60″ 8K TV set, with a picture clarity the likes of which I had never seen before.  I asked the Samsung “representative” how much the thing sells for.  He said: “Guess”, so I guessed “£10K” to which he responded: “Now multiply by seven” (£72,000) and when I asked if people actually bought them, he just smiled and nodded, so I suppose that the people who buy them either don’t, or don’t need to, ask the price!

Off to work

Male/Female business dress, Kings Cross, London

KIngs X Samsung

The Samsung display between Kings Cross and St. Pancras Stations, London

Walking down Oxford Street, something that I quite used to enjoy doing when I was younger, but which today is a pain in the everywhere, I chanced upon these two signs.  Given my addled brain, I immediately assumed the first one had been posted by the Prime Minister of Dis United Kingdom! But then straightaway, I understood that this couldn’t possibly be, as the second sign contained an apology!

DemolitionDemolition 1

And as I progressed west toward Oxford Circus, I walked behind this mumbling moron (as I overtook him, these are the only words with which I could adequately describe him) carrying placards that were perhaps aimed at politicians—or maybe the voters—both in the UK (and Israel).  (Do I need to translate Yshua?  Y should I?)

Really? Oxford Street

Finally (well almost), while waiting for a friend and sitting on the steps of All Souls Church at Langham Place, a white van drove up and got stuck in a traffic jam.  The man in the passenger seat saw me with the camera and smiled while posing and I took his photograph.  However, the only reason I did so (although I didn’t bother to explain to him) was that I knew that somewhere in my collection, there was a similar picture from five years ago and on coming home, I found it!


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And then I was back in Belsize Park …

Busy buzzy bee

A busy buzzy bee

Tattooed lady

… and before I knew quite where I was, I was back home in Tel Aviv, where tattooed mothers abound.

Finally, I was able to watch the wonderful Aurora Orchestra—a chamber orchestra that performs from memory—perform Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique for the second time in a week in a performance that can only be described as superbly fantastique!


Pirogi, Rogues, and Proroguing

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I think it is Harold Wilson to whom is attributed the aphorism “A week is a long time in politics” and now I think that I’m  beginning to understand what he was going on about.  I started this post about a fortnight ago in Tel Aviv and then somehow or other I got sidetracked and it remained as I had written it so that most of the nonsense I had in mind and in my mind to write about has been turned topsy-turvy.  Moreover, by the time I finish this thing, I’ll probably have miscued yet again.

When I first heard about the possibility of proroguing Parliament some time ago, all I could think of was that when it eventually reconvened, the Houses of Parliament catering department would be serving the sitting members Pierogi, which, as everyone knows, are boiled filled dumplings, originally native to Central and Eastern Europe and peasant fare at that. They’re rather flexible things and can be stuffed any number of fillings, including potato and cheese, sauerkraut, cabbage, spiced meats (which is what we ate at home on occasion), and even fruits and berries so that it can suit all tastes and all political views. They’d overcome class boundaries so I assumed that even in the British parliament they’d be happy to eat them.  And then, suddenly, realised I must have misheard—because after all, pierogi are European and not British.

Then the news broke and we heard that Britain’s new leader had requested [read: “advised” but really read: “told”] the Queen to prorogue parliament—in other words, to suspend it for five weeks so that he could work hard on his domestic agenda, which he will give the Queen to read to parliament at the opening of the next session, whenever that will eventually be.  Without too much ado, he sent three members of the Privy Council headed by head cook and bottle-washer, Jacob Mees-Rogue, The Lord President of the Council (and Leader of the House of Commons) to the Library of Balmoral Castle to gain Her Majesty’s consent — as if there was any possibility that she might have said no.  I assume that Jacob wore his best triple-breasted jacket in honour of the meeting—a rogue with brogues to prorogue indeed!  (I note that “privy” also means “a toilet located in a small shed outside a house or other building” and I wonder if that’s where she sent him to if and when he needed to go during his visit to the castle. I also understood that proroguing actually means that the work is being done by professional rogues.)

Screenshot 2019-09-10 at 15.32.10

The Leader of the House sets an example

This move, it seems to me, as it also seems to many others, was designed specifically to curtail any further debate in the mother of parliaments lest it conclude with legislation prohibiting the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union without first securing a deal, i.e., an agreement by both sides on what their future relationship might be. (Given that they’ve had three and a half years to find a solution to that conundrum, it seems highly unlikely that they’ll manage it in the few days available to them but you’d never know. Of course, Mr. Johnson and his sidekicks denied any such nonsense but the fact that the President of the United States, in his own inimical fashion, entered the fray a couple of weeks ago by tweeting “… Boris is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for, & will prove to be ‘a great one!’ Love U.K.” only added fuel to a fire that has been smouldering away in the heart of Westminster and other places for a long time now.

And then, the shit hit the fan.  Over 20 sitting members of the Conservative Party—some of them senior indeed—were expelled and others—including his own brother (and that rattled him—left of their own accord for saying that they would not support the Prime Minister who has reiterated over and again that he will take the UK out of the EU, deal or no deal.  And when the great test came the other day, they voted against again and again so that Boris suffered six parliamentary defeats in six days.  Even his predecessor, with all her faults, didn’t manage that.  

So Britain is now in a situation in which there is no parliament, no deal, no election, no repeat referendum, no ideas. Nothing.  Wonderful! Even a novelist with the most fertile imagination could hardly have thought this one up!

And then … while walking through North Tel Aviv the other day, this was where, of all places, I came across a scene that finally explained to me in the clearest possible terms the real reason for Brexit.

Why Brexit?
Why Brexit?  Obvious now! This is why!  Yirmiyahu St., Tel Aviv.  August 2019

In Israel, a week before [yet another] general election and you’d hardly believe that there is going to be one. The school year started last Sunday and I presume that people have now drifted home from trips abroad  but you’d hardly guess that there’s an election in the air.  There are a few small election posters about here and there in addition to the “Bibi is in a different league” [to all the other candidates for Prime Minister] posters adorning the Likud party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.  (Here and there you can spot an ad like this on the back of the bus although it doesn’t quite match the Bibi posters.  It’s and ad for a party (actually one party and a group of refugees from others who together comprise what can loosely be called the closest that Israel can get to a social democratic party and if they win six seats (5% of 120), they’ll be considered to have done quite well!)

Social Democrats.jpg

What seems to concern Likud most at the moment is to pass a law (a week before the election) to allow cameras into polling stations in order to record any possible interference in the purity of the elections!  Its real aim is to deter certain people to come and cast their vote at all.

Apparently the way most electioneering is done now is to send anonymous messages on the cellphone asking us once more, pleading again, to vote this way or that or if the election were held tomorrow, who would we vote for; these are beginning to fill up the phone’s memory again and even if I block the number, they seem to find an alternative number to bug me with.  

However, it’s all wasted on me as this time around, I’ve made up my mind already (on previous occasions I have usually decided when I’m behind the curtain at the polling booth) and it won’t be the same party that I voted for in April!  It’s  really hard to believe that in a country so wrought with security and other issues as Israel is, all we’ve had since the Knesset was dissolved last November is only a transitional government with transitional ministers and it will more than likely be November again before a new government is formed, it they manage to accomplish that feat at all.  Beyond belief, really.

End August 1

“Lying in Wait”—Israel Today (a.k.a. Bibi’s Freebie) Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv

And now to the photos of the fortnight.  I aim to set out each morning by 07.00 hrs to avoid the heat but rarely make it before 07.15.  One of the things that I’ve noticed is that at the same time each morning, you come across the same people, each of them doing their own thing.  Some of us recognise and/or acknowledge one another but others are so focussed on their walking/running/cycling that they notice nothing and nobody.  I, on the other hand, always on the lookout for a picture notice a lot of who’s where and what they do.  There is one woman, usually accompanied by a dog, and or a husband whose route through the park and port is the same as mine.  I guess that on at least two days a week for the past 12 years, our paths have crossed.  About two years ago, our paths crossed in Regent’s Park in London and I stopped her and her husband and told them that I recognised them from Yarqon Park in Tel Aviv.  They’d never seen me before, so they said.  But since then, it’s been a smile and a greeting in Tel Aviv each time. One day, I’ll suggest that we make a formal introduction!

I photographed the woman runner in the picture below last week and then remembered that I’ve caught her before on more than one occasion.  She’s deeply into her running and there never seems to be a incident where she glances around at her surroundings as she passes by.

Running 2019




Others seem to have a more ponderous stroll through the park and have lots more work to do …

A lot of work to do

I came across the gentleman below busy selfying from a variety of angles and when he saw me he asked me if I would take his photograph because even his arms wouldn'[t reach far enough for a shot like that.  I admire people who succeed in taking selfies, probably because  haven’t yet succeeded in producing an image with which I’ve been satisfied.  I think it might have something to do with a comment my first piano teacher in Dublin made to me over 65 years ago about me having short arms. — or something like that.


Mind you, there were other people in the park who attracted my attention as well!

Self confidence

And then, walking home through Tel Aviv Port, I couldn’t help myself taking the picture below.

Split personality

A split personality.  Tel Aviv Port

And talking of split personalities, walking along Nordau Boulevard, this person was smoking and having a conversation.  It wasn’t just that he was vociferously emitting words in sentences as there were longish pauses between his utterings and from what I could perceive, the words coming out were answers to voices he was hearing but which were inaudible to passers-by.  And, no, he didn’t have a cellphone tucked into his swimming trunks!

Intelligent conversation


More split personalities!  Tel Aviv Port

Fox hunter

And passing the street library on Nordau Boulevard, [yet another] book I haven’t read 

Autumn approaches 1

Autumn’s just around the corner.  Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv



I can see you!



Camouflage — Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

P.S.  If you’ve got this far and are looking for a through-provoking read, I can suggest Robert Harris’ latest novel, The Second Sleep, which was published last Thursday.  For anyone interested in the possible developments of Brexit, climate change and other catastrophes, it’s a compelling read, once you’ve got through the first couple of chapters and figured out what’s happening.

Finally, as en encore, Iddo Bar-Shai, an old friend of Shuli and Tami, at a gala concert in Paris from the beginning of the year, with the lady whom he always describes as the “Sublime Martha” performing Debussy’s “En blanc et noir”.