I 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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”!
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…
… as was this individual in a doorway photographed in Camden Town one morning from the bus, unfortunately an all too frequent sight in London.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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?)
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!
And then I was back in Belsize Park …
… 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!