275??? What’s this all about then??? 

Well, it’s a double “celebration”, indeed.  Today — and I find this hard to believe, I am 75 years old.  And this is my 200th post on this blog.  When I started it, 49 months ago, I thought that if I managed to post just twenty bits of nonsense, I’d be doing well.  I had no intention whatsoever, no idea even, that it would continue for over four years at the rate of approximately one a week but there you are.

The original intention had been post a few photographs that I’d taken in the previous week or two and link them to short bits of text.  That’s still the aim but as some readers have commented, the partisan musings of a frustrated septuagenarian sometimes take over and interfere with the photographs.  On the other hand, there are some other readers who regularly egg me on, stimulating my worst partialities—so “you gets wot you gets”.

Anyway, for this time, no political comments (although I’d love to), just photographs.  I’ve chosen—more or less at random—what is without doubt far too many photos for a single post. Some of them might have appeared in earlier posts but I think that most of them are “new” to this blog.  I specifically chose photos (all but one) that were taken “pre-blog”, as it were, so that the likelihood of pictures being repeated has been minimised.  Some appear with captions or short comments; others have either or neither.  Enjoy!


I used to take photographs a long time ago.  In those far off days, most of them were in the form of transparencies (slides) and for most of them, I had in the back of my mind that I might be able to use them one day for illustrative purposes in some class or other.  So here goes.


The first part of our honeymoon was a week spent in the West of Ireland in September 1966.  The rest of this 53½ year-long holiday has been played out in many different places.

Western Ireland

Rural scene, Western Ireland.  September 1966


They have absolutely nothing to do with tobacco: there are actually four of them!

When I took early retirement in 1994, I needed something to do and decided to mug up on basic photographic techniques.  I borrowed a camera and had a wonderfully inventive teacher in Itzik Canetti.  On the first day, he sent us off to photograph and I was bemused because that was the only instruction.  I suppose he wanted to see how observant and/or imaginative each one of us was.  This is the first picture I took as part of that seven week course.

1st photo, 1st photography class

A face on a wall, perhaps?

During those first few weeks, I started to tramp around North Tel Aviv in an attempt to become familiar with the geography and layout of where we’d chosen to live.  Walking south parallel to the coast one day, I took this picture of chairs on hotel balconies because I like symmetry.  It was only when I got home and uploaded the pictures I’d taken that day that I noticed that although there were signs of human occupancy,  there was only a single person on a balcony .


But what on earth was she doing?  I needed to blow up the picture in order to see!



That first winter with the camera yielded two images that I particularly like looking at, both taken at Tel Aviv Port.  The first was taken on a dark and stormy day, early in the morning.  The sun came out for just a couple of minutes and the sea was rough but the reflection of the sun on the surf and waves was just enough to create an atmosphere of dynamism and the three gulls in the picture simply add to the feeling of movement.


A day or two later, walking along the promenade at the port was all but impossible as the see had thrown up a small portion of the garbage that had been in its belly.  Not a pleasant sight for all sorts of reasons.


There are occasions when you have to be very quick with the camera otherwise you get just an image but not a real picture.  Five seconds later, the bird was gone and although the drops would have been there, it’s the line of the tail feathers and the drops that turns the image into a real picture.


Similarly, I had to be quick and take this photo of the hoopoe before the insect was ingested.


This image of a man and a little girl and her scooter was taken on Hampstead Heath in London.  I saw the scene in colour but as soon as I came across it, I just knew that it would look more dramatic in black and white.  The original photo in colour is nothing special.  The black and white one is full of drama.  Why is the girl clutching the man’s legs?  What’s he saying to her?  Did she fall off he scooter and hurt herself?  I’m afraid I’ll never know.

Man, girl, scooter

There are all sorts of street scenes that look ordinary but you know they’re not—like this French onion-vendor on Hampstead High Street in London.  Or at least I presume he’s French as he’s reading La Tresse de Jeanne by Nathalie de Broc!


Then there are other things in Hampstead that are so English that you couldn’t possibly make a mistake about it.


When out with the camera in the street you have to keep your eyes open and spot things as they happen.  One morning, almost nine years ago, I came across Ron Huldai, the long-serving Mayor of Tel Aviv.  He’d just parked his car and was on his way to work and he must have had a long day ahead of him with important meetings because in addition to his briefcase, he’s carrying two ironed shirts.


Clean Government??? You must be joking—this is Israel! May 2011

As for clean government, the less said, the better.  He promised stable government  [for nags and hacks???] and he’s kept his word as he’s still there!


Stable government???  February 2009


Here’s another photograph taken on a dull day but one on which the sun appears for about three minutes.  Kitschy?  Perhaps.  But still a lovely photograph!

Grand Canal, Venice

Grand Canal, Venice.  October 2008

There are also boats in Tel Aviv, like this one that somehow ended up temporarily at the mouth of the Yarqon stream where it enters the Mediterranean.

Down by the riverside

Tel Aviv Port.  June 2011


My mother used to say to me (I was the second smallest in my class) that there are good goods in small parcels.  Quite possibly.


Cordoba, Spain.  May 2008


I often take photographs of birds walking through the parks in T-A and London—and elsewhere.  This one is an edited version of a single gull and its reflection in the river taken in Tel Aviv in June 2016 …

Gull in water

… and these cranes were photographed in the Hula Valley in Northern Israel ten years ago exactly.


Other “wildlife” cross the path of the camera as well.  Well, sometimes, wild is not so wild …


Squirrel.  Wildlife?  Regent’s Park, London.  December 2007

Or what about this moth on the wall outside the elevator to the flat in Tel Aviv?


Or how about this camel at London Zoo?  Needs to see a good dentist, and soon, methinks.


Look in front of you and you might encounter a fighter.


Look down and you might come across a ménage-à-trois.

Menage a trois

The living’ is easy—when you know how.  Belsize Park, London.  November 2011

And this lizard at Saint-Jean-de-Luz scurried, stopped and looked around — just enough time for me to click the shutter.


Most of my “landscape” photographs are of urban landscapes.  I don’t get around much any more.

Canary Wharf

Looking upward.  Canary Wharf, London.


The picture below is of what is reputedly the most spectacular public convenience in London, built in 1897 for passengers at the tram terminus at South End Green in Hampstead.  It was listed in 1993 as one of the few remaining Victorian public loos in London and was restored about 20 years ago. Inside, it’s a little smelly at times but nevertheless it’s almost glamorous; it has wall to ceiling tiling and porcelain and the attention to detail and craftsmanship is shamefully rich for performances by gentlemen that are almost always just fleeting but usually (literally) very pressing.

Lo, South End Green


The façade of #11 Leonardo da Vinci Street in Tel Aviv is nothing if not a work of art.

11 Leonardo da Vinci

Façade.  11 Leonardo da Vinci Street, Tel Aviv.


Not often seen in this light, Primrose Hill, situated just north of Regent’s Park in London is one of my favourite places, affording a wonderful view of the London skyline.


Primrose Hill, NW3.  December 2010


It’s more frequently seen in this sort of light.

Primrose Hill 1

At the fish market in Syracuse, Sicily, I watched this individual and and his team turn a tuna into tuna steaks over two days (tunas are very large fish indeed).  It was fascinating.


Shopping along the Edgware Road in London is different these days from the way it used to be a few decades ago.  There’s style and then again, there’s style.




4 shoes, no owners.  Tel Aviv Port, May 2015

Not all shoes are just left where their owners put them.  These ones were for sale in a Barcelona store.

Shoes Barcelona

And while in Barcelona, two spectacular ceilings, one more familiar than the other, perhaps. The Palau de la Música Catalana was built between 1905 and 1908 by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech I Montaner.

Music Barcelona

Ceiling, Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona

The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, is a large unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica in Barcelona, designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

la Sagrada Família Barcelona

Ceiling, Basílica de la Sagrada Família, Barcelona

And at the other end of the Pyrenees, stands the wonderful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by (Ephraim) Frank Owen Goldberg, a.k.a. Frank Gehry, as a reminder of Bilbao’s former prominence as a port.  The museum is designed as a ship and is usually photographed from the other side.  Although the guidebook said that the view was better from the far bank of the river, I discovered that the view was best from the bridge, where the office tower behind it becomes a sort of funnel for Gehry’s ship.


Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. May 2015


Music has been an important part of our lives over the past 30 years or so.  Three professional musicians and an ex-music therapist means that there have to be some music photographs.  Sometimes, we’re lucky and get a chamber music rehearsal at home.

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Three members of the Carmel Quartet & guest violist.  Stricker St., Tel Aviv. Dec.  2010

The Aviv String Quartet in its 2007 format is pictured here after a performance of Shostakovich’s 9th string quartet, Irina Supinskaya, the composer’s third wife.  Shuli said that it was the scariest concert she’d ever performed with the dedicatee sitting about 2½ metres from the end of her viola.


The Aviv Quartet & Irina Supinskaya.  Verbier, Switzerland,  July 2007

AN AUDIO INTERLUDE (Shostakovich, String Quartet #9; Aviv String Quartet)


A relaxed rehearsal—the Belcea Quartet at Tel Aviv Museum,  May 2014.

1599 - 2020

Viola by Giovanni Paolo Maggini, built in 1599 — and still in regular use in 2020!

Of course, there are other family photographs, too, like this one of our grandson and his parents.


Dov, Keren & Tal.  April 2010


On the streets of North Tel Aviv, where Dizengoff and Ben-Yehuda Streets meet, I followed this homeless man between November 2010 and May 2014, when he vanished.  To my great shame, I never spoke with him or even learnt his name.


And then there are the faces.  Occasionally I’m drawn to a stare or a smile or a grimace or hairstyle or make-up and if I’m brave enough, I go closer and ask if it’s OK or if I’ve got a telephoto lens on the camera, just go ahead and take it.

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And on occasion, there are just things that look good and are calling out to be photographed, so I do.


Writing implements

Coffee beans



Metal doors, Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

biology class

Snow White teaches biology to the dwarfs.  Stricker Street, T-A.  April 2015t


And that’s it, folks!

Stan 08.2014

Photo by Frank Bawden at the V&A, August 2014

P.S. Regular readers might have noticed that there isn’t even a single photograph of a fire hydrant.  So for those of you who might prefer not to spend the $57 that Amazon asks for a hard copy, here’s a PDF of the the magnum opus I prepared last year for the grandchildren.

Faces in a Crowd


Right-hand bats and reminiscing

It’s been a quiet week, really.  Well, I mean the lists have been put together and this part of the show is over. One main act has just begun.  In other words, we now know which parties will be contesting the election on March 2, the third general election to be held in less than 11 months.  We also know which erstwhile politicians will have become former politicians even before this election takes place.

The politicians kept us in animated suspense right up to the last minute by which they had to deposit the names and positions of the candidates comprising their lists.  In fact, when the lights were turned off in the Knesset at midnight last Thursday, the representatives of the proto-fascist party had to request of the judge who heads the Central Election Committee an extension of a few minutes in order to carry out their duty and submit their polished list, a request granted by by the person in charge.

I found it morbidly amusing that the Prime Minister, who had won a resounding victory a few weeks ago over a rival for leadership of his own party, played such an active role in cajoling the leaders of parties of which he is not a member—the proto-fascist, the quasi-fascist and the sincerely-fascist parties—to unite so as to shore up his right wing. He feared that one or more of them might not pass the threshold of 3.25% of the valid votes cast, which are needed to be gain representation in the Knesset, thereby endangering him personally by minimising the likelihood of his Likud party being able to head a coalition with the 61-seat majority that Mr. Netanyahu desperately wants so that they can enact a law that would grant him immunity from trial.

(In case anyone is upset by my terminology, I remind you that I used the terms “old-time fascists, neofascists, cryptofascists, pseudofascists, protofascists, quasifascists, religiofascists” in March 2019 before the first of these election hit-shows, which are being played out apparently ad infinitum and nobody complained.  I might also remind you that it is reported that when Kurt Weill, of Mack the Knife and September Song fame, visited the small town of Nahariyya, north of Haifa in 1947, a town which he  seemingly loved, to visit his parents who he hadn’t seen for 12 years, he wrote in a letter to his wife, Lotte Lenya, who was performing in New York at the same time, that the family had also visited Tel Aviv, which he described as “a very ugly city, with a Jewish-fascist population that makes you vomit”, so I’m not being in any way original.)

Anyway, to come back to January 2020.  The leader of the quasi-fascist party, the current (hopefully, very temporary) Minister of Education, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, gave his solemn promise to the leader of the sincerely-fascist party, Advocate Itamar Ben-Gvir that he would not split the extreme right-wing voting bloc by jumping ship to join the list of the proto-fascist party headed by the (hopefully, very temporary) Minister of Defence, Mr. Naftali Bennett.  He said, in Hebrew, “milah zeh milah”, which translates imprecisely as “my word is my word”.  However, the literal translation into English is “a word is a word” and Mr. Peretz must have lapsed into the English vernacular when he said it (I assume that as Minister of Education he knows some English though you can never be too sure of anything in this country) because just a few hours after he uttered his solemn promise, he proved that a word is really just a word and jumped ship.  This caused an aggrieved Mr. Ben-Gvir to say that he had been betrayed, that he had been stabbed in the back and that he would run anyway and come out of it all victorious.  (Mr. Ben-Gvir, apparently had a portrait of Baruch Goldstein adorning his living room.  Dr. Goldstein was an American-Israeli physician who perpetrated a massacre in 1994 in which 29  Palestinian Muslim worshippers were murdered and 125 wounded at the Cave of Machpelah near Hebron.  When Mr. Bennett stated that he would not countenance a man with such a portrait on the wall of his home appear on a list headed by him, Mr. Ben-Gvir graciously offered to remove the offending picture—at least presumably until after the election.  Mr. Bennett stood his ground, meaning that it’s the first time I’ve awarded a passing grade to Mr. Bennett.)

Events on the left-wing of Israeli politics were just as active is not as immediately dramatic (just to show that I have no political biases). Nevertheless it makes one wonder at how these people on the “treacherous Left” might eventually get on with one another were they ever to be in the business of supporting a centre-left government.  As far as I’m concerned, they are all quite bats.

And talking about bats, as I walked out last Monday, on the wall of the building two doors away, I came across this one hanging upside down.  I had already started to cross the road when I noticed it there. I think that perhaps its radar hadn’t been working so well the previous nigh when it seemed to have got caught.  At any rate, it looked pretty dead — at least he wasn’t blinking when I stared him out.

Bat upside down

And then when I got home, I thought he looked considerably more handsome rotated through 180º, like he was all ready to conduct the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in a Beethoven symphony.


Friday morning in the Farmers’ Market at Tel Aviv Port always produces something of colour and shape and this weekend was no different.  And as so many readers commented last week on the picture of the heritage carrots that I posted, I decided to photograph them again (not the same carrots, of course!).

Heritage carrots

Yogurt cones

Yogurt cones


Medjool dates

Sicilian olives

Sicilian olives

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And after the rain, we were left with just the ripples in the river as water dripped from the bridge overhead.

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Meanwhile, waiting to cross Dizengoff Street, I thought I espied something interesting on the other side of the street although he was a little too far away to be sure.


But as we crossed paths in the middle of the street, the matter was cleared up.


Machine on machine.  Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv

Very occasionally these days do I come across a fire hydrant that looks different to the run of the mill hydrants.  This one was keeping his good eye well and truly fixed on me.

Hydrant eye

A broken mirror in the street.  Does it really amount to seven years’ bad luck? One wonders how this superstition originated.  Apparently, it is accepted by some that the reflection in a mirror represents not just a physical appearance but the soul as well.  Using this logic, damaging a mirror also injures the soul of the person who broke it, the damaged soul itself bringing down the bad luck as an act of revenge against person’s carelessness.   Really?  Apparently, the Romans believed that life renews itself every seven years and damaging a mirror was the equivalent of damaging one’s health, therefore the calamity brought about could not be fully corrected until the ensuing seven-year cycle had passed!  Whatever.

7 Years bad luck

And the remains of the stormy weather over the past fortnight left us with other reminders,  too.

On the ground


Gulls over a muddy river.  Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

But whereas the gulls must search for sustenance, the pigeons are well looked after, though why I cannot fathom, because what starts on the ground eventually ends up on the ground some hours later (or on one’s head if you are unlucky).

Well fed pigeons


But mud and rain won’t keep the real enthusiasts off the river …


… nor from the park, especially when the sun makes an appearance.

Tai Chi in the park

And the cyclamens dotted around the city make us remember that it really is wintertime.


Finally, as people try to clear their walls of climbing plants, we are left with the bits that don’t come off all that easily, and which could be interpreted as pieces of abstract art in themselves.

Millicentipede?Growth on wall

Finally, I have two major events scheduled coming up next week.  One concerns this blog and the other concerns my ageing self.  With regard to the latter event, my younger sister presented me with a gift that I am currently enjoying immensely, the memoir of a man who has been described as “Ireland’s greatest living playwright”.  The author, for his sins, was also the headmaster of the madhouse Vivien and I attended and which was officially called a “secondary school”.  I often wondered how a a young man who turned out to become such a talented writer ever managed to take a job in a Jewish school in Dublin and he explains it beautifully in the book.

“Back in 1959”, he writes, “I was twenty-five years of age with a master’s degree and a qualification in teaching.  I was still living in the family flat in Upper Leeson Street in Dublin.  My eldest sister [he was one of 10 children] took me aside and gently suggested that I should get a job and contribute to the expense of running the flat.  I asked her ‘How?’ and she said I could start by looking at the ads on the back page of The Irish Times.” …

He got a temporary job as a private tutor to the two sons of a wealthy family but when that came to an end he had to re-apply through the The Irish Times ads page.

“… This time around I answered three ads and I can still remember how I felt the absurdity of my applying for all three posts. The first was a job as a deer-beater in the Scottish Highlands. I hadn’t a clue what this might involve but I had some wild tartan images in my head.  The second was for a travelling salesman for the Yardley firm of cosmetics. The third was the post of headmaster of the Jewish school in Dublin, Stratford College, which had a kindergarten, a junior and a secondary division attached, all in the one red-brick building in Rathgar. There was no response from the Scottish Highlands but a nice lady at Yardley said, firmly, that I might think again about my suitability as a cosmetics salesman. Much to my astonishment, I was called for interview for at the school. … I was astonished for the second time when they offered me the job.”

This explains an awful lot, really.


It’s a beautifully written book and will serve as the yardstick for the writing and rewriting of the recollections and reminiscences I am currently working on and for which I have  already written the drafts of eight chapters though not for one second do I think I could emulate the style of so experienced and artistic a writer as Mr. Kilroy.  So I’m about about halfway through, I would guess.  It’s proving therapeutic — even cathartic — and I am grateful to the gentleman in Boulder, CO who suggested that I give it a try.  Anita’s gift couldn’t have come at a more opportune time!


Come rain or shine

What can I write about this week?  Maybe the weather, perhaps?

Winter might have come late to Israel this year but last week made up for it.  One day last week, Tel Aviv received 20% of its annual rainfall in a matter of four or five hours.  The repercussions of such extreme weather is that the drainage system in this city and in many other places simply cannot cope.  The city of Nahariya north of Haifa was completely inundated when the River Ga’aton overflowed its banks. South Tel Aviv was particularly hard hit with one tragedy when a young couple took the elevator down to the car park in their building, found that the car park was flooded and that the elevator door refused to open, leading to their deaths by drowning— in the elevator.  Not a pleasant way to go.  Even North Tel Aviv was affected and as I had parked the car in the street the previous evening, I was unable to reach it in the morning as the street had turned into a torrent.  But that was mild compared to other places.

Shlomtzion Street

Shlomtzion HaMalkah Street from the living room window.

But other things were happening, too, such as the elimination of Qassem Soleimani on the orders of the American Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump and its probable or possible repercussions?  Nah—I only know what the media report so I’ll leave speculation to those who have been trained to speculate and surmise.  All I’ll say is that:

(a) it seems as if Mr. Soleimani felt that he was so all-powerful and so close to those who are close to God that nothing could touch him thereby affecting his judgement and

(b) the fact that the accuracy of the machine that killed him, he being identified by the ring on his finger is really scary.  But that’s the world we live in.  Oh, and

(c) it managed to take some people’s minds in the United States off a certain impeachment procedure for a few days at least.

Meanwhile in Israel, whereas the Attorney General ruled that Mr. Netanyahi does not have to resign as prime minister because of the indictments on three criminal charges being brought against him, he did say that the the Prime Minister would have to hand over the other posts he held.  Cabinet ministers facing criminal indictment are required to resign although there is no such explicit order for the prime minister to do so.  Netanyahu, as Prime Minister, also held three ministerial portfolios (Welfare, Agriculture and Diaspora Affairs) and prior to last week, he held four such positions before the cabinet approved the promotion of Yaakov Litzman, to be a fully fledged Health Minister instead of continuing to serve as fledgling deputy health minister. Although he had been a minister before, Litzman belongs to an ultra-Orthodox political party that, in theory, does not recognize the  Zionist state.  He is also a member of the Gur Chasidic sect and takes his orders from the rebbe

However, this being Israel, the party and its institutions are quite prepared to receive government funding and in a world of let’s pretend, having one of your guys a deputy minister rather than a real minister worked, given the warped way of thinking that Israeli politicians seem to enjoy until the judiciary decided otherwise.  The only problem with Litzman (except that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health don’t see it as a problem) is that he has been accused of obstructing the extradition of an strictly Orthodox woman accused in a sex abuse scandal in an strictly Orthodox girls’ school in Australia. According to media reports, he attempted to obtain false psychiatric evaluations that would have deemed the woman unfit to face trial in Australia, his appointment in one fell swoop managed to incense swathes of the Australian Jewish community in the process. Moreover, Israeli police have recommended that he be indicted for “fraud and breach of trust” in this case, as well as for bribery in another case.

In addition to the Litzman appointment, this week saw the appointment of one of Netanyahu’s attack dogs, David Bitan, as Minister of Agriculture.  The minister-to-be has been upset for some time, apparently, in that he hadn’t been appointed two years ago.  Might it have been related to the fact that 10 months ago,  the police recommended Bitan be indicted on charges of bribery when he was deputy mayor of Rishon-le-Tzion?  What upset Mr. Bitan this time around, it was reported, was that the cabinet already included one minister under indictment, Aryeh Dery, the Minister of the Interior, whom the police recommended indicting over a year ago for “committing fraud, breach of trust, obstructing court proceedings, money laundering, and tax offences”.  Dery, as we all know, was sentenced to three years in jail 20 years ago for taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Minister of the Interior.  But that’s history.  We must look forward.  Actually, Bitan was mistaken becuase there were already two ministers under police recommendation for indictment, not including the Prime Minister himself — who has already been formally indicted. All this became history when the government decided to postpone the appointments after the Supreme Court of Justice raised concerns that a caretaker government should not be allowed to appoint new ministers.  Mr.Bitan, at that point, announced that he was rejecting that for which he had so long yearned.

The third ministerial appointment was to have involved the elevation of the deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, to the Cabinet as Minister of Diaspora Affairs.  Seeing that Ms. Hotovely stated in an interview a couple of years ago that most American Jews “don’t understand the complexities of the  [the Middle East], because they “never send their children to fight for their country” (by which I presume she meant Israel).  Most of the Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers.”  So, obviously, this was a perfect appointment to bring Israeli and Diaspora Jews closer together.  But what did it matter?  As long as Tzipi loyal to Bibi, that’s what matters. At least, should her appointment eventually go through she’ll actually have something to do because as Deputy Foreign Minister she couldn’t have had all that much. (I once had a 2-hour one-on-one meeting with the current Prime Minister when he held that same position and the very fact that he could afford an oaf like me two hours of his time was adequate proof that he had nothing more worthwhile to do than plan how to become Prime Minister, which he did.

Enough of this.  I didn’t intend to write 750 words in this vein so let’s get back to the weather.

The Mediterranean Sea is not always placid and blue…

Rough sea

… and the Yarqon stream became what looked like a proper river for a couple of days.

Reading the flooded river


Flooded river

Reading & river

Meanwhile, the homeless have to find somewhere to sleep, come rain or shine.

Wet & Homeless

And even the dogs were denied their day by the 200mm of rain that fell.

Dog park

Meanwhile, keeping your balance while the wind is gusting isn’t the easiest thing do to especially when you are trying to keep the large plastic ball on your head from blowing away!

Balloon on Dizengoff

Intrepid photographer
The intrepid photographer who will be there to record the images, come rain or come shine


I’ve been walking along the promenade at Tel Aviv Port most mornings for past 12 years but although I’ve watched hundreds of anglers casting their lines and philosophising about life and the sea and things, but I’d only seen about three or four fish coming out of the sea — and then last week, there were three …

A fish?

… not counting the large crab that was thrown top by the waves.


There were birds in abundance whether the sky was clear and blue or whether it was clouded over and raining.



One rainy day, which followed another rainy day, I decided I had to get out for my daily 5 km morning walk come what may, so I decided not to take the camera with me but rely on the iPhone if there was anything worth photographing in that sort of weather. About 100 gulls were sitting peacefully near the mooring area of the Tel Aviv Rowing Club, so I decided to approach them and take a photograph.  Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn’t have a telephoto lens so I crept up on them as slowly and quietly as I could in order to obtain a decent picture.  Then, all of a sudden, as if one, and as is the wont of birds, off they flew and the picture that I hadn’t been looking for turned out to be far, far better than one that I was in search of.

Who scared the gulls

The weather was also cold — at least by the standards of Tel Aviv.

Pink lady

The pink lady is keeping her ears warm

Avi below sells small electrical goods, including heaters.  However, he must think that it’s a waste of money to have to pay for electricity to make the heaters work and stay warm in his shop when there are other, more natural ways of doing it.

Avi Galante

But the weather doesn’t affect everyone adversely. What was on this gentleman’s mind was finding a tenth man to make up a minyan, a quorum of 10 adult males for his morning prayer service. (It was the firm belief of the sages that wherever ten Israelites are assembled, either for worship or for the study of the Law, the Divine Presence dwells among them.  One might have thought that if the Almighty was really intent on listening, he’d hear the prayers whether uttered alone or in the company of nine others but that’s just my cynicism working overtime again.) In this case, the “minyan man” was a driver who jumped out of a delivery van to join the nine just after I took this photograph, so everyone was satisfied in the end.

We need one more!

Naama Issachar, an Israeli woman, accused last year of trying to smuggle a small amount of cannabis into Russia at Moscow Airport was sentenced to over seven years imprisonment for it, even though she was only on a stopover from India to Israel and didn’t have access to the luggage in which the drugs were found. She also claimed that she didn’t know that she had signed a confession and that when asked to sign the confession, there was no translator present.  Although her lawyers pointed out that she was only in Moscow to catch a connecting flight, that she was searched illegally and was misled into signing  the confession, not much good came of it all!

I was reminded of this while walking along the northern end of Dizengoff Street when a bus with a poster on its wide passed by. Not for one moment do I think that either of the two people on the left-hand side of the picture and to whom the poster is directed are ever likely to see it, let alone consider it although I imagine the issue will be raised when Mr. Putin arrives in Israel in a fortnight’s time.  The question is what price will be demanded for poor Naama’s release.


Bring Naama home

But you never know.  After all, we’ve been told that Vladik and Bibi are great friends!

Everybody's friend 2

Meanwhile, come rain or shine, the Tel Aviv Port Friday market provides a bit of colour.


Carrots, yes, carrots.



And let’s hope that by the time the next storm blows through Tel Aviv that the garbage from last week’s will have been cleared up and recycled!




Chanukah, Xmas and New Year

A Happy New Year

שנה אזרחית חדשה ומאושרת

Bonne année

Frohes neues Jahr

Счастливого Нового года

Gott nytt år

Gelukkig nieuwjaar

Athbhliain Shona





[Russian-staffed] bread shop closed for “taking stock” [of New Year Festivities??]                    Pinkas Street, Tel Aviv

As I begin this post, Chanukah/Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights has just ended and we are about to embark on a new decade, starting with the year 2020.  This, of course has sent the media into a frenzy of what to expect over the next 10 years and from this I gather that if we don’t behave ourselves, correct our deviant lifestyles, etc., etc., we are destined to live lives that will be harder for us, our children and our grandchildren.  So, as far as I’m concerned, January 1 2020 is just another day, the start of a new year. What will be, will be and that’s it.

Last night Chanukah 2019.jpg

Eighth night Hanukkah, 5780 (2019 for sceptics!)


Hanukkah, Tel Aviv Port


Hanukkah donuts (sufganniyot) (Yuk!), Pinkas Street, Tel Aviv

As is my wont, I select one or two books from The Economist‘s selection of best reads of the year.  This year, I chose Patrick Madden Keefe’s Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.  I thought I knew something about “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland and just over half way through this long book, I have come to understand that I really know very little if anything about that period; ignoramus par excellence.  It’s a long time since I’ve read such a disturbing and harrowing  piece.  I knew that civil war has, as David Armitage in his 2017 book Civil Wars put it “gradually become the most widespread, the most destructive, and the most characteristic form of human violence … [t]here have been roughly twenty-five million”total battle deaths” in these wars since 1945 … [e]ven that count does not include the wounded, displaced, and dead civilian count”.  Armitage went on: “Wars within states tend to last longer…than wars between them … [t]hese conflicts are also much more prone to recur than any others, as ‘the most likely legacy of a civil war is further civil war'”.

The “Troubles” in Northern Ireland pitted not just enemy against enemy but ally against ally.  The stories of people being driven south across the Border into the Republic of Ireland in order to be executed for informing on their colleagues in the IRA, sometimes without any direct evidence and as often as not by someone with whom they had fought and with whom they had been friendly for years are horrifying.  And all this ultranationalist warfare was to create united Ireland, a cause that was abandoned by Gerry Adams within the framework of what came to be known as “The Good Friday Agreement” and was seen by many of these nationalist fighters and murderers as the grossest of betrayals.  What had they fought for?  What had their friends died for?  What had their allies been murdered for?

In the preface to his drama Double-Cross, a play dealing with nationalism and national identity, the noted Irish playwright Thomas Kilroy (who also had the distinction of being the former headmaster of the secondary school I attended in Dublin 60 years ago; one has to make a living, I suppose) wrote that “to base one’s identity, exclusively, upon a mystical sense of place, upon the accident of one’s birth, seems … a dangerous absurdity. To dedicate one’s life to the systematic betrayal of the same notion seems … just as absurd”.  What interested Kilroy in nationalism was not its enlightening and uplifting facet but nationalism as a burden, a trauma, a debilitation and his play came to grips with two very displaced people—Brendan Bracken, Minister of Information in Churchill’s war government, and William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw), the Nazi propagandist, both of whom were Irish Catholics who spectacularly denied and concealed their native origins, dramatizing the disfiguring nature of nationalism more effectively than any two patriots.

In Northern Ireland, nationalism went completely mad.  And Kilroy might have had some personal knowledge of what went on as Double-Cross was written at the request of the Field Day Theatre, established by the playwright Brian Friel and the actor Stephen Rea, and in which Rea played the double roles of both Bracken and Joyce. Rea was married for 20 years to Dolours Price, one of those responsible for the Old Bailey car bomb in 1973,  and who became famous, some say notorious, some years later when she, along with her sister, almost died as a result of a hunger strike in Brixton Prison and who drove many of her former friends and allies to their executions. (And this is not to say that the “Loyalist” militias were any less savage than their Catholic counterparts.)

Nationalism is complicated indeed and, coincidentally or not, at the same time as I was (am) reading Say Nothing, I watched what is undoubtedly one of the best TV documentaries I’ve ever seen, A Fanatic Heart: Bob Geldof on W.B. Yeats, a person whose Irish nationalism couldn’t have been more different than that of the IRA thugs, a person who believed that a true Irish nationalism must encompass culture, for without it, any gains made by the militants would have been worthless (but then Yeats was a member of the Protestant aristocracy).  And even more coincidentally, I read last week in The Economist’s Christmas Double Issue a seriously interesting article, The liberalisation of Ireland: How Ireland stopped being one of the most devout, socially conservative places in Europe, which suggests that perhaps the Ireland of 2020 is coming closer to Yeats’ dream than ever before.

Easter 1916 by W.B. Yeats, read by Liam Neeson

And as Geldof summed it up (proving that not all ageing rock stars are eejits; some are definitely true intellectuals):

“Yeats said ‘My weapon is my verse and it takes fifty years for a poet’s weapon to influence the issue.’  Fifty years after W. B. died, we elected a woman as President, a human rights lawyer.  The power and fear of the Catholic church collapsed, we finally started to see an Ireland based on peace, pluralism and respect.  Now, that’s Yeats Country.”

“He is a great historical figure, he’s a great radical, he’s a great revolutionary, he’s a great nationalist, he’s a great patriot.  Did he succeed? … Did he win in the end what he set out to do?  Absolutely! Did he transform the country? Absolutely! Did he transform literature?  Absolutely!”

“And”, went on Geldof, “at the end of his life, he sort of said: ‘What’s it all about?’  He looked back and in another literally deathless poem, he asked:

‘What Then?’

His chosen comrades thought at school
He must grow a famous man;
He thought the same and lived by rule,
All his twenties crammed with toil;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.
‘What then?’

Everything he wrote was read,
After certain years he won
Sufficient money for his need,
Friends that have been friends indeed;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.
‘What then?’

All his happier dreams came true –
A small old house, wife, daughter, son,
Grounds where plum and cabbage grew.
Poets and Wits about him drew;
‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost.
‘What then?’

‘The work is done,’ grown old he thought,
‘According to my boyish plan;
Let the fools rage,
I swerved in naught,
Something to perfection brought’;
But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’

“Well, the answer”, said Geldof, “is Ireland“.


And now after all that to some photographs (at long last, say some!)

This year, Hanukkah was conjoined with Christmas in the Waterman household, as Arneath, our Filipina carer “celebrated” the festival far away from her family, so to make her feel more at home, Gali, our 8½ year old granddaughter designed a Christmas greeting with aluminium foil and felt pens.  Crismes, as you can see, is written as Crismes sounds!

Crismes is as Crismes sounds

Large wine bottle?

The festive season, lots of wine, big corkscrew.  Tel Aviv Port

On Monday, I received a notification from Springer, the publishing house, that I was eligible to receive a €30 discount on my next purchase.  Naïvely, I thought that in this day and age that they had algorithms that matched the seller with the potential buyer, so when I clicked the link, this is what I got.  Not quite geography, anthropology or sociology or anything that I would necessarily want to buy.  Something erred somewhere and I didn’t make a purchase before the expiry date of the offer!

Screen Shot 2019-12-30 at 15.41.10.png

Big birds, small birds, they’re all in the Yarqon Park!

Cormorants on guard

Winter’s definitely here. Cormorants stand guard and take the sun.  Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv

Small & Sweet

I'll figure out a way

I’ll get it in the end—practice makes perfect!  Nordau Boulevard, Tel Aviv

At the Promenade T-A Port

Along the promenade, Tel Aviv Port.

Cricket on Brandeis

Cricket on Brandeis Street?  Couldn’t possibly be!

jewellery, jewelry,

Jewellery? Jewelry? Who really cares if you want to buy a diamond ring and spelling’s not your forte!


Running seems to be the in-thing in Tel Aviv Port.

On the run

Morning run in the park

The sea has receded!



And yet another image of Reading Power Station, Tel Aviv

T-A Port

Tel Aviv Port, after the storm.  December 2019

Finally, without some political statement, it wouldn’t be me, would it?  It’s interesting that when former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was indicted on counts of obtaining by fraud under aggravating circumstances, fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate documents, and tax evasion, the then Leader of the Opposition, one Binyamin Netanyahu, informed the media that he believed that Olmert should resign, giving the explanation that in such a situation, the Prime Minister had no moral mandate to continue serving in office. He said: “We are dealing with a prime minister who is up to his neck in criminal cases”.  

He then added that Olmert would be so preoccupied with the investigations against him that he had to withdraw because the weight of the criminal prosecution hanging above him might influence him not to make decisions that are in the best interest of the nation and that he might place his own personal considerations above those of the nation!  

My goodness, how things have changed!  

A few years prior to passing judgement on the predicament of his predecessor, the same man was also of the opinion that Israeli Prime Ministers should have term limits, although I can’t remember if he also expressed an opinion about the length of the terms.

For the Hebrew speakers among you, the video clip below might jog memories and make you either smile or grimace or throw up (depending, of course, on your political and moral sensibilities).

And the same man also said last week that should he request that the Knesset grant him immunity from prosecution in the three criminal cases in which he has been charged, he “would not be avoiding trial.” (!!!!!)

“Immunity from prosecution is a cornerstone of democracy”, he said.  “Immunity isn’t against democracy; immunity is a cornerstone of democracy,” the prime minister told an audience of supporters.  

How things have changed and how nothing has changed.  There’s so much spin around these days that some of the spinners might very well escape the Earth’ gravitational pull and spend the rest of their lives in orbit.


All rather disgusting, isn’t it?