London life

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Self-portrait.  September 2020

This week, I have two stories that relate to my photo collection.  The first is a photo that I used when I posted to Facebook where some of the readers of this blog pick me up.  I didn’t use it in the post itself; it was just a “cover photo”  but it was a photo that got more “likes” than I usually get for things that I post.

Primrose Hill

It’s a picture of six trees near the southwestern corner of Primrose Hill, an extension of the Regent’s Park in London.  This particular photo was taken on a sunny morning in March of this year, the day before I returned to Israel on the last scheduled El Al passenger flight to leave Heathrow before the pandemic caused the cessation of flights by Israel’s national carrier.

I’m booked to return to London for a short visit in a few days’ time, apparently on the last scheduled flight to leave for Heathrow before a renewed lockdown in this part of the world.  In fact, I spent most of yesterday in what I can only describe as a state of high anxiety as in the morning it had been rumoured that the lockdown might start as early as Wednesday—the day after tomorrow, thereby leaving me stranded in the Holy Land.

My quandary was whether I would awake on Friday morning to start a month-long lockdown alone in a flat in the Promised Land, restricted to moving within a distance of  no more than 500m from home, or would I wake up alone in a flat in Belsize Park to begin a fortnight of quarantine there.

Two things emerged while I waited with some anxiety for a definitive answer one way or the other.  First, although such mundane matters as public health and the state of the economy are apparently on the minds of the politicians, it seems as if in political terms Israel is slowly approaching the Lebanese model whereby the politicians (whom I’ve said more than once represent nobody except themselves but I’m about to amend that) cater only to the narrow groups they purport to represent and to hell with the rest of them.  In other words, the Arab politicians, the ultra-Orthodox  Jewish lawmakers, the right-wing “modern religious” representatives, the secular legislators all look after the narrow interests of their followers but few of them tend to see the state of the forest because the the trees that they’re cultivating.

The second thing that struck me as I listened to three Israeli TV channels, occasionally switching to Sky or BBC to see what was happening elsewhere in the world, is that although the zigzagging of the politicians gives rise to confusion, the almost hysterical voices of the newsreaders, commentators, and pundits of various stripes only serve to amplify the bewilderment and pandemonium (no pun intended but the word chosen intentionally).

Finally, around 9 p.m., God’s chosen messenger (Bibi) broke ended the exasperation by informing us plebs that after many hours of intense discussion (and disagreements, apparently) that lockdown would start on Friday at 14,00 and end on October 11.  He then flew off to Washington to sign a Trump-brokered agreement with the United Arab Emirates and a declaration of something or other by the government of Bahrain.  His original plan was to fly in a private plane with wife and children, separated from the other members of the Israeli delegation, for fear that Israel’s Royal Family might contract Covid-19 from some more proletarian delegate,  However, this was scuppered in that it was generally agreed that this was a greed too many.

Primrose Hill

Anyway, to come back to the trees on Primrose Hill.  There’s something about them and  their association the hill that I find acutely attractive.  I think it’s got something to do with the curvature of the hill itself, which is somehow reflected in the curvature of the tree tops and, in this case, mimicked further by the cloud formation, all of which lends a particular elegance to the photo.

I’ve been photographing these trees on and off for several years now and on each trip to London, it’s almost the first thing I do.  It makes me realize that I’m there although this time, it looks as if I will have to wait a fortnight before that happens again.  Actually, I’m curious as to how they’ll look at the beginning of October because it’s a time of the year during which I’ve only been there once in 15 years.  The trees change their appearance with the tie of day, the weather and the seasons, among other things but not matter what, my eye is drawn to them over and again.

Primrose Hill xii.2018

Leafless on a sunny December day

Primrose Hill ii.2017

Leafless on a dull February day

Trees i.2017

Leafless in January

Primrose Hill xi.2015

Still leaved on a foggy November morning

Primrose Hill v.2017

In full leaf on a May morning

Primrose Hill vii.2017

In full leaf in July

Primrose Hill viii.2015

In August during a dry summer

Primrose Hill ix.2016

By September, colours are starting to change

Trees x.2015

… and by October, they have

Looking through the images on the computer, I see that London has provided me with some interesting pictures over the years.

I presume that the one below is there to check up on whether or not I will abide by the self-isolation rules and stay inside for the fortnight …

CCTV reinforcment i.2017

… whereas the one below might be borrowed by local authorities to be used instead of a total lockdown or after total lockdown has come to its end.

No Exit

Some years ago, I came across this [most sensible] sign in a public park in South London …


… and then I came across someone sitting by the river near the South Bank Centre who had obviously seen the same, or a similar, sign.

Dog 08.2014

Thinking about the United Kingdom and its problems in these troubled times, one is confronted with the spectre of Brexit and of a recalcitrant Prime Minister who seems intent on breaking international law to “benefit the country” in its negotiations with the EU or to further relegate the UK in the league of nations.

Brexiteers 08 2013

Brexiteers with swords at the ready to defend the motherland for Boris

And the third line of the sign below seems to indicate, this appears to be the Prime Minister’s way of thinking.  Mine is indicated by the upper two lines.

Bollocks viii:2018

Be vigilant


One of the plusses of being in an English-speaking country is that I don’t have to translate all the time and my eye is attracted to interesting words I come across almost immediately, words which raise questions as soon as I read them.

So please knock! v.2017

So what should I do?  Just knock?

People endow benches and what they write sometimes makes you stop and think, like this sign affixed to a bench on Primrose Hill.

Signage, Primrose Hill viii. 2015

And we are reminded of climate change and its consequences in many different ways.

Regent's Canal 8.2016

The greening of England.  The Regent’s Canal, London,  August 2016.

And like the trees on Primrose Hill, these windows on Boots Chemists on Oxford Street change with the light, the time of day, the seasons yet are always eye-catching — although you have to remember to look up in order to see them.

Boots windows i.2017

And parallel to Oxford Street, on 23 and 25 Brook Street are two blue plaques that remind us that music is forever — even if the musicians lived 200 years apart!

Music lives forever 2.2017

Finally, London can be very interesting for most people—but if you’re a dog driving around in a van then life can be quite humdrum.

Lockdown ii.2012 1

It’s a dog’s life!

And for those of you to whom it applies, have a great new year 5781.  One would sincerely hope that it has to be a better one than the one just coming to an end.  And to those of you to whom it doesn’t apply. take care of yourselves and by doing that, you’ll be taking care of everyone else as well.

Robin viii. 2015

On Hampstead Heath


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