Penguins, PPE and Porter

Yarqon Park, Tel Aviv. Early morning

I know.  I know.  I’m late by a week or more but perhaps you didn’t notice. And if you didn’t notice, then maybe the time has come to pack it all in and find something more productive to do with my time, such as write a book (ha-ha!).  At any rate, the cause of this delay is that I upgraded the Operating System on my computer on Thursday of last week and although it seemed fine that day, the following morning all hell broke loose.  Computers are a bit like cars — when they work, they’re fine but when they decide to have an off-day, in gross understatement, they grate on the nerves.  Anyway, nothing seemed to work.  It was as if the machine had suffered a mini-stroke. I couldn’t find files or folders although I knew they were there and after consulting my family Mac guru, there was no alternative but to bring it to the Machospital in South Tel Aviv and let them figure out what went wrong.  The following day, I picked it up recovering from the mini-stroke has been limited for it seems to have affected its memory which is far from behaving normally. Perhaps the old girl is suffering from MacAlazheimer?

Anyway, this glitch probably appeared just in time, otherwise my readers would have had to endure one my occasional (or perhaps not so occasional) rants.  People have told me that I shouldn’t get upset about things over which I have no control but that’s sometimes more easily said than done, the reason being that on Sunday evening of last week, I sat down (alone again) and decided to watch a movie on TV.  But which movie?  Should I spend half an hour searching through Netflix’s offers only to find that most of what is there is rubbish.  Or perhaps I should just look at the offerings that have been on TV and which I bothered to record for I spend 10 minutes a week checking to see if there are any movies on, the names of which I recognize, and when I do recognize a name, I then try to remember whether they’re things I’ve missed or just things I’ve seen before.

So this time, I went through recorded movies and chose to view Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, a film from just over 30 years ago and which we went to see in Haifa when it was released.  I actually chose it because it’s a movie I remember that I enjoyed immensely.  However, memory sometimes only serves you partially and in this case, I had forgotten that the character played by Julia Roberts was called Vivian, so I thought to myself that I’d prefer to watch something else.  At any rate, I looked around for an alternative and chose Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren acting the role of Maria Altman, a woman who had escaped the Anschluss in 1938 and found refuge in America and then, with Arnold Schoenberg’s grandson as her lawyer, went on to sue the Austrian government to return five paintings by Gustav Klimt which had been owned by her family in Vienna.  A wonderful film — except as with Pretty Woman—  I had a forgotten a detail that appeared near the very start of the film; the opening scene was at a Los Angeles cemetery in which a coffin adorned with a Star of David was lying — a Jewish funeral.  No, not for me, the way I was feeling last Sunday evening.

After those two failures, I then did what I try to avoid each day and turned on the evening news on TV and what greeted my eyes and ears somewhat blew my mind, as that day saw the funeral processions of two aged (and probably venerable) rabbis, obviously much esteemed by their followers.  It was estimated that these processions each comprised about 10,000 individuals, all as far as I could ascertain, male.  Again, looking at this particular image below which appeared in Monday’s newspaper, I’d be generous in saying that I estimate that at most, 20% of the participants were wearing masks and of those that were, only a small proportion were wearing them covering mouth and nose.  As for social distancing, forget it.

At a time when the country is trying somehow to deal with a pandemic, this was a demonstration of people who ignore the rules that the rest of us have to observe and live as a law unto themselves.  However, it seems as if others have learned a lesson from all this in that the owners of stores in shopping malls seem to have had enough being being locked up/in/down and they, too, seem to have taken the law into their own hands, or as the TV news last night referred to them, Corona mutineers.

However, what really got my goat last week and yesterday was that none of the politicians who “matter” (actually, none of the seem to matter much at the moment) uttered a pip or a squeak of condemnation. I wonder why?  Could it have something to do with an event scheduled to take place on March 23 unless that, too, is put off because of Corona or because the numbers in the polls (generally inaccurate in Israel) prove to be unfavorable.  (Have I lapsed into cynic mode again?  Tut tut!)

In anger or desperation, I posted the picture above on Facebook and received some reactions.  One old acquaintance, who had spent some years in Antarctica more than half a century ago wrote: “…the photo looks like nothing so much as some of my photos from penguin rookeries in Antarctica.”  More to the point, a young woman living north of Tel Aviv, whose parents are friends of mine, wrote on her Facebook page: “The ticking time bomb that Israel has created is exploding. The charedim have no science education so they don’t understand Corona. They don’t serve in the army or do national service so they have no sense of duty to the state or experience of integration. They do not consume our news in any format so they don’t know what is going on outside of their world. The men do not work so are not forced to encounter people outside their spheres. They are encouraged by state financing to continue fanatical cults of personalities amongst their rabbis. Some communities only speak Yiddish. What the hell did we expect to happen? Attacking bus drivers and breaking lockdown rules seems like the tip of the iceberg.”.

I think that she just about hit the nail on the head with that one.  However, as I think we all realise, this con has gone on for so long, I can’t see an exit strategy.  They sit on their behinds all day and discuss all sorts of issues, real and hypothetical, but when it comes to making a decision, what does all this “learning” provide?  Nor very much, it seems, because they run to their rebbe or yeshivah head (individuals who suffer from and distinctly enjoy the fruits of personality cults) and do whatever they’re bid.  In this particular case, it appears that they were bidden to ignore the government, the Ministry of Health, Covid-19 and all the rest.  On the Monday evening, the day after these “events”, a senior police officer, interviewed on the evening news and asked why the police didn’t to more to stop such things happening, could only say that more penguins, wishing to enter Jerusalem from outside were prevented from doing so and without the help of others (at this point he raised his hands and indicated that he meant politicians) there was little more the police could do.  My line of thinking was that if these had been “normal” Israelis, things wouldn’t have passed so quietly and if they had been Arab Israelis, I dread to think what might have been the consequences!.

And meanwhile the authorities lock up law-abiding Israelis in Corona hotels irrespective of whether they have observed quarantines, been vaccinated or whatever!

So in order to alleviate my exasperation about events over which I have no control, I took to the streets and the park with the camera to see what I could find.

I started off with the inevitable mobile phone, this time a accompanied by a vaper.  The mask is off because I suppose it’s difficult to vape with one on and it’s not worthing making a hole in the mask to accommodate an addiction or let the vapor out, so as the song says …


However, at least some of the pansies found the whole situation rather amusing.


Meanwhile, parks create their own images.  Open-air kindergartens are now a commonplace scene, in particular in the springlike weather we are enjoying at present …


… and it’s a well known fact that the People of the Book start reading very early and in almost any situation, there’s no time to lose!


Meantime, the park continues to reveal its images in all their glory!


Easier getting up than down, it seems!


Others find other things to do in the park and one young woman just couldn’t wait to get online before starting the morning’s calisthenics



And then there are the egrets. Whereas some of these birds just sit in solitude waiting for something edible to pass by in the river before they choose to dive in …


… some others, more daring members of the tribe, fly down to the river where, on occasion, a kind angler will treat them to a slap-up breakfast!


And then, of course, there’s the Yarqon regatta.


And once more there are the inevitable hydrants.  This girl, near Tel Aviv Port has made sure that it had brought its mobile phone with her and is hooked up to the world — and moreover, she won’t go thirsty.


And once you get as far as the port, you see all sorts of wonderful things — like hungry rubbish bins (garbage cans, refuse containers, trashcans)


… Water speed boards or whatever they’re called


Finally, I came across this guy wearing his own version of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment, which, unlike the more common PPE, requires intense concentration for lengthy periods of time.  However, I seem to have been the only person around who paid him much attention!


However, the picture of the week is not mine at all but one that someone sent me of the two Jerusalem funerals juxtaposed with two images of Hamantaschen, a hamantasch being a three-cornered pastry with a filling such as poppy seeds or prunes or something else dark and mysterious, and which is traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday Purim (by some, that is, but never by yours truly).

Take your pick, as they say!

Oh, and before I forget.  On Tuesday evening (16/02/2021) at 19.00 Israel time (17.00 GMT, 18.00 CET) there’s a concert from the Jerusalem Music Center worth watching and listening to.  Not the usual sort of thing I put up here but from experience, it will be an hour well spent!


P.S.  It looks like spring is on its way (Photo: Shuli Waterman)


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