I’m late again — but at least this time, I have the perfect excuse.
— for I have turned that once-a year handle yesterday (I tried to finish this on Thursday but was interrupted constantly by people wanting to remind me what age I am and in addition was a birthday gift I was invited to lunch by my oldest friend at Tel Aviv Port. We calculated that we’ve known one another for over 71 years so lunch was particularly pleasant even though the weather was absolutely miserable — cold and extremely windy with the so-called calm Mediterranean Sea as rough and as muddy as I’ve ever seen it before!
As a consequence of all this, of course, I have been forced to acknowledge that I am now officially one year older than I had been on Wednesday — not that it really makes all that much difference, because it was just another day.
All in all, it’s been a strange few days. I had left Tel Aviv at the end of July in something of a hurry. I had wanted to leave in mid-August and spend half a year in London just to see whether living alone in the British capital was any easier than living alone in Tel Aviv but the Israeli government had announced an impending lockdown (or is it a lock-out? or lock-in?) that was to commence on July 30 and there was even talk of the it continuing until after the conclusion of the Jewish High Holy Days so I thought that if I didn’t depart fairly rapidly I might be stuck in Tel Aviv until the end of September. Accordingly, I changed my booking. upping and departing rather sooner than I had intended, arriving in London on July 29 with a return ticket for January 20 so that I wouldn’t spend more than six months abroad after which I might jeopardize any rights I may have here.
So my last week in London was spent saying goodbyes to family and friends and doing some last minute shopping — not that I had done much of that in the previous 5½ months and packing and not that there was much packing to do as most of what I was taking with wasn’t for myself at all but for daughters and granddaughters. But all in all, the period in London—notwithstanding Covid restrictions, stories and rumours about Downing Street parties during lockdown, the handling of the Novak Djokovic fiasco in Australia, Putin and Ukraine and hidden Russian money in the UK and all the rest of the media noise that somehow passes as news in this era of round-the-clock news broadcasts that numb the senses—was a good time. There were sufficient shows, galleries, museums and all the rest of the cultural paraphernalia to keep occupied mind and body during the period. And of course, I cannot but only mention what was no more than a chance meeting which has, I feel, taken on the shape a life-changing event.
While shopping on Oxford Street. January 2022
Then the last Sunday in London, I arranged to meet Dov and Keren and my London grandchildren at Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath.
Any thoughts I might have entertained about sitting in the café and chatting were immediately blown asunder as I observed Waterman/Querfurth troupe arriving at the entrance to Kenwood, clad in Wellington boots and all the rest of their winter weather equipment. On entering the grounds, I was given my marching orders (literally) and was informed that we were going for a walk around the grounds and although I pleaded fervently that we remain on a footpath to prevent me from slipping or sliding, my plaintive cries were ignored with wry smiles. And although we started the trek on level ground …
… we very soon descended into an environment with an enhanced degree of muddiness (there was lots of it) and upon which the various family members seemed to revel and thrive the stickier and muddier conditions became …
… so much so that it recalled to mind a Flanders and Swann song of old.
And even the squirrels which, I had been given to understand, hibernate in winter did nothing of the sort but enjoyed themselves on the mud, too.
Still, there’s something rather attractive about a sunny winter’s day on Hampstead Heath, don’t you think?
And, of course, there are the constant reminders from the gardens in the neighbourhood that Spring isn’t all that far away.
Then the day came, a week ago, when I took a taxi to Heathrow and boarded an El Al flight to Tel Aviv. The flight itself was only 4 hours and 20 minutes but it seemed like an eternity, so much so that by the time I arrived home, I was zonked. I suppose it was a combination of some tension caused by the return itself, some more tension caused by the rowdiness of some of the passengers on the plane who seemed to be totally deaf to instructions given by the cabin crew and who were dressed in black and the males of which were bearded and who seemed to spend the whole flight marching up and down the aisles oblivious to the other passengers on the plane. I suppose being masked for 10 hours didn’t help either — obviously I would never have passed an audition to play Hannibal Lecter or any other masked man. And to completely cap the trip, of course, there was the inevitable PCR test for Covid at the airport, which seems to me more and more an example of total mistrust between states; after all, I had had a “fit to fly” PCR test only two days earlier in London after which I was required to spend 24 hours in isolation (I almost wrote captivity) before emerging (or upon receipt of a negative result, something which I don’t understand at all at all). And to cap the day, I was simply cold, so much so that the following day I had graduated from just being zonked to transmogrifying into a total zombie.
And then the question became whether or not I could unzombie myself sufficiently to travel with my daughters (Shuli and Tami) and my granddaughters (Gali and Lily) to Haifa to listen to Shuli perform in a concert with two former schoolmates—Irit Rimon-Neidorf and Guy Yehuda— with whom she hadn’t performed for over 30 years. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, zombie or not. So we heard Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio, K. 498 and five of Max Bruch’s Eight Pieces for clarinet, viola and piano, Op. 83. It was wonderful and the sound from the viola was like brown brushed warm velvet—but when I said that, I was reminded that the sound doesn’t only come from the viola but that there’s a violist involved as well!
Then, after two days of rain and wind, there was some sunshine and I was able to take the camera out and walk through the park and the streets of North Tel Aviv.
So says Transport for London — but some are amazingly so, especially when it comes to listening to and watching politicians!
Have a lovely week! And…