Friday, 30 September 2011

Guided tour of the Old City

Guided Tour of the Old City
Part 1
“Wake up, Bob! They’ve gone already.” John was concerned, maybe about me or maybe about his commission. I rushed out without even a hint of coffee and caught them up.
“What are you doing here?” said Susie. “We didn’t think you were coming, did we Maz?”
“You didn’t miss much. Some boring bits about how great Israel is.” added Maz, “It sounded like we were back in the Brownies.”
“Oh, I miss the uniform. We’d earn a fortune these days, wouldn’t we Maz?” piped Susie with an outrageous laugh.
 All this talk of Guides and Brownies gave me a flashback to when I joined the Cubs. I was under-aged, but soon to be 7, so Arkela let me in. We had to go to church on Sunday; no such thing as a free lunch. 
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At the first mass I was picked out as having a decent enough voice to sing in the choir. These were the days when being a choirboy was semi-respectable. I got paid: my first job.
Our guide was called Mark who was New York born and took Aliyah 20 years before. He was married with 2 children, a good-looking guy, but he did not stop sniffing around the females. He thought he was being cool as he was dressed in all white. He looked like an advert for washing powder.
He counted heads and almost made us line up in pairs.
“We are entering dangerous parts. I need to know we’ll all be safe.”
 We numbered about 20. My favourite was a Canadian of Sikh decent. A friend of a friend had an arranged marriage and his bride was absolutely gorgeous. Everybody wanted his parents to find them a bride. Her name was Sarah and she was a history graduate and was working on her MA. She had a sharp brain and deep pools for eyes and a mouth that enunciated each measured word clearly.
Mark led us up a narrow road and pointed out the British Council, where I was to spend many happy hours. The hours were happy because they let you read 2 books instead of 1, if you wanted. I escaped the bedlam on many occasions.
We stopped on a street away from the noise of the traffic. Apparently, the Israeli men drive like they make love: loud and quick.
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“This is the house where Ben Yehuda lived. Does anyone know what he was famous for?”
“He invented a street.” suggested Susie.
“Not exactly, he re-introduced the Hebrew language. It had almost disappeared. Often they put a sign on the side of the house but it gets torn down.”
“By Arabs?”
“No, by Hasidic Jews. They believe that the Hebrew language is holy and should only be used in the Temple on Holy days. They speak Yiddish, as you know. A true Orthodox does not believe the state of Israel should exist until the Messiah comes.”
“He means orgasm.” whispered Susie to me.
“Sometimes the problems between religious and secular Jews erupt into violence. For example, how many shades of blue can you see on this house?”
There certainly were a wide range. It reminded me of my mum’s attempt to paint her kitchen and also my Chelsea kit. We could not agree. Mark finished by saying, “When you get 2 Jews, you get 3 views.” 

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