Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Jerusalem 2

Jerusalem 2
The good thing about writing in blog form is that what one intends to write can be written in serial form. Charles Dickens did that with his novels and if it is good enough for him...
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When I was at college there was a lovely girl called Angela who was wonderfully innocent. I used to ask her if she liked dick-ins. She would answer that she did. I would tell her that I had never been to one.
Despite this being the tail end of hippiedom where there were love-ins, sit-ins and John Lennon’s infamous bed-in, she did not get the joke. Never complain, never explain.
This went on for several weeks until the penny finally dropped.
“Bob Mercer, you are incorrigible.” Something I have been called many times; must look up what it means. Back to Jerusalem.
   
At the hostel I was greeted by “See me, hear me..” and I wanted to tell John I would stay another couple of nights.
“Go away! Find somewhere else to moan about.”  John was anything but subtle. An unhappy customer was complaining.
“Go away!”
When she had left I told him that life was like a pubic hair on a toilet seat; sooner or later you are going to get pissed off.
I asked him where the evening action was. He told me, on a commission basis, that the best place was The Underground.
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“Where is it?” someone asked.
“On the f***ing roof you dopey cow.” was John’s terse reply.
I teamed up with a few of the inmates and off we trudged. We mentioned the name of the hostel and were given a shekel discount. Our left hands were stamped with an invisible fluorescent shape. There was a different one for each night. This gave us access to the downstairs disco area.
It remains to this day one of my all-time favourite bars. Upstairs was a huge screen showing cartoons or a sport show while the DJ played brilliant rock music. Downstairs there was the dance floor that played, surprisingly enough, dance music.
The d├ęcor was, again unsurprisingly, of the London underground system, the oldest in the world. It was complete with every tourists favourite phrase ‘Mind the gap’. I felt proud. I told my new friends that when all the professors take the underground together then you get a tube full of smarties. Max Miller was banned by the BBC because when a woman asked “Is this Cockfosters?”
He replied, “No, ma’am, Miller’s the name.”
After all the travelling I felt very content. The DJ played ‘Smiling happy people.” I could relate to it very well.
There was a couple of girls I got to know well over my time there. They were both from Southampton. The more vivacious one was called Susie. She had never lived in a house, being brought up on a canal barge. Much later she had her travellers’ cheques stolen from her hostel. She was flat broke and very depressed as the bank said they were not going to refund the loss. Their argument being that the cheques should always be treated as cash. Her mother even wrote to their MP about it.
The change in her was immense. Her life and soul were on the missing list. “Have you eaten?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“That wasn’t the question.”
“I can’t take your money.”
“2 falafels please.”
It was wolfed down in 2 mouthfuls, well nearly. We smiled at each other. It was all the thanks I needed.
She loved to party and was  not adverse to a bit of hanky panky, not with me I hasten to add. Apparently, she had made friends with most, if not all, of the barmen. This did not really matter as most of them were brothers, or at least looked like it.
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Maz was different. She had just came out of a long relationship and needed, although did not want, a bit of a sabbatical. We had long chats together. She wanted to push herself forward but could not face rejection. I know the feeling.
Together we wanted to invent a new phrase along the lines of ‘one slice short of a loaf’ or ‘the lift doesn’t go to the top floor’. Several passed our lips- ‘one ball short of a falafel’, ‘one brick short of a wall’, one agorot short of a shekel’.
We were searching so hard so that we could accurately describe the Frenchman who shared dorm with us. Everybody was crammed into the same room, men, women, pretty, ugly, big, small, just like heaven. However this was not such a good idea when dealing with a perv.
He had the habit of staring. This can unnerve anyone and is particularly upsetting for females. He spoke no English, or so he led us to believe, so I spoke to him in French.
“Pas ne regardez les Femmes!” the thick f***er did not even understand French when it was in front of him. “C’est pas bonne.”  
It did not seem to work and he often lay in his bunk playing tents, enough to compete with Billy Smart’s circus. Often he would be missing. Could not imagine what he was doing. We made a joke of it all, but I was more concerned about a small Aussie guy. 
He had all the symptoms you could imagine, mood swings, compulsiveness, stubbornness. He thought he could find a miracle cure by becoming Jewish. I always thought that you had to be born as one of God’s chosen people, but I was wrong. A course of intensive study, and then chop, a small operation.