at home with ann

Archive for the ‘memories’ Category

Tempus Fugit

Posted on: 31 July 2010

 

I went on an unplanned stroll down memory lane.   Yesterday I cleared out my paperwork!   Big deal, you’ll think; well it is for me.     I don’t open my post – only stuff that looks interesting – everything else waits in a quiet corner.    So now I feel virtuous ‘cos four months of filing has been done, in real files as well as the wpb.    Then I thought why not collate the notes and writings from my class – that shouldn’t take too long except I spent ages reading and admiring the rest of the group’s work – I was privileged to be with some serious talent.    I also found reams of old poetry that brought back mixed memories – they need tidying and/or destroying.   

As part of my crusade on paper, this morning I dug out from a deep old storage box, a pile of older battered crinkled notebooks.    Between pages and pages of poetry and prose scribblings was so much else:   Menus and recipes and related shopping lists.   Plans for my children’s engagements and weddings, costs, guestlists, possible venues, flowers, music, more menus, music, etc.   Recommended book lists and reviews.    Doodles.   Quotes from books and my own one-liners.  Words I didn’t know their meanings, meaning to look them up.   Numbers, lots of them – telephone numbers without names and what could the others be?  Pictures of  my babies… and Goren!   Flight details, times, airports, costs, lists of hotels, itineraries.   Home shopping lists and to-do lists and moving costs; not for this one but from spring 2004.    (Yes this one is still gonna happen – the house will go on the market this week.  Wish me luck)!   

The next part of my journey shocked me (slightly).    Those who have been around the block with me here will remember At Home With The Goren’s.   That blog is long gone and the stories I first drafted in word – all deleted.    In my hands I held chapters written, I think, in my lunchbreak, on a train or a plane or a cafe.      What was I thinking then?    Was I pleasing a particular audience?   What was it with those two?    I cringed as I read.  Puerile and pathetic; the characters, the content and the quality of writing.  I’m not sorry the blog is lost to posterity.    However, thanks to dear Val she had the bright idea to invite anyone to contribute to her new blog After Major Case and in a moment of sentimentality I resurrected them.   What was I thinking?   Again!   The couple have since matured (and the writer); they have a son Robert, Bobby is out of work  and anything can happen.

  

 

As for all the notebooks – I kept the photos,  pulled out the recipes, one-liners and a few poems – the rest, including mrsbg,  are now languishing atop my recycling box awaiting an uncertain, but i’m sure a more useful future.

 

So wassup?   My last post said I was going to Israel with mother and we did – it was a fabulous trip.   Jamie joined us for a long weekend; he bunked at Jon and Bridgitte’s whilst ma and I stayed in an apartment in Herzliya two minutes from the Marina.  There was a massive pool and the little ones had a lot of fun.   It worked out brilliantly and  friends were coincidentally staying in the same place and mother and I also met up with other friends who live there.   Not sure when my next trip will be, the summer months are way too hot for this English rose, but hot off the press, they’re all coming to stay at the end of September for about ten days.   Can’t wait to see my little ones again – I miss them so much – thank goodness for webcams and skype!

 

moriah

boaz

 

nadav

 

Rachel and I are still planning our trip to the big apple in October – flights are booked – wooo hooo.    I am so excited.   I’ve never been and it really is the only place on my wish list at the moment.   I’ll never say no to other places, but right now I am fixated on going there.   I’ve been researching accommodation – the choice is endless and I so want to get it right, but the prices are unbelievable.   Coincidentally my boss is going in a few weeks and we were checking out the same hotels – they are half the price in August compared to the dates we’re going.   I also checked to see if it was a public holiday or something, but no, and it’s not Chelsea’s wedding!   Still searching – all recommendations welcome.  

What else?   Oh yes, Bon Jovi at the O2… cool.   No, HOT!!!!   He was fantastic, but boy I could hardly move the next day.   It hurts to confess, this old hen is past being a rock chick.   More on music… got blown away seeing (sadly only on tv) the awesome and talented Carole King and James Taylor at the Troubador’s 50th anniversary, although Jamie bought me the DVD & CD.   They’ve been doing a sell-out tour in the States – it would be awesome if they brought it to London.   Some music is timeless  – Tapestry – 1971  – still listening. 

I also got blown away by a television two-part drama written by Kay Mellor, based on her mother’s revelation that she’d had an affair when Kay was a baby.   It’s called A Passionate Woman and received mixed reviews – I liked it.   It also introduced us to a beautiful and talented young actor called Theo James.    I shall be keeping an eye out for him and wish him a glittering career.

theo james as 'crazy' in a passionate woman

 

Trying to remember what books I’ve read since I last posted; I recall raving about Suite Francaise – since then I had the opportunity to hear her biographer, together with the Cambridge professor who translates Irene Nemirovsky’s writing, and Irene’s daughter (who is now 80).    After the talk hoards of people queued for book signing; my friends and I had a coffee while we waited and then joined the end of the line – in my limited french we exchanged a few words and as I was the last one they signed the books to me personally, which was rather nice.  

What have I been reading?   I loved the first two of the Stieg Larssson Millenium books – the third sits teasingly on my bookshelf, but it is 700 pages long and I  haven’t found time to dive in.    They are such thumping good yarns; I’ve bought them for friends who also can’t put them down.

Am in the middle of Andrea Levy’s Small Island which is brilliantly well written – more of that when I finish it.  

A quick read by the pool was Alexander McCall Smith’s latest  in his No.1 Lady Detective  Agency series of books  set in Botswana – they never disappoint, but don’t expect too much – just easy reading  filled with wisdom and insight. 

What else?   A return to Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.   I loved it first time round – loved it even more the second.   The first outing I was totally raving about his surreal adventures at sea and the fact it was so original; the second time I found myself more absorbed by Pi’s fascination and search for religion.   The ending is clever, very clever.   There are some beautiful lines and descriptions.  If you’ve not had the chance, this is one I heartily recommend.

Couldn’t put down Marcus Zusak’s Book Thief.   Set in Munich during the war the story of a German family harbouring a young Jewish man – the story is narrated by Death yet it is not in the least morbid.   It is written in an unusual format where the contents of each chapter are listed at the beginning so you know what to expect.   Another one I recommend.

The Ghost by Robert Harris – a political genre loosely (or not so) based on Blair  – it had some great reviews and I hear the film is good, but not seen it yet.  I should ‘cos I believe it stars the cute Pierce Brosnan and cuter Ewan McGregor.   The book is 400 pages long; I didn’t find much to excite me until p.300.  The timing was good – I was on a flight.   The last 100 pages were pageturners; at the very last line it dawned on me that we never knew the name of the ‘ghost’ – of course we were never meant to.   Friends who enjoyed it more than I didn’t notice my observation – they all went “Oh yes!” – still worth giving it an airing.  

I’ve tried to read other books by Marina Lewycka, but gave up not even halfway.   I completed the task with A Short Story of Tractors in Ukranian.   Not sure what to make of the book – think it may be a little like Marmite – you either love it or hate it.    It has been labelled comedy, when in fact it isn’t at all and nor was that the author’s intention.     There are a few smart one-liners and  it was poignant in parts.  It’s about two distant sisters (in more ways than one) whose recently widowed, 80+ year old father is about to marry a buxom blonde Ukrainian in her 30’s.   The father is writing a book about, yes, tractors in the Ukraine; he is an intellectual man, when he’s not being stupid.   Some skipped those sections, but I actually found them enlightening as you saw the progress (and not) of communism in Eastern Europe.  You can imagine the rest about him and his trophy – or read the book. 

Finally Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis I & II.   She is a graphic novelist living in France and her cartoon book is autobiographical.   The title is the old name for Tehran.  It was different.   I found the pages hard on my eyes.   It has been made into a film and I caught it this week on the television.   Having recently read the book, it was exactly the same but animated so I switched off.   I think I was less enthusiastic than my friends – I did not like the format (think Maus) but she is a graphic novelist so obviously this would be the way she would tell her story.     Her story encompasses her life from childhood in Tehran, to being a student in Austria, back to Tehran and more studies and marriage, then divorce all with the backdrop of the different regimes and rules and regulations and war.   It left me cold – I forced myself to read it – the story is true and heartbreaking and I wanted so much to sympathise and empathise; I’m sure I would have done if it was conventionally told .

Sorry I’ve been gone so long – I may be back (don’t hold your breath)   🙂

 

Angels

Posted on: 10 April 2010

The sun is shining, spring has arrived and I’m sorry; I know – it’s been a long time!   Now Pesach is over my houseguests have left.  It seemed uber-hard work this year (I must be feeling my age) still, for all that, the effort is really rewarding and I won’t deny it, I love a full house.   The family stayed with me for ten days and I even had Jon stay a couple a days the week before as he was in London on business.   Now my home is back the way it was – very clean and very quiet – it can never be too clean, but it can be too quiet!

So what’s been going on?  Lots, but for this post I’m focusing on my last trip to Israel which seems so long  ago –  and  I’ll be back there in a couple of weeks taking my ol’ ma to see her great-grandchildren – I’ve booked the flights, just need to sort accommodation!  We’ll probably rent an apartment with a pool in Herzliya so Bridgitte can bring the children over after school, which finishes at 1.30, and Jon can see us after work as his office is there.   We’ll work something out.

 

my numero uno grandson

aaaaaaaah - moriah and nadav

 

Back to the trip – last year we were a small group of nine souls; this time there were nineteen of us!   It was  fast-paced and hectic trying to fit so much into four days.   Much was  familiar to us old regulars although some in this year’s group had never been to Israel before or had only done the sun sea and sand thing and some of the itinerary was new ground even for us Israel frequent flyers.    I won’t repeat it all as much is déjà-vu from last year, particularly the Old City, Rachel’s Tomb,  Hebron and the Caves of Machpelah the burial place of our Patriarchs.  However visiting Sderot, an Israeli town literally across the road from Gaza – a stone’s, no, a rocket’s throw – was a real eye-and mind-opener.   It hit home the enormity of their situation when we saw the racks of ketusha, qassam and grad rockets  fired relentlessly on the town’s residents, when we saw the war room,  when we saw a playground where shelters are disguised as animals so the children can come out of their homes and when we saw streets where no house escaped damage. 

 

ketusha and qassam rockets fired from gaza onto the homes and people of sderot

sderot - a playground disguised shelter

the entrance to the shelter

inside the shelter - to be safe the children must go beyond the orange line

in red it says "colour red" which means when the sirens sound they have just 15 seconds to get to safety

gaza - across the road from where i was standing in sderot - a short distance to fire rockets

 

and this is the response of the Mayor of Sderot – not what you may have expected;   the word peace comes from the lips of Israel, not hate!

From Sderot we went to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and the Etzel Museum in Jaffe – we met incredible, brave, heroic people who were there when independence was declared; who fought for our right to exist and when you see the first video above, nothing has changed in our fight for survival.     

I hadn’t managed to get to Kibbutz Kfar Etzion before, which was in fact not so far from where Jon lived in the Gush.  The story of this now thriving kibbutz is one of life and death and life again and they have set up a museum to relate its history and its legacy  – it was poignant and moving especially when praying at the bunker.   At Kfar Etzion, one of four kibbutzim in the area, the captured Jews were gathered together by soldiers of the Arab Legion and told they were going to be photographed, instead the soldiers opened fire and murdered scores, according to eyewitness accounts from Jewish survivors.  The wounded from the battle had taken refuge in a cellar bunker.   After the village surrendered, the Arabs blew up the bunker with grenades killing everyone in it.  Only then were any survivors taken to captivity in Jordan.

the bunker at kfar etzion

 

a memorial to the fallen at gush etzion

the lone oak of gush etzion - the settlement Of Alon Shvut means "oak of return" and refers to the return of those Jews expelled from Gush Etzion by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948 after the Kfar Etzion Massacre - the women and children had been evacuated to Jerusalem and every man was slaughtered. After the destruction of the Etzion Bloc of Communities, the survivors and their children would gather yearly on the Israeli–Jordanian frontier to glimpse the sole remaining tree, an oak which became known as the 'lone oak' - the town was built next to the tree and even today maintains a central place in the identity of both Alon Shvut and Gush Etzion as a symbol of renewal and continuity. The 'lone oak' is incorporated in the emblem of the Gush Etzion Regional Council

I gathered acorns from around it and brought them home to remember – if the tree can survive, so can we.  

I know I often fly off to Israel for my baby fix, but for me these trips are also as important, illuminating and valuable – I try to spread the word to my friends to go, to listen, to learn, particularly when we visit the victims of terror and hear their terrible stories or work the soup kitchen or pack challot and provisions  with the beautiful Liore for over 400 destitute families who have nothing – poverty in Israel is a major issue.  My synagogue has been raising funds and been supporting these poor people since the start of the intifada and it is humbling also to meet  the wonderful volunteers in Israel who give so much of themselves.    As a community we still raise much needed funds and visit them today as we did seven years ago and they know and appreciate that Chigwell still cares and they know they are not alone.    After initial pain and grief, the scars and trauma last for ever; so must our endeavours.  

This year I met two lovely families, one from Russia, the other from Latvia, whose lives were destroyed through terrorist attack and whose stories of healing I may tell another time, but their progress and rehabilitation could never have happened without the hard graft and sheer dedication of one truly remarkable lady, Delysia Jayson, a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valour…

“a woman of valour… she invests herself with strength… she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out to the needy… she is robed in strength and dignity and she smiles at the future…  give her credit for the fruit of her labour and let her achievements praise her at the gates.” (Proverbs 31: 10-31)  

Delysia sadly died shortly after our visit, on her 67th birthday.   Maybe it sounds odd to say I was lucky, but I was lucky to have had the opportunity to spend precious time with her again, to have walked beside this angel on earth, to have had the honour and privilege to have known her at all.   On our first day in Jerusalem she drove us to visit  families in their homes and the following evening I sat with her at a dinner for more victims, their families and volunteers – always a brilliant evening of shared stories of despair and hope – for example beautiful young men cruelly injured by mines and suicide bombs whose survival hung in the balance and now they were loved and embarking on marriage, something they had never dared to hope for, something that was just a dream.

Delysia was the founder of Keren Klita – her voluntary work started in the early 70’s with a group called the “35’s Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry”.   Reading her tribute brought back memories – I recall playing a small part in those days, just going on rallies and occasionally volunteering in charity shops to raise funds to help get those poor souls out of Russia and to raise public awareness of their plight.      I remember wearing a pendant that bore the words “Let My People Go”  and years later twinning my sons’ Bar Mitzvahs with 13 year old boys in Russia who could not get out, who could not celebrate openly as we could in the land of freedom, who could not live freely as Jews, whose families were imprisoned on false charges because they wanted to leave the Soviet Union.    It was a very big thing then and Delysia courageously made perilous trips to Russia to see for herself and to do what she could.   

When we saw Delysia again in February we knew something was wrong – she was a shadow of her former self, yet she was still working tirelessly for her cause.  I wonder if she realised she had mere weeks to live; she knew she was sick, she told us she had cancer but when questioned she dismissed it as a nuisance, like one would flick a hand at a pesky fly.   Please please read this tribute to her – it chronicles her life and her strength of character and determination and was written by someone who followed in her footsteps to help others, by someone who will miss her like everyone all over the world who got to know and respect and admire and love her.   Her death leaves a void, an enormous loss to her family, her friends, her colleagues, her community and the many many thousands of people she saved.    Future trips will not be the same without her.

 

moriah

boaz and nadav
nadav

 

I’m back on my travels and thankfully there’s no snow this weekend!    Amazingly it’s been eight whole months since I was last in Israel, a long long time for me, although the children did come here in October.    Of course I’m very very very excited.   I won’t actually see my family until Thursday as I am heading straight to Jerusalem to do my thing there.  I am so looking forward to meeting again the most awesome people I had the privilege and honour to meet last year; those who we, from a distance,  support financially and spiritually who have gone through so much hardship and suffering – and of course meeting again with the wonderful people in Israel who give so much of themselves.  

Hopefully I’ll find a little time to catch up with some friends whilst I’m there, but the actual days of the trip are jam-packed and hectic.    One of the places we shall visit again is the excavated Southern Wall of the Temple.   As moving as the Kotel  (the Western Wall) can be the Southern excavations is a trip that anyone who is going to Israel should not miss.   It never ceases to fascinate me – and I have been there a few times – to see how the people lived then – the road, the shops, the mikveh – and for me the most amazing experience is to walk the exact same steps the Priests and the people had walked to enter the Temple all those thousands of years ago. 

Jerusalem - The Southern Wall Excavations

 

Then I’m on to Ra’anana to meet my new grandson, Nadav Philip.   The name Nadav means generous and noble and the name Philip has been passed down through Bridgitte’s father’s family for generations.   I’m hoping to meet some friends there as well and even make new friends – more of that later!

 Also in the meantime, there’s more news about the move, but that will also have to wait till I get back.

See you all in a couple of weeks.

lotsa luv   ann   x0x0x0x

 

Monday I dragged my feet like a reluctant and recalcitrant schoolgirl back to my writing class – a new term, a new class, a new teacher.   I was trying to justify every good reason for a no show – the course had been paid for, the money long gone, but the bottom line was that I simply could not be bothered.   Shopping lists, christmas cards, cheques, sporadic posts here and an odd (in every sense) comment there,  just about sums up the extent of my writing since breaking up last November.   You’d think with the number of vegetative days since the snows began I would have taken the opportunity to knuckle down and be creative – huh – it don’t work like that!   

The fact is I felt I’d lost my mojo and couldn’t face sitting in a class of  talented wannabes, my pen frozen in the air above the snowy white virgin sheet of paper and everyone else keen eager beavers.    Still I did make it ; the new teacher is a darling, it was great to see friends from last term and some newbies.  It was rather amusing seeing their young and enthusiastic faces enter the room – you could tell there was an element of shock when they saw the number of wrinklies and thought they were in the wrong place.  However as for not writing, I was not alone – no one else had and we all felt the same!

You see I blame the weather.   It’s odd how it changes one’s psyche.   We’ve all heard of SAD, seasonal affective disorder –  not that it particularly affects me apart from my usual moan that it goes against nature to get up from a warm cosy bed when it’s still dark out there.   It’s the psychological affect of snow; the feeling of being cut off and isolated that equates with hibernation; the desire to hole up and hide away and basically do nothing.   Now I live a fairly solitary life in any event, but somehow this is different.   

Last Wednesday was horrendous and my plans were scuppered so I chilled indoors, cooked and wrote a post.    By the time I got home from work last night, my road was ice free – the garden still pretty as a winter wonderland and the underlying perils gone.  

Today is another Wednesday – another non-working day – another night of snow and we’re back to square 1! 

As I’m typing, I’m watching it coming down from the warmth of my bed, the sky the same colour as the housetops and the road an ice rink again, but today I will not give in so easily.   Wisdom dictates I don’t do the North Circular, so sorry mother, another day not taking you to Brent X –  it wasn’t so much the getting there, but the getting home.    Still this vegetating has to stop.  Life has to go on.  

Tonight I have a meeting about my next official trip to Israel – driving on icy roads is one thing, doing it at night and I’m a real wimp, but it’s important.   Many of you will remember last year’s trip well I’m doing it again.   I’m looking forward to finding out this year’s itinerary and meeting my fellow travellers.     I should like to revisit Rachel’s Tomb and pray harder this time  –  I’ll leave it at that for now.   I heard we’ll be visiting Sderot, rocket attacks permitting.   I know this time round it will be a larger group, so I expect we shall have an armed escort and travel on a bullet-proof bus and  I know we shall be seeing Liore again – I am very excited.   If you have time, please see the video on her link – Liore shines with inner beauty, she is modest, she is brave, she is an angel.

No trip to Israel goes without seeing my family, so of course I shall be staying on.   Actually most trips are only about seeing them and weddings, talking of which,  Jon and Bridgitte celebrate their 6th anniversary tomorrow, the baby is due very very soon – like around Boaz’s birthday and he’s gonna be 5 next week – I can’t wait to see them all – so many wonderful blessings.    Coincidentally Jamie was due on Jon’s birthday, a long long time ago, except he came early – my husband wanted me to hang in there so he would then be born on his birthday the following day – yeah right!   As it was I  ended up living in a household with three typical Aries men! 

 

chez moi - october 2009

 

Now I really am gonna move myself – the chores and errands won’t go away and they don’t do themselves!

~~~ooOoo~~~

HOT OFF THE PRESS — just heard that probate has been granted on the home jamie and lucy want to buy – guess it looks like I really will be moving – heeeeeeelp!!!!!

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things  ~ John Burroughs

New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual ~ Mark Twain

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right  ~ Oprah Winfrey

Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits  ~ Author Unknown

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other  ~ Author Unknown

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man  ~ Benjamin Franklin
 
I made no resolutions for the New Year.  The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me  ~ Anaïs Nin
 
 

 

I know Christmas is not my festival, but it still ended up a very busy time indeed as my home turned into Hotel Chez Raven – again – bless my darling dearest and nearest – and I love it.   Anyway although it’s not my holiday I want to thank all of you who included me at this time, for your thoughtfulness in sending me beautiful snail mail and email cards and good wishes; all gratefully and graciously appreciated – your friendship means a lot to me – thank you.

 

I’ve not been in the right frame of mind to write – my creative juices are just not flowing – the way I’m feeling right now I could simply regurgitate some of the old stuff – boring boring boring.        Maybe it is all written in the stars and the waning moon and the flow of the tides.   I remember much debate about the effects of a new millenium and boy did my life change then.  

New Years Eve ten years ago, 1999, strolling along Fort Lauderdale promenade, my husband puffing on a cigar having just bought ‘us’ an apartment – little did I know what was in store.    The last ten years saw many losses; my marriage, my home, my job, my father and many friends who passed far too young, but despite the sadness, I am still blessed and for that I am eternally thankful.  I can’t say my cup is brimming over with happiness, but I’m not unhappy either – rather a sense of contentment and fulfilment.  The joy for a mother to see her children happily married to loving, caring and respectful partners and the wonderful gift of a loving family and friends and the highlight of grandchildren cannot be underestimated or adequately measured and as long as they are all well and happy, what more can I ask for?

  

So what’s new for 2010?   It’s probably just as well we don’t know what tomorrow brings, but for me I feel the time is right for a change of scene –  they did it in Israel!   

 

I really do fancy a new start – a blank canvas – gutting out rooms and remodelling, redecorating and refurnishing whilst I still have the energy and strength, but not this house – I do love it now and it has served me well – if I could lift it and move it I would.  It  is so true what they say – location location location is everything and living on an uninspiring characterless development is not where I wish to end my days.   I’ve had my HIP done (no not that kind – a Home Information Pack) and in the new year I shall get the ball rolling.   

As for other resolutions – humbug – nonsense – we don’t need a date to change or reflect or think of what was, what is, what might have been.  We can look into our hearts and souls any day of the year; it’s never too late to change.   As they say, out with the old (and the bad) – in with the new (and the good)!

with every best wish for a blessed 2010 to all my blogging family and friends

TAKEN FROM MY FRONT DOOR

 

Many many many many years ago on a beautiful sunny autumn day I impulsively bought myself a pair of fur lined (well – fluffy) snowboots that lived safe and dry and warm in the boot (trunk) of my car.  They stayed pristine white and virginal for over seven years – they were like my own little insurance policy against that little dirty four letter word.    If anyone is gonna slip and slide and fall on their face, or their tail, it’s sure to be yours truly.   Snow is no friend of mine! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

I was upset yesterday – I couldn’t believe the weather.  I frantically searched my shoe cupboards – I have a lot of them – for my now very mucky stained, well used and abused and trusted and very much loved  boots.   I don’t care what they look like, or how I look.  If there’s one itsy bitsy snowflake on the path, I will not leave the house without them.   

I don’t remember the last time it snowed in London in December and now tonight (Thursday) it’s really coming down.      I’m still recovering from last February.   Actually I’m not sure I ever shared this story with anyone in the blogosphere, but my friends and community dined out on it for months and people stopped me in the street and the supermarket and the butcher and the baker and told me they’d heard what happened.  

Do you remember  ten months ago when this country ground to a halt?   Even I watched the weather channel that day which is quite something seeing I tell certain weather obsessed people (you know who you are) if you want to know what the weather’s like, turn off the tv and put your head out the front door.     I was going to Israel again expecting to be almost snowed-in there like the previous February (2008) when I had to get out the Gush for meetings in Tel Aviv in time for my taxi driver to get me there and for him to get home before he got snowed-out!    

Thankfully on the day of my departure the snow in my area was practically gone so, minus snowboots, we – that is me and Gary (a good friend and my trusty driver)  left the house at 6.00 a.m.    We had barely gone 5 minutes when the traffic report came on to say Luton Airport was closed.    We’d heard the north of the country would be snowbound, but I guess when they talked north they meant north of London.    I tried to call the airport but only got pre-recorded messages so we battled on.    The motorways were chock-a-block and gridlocked because of jack-knifed lorries so Gary assured me he knew another way – huh – a route that had not been gritted.  Not totally unsurprising since the big news was the country had run out of salt and grit!!!     

We got stuck so many times and slid all over the place. Hours later we neared Luton only to be waved down and told not to go on a particular road since nothing had moved in almost two hours.    Grateful for the information, Gary reassured me again that he knew yet another way, so we unstuck ourselves in reverse and miraculously got out of there.   The next road, an alternative route to the airport,  had also not been gritted and was a sheet of ice.    All the cars were sliding all over the place and nothing was making progress.   We looked at each other and I said I felt sick, not bad traveller’s kinda sick, but scary sick and Gary had visibly paled and confessed he felt the same.    He was not his usual chippy chirpy self.  We had no choice – we had to abandon the car and walk the rest of the way.   Gary, bless him, said the arrangement was for him to get me to the airport and so he did. 

It was freezing – the snow was almost up to our knees – okay I exaggerate a little – my knees, his calves!   What a gentleman – my hero – he schlepped my case and 45 minutes and a mile-and-a-half walk later two very wet and bedraggled souls entered the airport.   My first port of call, the ladies, to get out of soaking wet socks, trainers and jeans.     Many airlines had actually cancelled all flights; mine hadn’t and eventually, hours late,  we took off – the atmosphere and camaraderie at the airport and on the flight was fantastic, but please please please, I would not want to experience that again.    I came home two weeks later and everyone knew – Gary, my super-uber-hero had told everyone.   I did reward him well – he was worth it.

So, back to today – that is if I get this posted, since my lights are flickering and I’m watching Grumpy Old Women at Christmas – they are so funny and it’s funny watching Maureen Lipman and Leslie Joseph, two prominent Jewish personalities, moaning about their Christmas preparations.   Sorry, got distracted.     

A good friend’s daughter, Sarah, is getting married this Sunday – oh and Rachel is bridesmaid again – just thought I’d mention it.    Well they have been friends since nursery school.   Rachel and Sarah were Gemma’s bridesmaids.   Sarah and Gemma were Rachel’s.   So Rachel and Gemma are Sarah’s.    Aaaaah!     A lot of Sarah’s family live in Israel and are flying in today and I’m putting two of her cousins and spouses up for Shabbat – that is, if they get here.      The wind is howling and it is snowing – horrid – ghastly – freezing – wet – cold – settling on the ground – my road is an ice rink – that kinda  snow, not the pretty pretend stuff on this page.  

I’m praying they get here safely.   I’m praying everyone gets to the wedding safely – especially the bride and groom.   I’m wondering how my snowboots will look with my evening gown…

… and I’ve just booked to go to Israel again this February – with my snowboots!

 

SNOW IN ISRAEL

Yesterday I was at a beautiful wedding – not large by Jewish standards – around 170 guests.   I used to live across the road from these friends and knew the bride 32 of her 33 years.   I didn’t know at the time who lived in the house opposite because I used to work in the City, leave home early, get home then collapse in a heap.  However, my neighbour obviously knew my movements, because as soon as I stopped working to have my first baby, there was a knock on the door and that was the start of a new friendship and the start of becoming part of a community and an amazing circle of friends.    Being so close in every possible way, we obviously got to know each other’s extended families, so I knew all the Hull side that came down to London and the American branch too — it was lovely to reunite and catch up with so many people on such a joyous occasion.   Sadly I had to go up to Hull a couple of times recently as my friend lost first her brother and then a few weeks later her father also died – so to be celebrating  a simcha  together was especially beautiful, one that the Rabbi said in shul on Shabbat was long time coming – and no one took offense.   Good for the bride – she waited until it felt right and her new husband is a truly wonderful guy – long may they be blessed .

The chupah took place in a beautiful West End synagogue; the ladies and men seated separately.   Everyone is aware of my single status so a good friend jokingly remarked, “Look at that lot over there,” referring of course to the men, “which one would you take home?”   The truth is that the men across the aisle while most certainly losing their youthful glow (and their hair) and most now in retirement mode were great guys.    I knew them as good and honest and respectable, decent people, all I’m delighted to add still happily married to their long term spouses.    I just smiled, but the thought did cross my mind that I didn’t think any one of them would actually want to take me home.

I did have a wonderful time; the bride was  s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g… she is very very tall and very very slim and she wore a gown I had never seen the likes of before and I don’t think I could do it justice trying to describe it, but when I told her that I thought it was very Carrie, of SATC fame, she said that was the best possible compliment.    As I said, I did have a wonderful time, but!!!!   I don’t brood on it, but something was definitely missing.   The bride and groom were not so young, in fact someone told me the groom was about 38 and it made me think back because at that age we were celebrating No.1 son’s  Bar Mitzvah.   And then it really hit me; this was my old crowd, my good friends.  We’d shared simachot and sad times and children and grandchildren and the ups and downs of life together for over thirty years, yet one was missing and he should have been there; we should have been there together, dancing like we all had done together twenty years earlier, still the same, but now  just a little worn in the joints.    

So, I look around at all my friends and wonder.   Can I leave you now?   Is it time to up sticks and move away from them?   I am blessed to be part of a lovely community, to walk into synagogue and not feel a stranger, to know I have such a wide circle of friends locally.  Yet — I don’t live near a single member of my family.   I moved to this area where my husband and his family lived when we  got married 34 years ago.  My mother, my brother, my aunts, uncles, cousins and now my son and daughter all live in North London.  

The days of spending afternoons with friends and children are long gone; the days of entertaining each other, making dates ahead of time so we could get babysitters are long gone.   Some are retired and globetrot, many owning second homes abroad.  Some are grandparents and Saturday night is likely spent babysitting.    On days off, ‘ladies who lunched’ has now become ‘retired couples who lunch’ – which is all lovely, but where does that leave me?   Oh, I’m not moaning, just noting that the whole dynamic has changed.   I hardly see them any more.  Sure we still talk, but you can chat to anyone, anywhere at the end of a phone.   

Apparently Jamie who, bless ‘im, is an open book, told a friend of mine he had seen a house he liked.   She told me this across the dinner table last night.    Jamie sees all my friends.    He commutes back to Chigwell to work and near his office are hairdressers and beauty salons that they frequent, so he sees ’em all and they all love him —- he’s such a shmoozer.    When I mentioned that maybe I’d buy his apartment there was a stunned silence around the table.  Another friend asked me to repeat myself and then the first friend said, “What about book club?”    Well that was exactly why I had formed it – for selfish reasons.   As I just commented, I wasn’t seeing anyone, but I wasn’t losing friendships, everyone’s lives are so full and different now.   This way I was seeing around 12 girlfriends every month, every one of them avid readers.    I would never give up my baby, my book club –  I’d still come back every month and see the girls, which is moreorless as much as I see them now…  and at engagements and weddings and funerals.

So now I’m off to Jamie’s neck of the woods to take a look at the run-down house he wants to buy and renovate and take a closer look at his place which is literally down the same road.   Maybe it really is time to move on, as they say!   But don’t tell mother – I haven’t told her yet – much easier for her health and mine to wait until it is a fait accompli.

 

 

 


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from long ago

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