Sunday, September 21, 2008

Postcard from Israel

I'm in Israel! What's been going on?

I went to a great wedding. The English/Israeli thing worked a treat. We had all the traditions of the hebrew celebration, with the English non-Jewish Martin getting to stamp on a glass; an enormous buffet dinner to satisfy even the most petrified of Jewish women that I might be starving to death; and dancing with wild arms to 80s pop. But then we had the Engish contingent to inspire some hard drinking in Lee-Or, the Israeli bride, and and some hilarious banter.

Martin is a chiropractor, and so it seems are all his friends.

After the ceremony and the dancing was done - we all piled into a coach and were bussed for 60 long minutes (with only one vomit stop for the maid of honour who took the job title to mean 'get the bride so drunk she misses half the wedding night') to Abu Gosh, between the Jordanian Desert and the Dead Sea. We had a campfire waiting for me to get some music started, and a whole host of beds and, a very well stocked fridge. We jammed until the sun came up. Actually, I retired a little before hand to sleep out on a rock with Effie trying her best not to be sick.

After a day or so to recover, we went to the Dead Sea, which was beautiful. I got a proper chance to go swimming in the salty water. It's amazing how you just float. One must try desperately not to swim too far from the shore, and try even more desperately not to let any water (salt) get in one's eyes. It's nigh impossible (especially with my bloody hair) but it is quite something to float in warm water under the light of a nearly full moon.


The girls were all harrassed by a horny naked young french man, who assumed that all female nudity equals pliant warm flesh. He was harshly rebuked for his efforts. And was then humiliated by a rather confused and slightly psychotic Israeli woman, who had stumbled upon our little party. Perhaps because it was dark and she didn't realise he was actually right there (or perhaps because she wished to freak him out) she loudly proclaimed in English, in front of the very same Frenchman (and his three friends) that she had been sexually harrassed by a creepy Frenchman "I mean, what does he want from me?"

The night's rest was appalling. Sleeping basically on gravel with only a sleeping bag for comfort. Sweating from the heat, but shivering from the strong breeze, my neck fixing itself into a permanent crick, while the mosquitos proclaimed loudly that it was FEEDING TIME! My god. How many days have passed? I still scratch every damn inch of my boyish body in a vain attempt to relieve the itching! Then in the morning, the flies attacked us, while the sun seriously baked us.

Thank the lord, then, for Ein Gedi, located conveniently a two minute drive from our tortuous sleeping spot by the sea. Ein Gedi is a wonderful set of waterfalls where the public are allowed to come bathe. How refreshing the cool waters and the rushing falls on your head...

Last night was my one booked gig in Tel Aviv. At the rather prestigious Levontin 7 venue, I was on a bill of "Music from the World". I witnessed a band playing tradition Arab music on Oud, frame drum and a stringed harpish instrument that made the player appear more like an engineer than a musician - it was spellbinding. I also saw some rather lovely African flavoured jazz wig out band. And old chap singing rather painful old yiddish songs with an Oud.

And me! Little old me with my six strings and my six songs plucked carefully from an ever growing songbook. I had rehearsed one song with my friend Itamar who gave some nice backing vocals. And I did my thing. The sound was good, I was enjoying myself. And I got a very warm response. I even sold two of my (painstakingly) newly packaged cds. The nice chap at the venue enjoyed it and started making noises about trying to get me back next week to support some good singer or other....we'll see.

The rest of the day was strangely spent in the company of four women engaged in an emotional Hebrew debate - loosely translated to the sentiment "Fuck him, he's no good for you, if you see him, hit him hard girl! he no good! he don't deserve you! he's a dawg! forget him! move on! don't you know you're better than that! I mean, hit him hard!"

It was all a bit surreal, watching girls eat ice cream and talking like hysterical mafia dons. While I eat pizza and wait for the occasional translated bits or snatches of English.

And then we went back to the gig in the evening, to watch a truly spellbinding Israeli singer called Victoria Hannah playing to a packed room. Like some kind of middle eastern witch, spinning frighteningly well delivered operatic dark tales of biblical proportions. Her band were a joy to watch - a drummer to die for - a fiddle player who was so damn cool. And a whole host of weird looping sounds and her VOICE! It was spooky. I was rather blown away, as you can see.

I asked her afterwards if I could buy a cd and she said she didn't have any which frankly seems ridiculous. But she's working on it etc...

And underpinning this whole trip is Miriam, Effie's wonderful mother who continues to be the warm and generous host. Regular offers of food, trips to nice restaurants (MUST FEED THE BOY!), discussions of translation and literature, and the particularly helpful fact that she has a spare car that means myself and Eff can take ourselves wherever we need to go...

Anyway, today we thought we'd pop to Jerusalem for a couple hours, peek around.

I wonder what's going on at home...

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