Confined to my sickbed this past week and a half, the miserable alternatives offered by HOT (Israeli cable TV) have more or less compelled me to take an interest in professional cycling and to renew a former one in darts.
Watching the Tour de France reach its exhausting conclusion gave me cause to wonder why there has never been an Israeli participant in this, the greatest test of stamina in world sport.
Indeed, it is a question I posed to the kiosk brain trust, on Rothschild Boulevard.
After all, why shouldn’t the Israeli male, who displays such outstanding determination, resilience and tactical astuteness in his IDF uniform, be able to bring those very same qualities to the hard saddle?
The reply – delivered, of course, by chairman (self-appointed) of the trust, Avi (well known to readers of melchett mike) – was instant.
“That type of professional cycling demands a special type of self-discipline and denial. And it is one that we Israelis simply don’t possess. We are far too sociable, and incapable of such lonely individualism. Your average Israeli might be able to start his Tour training rides at the crack of dawn, but he’ll be off his bike in a flash at the first sight of people drinking coffee, eating croissants and chatting!”
Hankies to the ready . . . but, if Israel has shown us anything, it is that nothing is impossible for “us” anymore. Still, knowing Israelis as I now do, it is hard, for once, to disagree with Avi.
Now, I am unashamed to admit that I have always been a big fan of TV darts, especially when accompanied by the quite wonderful commentary of Sid Waddell, a Cambridge University graduate who has shown that you don’t have to be sub-working class to enjoy this most watchable of sports (or games, if you wish to argue the toss). During one particularly tense match, the Geordie proclaimed: “There couldn’t be more excitement in here if Jesus Christ walked in and ordered a cheese sandwich.” Brilliant.
I now started to wonder why no British Jews have ever taken up a career with the arrows. It can be extremely lucrative if you reach the top, you don’t get dirty, and hardly even have to bend down. There are two separate professional world bodies – any self-respecting Diaspora Jew will require one that he doesn’t belong to – and the rule book of neither prohibits consumption of vodka and orange, or even a good pure malt, instead of beer.
But, whilst Jewish guys might be able to handle the dart thrower’s compulsory chains and rings, they would never smoke B&H, Embassy or Rothmans, and would look ridiculous in those “tent” shirts.
And what about the sobriquets? Amongst world champions, past and present, have been Eric “The Crafty Cockney” Bristow, Steve “Housewife’s Choice” Beaton (right), and Phil “The Power” Taylor.
Who would we have? Neville “The Calculator” Rosenberg? Lionel “Mummy’s Boy” Frankel? Melvyn “The Doormat” Levy? It could just all get very embarrassing.
So, even though I ran it down a little in my last post– as not exactly a competition of sporting giants – perhaps the Maccabiah Games, held “in private” in Israel, is the best sporting option after all for British Jews.