One today! Reflections of the Rotter-in-Chief

It is one year to the day since melchett mike first appeared in the blogosphere (at least in its current format) . . . and what an enjoyable 12 months it has been! 

Bored at work one Monday morning – November 3, 2008 to be precise – I started surfing the Web to find out what these blog things are all about. I somehow stumbled across Bermant’s blog by Danny Bermant – son of the late Jewish Chronicle columnist, Chaim, and a few years below me at school – and, Yosser Hughes-like, declared to myself “I can do that.”

By the end of that same day, melchett mike was up and running – on the Blogspot blog-hosting service – with a rather parve first offering titled Virginal Meanderings. Just over a month later, on December 10, I migrated melchett mike to WordPress, a considerably more advanced host.

Word of melchett mike started to spread around New Year 2009 with my series of polemical postings on the Gaza War – F*ck you, too, especially, seemed to strike a deep chord as Israel came under the sickeningly hypocritical cosh of world opinion – though I believe that some earlier posts, which very few people have even read, are amongst my best:           

(To view other earlier posts, use the Posts By Month index in the right-hand margin.)

Then, at some point during the War, probably from the urge to think about something rather more cheerful, I wondered whether anything had ever been written about that subject which my closest friends and I, when we get together, talk about more than any other: Hasmonean Grammar School for Boys. Being at work again (seeing a pattern?!), I did a Google search, and, to my amazement, found absolutely nothing.

On January 14, 2009, I posted Hasmo Legends I: An Introduction to an Institution (which recently topped 15,000 ‘hits’, 50% more than the next most clicked-on post), which was followed in quick succession by Hasmo Legends II: Yids vs. Yoks – The Religious Mix and Hasmo Legends III: Cyril, aka Mr. Bloomberg (second and third in the ‘hits’ list, the trio also having amassed 1,100 comments).

With Stu (two of Osher's mythical "four dogs"), Suzanna Cafe, Neve Tzedek

Just the experience of writing Hasmo Legends has been great fun, forcing me to relive, almost systematically, so many great memories and characters. In fact, once I had started typing, I could hardly stop! And, perhaps, following a bit of a breather, there might be a few more posts in the ‘oven’ (I am open to suggestions, too, and to “guest” posts – from earlier and later generations of ex-Hasmos – on other memorable ‘pedagogues’ who slapped, slippered, or merely slobbered, their way through Holders Hill Road).

Receiving Osher Baddiel’s rant was of course particularly gratifying, as it encapsulated the Hasmo ethos far better than any descriptive account ever could (and I am further grateful to Osher for supplying me with the nickname in the title of this post, a source of considerable – if somewhat perverse! – personal pride).

It has, unsurprisingly, been extremely difficult to maintain the same level of literary prolificacy – I was averaging 13 posts for each of my first three months of blogging – but I am still striving to post at least once a week. melchett mike has received approaching 172,00 ‘hits’ since it migrated to WordPress –  an average, in 2009, of 497-a-day – and 3,750 comments. This is my 92nd post (including 19 originally published on Blogspot).

Whilst all of this might come across as jolly big-headed, I am not (although had I been less removed from the North-West London “Shabbes lunch scene” – at which I understand melchett mike has been very much a talking point – I might very well have been!)

I must confess, however, that it was nice being asked, at a recent lawyer’s do at the British Ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan, whether I read “the Hasmo blog” (even though I vehemently object to that description of it!) Flattering, too, to have a woman I had never met approach me at a party in Jaffa and tell me how much she loves the blog. Though, most satisfying of all, was having an ex-Hasmo inform me that he prefers my non-Hasmo posts.

melchett mike has certainly given me a lot more satisfaction than any of my many and varied careers. And I know that, even if I stop writing tomorrow (and barring the demise of the Internet), ex-Hasmos at least – and probably their children and grandchildren too – will be dipping into Hasmo Legends for a very long time to come.

Ultimately, however, I do this for myself. Because I like writing. I also find this country and its inhabitants endlessly fascinating and amusing (and I hope that the cynicism of many of my posts is not misinterpreted as disaffection).

Thanks to all of you who have helped make melchett mike the lively place that it is, with special mention to (special cases!) Nick Kopaloff and Daniel Marks (even though he still suffers from the delusion that melchett mike is really his!) It would be great if more of you would comment on a regular basis (see Twatter). And, for the hard time I have given a few of you, my apologies. With so many Jews – especially ex-Hasmos – it was never going to be easy!

Keep reading . . .


4 responses to “One today! Reflections of the Rotter-in-Chief

  1. Melchett Mike, your writing is a treat! Your posts never fail to capture, entertain or challenge your readers (or at least this reader). Seldom have I encountered such wit and incisive writing as yours, and your commentaries on life in Israel and on your alma mater (a.k.a the Hasmonean Institute for the Criminally Insane?) are each one a gem. Keep it up!

  2. I swear I didn’t write that!

    Thank you so much, Avram . . . though I trust your “HICI” refers to the teachers only. 😉

  3. Last Jan or Feb it must have been that Mo Shatzkes told me the tidings one shabbos morning, of a new blog out there written by a “proper journalist”, about memories of Hasmo….didn’t take me long to find it on the net that night, and have been hooked ever since. Definitely reached the apex of hilarity with Cyril. Even got to contribute my own material on Big Al Walters.

    So thank YOU, Melchett Mike.


  4. Thanks, Dan. I actually believe that our collaboration on Big Al was the best – or, at least, most original – Hasmo Legend.

    I am sitting with an ex-Hasmo in a TA cafe as I write. Noticing me revisiting the post, he relates the story of Big Al standing-in for Mr. Tarrant for an O-level German lesson.

    Naturally, the class went mental when they saw the lanky one enter, at which Big Al got them all to stand on their chairs and proceeded to write on the blackboard:

    “Arbeit macht frei”

    You couldn’t make it up!

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