Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The Curious Incident of the Indian with the iPad

We worry and worry, but it is always the problems we never foresee. Four and a half month old Mika, flying for the first time, was on her best behaviour. Instead, it was her father, four and a half months shy of fifty, who was cause of all the trouble.

A first trip to London was some kind of compensation for Avivit, Mika’s mum. Her utter selflessness since my fifteen seconds of glory towards the end of last March had rendered my very existence all but pointless.

Some half an hour into our Luton-Tel Aviv return flight, following a lovely week in the Smoke, and with the fasten-seat-belts signs extinguished, I unbuckled and stood up, eager to parade – under the thinly disguised pretense of attempting to quell some mild whimpering – our beautiful daughter up and down the easyJet (even generosity has its limits) aisle. But, after squeezing past Avivit and picking up Mika, I was at once confronted by the suddenly psychotic Anglo-Indian female who had hitherto been seated mouselike in the window seat to my left.

‘You cracked my iPad! [And more loudly] You cracked my iPad!’

I had no clue what she was on about, and was seriously nonplussed – the serious nature of the accusation on the one hand; my always being tickled by hysterical Indians (all that politeness, all that pent-up rage) on the other.

‘You threw your seat belt onto the screen!’

‘I didn’t throw anything,’ I responded in mock calm, keen not to allow the growing hubbub at the rear of the aircraft to escalate. I am no good at scenes – the usually unflappable Avivit had by now snatched Mika back from my clutches and was herself parading her up the aisle – and, in spite of some experience, even less good at furious women.

The to-ing and fro-ing of accusations and denials clearly not getting her anywhere, the thirty-something – well dressed, spoken and seemingly educated (though clearly not in dispute resolution) – chose to play her Joker: the male friend in the window seat opposite.

‘He smashed my iPad! [I had preferred “cracked”. And, again, more loudly] He smashed my iPad!’

Having removed his Sennheisers, friend stared back blankly, and as fortune would have it – he was a large friend – returned at once to his Coldplay (spinelessness my yardstick) without so much as a word. A joker, indeed.

What you always want and need, I find, in such situations is for a religious female American settler to be seated in the row behind. ‘I’ll tell you what you can do,’ the busybody, having sprung to her feet, very uninvited, proffered. ‘Give her 250 shekels and have done with.’ I thanked her, when what I really wanted was to tell her what she could do and then gag her with the tablecloth on her head.

Then the squeeze of shame back into my seat. The iPad was still functioning, though I could see The Hindu e-Paper having read better with the screen fully intact. I gave affability my best shot, enquiring of the woman – visiting Israel for a Jewish wedding (I spotted the invitation out of the corner of my eye later in the flight) – as to whether she had travel insurance (she did) and providing her with my contact details (12 Edgeworth Crescent, Hendon NW4). I also tried explaining to her – as if that was going to help – what I could only imagine must have happened (my standing up had flung the seat belt buckle, resting on my left leg, onto the iPad on her lap).

But my schmoozing was to no avail, failing to trigger any symptoms of humanity. Indeed, for the remainder of the flight, her expression remained one of a woman biting on a Naga chili that had mysteriously found its way into her Chicken Korma (though that may also have had something to do with the charedi kids climbing and swinging on the back of her seat).

Guilt feelings ever to the fore, I checked with Avivit as to whether I should just hand over some cash. ‘No,’ came the unhesitating reply: the woman had not been very nice or shown any understanding – shit does happen (Jonathan Sacks, I believe) – and was operating an Apple Store out of an easyJet seat (she was working with a MacBook Pro and two iPhones on her tray table, and an iPad on her lap). ‘What had she expected?!’ (I love Israeli simplicity when it suits me.)

I resisted the strong urge to hand over the offended iPad every time flight attendants walked past requesting ‘any rubbish,’ and the remaining four or so hours passed without further tumult. A few specks of Similac did end up on the MacBook keyboard as I was preparing Mika’s bottle. Some splashes of milk, too, as I was shaking it. Nothing too bad, though.

A new recruit for radical Islam, perhaps? One thing’s for sure . . . there’s no need to coop yourself up for months studying Koran in a dodgy Finsbury Park mosque, when you could just sit next to me – and in front of some charedi kids – on an easyJet flight to Tel Aviv!

NOarchitects, No Cry: A Berlin Tale

“Life,” said Alvy Singer, “is divided into the horrible and the miserable.” I never really got that. Until, that is, these past twelve months . . .

My lovely mum started to go downhill around this time last year, and I spent the last four months of her life caring for her, while Netanya Social Services faffed around with grading questionnaires. “Can you put your socks on by yourself, Norma,” visiting social workers, each more gormless than the next, would repeatedly ask her as she smiled back sweetly. A light had gone out. The memory still pains. And the Filipino arrived much, much too late.

I have been unsettled ever since. I feel I need a change. New surroundings. A fresh challenge. Rural Ireland was on the cards. But I just wasn’t sure. And London feels a backward step.

Everything seemed to start to be coming back together, however, on a trip to Berlin at the beginning of last month. While looking for an investment property, I was shown an unrenovated loft in a converted salt warehouse in a very cool part of Prenzlauer Berg. And I just fell in love with it. So much, in fact, that I decided, there and then, that I would move in. I know, I know, “Berlin?!” But it does have a wonderful spirit these days.

A price was agreed with the co-vendor/developer, an Ulrich Caspar, and, before leaving the city, I met, on his recommendation, two 30-something architects: American Adam Odgers and his German partner Deborah Nickles, trading as NOa.berlin (previously, when I met them, as NOarchitects). It was a very positive meeting, and instinctively – I was now on a roll (I even pinpointed in which corner I was going to start writing properly again) – I informed them that I would be delighted to work with them once the contract for the loft had been finalised.

I promised Caspar that I could, and would, act quickly – a notary appointment was actually set for 2 o’clock today, a mere three weeks after I left Berlin – and also made it crystal clear to him, at a third meeting that I requested on the afternoon before my flight, just how important the purchase was for me at this time.

And I have wasted no time since returning to Israel: I put my Tel Aviv home up for sale – I have already found a buyer – and, in preparation for signing, arranged power of attorney for my German lawyer through the Tel Aviv District Court, and converted and transferred large sums to an escrow account in Berlin.

Just eight days ago, last Wednesday, NOa.berlin supplied two potential mortgage providers with a cost estimate for the renovation. “Due to sign next Thursday!” I excitedly e-mailed Adam Odgers from my phone.

Three days ago, however, only three days before the notary appointment, I received a chilling e-mail from the real estate agent:

“I am sorry, but I have the worst news possible. The owner of the loft called me this morning and said the architect of the house is going to buy the small loft. I am angry beyond believe and don’t know what to say. I let you swallow this before we communicate further.”

I presumed that Birgit was referring to the architect of the building. But no. On calling NOa.berlin – who describe themselves, on their website, as “Client-oriented” –  just to rule them out, Deborah Nickles informed me, as cold as a German cucumber, that she and Odgers were purchasing the loft. “We have only just received an answer from the bank,” she explained, as if expecting me to understand. I told Nickles, though calmly, that what she was doing was not only morally wrong, but professionally unethical, and that she shouldn’t do it. She couldn’t confirm anything, she said, without first talking to her partner, and she promised that he would call me back.

I immediately phoned Caspar, a 59-year old film producer (when he isn’t playing with people’s lives), with whom I had really hit it off in Berlin (even discussing the screen potential of Hasmo Legends, about which, to my pleasant surprise, he seemed most enthusiastic). “These things happen,” he told me, as if it had nothing to do with him. It seems that he and his Ararat Film und Grund GmbH partner were more interested in receiving ‘free’ (or, at least, cheaper) architectural services for their next project – the adjacent building – than honouring any agreement with me, or appointments with notaries. I had just been some kind of convenient fallback plan.  Combinot, it would appear, are not an exclusively Israeli phenomenon.

I e-mailed Odgers and Nickles, warning them against this path, that it was wrong, that it would do their fledgling business and careers no favours. But they chose to hide. And Odgers didn’t pick up when I called him that evening. Instead, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, I received an e-mail from Caspar’s partner – a clearly delightful fellow called Friedhart Steinich, 58, whom I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting in Berlin, but who, from a quick Google, appears to have a namesake who has been accused of beating up his tenants – as follows:

“speak with me about your problem. Not with Adam or something. And listen me: Never we make a deal together. Why? You cry too much. Your letter is for me a joke. Sometimes get childs not all, what they want. Berlin have much flats to sell. Good luck! Try it again. Not amused”

The German way of saying sorry, I imagine. I considered lecturing Steinich on the legal principle of good faith. For a second.

I am not going to waste any further melchett mike inches on any of these characters. They – and, in the case of Odgers and Nickles, the relevant professional bodies in Germany – will be hearing from my lawyers. But, if you have stumbled across this blog in performing due diligence on NOa.berlin, Adam Odgers and/or Deborah Nickles, be warned: before instruction, make sure that any property is already safely in your name.

As for Berlin, you might think this tale bashert, the Abishter’s way of telling me what my conscience hadn’t. It will certainly make me think twice, next time, before uttering “Only in Israel . . .”

[Update, 17.12.14: It seems I am not the only one to have been burnt by these unconscionable cowboys – see Carlo’s comment here, and following.]

I did it mike’s way . . .

“You’ve got too much to say,” I was repeatedly told, in my youth, by a French-teaching Welshman.

Since excitedly bashing out Virginal Meanderings, however, one typically dull commercial lawyer’s morning back in November 2008, I fear that I may now have said it all.

“Why do you have to write about things like that?” has been my poor mother’s refrain over those four years as I would ask her to proofread each and every new effort before hitting the Publish of no return.

“What would you like me to write about,” I would respond, “the crisis in the eurozone? People don’t read blogs for stuff like that . . . or, at least, not this one.”

“Gotta go,” she would then hang up, on her marks to dash to her PC, always calling back, minutes later, with something like: “It is actually quite good. You know who taught you to write like that . . .”

In each of their own individual ways, I take considerable pride in my 188 posts to melchett mike (far more than I would have imagined possible on that distant November morning). They are the book that I never wrote (and which, in spite of continued encouragement from various quarters, I see no point in writing).

In recent months, however, I have lost much of that urge to write.

I still, of course, have important questions. Like . . .

Why do Russian women feel the need to pose for every photograph – even at sites like Har Herzl and Yad Vashem – by pinning themselves up against the nearest wall or tree, as if for a Playboy shoot?

And why are charedim such God-awful drivers? Check it out for yourselves: Aside from the inevitable wankers in their 4x4s, the drivers obstructing the fast lanes of Israel’s highways nearly all have beards (Ivan “It is always the frum ones” Marks, it would seem, knew of what he spoke).

I also continue to enjoy fascinating encounters in my seeming unending search for the future ex-Mrs. Isaacson . . .

I mean what could have given my most recent JDate the idea that I would want to treat her – on our first (blind) date, scheduled for a mid-afternoon – to a meal in a boutique hotel? “I will be hungry by three o’clock,” Irit informed me, after we had finalized a time. “And I would like to eat at the Montefiore,” she added, as if arranging a shopping-and-lunch date with her Ramat Aviv Gimmel mother.

“Dog food again please,” by way of contrast, is the only demand ever made of me by the lovely female (see photograph below) with whom I am currently shacked up. “And that fetid bowl will do just fine.” A woman or dogs, then? Now there’s a toughie . . . oh yes, and there was no first date.

But I am set to embark, in November, on the next chapter in my continuing, studious avoidance of anything that could reasonably be called a career. And I am reliably informed that the two-year Israeli Tour Guide Course requires more diligence than comes naturally.

In a scene chillingly reminiscent of Marathon Man’s “Der Weisse Engel”, Ole Nipple ’Ead himself (who says the Law of Return is too exclusive?!) was recently spotted and confronted on Jerusalem’s King George Street by my old classmate, Paul Kaufman, giving me a great idea for a future tour . . .

  • From the Footsteps of the Prophets to the Doorsteps of the Despots: Join ex-Hasmo hunter, melchett mike, as he surprises retired ‘teachers’ – DJ, Jerry, and many more – in the suburbs of Jerusalem.

So I log off, but do not shut down. melchett mike – the “Never forget” aid for damaged, eternal North-West London schoolboys – will always be here for your amusement, reminiscence and comments . . . and even perhaps, when I re-find the urge, the odd post (indeed, the best Hasmo Legend could well be yet to come, awaiting a combination of circumstances beyond my control).

In the meantime, thank you to all the commenters (all 7,502 of you) – from the sublime to the Shuli – who have contributed to making this such good fun.

Over . . . but not out.

http://www.justgiving.com/melchett-mike

How does it feel . . . to be taken for a ride?

It was Jonny Levene – whose taste in music (if not quiffs) was way ahead of that of the rest of us – who first introduced me to the great man, circa 1983/4. And I still recall precisely where we stood – Hall Left (yet another brilliantly conceived name from that modest individual, who chose anonymity over acclaim, charged with such things at Hasmonean High School for Boys) – as Jonny handed over his Walkman for me to have my first taste of Bob Dylan.

And Neighborhood Bully, the pro-Israel track from his latest album, Infidels, was probably a more fitting introduction to Dylan for a frum 16-year old than anything from the three evangelical/gospel releases that preceded it, following his 1978 encounter with Yoshke. And after borrowing (and not returning) Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits – covering his early recordings (1962-66) – from another fellow Hasmonean (Saul Davis), I knew there was to be no going back to the Synthpop/New Wave that had permeated my early teens.

My all-time fave album cover: Bob and Suze Rotolo, Greenwich Village, February 1963

Since my enlightenment, I have acquired almost every Dylan album – there are over fifty – and I never allow more than a few months to pass without listening to all of them, from the very first, in chronological order. I don’t propose to explain here what makes Dylan great – you either ‘get’ the supreme originality of his poetry and turn of phrase, or you don’t – though I genuinely believe that Bob is both the greatest-ever singer-songwriter and living artist (however wide your interpretation of the word). For fans of Dylan (as of cricket, for example), one just never stops discovering.

In spite of all that, and numerous opportunities, I have never seen Bob ‘live’: I had heard the tales of disappointment, and always opted to leave him on my personal pedestal. When it was announced, however, some months ago, that Dylan would be visiting Israel for the third time – he performed here in 1987 and 1993 – in June, just a month after turning 70, I was sorely tempted to purchase a ticket for Ramat Gan Stadium: I had missed out on the visits of Morrissey and Leonard Cohen, and regretted both (“Mozza” especially).

I did not, however, in the end, relent, and – while I take no pleasure in I-told-you-sos . . . okay, just a little (especially when hundreds of shekels are involved!) – it came as no surprise when friend after friend reported how Dylan had played versions of songs which rendered them hardly recognizable and, though perhaps a blessing in the circumstances, refused to perform the de rigeur encore. Moreover, large screens, that should have enabled others than the wealthy/foolhardy (see Hanna below) to actually see something, projected the same, long-distance views that they already ‘enjoyed’: Bob had, apparently, prohibited the cameras from shooting him in close-up.

At the Western Wall for son Jesse's bar mitzvah, September 20, 1983

Most disappointing, however, even insulting, was Dylan’s total detachment from his audience: he didn’t so much as utter a “hello” or a “thank you,” far less a “shalom” or “toda.” Was it not reasonable to expect that Robert Allen Zimmerman would give Israel just that little bit extra? Or had Neighborhood Bully (lyrics) merely been hot air?

That Dylan is an odd Bob is not disputed. Working in the States, one summer,  I heard firsthand from a colleague – who had been employed at John Mellencamp’s recording studio in Indiana – how Dylan had been due to visit, one day, to work on a Farm Aid track. Dave recalled how the studio phone eventually rang, and the person at the other end croaked merely “I’m at the Pizza Hut” and hung up. As a consequence, a dozen cars sped to every Pizza Hut within a twenty mile radius to find their esteemed visitor! (See also August 2009’s Mook of the Month.)

As for those who excuse him – as an artist, or merely as Bob – from showing basic etiquette, I don’t share their generosity of spirit: anyone who has penned songs with the depth, humanity and general sublimity of Dylan’s cannot pretend to feign ignorance of simple courtesy.

A friend, Hanna, having spent 1,000 shekels (around £180) on a ticket for the concert (and perhaps, therefore, not wanting to lose face), claimed that she did not feel cheated: while admitting that it took her a while to identify songs, she felt that Bob had “put on a real show,” and that the audience had “no right to expect any more, because Dylan talks through his music.”

The broad consensus, however, was that Dylan had taken the piss. And it is an odd paradox for me, worshipping the work, while considering the man, Bob, a bit of a knob.

Who knows? Perhaps 4th Time Around, Bob won’t just be Blowin’ in the Israeli Wind. Though I won’t be there. And my advice to the uninitiated is to start acquiring Dylan’s studio albums – even the ‘lesser’ ones would be considered masterpieces had they been released by anyone else – and to enjoy recorded genius in the ‘stadium’ of your living room . . .

Operation Grandma: Sharp practice, or merely a mensch?

“Oh, I am so sorry,” I comforted my friend on the telephone on Sunday evening, after she informed me that her nonagenarian grandmother had recently passed away.

“Was it sudden?” I enquire, with sensitivity and interest (they say women like those).

“What? Your family had only just bought her a brand new 42 inch LCD TV?”

Grandma’s passing had, clearly, not been anticipated.

“They paid over 4,000 shekels for it, but only want two and a half?”

I sit up.

“When can I come and see it?”

My very own Mivtza Savta (Operation Grandma) was underway . . .

And Savta’s Sharp LC-42SH7E – or, to be completely accurate, LC-42SH7EBK (it is the black model) – is already enjoying pride of place in my living room (with the trusted Sony CRT [see I love my old TV] which accompanied me on aliya way back in January 1996 having been semi-retired to my bedroom).

Do I feel bad? No.

Was it wrong of me to have negotiated the price down even further, to 2,000 shekels? Perhaps.

Then again, I had been thinking in terms of a 50 inch and, thoughtfully, chose not to trouble the bereaving family with the fact – gleaned from hastily conducted Internet research – that the LC-42SH7EBK doesn’t exactly distinguish itself on AV review forums.

Moreover, I had both the respect and decency not to enquire whether Savta was one of those old dears who would have the telly on in the background from dawn till teeth-out time without so much as five minutes on standby (and what could that do to a Liquid Crystal Display?!)

So, far from being a shameless opportunist – like those so-and-sos who could hardly wait until the end of my grandfather’s shiva to enquire about his house – I have done the grieving family a real favour, and might even be a genuine contender for my very own Mensch of the Month award.

The Ashes series “Down Under” gets underway in a couple of weeks’ time, and I am having a private satellite dish installed just to enable me to watch that greatest of sporting rivalries from the comfort of my Melchett couch (while also using the opportunity to finally rid myself of the curse that is HOT). And when Andrew Strauss takes guard for the first ball, or Jimmy Anderson (pictured) charges across my living room wall to deliver it, I will spare a loving, appreciative thought for Savta . . . zichrona livracha.

Ashes to Ashes . . .

Piss-Taking, Principle and Pettiness: A Jaffa Tale

“.עדיף להיות חכם מאשר צודק” (Adif liheyot chacham me’asher tzodek)

“It is better to be wise than to be right.”

This is a much-used Hebrew aphorism . . . and one whose message I have always seemed to excel in missing or defying (though I am no different to most of my compatriots in that).

A few evenings ago, I went to eat in Jaffa with a friend. I see this friend – who doesn’t read melchett mike, but who, just in case (and without wishing you to prejudge him), we will call “Piss Taker” – every few months on his visits to Tel Aviv, when we invariably go for a long wander with Stuey and Dexxy, followed by some grub.

And, whilst I tend not to eat heavily in the evenings, Piss Taker – who, after gorging on his 5-star hotel buffet breakfast, is forced to spend the afternoon fasting – tucks in with abandon. In spite of that, when we last met, just before New Year, we split the cost of an expensive meal the large portion of which was on the congested journey through his alimentary canal.

On Monday evening, after sharing some mezzes – Piss Taker had, it seemed, left some food for other hotel guests that morning – I had a beer, while he ordered a couple of pricy glasses of wine and chocolate cake.

When Piss Taker (conveniently?) failed to notice the arrival of the bill, the voice of my late father rang in my ears: “Don’t be taken advantage of again!” (“Don’t sweat the small stuff” might have been better life advice, but it is rather late for that now – I share my dad’s determination never to be the freier, or fall guy.)

Unwittingly, though, Piss Taker had handed me the initiative. I picked up the saucer, and inspected the crisp piece of paper resting on it. The bill was for 190 shekels, of which a quick calculation showed my share to be less than 60.

“Here’s 70,” I stated with feigned assertiveness, returning the saucer with one 50 and one 20 shekel note, presenting Piss Taker with a fait accompli. “And it includes tip.”

“I would have just split it,” Piss Taker, clearly peeved, responded.

“And that’s the problem,” I only thought to myself, not wishing to inflame matters further.

“I would have just gone halves,” repeated Piss Taker, waiting for a reaction. Again (and rarely for me), I gave none.

It was not the money that mattered here (if you will excuse the cliché), but the principle. It was Piss Taker’s presumption that had got my back up. And it was not the first time.

Needless to say, the walk back to Tel Aviv was somewhat uncomfortable. Whilst not feeling that my actions had been unreasonable, I was experiencing familiar – and familial – Polish guilt. I considered explaining myself to Piss Taker, but decided that verbalisation would only make me feel more petty than I already did.

The following morning, I phoned a friend, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-style, to get his take on events . . . though, ultimately, for him to reassure me that my stance had been thoroughly justified. Instead, whilst agreeing that Piss Taker was deserving of the epithet, he opined that it had not been worth taking a stand.

And I knew, of course, that he was right. But sticking to stupid principles is a bloody hard habit to ditch.

“Phone a Friend” then shared with me the tactics that he employs to counter Piss Takers: he refrains from eating all day, and then matches them dish for dish and drink for drink.

But isn’t such a ploy – stuffing one’s face to spite one’s stomach – as ridiculous as my behaviour may be considered petty?

Anyway, if you are reading, Larry David, here’s some material for a new episode of Curb . . .

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 . . .