Tag Archives: The English/British

Highlands and Holy Lands: Observations from Civilisation

While I find a ten-day getaway, each year, to some remote part or other of the British Isles to be conducive to my state of mental well-being, it can also leave me feeling rather worse than when I left, constituting a much-needed break from life in this mad little place, on the one hand, but also a painful reminder of the ‘small’ things that we can never enjoy here.

Pulling into passing spaces to give way to oncoming cars on single lane country roads in the Scottish Highlands in June – always accompanied, of course, with a courteous, if perfunctory, wave of the hand – it occurs to me that such an arrangement could never work back home . . .

With the British and Irish, there is instant, mutual understanding of which vehicle of the two should enter the space, based on an assessment of relative: proximity to it at the point of cognition, velocity, vehicle size, etc.

With Israelis, however, such mutual consideration, and respect for the unwritten rules of the road, would, instead, turn into a potentially lethal game of “chicken”, with the driver with the more chutzpah and chest, back and shoulder hair winning the day.

I also enjoy, on my trips, the endearing ability of the English (especially) to talk enthusiastically on any subject, however ostensibly mundane. In an Ardnamurchan Peninsula hotel bar, one evening, I sit spellbound through a half-hour discussion, between the English proprietor and a patron, of the establishment’s problematic central heating system. Until the Croatia vs. Spain Euro 2012 kick-off brings a premature end to the excitement, I learn that boiler “recoverability”, not capacity, is what really matters.

I attempt in vain to imagine a similar scenario – and without audience mutterings of “ya Allah” (dear God) and “me’anyen et hasavta sheli” (literally, it interests my grandmother) – back home, where Iran, high-level corruption, making a fast shekel and plastic media ‘personalities’ appear to be the only subjects which animate.

The realization that my all too brief reintroduction to civilisation is at an end is always harsh and sudden, upon arrival at the Departures check-in desk, with the invariable, tense standoff between incredulous gentile airline staff and my adopted compatriots, as well as Stamford Hill charedim, muttering of anti-Semitism and beseeching that:

  • the 20 kilo hold allowance really allows up to 35 kilos;
  • the one-piece-of-hand-luggage rule does not preclude it being stuffed with weights or being accompanied onboard with an unlimited number of plastic bags; and
  • the airline’s hand luggage size frame is not really binding, but for guidance purposes only.

Just in case I hadn’t  noticed that I was back in the country, on arrival at work the following morning, I am pinned to the rear elevator wall as I attempt to exit on my floor. The natives exhibit quite curious elevator etiquette: when elevator doors open here, those on the outside, rather than letting people exit, immediately stampede in, as if they have been tipped off that a buffet of burekas – cheese, potato, and spinach – awaits them at the back.

And my mind drifts back to those dreamy passing spaces . . .

The Old Forge, Knoydart Peninsula: Britain’s remotest pub


The Diamond Jubilee: A right Royal piss-take

There is a long list of things beyond my feeblish comprehension. Close to the top of it, however, is how so many Britons – a people renowned for its healthy scepticism and refusal to blindly bow to authority – buy into the bollocks that is the Royal Family.

“Anyone else consider these jubilee celebrations obscene?” I posted to Facebook from my phone in the early hours of last Tuesday, at the end of my tether following days of Sky News sycophancy.

“Only the mentally ill” was the first response I woke up to – though, it should be clarified, it came from a teacher at Hasmonean High School for Boys – and it was followed by a chorus of disapproval, topped by a clearly peeved private school and Cambridge educated cousin:

“People who misuse the word “obscene” in circumstances like this are always attempting to express extreme, usually puritanical moral disapproval of some activity enjoyed by others, in which they are not included.”

True, I had not been included in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee festivities, but the “extreme . . . puritanical moral disapproval” was, in this case, clearly not mine. I had merely posed a question.

In Hendon, I would often stare at our “daily” (my mother’s doublespeak for cleaner), who cut a not dissimilar figure to the Queen, and ponder how very different her life would have been had she only been born a Windsor and not a Hart.

I know which one my money’s on!

And I still imagine that the Queen must laugh herself to sleep at nights, not quite believing her luck. The woman is unremarkable in nearly every respect. And Mrs. Hart, to the best of my knowledge, did not have (to varying degrees of allegedness): an adulterous husband and son, and  another son and a grandson (with a penchant for dressing up as a Nazi) who were illegitimate.

Should we even respect this dysfunctional, inbred clan, never mind look up to it? It is fitting that Madness played so central a role in the Diamond Jubilee Concert because, if anyone is really “mentally ill,” it is surely those who believe that the Family are actually deserving of their status, privileges and patronage.

Moreover, those of us who live in – or at least care about – Israel cannot overlook the fact that Her Majesty has visited more than 130 countries over the past 60 years, but – in spite of being Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith – never once the Holy Land. She must not, of course, offend those darling Arabs so beloved by her Foreign Office.

But seeing all those upper-class twerps bawling “God Save the Queen”  from their Epsom boxes last week just made me long for Johnny Rotten. God save you, Ma’am . . .

Just scum, innit

“What is going on in England, Mike?!”

Recent unrest in the Mother Country has given Israeli friends and colleagues the opportunity – in which they have revelled – to make the point that the English are not that much more civilised than the “monkeys” whom I so consistently (if jokingly . . . well, semi) disparage.

In general, too, Israelis love to make mileage out of the seeming tears in the fabric of ostensibly ‘normal’ countries. And who can blame them? Opportunities to feel good – or, at least, better – about their own country, and to convince themselves that the matzav (defence/security situation) is not that bad after all, are few and far between. And they positively delight when such tears appear in the fabric of the former Mandatory power.

And I have made no excuses for my former compatriots, explaining to any Israeli who has asked that the pond life involved in the recent disturbances is like nothing and no one that they – or even many Englishmen – have ever experienced (or should wish to): take your biggest chach-chach (the nearest local equivalent to a chav), arse or frecha (see here), or even Betar Jerusalem fan (generally held up as the very worst sort of “ape”), and he or she will not even come close to the scum which looted and set fire to the streets of England a fortnight ago. The most serious crimes in over a month of so-called “protest” in Israel, on the other hand, have been nothing more than possession of offensive back hair, and of an imitation nose.

I spent most of my solicitor’s training, in North London Legal Aid practices, attending on blue-collar criminals in Crown Courts and prisons. And they were easily the most eye-opening years of my (admittedly previously sheltered) existence: from shoplifters to murderers, wife-beaters to Yardies, I had to deal with them all.

On one, regrettably unforgettable, occasion, a suspected paedophile saw fit to place a photograph of his member – and not of Parliament – on the table in front of me.

“What is this?!” I asked, furiously rotating the image in the hope that it might quickly resemble something else.

“My penis,” responded the nonce, with all the nonchalance of someone who had just shown a snap from a family holiday.

The recent riots, however, had nothing to do with pervs, psychopaths, or even hardened criminals, but with an underclass that you never want to encounter. And I am not convinced that historian David Starkey is the racist that the knee-jerks have branded him: in stating his view that England’s “whites have become black,” he was merely giving less humourous and subtle expression to the reality expressed by Ali G (view the pair ‘together’ here). That white English youths have taken on aspects of black “gangster culture” is surely beyond question.

To blame England’s black community, however, for the scum of the white one – and I am not sure that this was Starkey’s intention – is as ridiculous as charging England’s indigenous whites for instilling a pernicious consumerism in the sons of simple, post-War Caribbean immigrants. And, if anything, the chavs or “white trash” (to use an Americanism) that I came across during my legal training were generally far further beyond redemption than the black youngsters caught up in the criminal justice system, many of whose families appeared to possess a far stronger sense of tradition, and of right and wrong, than the entirely rootless white ones.

Looters in Birmingham, earlier this month

The recent outrages clearly had nothing to do with race or colour; but, to my mind, with the decline amongst England’s poorest, least educated classes of religion and the nuclear family. Indeed, Puff Daddy is about as close to anything paternal as many of the rioters and looters will ever have come. At the same time, I don’t buy the loony liberal – I was sat next to one such at Friday night dinner – argument that these kids are merely non-responsible victims who have no alternative to a life of crime. One could just as easily excuse Betar fans, following all the years of Palestinian terror, for their chants of “mavet le’Aravim” (death to Arabs).

While listening to working class parents eff and blind at their very young children in the Crown and Family Courts of England and Wales was a shocking experience, one exchange more than any other – between a young adult (white) and his barrister, attempting to put some meat in his imminent plea of mitigation (before sentence) – will always remain with me . . .

“What should I tell the judge that you intend to do with your life now?” enquired the Oxbridge-educated counsel.

The defendant looked up at the ceiling, the family brain cell clearly going into overdrive.

“Study, innit.”

“And where should I tell the judge that you are planning to study?”

The young man tilted his head back even further.

“College, innit.”

“And what do you wish to study?” the barrister triumphantly concluded, certain now that his carefully-honed questioning skills were about to reap their reward.

The client, however, merely glared at his advocate as though he were a complete imbecile.

“A course, innit!!”

[Apologies for the delay between posts . . . just moved apartment, innit! If you are enjoying melchett mike, please take a few minutes to donate a fiver or tenner to my Norwood charity bike ride (click here) . . . just 700 quid to go!]

Vedding?! . . . Ye call dat a vedding?!

Having ignored invitations to various Anglo-Israeli Royal Wedding bashes – quite apart from my already admitted davka-ness, why would I chance having to share such a uniquely British occasion with Israelis, Americans and, worst of all of course, French? – I watched William’s chasseneh, in Netanya, in the company of the person with whom I witnessed that of his parents, thirty years ago: my mother.

The Duke of Hazard

To be totally honest, I feel rather above such gatherings . . . which of course I am, my late father having served as physician to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Though, for the benefit of the commoners who read this blog, a soupçon of life with the Royals: On the evening before his first visit from the Prince, dad received a telephone call at home informing him of the correct protocol, essentially not to speak until spoken to. This was ironic, really, considering that dad had a very strong sense of propriety, while the Prince, on the other hand, is famed for putting his foot in it at every given opportunity. “If a cricketer, for instance, suddenly decided to go into a school and batter a lot of people to death with a cricket bat . . . are you going to ban cricket bats?” was his contribution to the gun control debate following Dunblane; whilst his welcome of the Nigerian President (who was in traditional robes) – “You look like you’re ready for bed!” – was what perhaps precluded a return invite to Abuja.

Anyhow, as for the wedding and immediate aftermath, I was less worried about Will’s and Kate’s rather pursed lip kisses on the Buckingham Palace balcony than I was relieved that Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks wasn’t caught – for the few seconds that the TV cameras were on him in the Abbey – joining in with Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah (more commonly, though erroneously, known as Bread of Heaven).

Neither royalist nor republican, I recognise the stability that the monarchy brings to the British political process, and believe that the nation would be a great deal the poorer for the loss of occasions such as Friday’s.

"Lionel who?!"

That evening, however, Hanna, an Israeli friend (of Moroccan parentage, if you are reading, Isaac), told me that the excesses of the wedding confirmed to her just how ridiculous the British really are. But it fell on deaf ears, seeming as it did to be akin to Bnei Yehuda’s finest, Pini Balili (right), telling Lionel Messi that he wastes too much time dribbling.

But it was not just Hanna. Sunday morning’s Haaretz was full of cynicism and sneers. On its front page, ‘journalist’ Shai Golden could only sum up the wedding as “a classic case of “Why didn’t you tell us your sister was prettier than you?”,” following that with an equally moronic reference to the newlyweds as “successors” to “the couple regarded as international British royalty,” David and Victoria Beckham.

"Victoria, there's a massive fruit gum on yer 'ead!"

As well as displaying the quality of (what my father used to call) being “well-balanced . . . having a chip on each shoulder,” many Israelis have an infuriating habit of pretending to understand – like they do ‘proper’ football (see Moti, you ain’t no Motty!) – other traditions and cultures (older, if not superior) . . . when, really, they know nothing about them. Golden no doubt watched the wedding on Israeli TV, and, probably only recognising Elton John and “Posh and Becks” amongst the invited guests, had to write about one of them.

“The monarchy has long been dead in Europe,” Golden, now the brilliant constitutional theorist, concluded, seemingly on the basis that “there will never be another like [Lady Diana].” Who could argue with such logic? (Though why am I still expecting anything other than ignorance and arrogance from the writers and pages of Haaretz? See Haaretz: Always hitting us when we’re down.)

As for “trash pop culture and empty celebrity hedonism” – of which Golden brands the Beckhams (of whom, incidentally, I am no fan) “the ambassadors” – he need look no further than his own doorstep for these, so sadly obsessed has this country become with crap reality TV and its inane participants. Indeed, who could expect your average Israeli, whose idea of a “spectacle” is the last night of Ha’Ach Ha’Gadol, to appreciate the magnificent pageantry that we witnessed on Friday?

It is impossible to even imagine Israelis, like the tens of thousands of Britons who lined the wedding route, camping out for days on end with such patience and stoicism: they’d finish their Yediot and garinim, get bored, spread the newspaper over the largest possible area – perhaps, if no one is looking, stealing a few extra inches – and then demand that neighbouring campers save the space until they return in three days’ time! (Anyone unfortunate enough to have shopped in an an Israeli supermarket will know exactly what I mean.)

Who wouldn't want the opinion of this man?

Another report in Sunday’s Haaretz, from the Tel Aviv party attended by the British ambassador, saw fit to quote Israeli singer Tzvika Pik (right), a ridiculous, ageing hippy who once wrote a few catchy pop songs: “I would have had him [Elton John] sing again in the church the way he sang in Princess Diana’s memory. You don’t need more than that.”

And, whilst you’re at it, Tzvika, why not also, after the service, bus all the guests down to the Blackwall Tunnel for a re-enactment of the Paris crash?

Most Israelis just don’t get it. One of the very few who seemed to was actor, Rami Heuberger: “we appreciate the British sense of humor . . . inviting us to an event like this has a lot of humor in it. Because what do we have to do with this? The only blue blood in our veins is the water from the Frishman beach.”

But to my fragrant English Rose, Pippa . . .

Would I . . . !!

Quite apart from your boyfriend (or, rather, momentary aberration) clearly being an absolute dope – who retires at 27 from an extremely promising career as an international cricketer . . . to go into finance?! – I think you will agree that “Pippa and melchett” has a beautiful ring to it.

And you need not worry your lovely legs about what my mum and her Netanya ladies will think/say . . . just the thought of all those hats again – and in real life, this time! – will win ‘em over.

So, Pippa sweetness, you know where to find me. And I am willing to wait if necessary . . . unlike my adopted countrymen, I am extremely patient!

In the Rudest of Health (The Israeli, Part III)

“You’ve got too much to say!”

So North-West London’s most famous French teacher would often chide his loquacious (he preferred “yapping”) pupils.

And not always having to say something – especially if, as my parents would remind me, that “something” is not worth saying – is an English attitude that the Israeli would do well to consider. Indeed, while silence and Jerusalem may both be golden, only one of them is “blue and white” too (for the time being, at least).

As I have documented on these pages (here, here and here), most Israelis are of the view that it is not only their God-given right, but also their duty, to give their opinion – even to complete strangers – on absolutely everything, whether or not that “everything” even concerns them.

Most common is advice . . . in my case, dating, dieting and doggy (dogging is, I am informed, something completely else). Earlier this week, for instance, there was the elderly lady on Rothschild who deemed it incumbent upon her to inform me that I was endangering the lives of Stuey and Dexxy by not observing the Do Not Walk sign (wonderfully altruistic, I thought, considering that Hezbollah is now in possession of scores of missiles capable of reaching, and destroying, her bidet).

The Israeli, however, does not limit him or herself to the purely prescriptive . . .

Two Saturdays ago, I drove Stuey and Dexxy to see Tal, a friend’s 6-year old daughter – housebound and miserable due to an upset tummy – who is particularly fond of my hairy flat mates, and who had summoned them to Hod Hasharon to cheer her spirits.

It might have been wise, before tucking in, to have spared a thought for the cause of Tal’s stomach ache. And, lo and behold, a short while after being amply fed by my Moroccan hostess, Tal’s mum, my bowels started to feel the effects of her schnitzel and couscous (delicious though they were).

While Edna’s apartment is small, and WC smaller still, I have brilliantly refined, over the years, the subtle art of camouflaging my lavatorial activities in other people’s homes. I don’t wish to give too much away – if the Made Simple or For Dummies people are reading this, you know where to find me – but it involves cleverly synchronizing  eruptions, emissions and plopping (to quote my earlier Blog on the Bog) with the ebbs and flows of living room discussion and/or peaks in television volume.

And on this particularly delicate – the smaller the abode, the greater the risk of social disgrace – occasion, I put in a typically sterling performance. Indeed, even the absence of a canister of air freshener in the poorly ventilated shoebox did not worry me unduly, as I had noticed that Edna had only just exited. The true professional, you see, leaves nothing to chance.

Fortune and fate, on the other hand, are vicissitudes for which even the ultimate pro cannot legislate . . .

Whilst washing my hands in the adjacent bathroom, I heard (who I immediately understood to be) Edna’s ex-husband (and Tal’s father) – whom I had never met, and who was totally oblivious to my presence – enter the apartment, and head straight for the toilet.

“Shit!” I exclaimed to myself. “What stinking luck!” One always likes a few minutes grace after visiting one’s host’s WC.

And my worst fears were confirmed at once, with the uncouth bellowing of “Ed-naaa . . . eifo ha’spray (where’s the spray)?!”

“Shut up!” I silently begged. “Pleeease!!”

I had, now, nowhere to hide.

I mean, I hardly expected a momentary awkwardness, followed swiftly by a forced (and redundant) clearing of the throat and an off-the-cuff comment on the day’s weather – the inevitable English response – off a Moroccan! But, meeting the corpulent, hairy native in the narrow corridor, neither did he deem a cheeky grin and a wink to suffice . . .

La’briyut, gever (good health, man)!” bellowed the great oaf – clearly delighting in my lavatorial faux pas – as he shook my hand in traditional, Gever Gever Israeli style (i.e., as if trying to yank my arm off my torso).

I was reminded, by way of contrast, of an incident from my youth – at a friend’s parents’ dinner table in the genteel London suburb of St. John’s Wood – when a contemporary’s risqué crack was instantly met, by our friend’s mother, with a totally straight-faced “More meat, Jonathan?”

But the thought of saying nothing on the subject – or, at least, nothing that would heighten my considerable discomfort – had not even occurred to Edna’s ex. And I wouldn’t mind, but it is not as if your average Israeli male has exemplary toilet habits (see a philistine with a small pee).

On the other hand, perhaps I am just, still, a little too sensitive to that male. After all, the episode was nowhere near as humiliating as that experienced by a friend, backpacking Down Under, who – from overenthusiastic eating on suddenly being reacquainted with home cooking – chundered over the seder (Passover) table of his Australian friend’s parents, whom he had just met that same evening.

It was also far less excruciating than that suffered by another travelling friend, who chose the family home of an American girlfriend, no less, to discharge matter that stubbornly refused to be sent on its fetid way. Seeing no alternative – and I jest not – he fished the offending object out of the bowl, wrapped it in toilet paper, and smuggled it out of the house.

Nonetheless, hardly just reward for a well-intentioned visit to a poorly child.


England, Your England

“Sorry,” he proffered, as he inadvertently passed between me and the bookshelf.

“Bloody hell” I thought, after doing a brief double take, “that would never happen in Steimatzky!”

I had been browsing the Travel Writing section of my favourite bookshop – Waterstone’s (formerly Dillons) on Gower Street – as the impeccably mannered Englishman momentarily obstructed my view. This seemingly insignificant episode, however, resonated with me, demonstrating as it did the huge contrast in attitudes and behaviour between my birthplace and my homeland.

There is something lovely and serene about many aspects of life in Blighty, including the manner in which (most) folk treat each other with common courtesy and respect (if not warmth).

After a week in London (following a year and a half without a visit), however, I was ready to come home (which I did a few days later, last Thursday). Whilst enjoying the ‘civilisation’ booster, I now experience considerable difficulty in readjusting to the English, and – oddly perhaps – to English Jews especially.

This has become very apparent to me on Anglo-Jewish charity bike rides overseas, when I find it extremely testing having to spend a week and a half with a hundred, primarily North-West London coreligionists. For my last ride, in the Far East, I made my own way from Tel Aviv to the group’s hotel in Saigon. On arrival, the first person I came across, from Stanmore, on hearing that I had come from Israel, felt compelled to assure me of his Zionist credentials:

“I would never sell my flat in Herzliya Pituach.”

Oh, Theodor would have been so proud!

At last Monday’s seder (Passover meal), which I enjoyed in Muswell Hill, the Manc sitting opposite me, finding an Anglo-Israeli at the table, laid into American Jewish settlers, who – even if I don’t always agree with them – have priorities considerably more weighty than the “French château that sleeps 19” which Manc informed us he is about to lose to his ex-wife. I liked her already.

Then, clearly trying to impress the new fiancée by his side – and more closely resembling the Haggadah’s (seder service’s) Wicked Son (who tries to distance himself from the Jewish people) with every ignorant word – he became a tad bolder:

“It might have been better if Israel had never existed.”

“Your life would be a lot more precarious if it didn’t,” I fired back as if he had just dissed my mum. In fact, if the Wicked Son hadn’t been my friend’s brother-in-law, the Isaac Son might have jeopardised any future invitation by following the Haggadah’s instruction to “smash his teeth”.

The purpose of my trip was to attend an Isaacson simcha (festivity). And whilst – following the bar mitzvah of my cousin’s twins – there are two fine new Isaacson men, the speeches (including that of the Rabbi), essentially on cricket and Arsenal FC, prompted even this once sports mad teenager to think that his Isaacsons (should he, one day, surprise everyone) will grow up here.

When in England, these days, I find myself acting like a member of the Israel Tourist Board. Wicked Son excepted, I offered Melchett hospitality to everyone I met. The obvious reluctance of some to accept it, however, saddened me.

“I am not visiting until there is peace,” declared a cousin on the other, Reiss side of the family, who spends his vacations in Dubai. “I wouldn’t feel safe there” (a curious statement, I thought, considering he has never been). And another (who has a box at Arsenal) hasn’t returned since receiving poor service at his hotel’s pool during his only visit, in the Seventies.

I also dropped in on an old friend from law school, whose seemingly delightful Hampstead Garden Suburb existence – replete with BMW jeep and designer Labrador – showed me what I could have had if I didn’t love this f*cked-up country so bloody much.

The only thing that I truly do miss about Blighty is the sound of leather on willow – one even more seductive than that, from the building opposite, of “Melchett Shabbes afternoon girl” (if you get my drift) – but the politeness, the châteaus, the Premier League boxes, the Suburb, the jeeps, even the ‘proper’ dogs (only joking, Stuey and Dexx!) . . .  none of them held any real allure.

If you feel that you truly belong here, none of that “stuff” is any substitute.

[See also Why I Am Not (Really) an Englishman and the last four paragraphs of my Rosh Hashanah Message.]

The Israeli male, a philistine with a small pee

Taking a Shabbes afternoon stroll through Jaffa last weekend, and feeling the effects of a liquid brunch, I had the sudden urge to relieve myself. And, spotting the wrought iron gates of a shack set back and largely obscured from the road, I took my chance.

“Zeh docheh” (that is revolting), Michal, my walking partner, hissed as I rejoined her a bladderful lighter, a (provocative) smirk of self-satisfaction emblazoned across my face.

Israeli women love a good hiss, though I immediately recognised this one to be symptomatic of the familiar female frustration that their anatomies – lovely though they are – simply do not allow them to do what ours can with ease.

Tel Aviv’s architecture has earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It is not just the Bauhaus buildings themselves, however, but also the gaps between them, that make the “White City” such a wonderful one in which to live. It proved impossible in London’s semi-detached, side-gated suburbia to locate any discreet, impromptu pee stops between the Tube and the Isaacson household, resulting in many a desperate, late night dash – “Please God, help me make it!” – up the home straight. The male, post-ale stagger through Tel Aviv, on the other hand, is a blissfully relaxed one, with alleys conveniently located all the way to Melchett.

Like any chivalrous English gentleman (after regularly witnessing them wee in WC basins, I exclude our football fans from such characterisation), I only spend my penny discriminately (in line with the sign, right, which tickled me during my trip last year to the Caribbean) and out of view. While still urination (and arguably even indecent exposure) in a public place – and strictly speaking, therefore, a likely breach of the penal code – I believe it to be an inalienable expression of my manhood, and a rite which I will fight to preserve.

In our ridiculously PC age – in which it is no longer considered acceptable to give an attractive female stranger a friendly pinch or pat on the bottom, or even to compliment her on her breasts – were this advantage and privilege to be taken away from us, then what, dear reader, would be left?

The indigenous male, however, does not possess the refinement or finesse of the Englishman, nor even of little Stuey for that matter, who will only raise his hind leg by trees, corners of walls or discarded plastic bags (his target of choice).

No, Israeli men possess no such subtlety, indiscriminately discharging the contents of their bladders anywhere and everywhere. The sight of them proudly urinating against shop fronts in busy high streets is a familiar one, as is that of unabashed motorists taking leaks in the full glare of oncoming traffic – and we wonder about our accident rate! – when they could just as easily take a few steps behind their vehicle or down the embankment.

Perched upon the pavement, together with other cheapskates, outside Leonard Cohen’s recent performance in Ramat Gan, we were suddenly treated, during the interval, to the delightful spectacle of long lines of local Neanderthals peeing in our direction down the Stadium embankment.

Like Stuey perhaps, Israeli males are keen to mark their (occupied) territory and to simply be “top dog”. It is part and parcel of the macho Israeli psyche: “I am a gever (male), and I will take it out wherever I like.”

In spite of last week’s flash floods here, it is a continuing source of wonder to me how, with such a paucity of annual rainfall, the country’s agriculture survives such uncomfortably hot summers and almost entirely arid springs and autumns. Perhaps now, however, I have the answer: it is the continual watering of the Land by the uncouth Israeli male – providing showers of a rather different nature – which performs, however unwittingly, the critical role in its irrigation. “Jerusalem the golden”, indeed!

So, Michal, the next time the English oleh (immigrant) needs to pull out his “hose”, praise rather than scold him for performing his Zionist duty . . . and, still, with a sprinkling of class.