Monday, September 18, 2006

London Trip Summary

It is not my usual want to do a very "personal" type of posting. I am, or try to be, straight to the point. I quote an article, quotation or event, give you the link to make sure you readers can check to see if I am cheating, note where I excerpt and then let you draw you own conclusions while leaving you with my own impressions in a telegraphic fashion.

I do that because I find writing more takes up too much time and, hopefully, it really isn't required nor necessary. It isn't that difficult to comprehend my opinions, viewpoints, satire or humor.

But, I was in England last week and in addition to leaving you with a link, I think you deserve a bit more. So, here it is.

Okay, weather was nice although a bit of rain in the evenings. Stayed at the Croft Court which is what we call a pension. Breakfast was, well, inadequate. Nothing warm except the water. No porridge, no Eggs. Oh, there was toast but the machine would get stuck, the bread would burn and the smoke would set off the fire alarm. So, I had the choice of four types of bread, five types of dry cereal. Milk (regular or skimmed), tea, coffee and spreads. That's it folks. TV had 8 channels. Two in dubbed German. No CNN, Sky, just BBC news, well, sort of.

Got in late Monday evening as the plane had to go in to a holding pattern upon arrival and then had its parking bay blocked by another plane. One hour delay. Was picked up by taxi and driven in to Golders Green (A598) and arrived just before 11 PM. Went out and managed to get a meal of southern fried chicken (3 pieces) and French fried, aka chips.

Decided to hang around the neighborhood after going to Machzikei HaDat on Highfield and dropping off a bottle of wine to my dear friends the Graus' (their granddaughter just got married and I will tell you about the Sheva Brachot later). As it was a bit muggy, simply strolling around in the city would make me hot, tired and sweaty. No good for the evenings program.

Looked for two books that were to have been republished after be out-of-print for decades – by Louis Jacobs (Seeker of Unity and Tract on Ecstasy if you must know) but the "Hebrew bookstores" still hold him and his writings in cherem. There was really nothing else to shop for and (a) my wife brought me back some things from her trip to the States in the summer; and (b) it's awfully expensive there. So, I relaxed, more or less. Also my right knee is slowing me done so I didn't want to overdo it as I did in December when I walked from Paddington Station all the way over to New Bond Street and from there to Charing Cross Road to the bookstores of Foyle's and Blackwell.

And as it turned out, the books, published by Vallantine Mitchell, hadn't quite made it off the presses. I made other arrangements with the Steimatzky store. So, I was lucky that I didn't go in.

Ate lunch at Blooms and waited to be picked up at 5 PM and driven into the city. Destination, John Adam Street to the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce where some 200 people gathered in the Great Room to listen to us all.

The BBC producer staff was pleasant and fun and the program went well. As you could hear. Afterwards we were served Kedassia-supervised meals including one for the Muslim, Bobby Sayyid.

An item that didn't make the edited-down, 43 minute version (we recorded 1:20 minutes actually). One woman asked "What about the Gazans and their humanitarian problems? What can the international community do?" I popped up: "take away their Kassams". I think Rabbi Melchior was upset that they kept challenging him with me and that he, perhaps, would have wanted to be viewed as an international, rather than a local/regional, figure. For example, I also pointed out that even the so-called "extremist camp" of Gush Emunim has its own Rabbi Menachem Forman from Tekoa who has met with Hamas (Melchior wouldn't confirm that he would be willing to meet with them). I also noted that he hadn't ever invited Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi of Italy to join his conferences.

Well, that all ended at 9:30 for me as I had to get back, by BBC-taxi, to Golders Green for the Sheva Brachot where I dined on Mexican/Latin American fare at La Fiesta (amazing how many Kosher eateries there now are there. When we were there during 1975-77, there were three kosher restaurants).

The next day was also lazy for I was to be picked up at 11:30 AM for Heathrow. Met Malvyn Benjamin on Golders Green Road and then, at the airport, was picked up by Beate and Joe Gellert and taken into the King David Lounge. Bourbon, tea, nuts, cookies & cakes, newspapers and Mincha minyan.

And we landed at 10:15 PM and Chai-Ad Hoffbauer picked me up and we were home by 11:45.

That's all, folks.

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