Fahrenheit 356-428
Tel Aviv Israel

01 [Cafe Shapira • Tel Aviv]

“Theres no foam in your ironing board.”
“What do you mean, I got this for 40 shekels and an iron!”
“Well, theres no foam is there, look.”

God damn they are right.
The last thing I need is a couple of cocky teenage girls giving me retail advice.
I had the whole world at my finger tips a mere 20 minutes ago. What a bargain ~ I was actually skipping down the road.
Most fools would have paid at least 200, 300 shekels ~ not me!
The first of the aforementioned teenage girls, flicks her blond hair and takes a drag on a cigarette.
Her girlfriend, tight green fatigues, M16 and big boots (weekend break from the Israel Defense Forces) nods in agreement…
“No foam.”

They are enjoying this I can see… Christ, who checks for foam in an ironing board?
“Don’t you fucking say it.”
“Schmuck.” they shout in unison.

The Middle East ~ you think you got problems.
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02 [Cafe Shapira • Tel Aviv]
More retail malarky.
It was a car boot sale this time and I’m ‘on a roll’.

“You want to buy the skis?”
“Yes, I really do.”
Beautiful antique wood, metal and fabric with tasteful wear and tear. (I also bought some delicate crockery as a counterpoint).

I thought it was a great deal.
Sun shining. A middle-eastern cafe, in the middle-east, not a ski slope in sight.
Who buys skis in the desert. Its a rare thing. It must take ages to get those planks of wood, rusting metal and rotting fabric to a ski slope.
It does sound foolish now, but the hypnotic tick tick ticking of the clock, a damsel in distress ~ I was seduced.
I was, I admit, bamboozled.
Ok, there was no actual damsel or clock, but definitely and most certainly bamboozlement.

I walked off, clasping skis and polls lovingly to my chest and informed the sellers I was going skiing next month in Chamonix.
A glowing smile, then suddenly they did a double take. “Oh Shit, they are very old and not for…
No, no, STOP!”
It was at this point, they forget all about skis in the desert and acknowledged my unusual hat for the first time…
“Did you make that hat?”
“Yeah, I got this foam from the supermarket opposite the Yellow Submarine in Jerusalem.”
Ha. Now they are bamboozled.

Good word ‘Bamboozle’ innit. Next week I shall introduce the word ‘Acidulous’.
So watch out!
1’st teenage girl + 2’nd teenage girl (stage left) …

The Middle East ~ You think you got problems.
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00 [Hatikva Quarter • Tel Aviv]
Enough retail and foam ~ Lets get at the beginning.

First morning in Tel Aviv and the IDF have already retired a Palestinian commander forever and Gaza is now responding with rockets. We pretty much missed the air-raid sirens to be honest and as I was already in the mamad ~ (Merkhav Mugan : protected space)… I don’t need to run anywhere.
And the pièce de résistance ~ a lovely poster of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman above my bed, so I’m feeling pretty snug.

This is not the most salubrious Tel Aviv suburb, but they do have an ironing board. I brought a lot of shirts for some reason and they constantly require an iron.

Anyway, the building didn’t shake, perhaps there was some smoke in the background, but it was nothing like CNN and the Gulf War. I have been here before ~ “Get off the bus”, “Run”, “Hide under your bed” ~ never anything really horrible and up close. I am very fortunate and always missed the worst bits. My bus did actually blow up in London but I saw that on the TV in Tehran.

It was still quite hairy and I could really do with a smoke.

“Can I get some pot?”
“Jesus Christ. Marijuana, grass, jazz cigarettes.”
Why is she smirking? *
“You want some weed?”
Shiva is about to overcharge me big time, but she’s so sweet and playing the innocent, I just let it go and pay up.
“Yes, I really do.”

1’st teenage girl + 2’nd teenage girl (stage left) …
No way, come on, who the fuck says nincompoop!

The Middle East ~ You think you got problems.
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* Pot in Hebrew = Vulva. (Nobody tells me this for months).

Nota Bene [Unit 8200*]
Military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18.
2’nd teenage girl didn’t want to fight and luckily a daddy in high places so, got military intelligence in a safe bunker close to home…

“You speak Arabic?”
“Good. Listen.”
“Listen to who?”
“We can’t trust anyone, so we listen to everyone.”
“What should I do now?”
“Write down anything suspicious and get back to us.”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Yofi ~ at ease soldier.”

The Middle East ~ You think you got problems.
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* Israeli Intelligence Corps • Signal intelligence (SIGINT).*

03 [Rothschild & The Little Prince • Tel Aviv]

“Shalom, uh, Rothschild Boulevard?”
“Roths-child Boul-e-vard.”
She looks me straight in the eye and shrugs her shoulders.
“ROTHS-CHILD, Declaration of Independence, Ben-Gurion, er…”
“Are you fuc… yeah, where?”
She reluctantly nods to the left. Jesus Christ, I’ve forgot why I am here ~ oh yeah.
Ah, the French Institute, they will know.
Looks a bit closed and a No Entry sign ~ whatever. Actually, it is rather messy with bare walls and builders.
The builder looks at me nonplussed.
“Where uh, where are all the French and um, where is the Little Prince bookshop?”
I kid you not, he looks me straight in the eye and shrugs his shoulders.
“Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the bookshop?”
30 seconds later, I realise he is gibbering on in Hebrew and I am shouting, slowly, in English, with a French accent.
What is wrong with these people.
I storm out to the curb, cursing all things French and Hebrew right next to a puddle about the size of a crêpe.
And just at that moment, a bicycle (Onion Johnny probably) goes by and splashes my right foot… I scream at the gods.
In my blind rage I must have walked a couple of feet, because I am now next to an enormous puddle, almost a lake.
And at this next moment, a gargantuan school bus goes by and covers me from head to foot. I look up drenched and the little shits are actually smiling and waving at me; I have a terrible feeling I waved back.

1’st teenage girl + 2’nd teenage girl (stage left)…
Shrug their shoulders and look away.

The Middle East ~ you think you got problems.
Tune in next week

04 [Allenby | King George • Tel Aviv]

“Comment ça va. Alors tu cherches la librairie appelée Le Petit Prince?”
“Yeah, I really do.”
“Rue du Roi George, tu tournes à droite.”
Points down the road.
“Suddenly, it’s that easy?”
“Que veux tu dire?”
Ah, King George street, so close to the bookshop when suddenly, a fox driving a Maserati, crashes into a shoe shop with a duck in the back. The fox is killed instantly… through the smoke and all the bullshit, I see the duck wrapped in a blanket.
 I fight off the paparazzi, shed a tear and push my face, right into the duck’s.
The duck is obviously in shock and doesn’t say a word and we are suddenly wrapped in that yellow stuff with black chevrons…
“This is a crime scene, please remain where you are”
Cops and shoes everywhere.
“What, the bookshop is just there, let me go.”
This is Israel, they shoot first and uh… my mouth is zipped. Hands in the air and look em straight in the eye.
I did have a few amusing retorts, but uh, I really don’t think they would appreciate it.
Anyway, I’m white with a British passport, so its unlikely they will shoot me. Saying that, I am pretty fucking annoying so they might make an exception.

1’st teenage girl + 2’nd teenage girl (stage left)…
Steal some shoes and bugger off.

The Middle East ~ you think you got problems.
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#001 [Unit 8200]
“Give me an update.”
“The fox, the fox is definitely dead.”
“And the car?”
“Shit, I loved that car… and er, the chicken?”
“Its a duck. The duck is in intensive care.”
“How does it look?”
“Can we, er…?”
“Turn off the machine and eat the liver?”
“Yeah, lets do that.”
“And Jimmy Choo?”
“We recovered a pair of Jimmy Choo’s from the crime scene.”
“Ah… just leave them with me.”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Yofi ~ at ease soldier.”
The Middle East ~ you think you got problems.
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#002 [Unit 8200]
“Give me an update.” *
“The airforce are um, ahem… flying Gal Gadot from Nevatim to Tel Aviv.” **
“And, why do I care?”
“They just crashed.”
“He flew into a tree.”
“Why the fuck was he flying so low?”
“To avoid the radar.”
“Habit we presume.”
“He is one of our very best um, most decorated fighter pilots. We train them to do that.”
“Ok and er… fuck, he didn’t crash an F35 did he?”
“No, no just some shitty turboprop.”
“Phew, bloody hell and er… everyone ok?”
“Yes Ma’am.”
“Well, great sigh of relief, imagine if he’d crashed an F35 and lost Gal Gadot.”
“I know.”
“Pilots eh.”
“Who’s er, who’s shitty turboprop did he crash?”
“… Get out.”
“And, um…”
“Why the fuck can I still see you?”
“Shoes, we uh, we found some more at the crime scene.”
“Manolo, Manolo Blahnik.”
“Yofi toffee ~ at ease soldier.”
Brigadier-General Sharon Levin (formerly Brigadier-General Aaron Levin [Medal of Valor]);
Levin is the highest ranking transgender soldier in the IDF.

Colonel Yuri Katz (conscientious aide-de-camp | sidekick).

The Lioness & the Priest.
“Do you think my ass looks big in this general’s uniform?.. GET OUT!”
“And er, the shoes?”
“Christian, Christian Louboutin.”
“Yofi toffee ~ at ease soldier.”

The Middle East ~ you think you got problems.
Tune in next week
#003 [Unit 8200] [Signals interception/Jerusalem/9210108]
“Give me an update.”
“She has um, ordered more pizza.”
“What!.. I thought we got rid of them?”
“The residence has a charge card. She took it.”
“Damn that woman. And whats he up to?”
“Keeping off his cellphone.”
“Is he now. Right, get that lip reader from Mossad and they can deliver the pizza.”
“Yes Ma’am.”
“Daniel, Daniel Day-Lewis.”
“He doesn’t make shoes.”
“He did actually. Eight months in Florence.”
“And he’s selling them in Tel Aviv?”
“No. He was knocked down coming out of the bookshop on King George.”
“Get out, you make me feel sick”.
The Middle East ~ You think you got problems.
Tune in next week…