When I wake up early, seven or so, early for me, not for Israel, the dustcart is already whining outside and car horns are already hooting, I open all of the windows in my apartment and the cool air blows over me, deliciously. It is the best I will feel all day, it will be hot by nine. Unless I take a bus, that is. They are beautifully over-refrigerated, I’d like to stand in one and run up and down the city, iced, for hours.
It is very hot, which is a pointless thing to say. It will be hotter yet, and more humid. I already wake up slippery with sweat. Late every evening, at 10.30 or so, the air becomes unbearably heavy. I close the huge window, turn on the insufficient air con and take my third or fourth shower of the day, before I go to bed.
I’ve had a difficult week trying to persuade my bank in London to transfer money to my bank here. They gave me the wrong number to send a fax to. Twice! They didn’t recognise my signature, and so on. I spent hundreds of minutes on hold. I never want to hear that Mozart cello concerto again. I sent four, or was it five, faxes. When did you last send a fax? It wasn’t easy to find someone to do it. The money has finally left London, but still isn’t in Tel Aviv, my rent hasn’t been paid, and Roni, my landlord, is getting angry. I am mortified by this, and the three minutes this task should take has expanded to hours spread over seven or eight days. I am exhausted by the energy this task has taken.
I even thought about flying home for a few days to sort it out. I could picture it all, arriving at Terminal Five, dinner with Camilla, a decent haircut, breakfast with Naomi, oh, I could taste the sausage, smell the bacon. There would be tears five times a day, I am certain. I could also imagine returning to Tel Aviv, opening the door to my apartment, and sighing.
Today I went to the farmers’ market at the port. It’s ok, but not great. It’s for tourists, mostly. Israelis really don’t seem to be interested, for all the ‘new food capital’ noise. I bought two lamb chops, my, they were expensive, ears of white corn, that I know will be the sweetest I’ve ever eaten, and fat, red cherries. So that’s my dinner.
I chatted to a stallholder who is trying to preserve ancient varieties of vegetables. That’s the same cucumber Jesus would have eaten, he said, pointing at something pale jade, knobbly and unappetising.
At six I went to the Olive Korner, where they had rosé, but had forgotten to refrigerate it. I nodded hello to Elli, who I pass the time with occasionally. He’s retired from the Tel Aviv Opera’s chorus, and now paints pictures from photographs. He once showed me them on his phone. I don’t know, bowls of fruit, a view, a picturesque beggar, no single subject. I don’t like all that modern stuff, he explained, installations and videos and all that.
We chatted about the new French butcher along the road. They’ve taken over meat, now, he muttered. Israelis don’t like the French at all. I don’t know who they do like.
Elli leaned closer, his face serious, and said, a non sequitur, at least I was taken by surprise, No, I mean it you should lose some weight. I tried to keep my reply light, Thankyou, doctor, but he continued, for your health.
I’m unsure if he thought this was a new idea to me, if he thinks that I think I’m a slim jim, narrow waisted, my arse unlarded, that no doctor has ever made the same suggestion. But he hadn’t finished. He said it again in six slightly different ways. Oh, it was fun. Finally, he called over the waitress to order a drink and some potato wedges and then lit a cigarette, exhaled smoke in my direction, satisfied he’d done something good.
Today’s word: tzuh-yahr – painter – צייר