|Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem|
I was awake early on my first morning in Jerusalem; before the heat, ahead of the crowds. I circled the Dome of the Rock & photographed the concentric turquoise rings of the Dome of the Chain. Below me, the Jews lamented the loss of the temple at the Wailing Wall.
The city was waking up as I followed the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Jerusalem is the only place in the world where you have to dodge both soldiers shouldering rifles & pilgrims carrying crosses. I bore no cross but was cornered at every station by the brash tourism of the bazaar. Everyone was my friend & I was, very welcome, sir. Except for one man.
“Where you from?” asked a craggy old shopkeeper as I picked out some tat.
“BRITISH ARE POISON.”
At first I thought he said “British are Boyzone” & I was going to point out that actually they were Irish. Weirdly, despite his growing anger, we were in the middle of a transaction.
“Twenty Shekels, please. THE BRITISH ARE POISON!”
I gave him Fifty.
“I HATE ALL BRITISH & AMERICANS!! Oh, have you got anything smaller?”
“I’ll just get some change from the back.”
From the back: “ONE DAY THE BRITISH & AMERICANS WILL BE DEFEATED!!”
He reappeared…“There you go, thirty Shekels.”
“Thanks. THE BRITISH ARE POISON!”
I said, “Do you really think Banksy would go on an incognito tour of his own artwork purely to check the guides are on-message?”
|Dead Sea mud|
I left Jerusalem & took the bus to Tel Aviv. My neighbour was in the military & slung his rifle on his lap, barrel pointing at my thigh. It’s amazing how quickly things like this become the norm. As he slept, I nudged it away.
|Bauhaus architecture, Tel Aviv|