All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

How To Make A Woman Happy

How to Make a Woman Happy

It's not difficult to make a woman happy. A man only needs to be:

1. a friend
2 a companion
3. a lover
4. a brother
5. a father
6. a master
7. a chef
8. an electrician
9. a carpenter
10. a plumber
11. a mechanic
12. a decorator
13. a stylist
14. a sexologist
15. a gynecologist
16. a psychologist
17. a pest exterminator
18. a psychiatrist
19. a healer
20. a good listener
21. an organizer
22. a good father
23. very clean
24. sympathetic
25. athletic
26. warm
27. attentive
28. gallant
29. intelligent
30. funny
31. creative
32. tender
33. strong
34. understanding
35. tolerant
36. prudent
37. ambitious
38. capable
39. courageous
40. determined
41. true
42. dependable
43. passionate
44. compassionate


45. give her compliments regularly
46. love shopping
47. be honest
48. be very rich
49. not stress her out
50. not look at other girls


51. give her lots of attention, but expect little yourself
52. give her lots of time, especially time for herself
53. give her lots of space, never worrying about where she goes


54. Never to forget:
* birthdays
* anniversaries
* arrangements she makes


1. Show up naked

2. Bring beer

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Into The Pit

I guess you could call it one of those "unknowns".

Tomorrow, I will be starting the second part of this term at the school and I really don't know what lies ahead. I'll be spending the next twelve hours or so preparing, marking and recording in the naive belief (or maybe hope) that I will have adequately covered myself for the next five days.

I could go down the road of panicking and chewing my nails off their petrified little fingers, but I choose to face each day as a new challenge and deal with the mass of obstacles as they hurtle towards me at meteoric speed. I know that whatever I do, it probably won't be enough, but that's the nature of the beast we call 'teaching in the earliest part of the twenty-first century'.

The paperwork is endless, the deadlines often so close that you can almost touch them with your nose and the expectations higher than the nearest star. That said, I wake up each day with a sort of smile, knowing that I will meet all of the above, somehow or other.

As bad as it can get, the Xmas holiday is but seven-and-a-half weeks away and believe me, this is the kind of thinking you need when you don't know the depth of the pit you're falling into.

To be frank, I'm dreading my fortieth birthday much more and that's in five weeks time.

(I wish I hadn't just written the above because it's suddenly made me feel much worse...)

Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Friday, 26 October 2007

A Hard Day's Day: Hava Nagila video

Finally, Some Common Sense

The Government of Israel have finally started to think clearly vis-a-vis a way in which to deal sensibly with the ongoing aggressive and totally pointless rocket attacks on her civilians from within Gaza.

She could go down the route of bombing the people to hell, which would only exacerbate the situation, but instead she is doing something that I've heard countless people suggest to me over the last few months - cutting off all power to the Gazans. After all, since Israel supplies all the electricity, why should they put up with being rewarded with missiles and rockets raining down on their kindergartens and shopping centres?

Of course, you can bet your bottom dollar that the same people who said nothing when Israelis were being bombarded, will be first in line to brand the Government "in humanitarian". Frankly though, I don't care.

The Gazans voted Hamas in and although Fatah are behind the attacks (which is all the more interesting granted that they are controlled by our so-called buddy Abbas), there is no reason whatsoever for Israel to desist from this smart policy. Of course, hospitals won't be affected, because we don't do that sort of thing (irrespective of how barbaric the other side acts).

Great move Israel.
Now let's see when the rockets stop coming.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

A Decade Of Dassi

Three thousand, six hundred and fifty two days ago, something very special happened to me- I became a father for the very first time.

I didn't know what it was like to be a father. I had always been the son and grandson. This was a new status, a new place to be in.

What does a father do? What does he feel like? What can he do to make sure he doesn't screw up someone else's life? What rules must he follow to get it right? All these questions had no answers and in a way, still don't.

Dassi though, made some of the answers easier to work out. From Day One, she was a free spirit, an independent little person who knew exactly what she wanted. She could fight her corner but at the same time, show incredible generosity to everyone around her. She knew how to answer back, but not in a childish, selfish fashion. Dassi was going to be special and we all knew it.

One hundred and twenty months later, we celebrate her explosion into our little world on this very day. I don't think I'm anywhere closer to knowing the answers to my questions. I have however come to the realisation that sometimes, these aching problems seem to get addressed by the other people involved in the saga of life.

I am father to four incredible little women. Dassi however continues to be the torch-bearer. Her innate common sense, generosity and intelligence astounds, amazes and impresses me and I honestly believe that I couldn't have wished for a better human being to be my eldest child.

To say that I am simply proud of her is an understatement. Hadassah is a gift to all of us and I look forward to seeing her spread her light into the world.

Happy birthday Dassi.

And thank you.

Monday, 22 October 2007

When Is A Holiday Not A Holiday

I was happy to help the wife out this morning by taking the kids into school.

However, having coped with truly horrendous traffic on the way there coupled with finding the holy grail that is parking place in the school car park and running out of time, I have decided to give the school run a miss and pick the kids up in the afternoon instead.

I came home from the experience, almost having forgotten that I was on holiday.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Half Term At Last

That bastion, so unique to the teaching profession is upon us again.

Half term is back.

Most of you who read this are not teachers and probably of the opinion that we get far too many holidays. Those of you who do subscribe to this point of view could be termed as being "envious" or "jealous", but I'll be kind and just title you as "understandably ignorant".

You see, seven weeks in the the teaching profession, is akin to about three months in every other sphere of work, taking into account the kind of crap we have to deal with from some of our young people, the needless amounts of extraneous paperwork the Government heaps upon us and the general exhaustion that seems to envelop us as we go about doing our thing.

I love teaching and wouldn't do anything else. Period. I also appreciate the fact that every seven to eight weeks, the education system in this country allows me (and my students) to take a breather, re-focus my attention on doing the job in the best way that I can and....

....sleep in late!

Forthcoming Attractions

To my delight, I've found myself in the enviable position of being to go off to Israel for a few days in February to attend the wedding of a family friend.

I was last in mainland Israel (we'll discount the trip to Eilat, which though wonderful, wasn't really "Israel") in 1998 and I've been longing to go back since. Ten years is a long time to be apart from one's dearest love.

The added bonus is that I get to take Michal with me, so that she'll (please G-d) be the first of my children I will be able to take to the Kotel (Western Wall) - which as you know, has a very special place in my heart, granted that I was there In-Vitro and then, thirteen years later, for my bar mitzvah. I have long dreamed to be able to share my beloved Kotel with four of the most important people in my life.

This evening, I booked the tickets. Suddenly, the winter doesn't seem too foreboding because it is always wonderful to have a little light at the end of a cold winter tunnel. Our mini-trip to Israel looks like being that light.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

I Think Too Much

As some of you have commented, this little corner of the web has been awfully quiet of late. You're not wrong. I guess that work is taking over my life, or has been for the last few weeks and I've not really had the chance to do much thinking - well, of the reflective kind anyway.

Saying that, I guess that, ironically, in the words of the great Paul Simon, I could probably be accused of thinking too much.

I wish I didn't analyse everything so much, dammit. I wish that I could get on with my life, just like every other shmoe. It would be so much better if I didn't do so much thinking.

Why all this? Why the downbeat tone? Maybe it's because now, I've got the time to think/consider/analyse/reflect.

Maybe, it's better when I don't have the time to do any of the above.
I don't "think" it does me much good.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

My Wonderful Bonpapa

Think about it.

There aren't that many people in your life whom you can honestly say you really love. Maybe if you're lucky, you can count them on the fingers of one hand and if you're super-blessed, two.

And that's it.

My paternal grandfather is one of those precious fingers. Today was his yartzheit or anniversary of his death in the Hebrew calendar, going back exactly twenty eight years.

I still remember the terrible moment on that criminally early Shabbat morning when the telephone rang and my late grandmother, New York based, sobbed out the news to my shell-shocked father.

I still remember the feeling of how unfair it was that this wonderful man, one of the only two men in my life whom I truly loved (the other being his son) had gone and left me, but a year before my bar-mitzvah, something that he was so looking forward to.

I still remember receiving the haunting gift of a beautiful fleeced jacket, only days after his sudden death, through the post - and not wanting to wear it because I was so heartbroken.

I still remember.

Bonpapa, I miss you, so so much. Your smile, your wonderful audio tapes, your gentle demeanor. How could you leave me so selfishly at the early age of 74. Why couldn't you wait around to see me grow up, meet a wonderful girl and give you four beautiful and smart great-granddaughters?

How could you leave?

You don't stop adoring someone because they are no longer there. You don't ever stop thinking about them, whilst wondering whether or not they would approve of whom you've become - because they are no longer there.

And then, many years ago, my bonpapa came back to me in a dream.

At the time, I was going out with a girl and it might have turned serious. I vividly remember his appearing to me sitting in the window seat of an airplane, parked on a runway. He looked at me disapprovingly (we'll forget that there was thick glass between us - this was after all a dream) and told me not to marry the girl.

And funnily enough, I listened to him and we broke up soon afterwards.

I still remember.

I remember going to his graveside in New Jersey two years ago and speaking to him on a dull, cloudy day, yet, when I'd finished my sentence, witnessed the sun breaking through the cloud and lighting his grave as though he were giving me his re-assuring, warm smile through the impenetrable granite.

I still remember.

Bonpapa, I tried to avoid listening to music today because I wanted to do my bit of mourning - I hope you know, wherever you are, that I love you so very, very, very much and pray that when it is my time to go and join you upstairs, you'll be waiting there to greet me, with your smile. Your wonderful, sparkling smile.

You are my bonpapa.
My wonderful, special, unforgettable bonpapa.

G-d I miss you.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

The End Of The Marathon

I'm really delighted to write that at last, the marathon of festivals is finally over! I know they say that you can't get too much of a good thing but I beg to differ on this one.

Yes, it was lovely to be able to sleep guiltlessly in the afternoon in the middle of the week.

Yes, it was wonderful to spend so much time with the family and get to know my children really well (without a single major row throughout)

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed socialising with my friends and humming along to some beautiful Synagogue-centred tunes...

...but, enough is enough!

I'm looking forward to re-starting my five-day week on Monday in the knowledge that I don't have to spend the next two days worrying about how I will plan cover lessons for classes that I've hardly taught.

I'm excited about using the lessons I don't teach in (on Thursday and Friday - the days that I've been off) to mark the work, thereby making my evening workload lighter and finally, I'm really excited that in two weeks, I will be off school for an entire week....only this time, along with my students.

It's been a long haul but now, at least, I feel my academic year can really get going.

Here's to a happy healthy and, erm, five day-a-week year.

Monday, 1 October 2007

The Weary Footsoldier

I've managed to make it through 3/4 of the festivals and I'm really looking forward to hitting the "normality track". We've got another bonanza of food, synagogue, sleep, friends and intensive family time and that's it, for another year.

I wouldn't mind it so much if I didn't find it so difficult to balance this existence with my schoolwork. My colleagues might think that I'm having a ball taking all of these days off (which for the most, I'm not being paid for), but they probably don't realise that our (Jewish) idea of a religious holiday isn't exactly the "holiday" that many would understand to be, in the conventional sense of the word.

I am taking time off, but at no point in that religious endeavour, am I able to plan for school. At no time can I sit and prepare lessons. Whereas ordinarily, I have some free periods to plan and sort myself out, I have found myself fighting to clear some time to sit and do the work I so need to carry out. It is now, past midnight on Monday morning and I've just about got my lessons ready for tomorrow - yes, tomorrow, not Tuesday nor Wednesday (nor the rest of the week for that matter) but only tomorrow.

I love being orthodox and I wouldn't lead my life any other way but right now, with the festivals in full swing, being a an orthodox Jew and working in a non-Jewish school is bloody, bloody hard.