Monday, 4 December 2017

America - No Hope

Americans are not a race and forming an opinion about “the Americans” would therefore not count as racism. It would undeniably be a generalisation. Yet what is one to think, when one learns that a year into the election of this despicable man, his approval rating has hardly dipped amongst Republicans in the United States.

After a year of Trumpism, four out of five Republicans, still support this vile man. He represents their values, views and wishes. They trust him to navigate their country best and feel comfortable in being represented by him.

An approval rating that has not gone lower than 79% and according to the latest Gallop poll, a few days ago, stood at 81% is sick and is worrying. Not only is there no hope of impeachment (Republican politicians who criticise Trump, get punished by voters!), but with such ratings, there is no hope for America.

At a party in Los Angeles, last May, friends of friends said to me “do not think badly of us, here we did not vote for him.” This is difficult. It is difficult not to think badly of a society that allows such deterioration.

 “God Bless America”, like so many slogans, is also empty and meaningless.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Is Trump a Terrorist?

Yesterday, Theresa May criticised Trump for his recent incendiary tweets in which he repeated hate emanating from a far right and nationalist group in the UK. The subject of Trumps hate speech were his pet-enemies, the Muslims. In reaction to Theresa May’s condemnation, Trump came out with: “don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

Trump is partially right, we should not focus on Trump as a person, his hair colour, his mannerisms, his primitiveness, his many bankruptcies, his sexual abuse, his pathological lies, but rather on Trump the terrorist. Trump who has been allowed by the voters of his country to terrorise the world.

Terrorism, according to one definition is “the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror, or fear, to achieve a political, religious or ideological aim.” Violence can also be verbal and an important element ensuring the success of terrorists is the reporting of their deeds.  A bomb we do not know of, may kill the people directly hit, but does not terrorise the rest of us.

The Americans elected this despicable man as their president. It would help us all were the media to stop reporting every noxious smell he produces. Let the stench remain in the USA.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Russian Prostitutes

I made a note of this in January, but then forgot to publish…  

This is definitely a first: a prime minister bragging about the quality if his country’s prostitutes: “…ours are undoubtedly the best in the world”, Putin said, a-propos his statement in defence of Trump, who Putin does not believe had been serviced by any of the best of the world’s crop.

Between them, Trump and Putin are definitely raising the standards of public discourse.  

Oh, and one more thing: how does Putin know that his country’s “girls of loose morals” are the best in the world?

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


The Albanian, who sat next to me on the flight, spoke about the hot girls and the good food. “Nothing to worry about, mate”, he said, “you will love it, mate” I carefully suggested that as I was old enough to be his grandfather, “sir” might be more appropriate than “mate”. He did not quite understand my objection but when we landed, said “I enjoyed our conversation, sir, and have a good time in Istanbul.” 

The line at passport control at Atatürk airport was long and rather slow. After more than 25 minutes, I reached the sign which read “open your passports at the visa page”. They all did. Everybody – except me –  seemed to have a visa. It had not occurred to me that I would need one. So, I had to leave the line again and find the automated station at which, for $20, I was able to acquire a visa. Ten minutes later, back at the line, I was able to just about make it to the place that I had left earlier.

Istanbul - Fatih

Where I was staying, one seemed to see fewer scarf wearing women than on Edgware Road in London or in Neukölln in Berlin. Fatih is the part of town, – I was told – where I should go, if I wanted to see where the other half lives. A kind local friend of a friend went with me.

In Fatih, virtually all women were covered in black. Men, however, or rather their cloths, came in many colours: Some wore burgundy red trousers and overcoats, others had light grey outfits. Often, they wore blue-checks, sometimes white shirts. To hide what should be hidden, trousers were mainly of the harem trouser type. And then there was a whole array of hats. Very many were white, some were intertwined with coloured motifs.

Ultraorthodox Jewish sect-like dynastic groupings are often recognisable by their dress and I was curious to find out whether the same was true here, in this part of town, in which the Islamic sects, the tarikatlive. Can one tell the sects apart by their clothing?  My friend did not know. 

There is no colour coding whatever, the very friendly salesman, in the clothing shop that I entered, told us. Compared to the predominantly black, which women were wearing, men seemed to have more freedom for fashion and personal taste. Interestingly, the shopkeeper added that ever since IS has taken to wearing black hats, many people – to make the distinction – choose to go for white ones.

He came for Religious Education

A 17-or so - year-old, wearing a black overcoat and a white hat, overheard me asking my friend about the building opposite, “was ist dieses Gebäude?”, and said “eine Schule”, a school. So, we got talking and that gave me the opportunity to verify the information about there not being any colour codes in the male garments, which he confirmed.

The young man, born and bred in Stuttgart, where they speak the ugliest of all German dialects, spoke impeccable accent-free German. Why did he leave Germany, I asked? He came for religious studies, was his answer. What will become of that friendly, courteous young man? How far will these studies take him? Is he being taught at an extremist school? Will he stay? Was he sent by his parents, or was it his idea? We were running out of time and I was unable to find out more.

Istanbul - Downhill ?

Dangerous … going downhill… I wouldn’t go, if I were you, some of my friends said, when I told them that I was going for a weekend to Istanbul. Indeed, the hotel manager told me that tourism is now virtually only from Arab countries. There were hardly any Europeans or Americans coming, he said. It is difficult to see where the country is going. Having said that, they are not the only ones. Where, for instance, is the UK going?

Monday, 9 October 2017


I finally know what must have happened: this misunderstanding between Greece and the EU, in which it turned out that Greece fed the EU with false data, that enabled it to become a member if the EURO, whilst continuing to run the country, as it always has. It is all in the language. Today’s politicians and civil servants, did not take Greek at school, as one did in the old days. 

You see: the Greek word “Neh” does not mean NO, but YES. On the other hand, the Greek word “okhi”, contrary to what one would have guessed, does not mean OK, it means NO.

You can imagine that I was curious, when I walked by a shop, with a big sign ONAN.

It turned out to be a betting shop. You know, a place where people are enjoying themselves but which – at the end – bears no fruit.

I was even more curious to find this spray can in the drugstore:

Unfortunately, the shop assistant was unable to explain what exactly PUBEX does. Nor did he quite understand my question whether it could be used by both men and women.

The place next door

There are several tavernas right next to our house, just by the sea. One of them – at the best location of all –  seemed to open only occasionally. Nevertheless, the blackboard outside continued to list – not only all the traditional Greek dishes, but also –  various fresh fish, one could eat there. The owner, a full-bodied 50-year-old man, would sit at one of his tables, sometime on his own, occasionally with a friend, smoking and drinking. Every day, all day long. He was friendly and would respond with a smile when greeted in the morning. But he was closed for business.

I was curious. Reluctantly, after some questioning, neighbours told me that the place is deteriorating, that the man is simply lazy. One evening, when the place was open, we went there for dinner. It turned out that on some afternoons, when the 17-year-old son comes home from school, they’ll open. The food, the son told us, is made by his mother, who works full time as a teacher in the small village. We decided not to take a chance with “fresh” fish and ordered food that could be warmed up, of the Moussaka and filled pepper variety. We did not immediately book a table for the next day.

The location is great and the restaurant did get occasional business. The first to notice were always the cats, who would immediately be there, hoping to join the party. You cannot eat in a restaurant on these islands, without myriads of well-fed cats surrounding your table. The thing is that most of these islands swell up in the summer months and are left with only the locals, virtually emptying them, in winter. What happens with cats in winter, I asked the fine looking woman, who runs a tavern on one of the other islands. Ah, the taverna owner told me, there is an organisation that comes twice a week and brings food for the cats. They place it in the parking area and the cats all come there. But, she hesitated and then added, the cats get sterilised.

So here’s the riddle: if all those cats get sterilised, how come there are so very many cats everywhere? Some sort of feline immaculate conception?

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Camilla's Fork

Is that how she was taught to hold a fork at finishing school?

הנסיך צ'רלס ורעייתו קמילה, דוכסית קורנוול. להמעיט בערך האלטרנטיבות