February 22, 2008

Jottings and journeys

I've been quiet for a while since I arrived in Jerusalem, where I whiled away 5 days with my old friends - chess, coffee, whisky and Chris from Houston - as well as low-key tourism to Masada, The Dead Sea (which is nasty to swim in - eyestinging, unbalancing and almost toxic with minerals), The Dome of the Rock and the wall of the old city of Jerusalem. There's an air about the old city because Christ walked there, but otherwise I felt no spirit in the place which is pretty immaculate. Jerusalem property is expensive and there's plenty of decent construction. Of course there's a disconnect between the rooted urbanity of modern Jerusalem and the Islamist intent to destroy its creators. Some of the Israeli women would bring me to my knees. The blend of dark beauty, joy in living, intelligence and seriousness are intoxicating after too long around affluenza and safety.

I flew from Tel Aviv (a superb airport) to Newark, NJ, for an airport reunion with my American beauties and from there we all flew 4 hours south to Grand Cayman for a week with relatives, stingrays, iguanas and turtles. Grand Cayman is a tax haven where life is pretty good, tho I'd get island fever. A highlight was Stingray City where you jump into the shallow sea with a herd of these affectionate sharks, preferably without stepping on the tails. These rays are quite sensational to snorkel around and hand feed with pieces of squid which they suck from your hand.

Now I'm in NJ for a few snowy days before taking my wife to Edinburgh and NW Scotland. Knowing the Highlands and her sensitivity to mystical landscapes, I'm enjoying the thought of exposing her to the mix of magic mountains, lochs and clouds. After that..another journey.

I remain slackjawed with disdain at Obama and Clinton as serious candidates for President. McCain's in a different league of seriousness, tho still unattractive. No aper├žus at present apart from yuck, yuck and yuck.

Oh, I did make a little money out of the misery of New York Times' stockholders - in at $14.30 out at $20.15 4 weeks later. Now I'm short NYT at $19.84 to put a little cream on my money pie. Pinch Sulzberger immediately obliged with one of the most spastic political hitjobs of recent times - unattributed rumours of a McCain affair 9 years ago, cloaked in insubstantial pieties about lobbying. Sometimes the NYT seems almost cute in its lack of self-awareness.