Simon's Diary

Israel 2002

Day 7

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I got about an hours sleep last night. I'm quite a nocturnal person so if I have to get up early it's a problem that often leaves me shattered for part of the day. The worst thing is that if I make it as far as midnight I tend to stay awake until the early hours again. Miri and Eddie had purchased a Jeep trip for me, and for practical reasons it meant I had to get up at 7am and drive with them to work. On the way we dropped Jonathan off at school, we were running slightly late so I told him to tell the teacher that his uncle had come to stay and due to his uncle's disability Jonathan had had to help him go to the toilet, wash his teeth etc............ and to end his protestation with the familiar "what can we do!". Eddie and Miri had a good laugh over this, but Jonathon just smirked. Unfortunately Jonathan is the kind of kid who probably did take my advice so if social services do intervene I hope it's long after I've left the country.

The town I'm staying in, Arad, is quite modern and sprawling and lacks character, however it's charm lies in the area around it. The Negev, (this region of Israel) is stunningly beautiful. Evenso our journey to Eddie and Miri's "baby selling shop" was mainly ignored by my hosts. Eddie was pretending to be a fighter pilot, while Miri engrossed herself in a newspaper, who's "free" aquisition only came about by driving to a couple of petrol stations, which probably cost more in petrol than the paper would have done in the first place. Over here you don't put the petrol in yourself, nor do you pay afterwards. Consequently Eddie had to call the petrol attendant back, after he'd been left to replace the filling cap himself. Little things like that bring great pleasure to my sad little world, I was very proud that I'd learned how to take off and put back on my filling cap. I was so glad in fact I told Eddie that I'd be mentioning this incident in today's diary, which probably encouraged his fighter pilot driving. Passengers of dangerous drivers tend to react in two main ways, one is to protest and the other is to act like nothing is happening (e.g. getting involved in an activity such as clearing out the glove compartment, rolling a cigarrette, making a phone call or reading something). So I pretended to be enjoying the old Leonard Cohen album Eddie had put on, and taking photos, while Miri continued reading the paper.

While today's main headlines over here were about a Palestinian bomb that killed 3 soldiers in a tank, our main interest was the cloning of a domestic cat. In1995 one of my cats (Teddy) died, and at the time I cut off a piece of her fur because I thought that that way I may have the choice to clone her if it ever became possible. 7 years on my other cat (Pepper) has recently become blind, and last night my partner back home asked if she had permission from me to put him down while I was away if he started to suffer a lot of pain. While I wouldn't consider cloning either of my cats right now, because obviously a clone is not a replacement, there is a bit of me that probably would take a lock of Peppers fur too.

My sons share the same genetic make up as they are identical twins, however not only in personality are they different but to anyone who knows them they look quite different too. So while genetic make up does not mean a clone in either looks or personality, I did find that when I met my father that not only did we think a like in many ways but we also had many similar mannerisms and personality traits.

An other man and donkey

Lanscape on the way to work

Hotel where Eddie and Miri work.
Soddom and Gamora is supposed to have been situated here.


Once we got to the hotel Miri showed me a place where I could get my head down. I tried to sleep on a couch in a lounge, but the only time I did drop off I awoke to find a five year old kid speaking Hebrew to me. I imagine he was asking about my arms. I said "sorry I only speak English" and he just walked off. When I get back to England I may try the reverse out on the first child who asks me "what happened to your arms", I shall reply in a sweet manner "Pardon, mais je parle Francaise seulement, alors encole-est vous petit enfant." (which possibly means something like "Sorry I only speak French, so fuck off little child"). While I like to be an ambassador of disability to the able bodied community, and therefore I do feel for the predicament that disability puts able bodied people in there are times when I feel less tolerant. Anyway don't worry I won't really be nasty to the little children.

I gave up trying to sleep and went to "the Baby shop" where I sat and drew Eddie. It's been over a year since I last drew with a real mark making device (rather than using a computer), and while there's an element of ego involved with possibly anything I do, one of the things I have noticed about my self as I have got older is that much of what I do is done because of the pleasure I get out of the process of doing it rather than the applause or what ever at the end of it. A lot of what I do involves working with other people and that's possibly why I don't paint anymore. I mentioned this to Eddie and he said he was the opposite, that he preffered being alone. I suppose because much of what I do is done late at night that a good deal of it is done alone anyway. However writing this feels a lot like I'm really talking to you, so in it's own way I am not alone afterall. Maybe for many people it's the same, in their minds there is another person with whom through their work their is a dialogue going on. Similarly reading a diary like this or spectating a piece of art, music, literature is about us wanting to connect with one an other.

"Eddie Shruster"

2pm came soon enough and while we waited for the Jeep to pick me up the tour orgainiser approached us with some concerns regarding my safety as a passenger in a jeep that would be throwing me all over the place. Such situatuations are very difficult because for the tour organiser there's the worry of something coming back if anyone was injured or killed, however for me this is a problem that regularly occurs and often people have been very resistant to me doing something which I am confident about but they are not. What tends to happen is quite interesting. What I've found is that if other ablebodied people vouch for me then the resistors give way, however if it's just me they do not. It would be easy to get upperty about this but once I watched a disabled person say he could do something, (climb some rigging on a ship) but when he started talking more of his experience in this matter his sanity came in to question. (He said "I've been up a lot higher than that before", "Oh when was that?"said one of the deck hands, "when I went up Blackpool Tower" came the reply................... "Right okey dokey you're not going up matey" seemed the general concensus- including myself!-) So I realise it is hard to know if someone is really able to be responsible for them selves, however every day able bodied people make wrong decisions that end up in their injury or death and no one questions their right to decide. Anyway this time two ablebodied people vouched for me and the organiser gave way. She had a blue tinted fringe. I asked if that was her natural colour.

The Jeep Tour


The Jeep turned up, I got in. The people behind me, a Russian couple, leant forward and helped strap me in. I have of course been strapping my self in for most of my life, however the woman in the couple was very nice looking so I left her to it, and thanked her. Later on I just did it up before they got there, it ended up as a bit of a race to see who could get me belted up first. The thing is they were only trying to be kind, and even if kindness is partly about making ourselves feel good I would not want to hurt their feelings. Instead I tend to find that saying "Thank you very much but I can manage thanks, [pause for 1 second] that's very kind of you to offer" tends to diffuse the situation. The only time I may get annoyed and kick the shit out of someone is if they then insist on helping me. Possibly society should define some clear rules about how to offer help and likewise how to turn it down.

This is the "I know you're secretly taking a photo of us" look

Eliave our driver for the aftenoon
She was so good I offered her a job parking my car in London
Like all Israeli drivers she specialises in driving and dialing her mobile phone plus she could give a running comentary in two languages too.

Eliave in front of the salt rocks near the Dead Sea,
"Don't taste the rocks below waste height she warned"

Eliave told me that during the Roman era the Dead Sea was one of Europe and North Africa's main sources of salt and that this whole area was guarded fiercely. Two modern words that come from this region and time are Soldier and Salary. The term Soldier was originally said differently but reffered to the Salt Guards and the word Salary derives from how the Soldiers were paid, which was with salt, hence SALary.

The highlighted rock out crop is meant to be the
body of Lot's wife turned to stone.


The two other Land Rovers in our team.
The aim of the drivers was to see who could do the most scary
(to the tourists) tricks they'd seen in cartoons. I was cool, I took photos.

More whacky races

Move your cursor over the picture above to see what I really look like


The next part of the tour was following a river bed, where the river bed looked blocked the drivers just drove with one set of wheels up the river bank (See the tyre tracks in the picture below)

A tight corner

From the river bed we made our way to some caves.
This poor camel had broken its leg and was stranded (enough said I think)

We stopped here so we could go into the caves
and we had tea and coffee here (very civilised).

The main entertainment here was watching people in pretend "City" jeeps
trying to drive through these areas.
Lots of plastic bits of these city jeeps littered the area.
Another opportunity for undeserved smuggness on my part.

Here comes a Shogun and a Nissan "Cameras ready!"

I have no idea what's going on here


The Flora Caves,
(Thin and dark)

Eliave riding a jeep side saddle (show off)

This is just a gratuitous picture of one of the women in our vehicle


Well worth a go if you ever get the chance (The Tour I mean)

Tour Ends

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