Seasonal illness

December 1, 2011

I visited my doctor the other day.  Regular readers will be aware that my visits to the medical centre are not infrequent; there’s usually something wrong with me, or so it seems before the doc allays my concerns.

However, the other day I really was in a lot of trouble although you wouldn’t have thought so had you seen my GP’s face as I entered the consulting room.  As I sat down he sighed as a preamble to asking the usual questions, already mentally prepared with his answer “There’s nothing wrong with you that a nice bowl of chicken soup won’t solve.”.


“What’s the problem today, Mr J?” he groaned.


“Well, let’s see now.  Stomach pains, lack of sleep, headaches, and general malais might be the best way to describe the problem,” I replied forcefully.

“Then let’s deal with the stomach pains first.  Tell me about your eating patterns and the foods you’ve consumed recently.”


“Well, yes,” I began, thinking back over my diet of the previous few days.  I was determined not to allow myself to be put off by his disinterest.  As any fool will tell you, doctors know more than most about illnesses and less than any about being ill.  “I’ve been eating well as it happens.  Fruit, natural sweeteners, that sort of thing”.


“Can you be more specific?”


“Well, let’s see now.  Apples.  I’ve eaten a lot of apples, figs, dates and pomegranates.  And honey.  gallons of honey.  And honey cake.  Enormous quantities of honey cake if I’m honest.  But not so much of the unhealthy stuff.  I haven’t touched a piece of cheesecake in months”.


“I see” said the quack with barely disguised faux concern.  “Can you tell me precisely all the places you’ve eaten in recent weeks please?”


Suddenly my irritation was replaced by fear and the doctor’s position as a man of wisdom was restored.  “It’s serious isn’t it Doctor?  It’s food poisoning.  There’s been an outbreak and you need to identify the source.”


“No need to panic Mr J, not just yet.  I just need you to tell me, to the best of your recollection where you’ve eaten.”


“Where I’ve eaten?  Are you joking?  I’ve eaten in more houses over recent weeks than you’ve had hot meals!  Come to think, I’ve eaten in more houses recently than I’ve had hot meals.  Cake and fruit I’ve had plenty of, but hot meals?  Hardly any.”


“Alright then, what else can you tell me?”


Well, about two weeks ago we had one enormous meal and then I didn’t eat for a whole day.  That’s when I got the headache.  Still, that disappeared once I did eat again.  Another enormous meal with gallons of tea it was.  That’s when I came over nauseas.  It really put my constitution out of click.  I didn’t know what day it was.”


“I think I know what day it was,” the doctor replied sardonically.  “Carry on.”


I cast my mind back again.  “Various meals, of varying quality, in people’s gardens in spite of the inclement weather.  I know what you are going to say:  you should have stayed inside where it’s warm.  Believe me, I would have done, but they insisted on eating al freddo.”


“Don’t you mean al fresco?” The doctor asked.


“Not in the middle of October, I don’t” was my swift retort.


Finally the doctor looked me in the eye and said “I think we both know what this is all about.  Why are you wasting my time?  Don’t you know that life as a GP is busy enough as it is?”


“I’m sorry Doctor”, I replied, “but who else can I complain to?”


“Well surely your rabbi would be better than me?”


“My rabbi? Are you kidding?  His suggestion would be to check my mezuzahs and drink chicken soup.  At least if I come here I don’t have to get my mezuzahs checked.”

“True enough” he admitted.  “Drink chicken soup until you feel better.”

“Thank you Doctor” I said, making my way out of the consulting room.

“Oh and one other thing,” he called after me.

“Yes Doc?”

“Get your mezuzahs checked before you book another appointment with me please.”


Why Jew-loving gentiles freak me out.

December 1, 2011

That Glenn Beck and his cronies have been made to feel about as welcome in Israel as a bacon butty at a bar mitzvah pleases me beyond measure.  It should be obvious to us all that these Christian Zionists are no more friends of the Jews than the English Defence League.  They are interested in us just until we have facilitated the second coming at which point they reckon we’ll all see the light and get rapture or whatever it is these dispensationalists do at the weekend, and if we don’t the second coming will swiftly be followed by the second inquisition.  All I’m saying is that none of them are on my Christmas card list.


But it’s not just the nutters that worry me.  There are plenty of perfectly sane and intelligent gentiles that speak up for Jews and they make me equally uncomfortable.


Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t want gentiles to dislikes Jews any more than they already do, however, when talk about us in such glowing terms – they’re so clever, they have such good values, they give an enormous amount to charity, yada, yada – every superlative serves only to ratchet up the stress.  I’m not that special!


If they’re not admiring us they’re simply obsessing about us.  I have non-Jewish friends who can’t help but refer to the fact that I’m Jewish every five minutes, usually with some pathetic joke that conveys their deep understanding of our culture.  Their liberal credentials are the back-stage pass into our world and they think it gives them permission to say such things.  I might, for example, be in a restaurant with a non-Jewish friend and he’ll come out with something hilarious like “I hear the lobster is very good here!”  Truthfully, I can’t comprehend how fascinating and exotic they find a chap who, like them, has lived his entire life in north London.


The worst of this group are those who, perhaps through marriage, have an official connection to Judaism.  Somehow they feel this gives them immunity from the accusation of anti-Semitism and the right to behave as if they are fully paid up Jews.  As “insiders” they imagine it’s acceptable to tell the sort of Jewish jokes we tell each other.  Well, there’s nothing more excruciating than a non-Jew, no matter how long he’s been married to a Jew, telling a Jewish joke.  This has nothing to do with comic timing; it has to do with the fact that Jewish jokes are of the Jews, by the Jews, for the Jews.  It can be the funniest Jewish joke ever told, but from the lips of a gentile, even, dare I say, a convert,  it is never, ever funny and when I hear it I feel a tiny bit more nervous about my safety in the world.


What this all comes down to is that as far as I’m concerned gentiles just don’t get us.  Another example is writer David Mitchell recently telling us to “lighten up” about visitors to Madame Tussauds posing with Nazi salutes alongside Adolf Hitler’s wax effigy.  His contention is that these poses are intended to ridicule rather than fête the dictator.  No doubt some of his best friends are Jews and this, he reckons, gives him the right to make his pronouncement.  However, Mitchell is saying this because for him the holocaust is something people study at school and university, while for European Jews, all of us, it partially defines who we are and we can’t handle anything that makes light of it.  Mitchell and other well-meaning non-Jews will never know that feeling.


So here’s a message to Glenn Beck and all those other “friends” – do me a favour and stop obsessing about Jews.  Instead, why not take up some harmless pursuit like compassless orienteering?  You’re frightening me, OK?