Cobbling in Jerusalem

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Cobbled in Jerusalem
Your shoes will never wear.
In fact with so much use of them
You’ll have them still whene’er
The time is come to meet your God;
Then at that Pearly Gate
St Pete will say, “You’re so well shod!
“Come in – no need to wait!”

Mrs SG and I are in Jerusalem, and yesterday we went into the walled city to poke around, buy some gifts and find a cobbler: a heel had fallen off one of my shoes and I couldn’t find it. At the Jaffa Gate we were accosted by a personable young guide, whom we didn’t hire but who showed us on a map where we could find a sandler who might perhaps cobble on the side.

We found the man – an old, old man – in Jewish Quarter Road, occupying an alcove packed with shoes and boots and a heavy-duty sewing machine. I showed my shoe and he said, “Come back in an hour.”

We did and the shoe was heeled. He’d added a bit of rubber to the other one too, to make them almost the same height. The work was functional rather than elegant, and looked robust. “How much?” I said. He indicated that it was up to me. I made the mistake of saying, “No, no, tell me how much I owe you,” to which he replied, “Fifty shekels.” That’s about US$14. My eyebrows lifted, my eyes widened and my blood ran cold, but what could I do?

Therefore I choose to believe that Jerusalem’s spiritual richness will imbue my shoes with supernatural longevity.

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Australian Liberals

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Here’s a letter I wrote to my MP, who happens also to be a Minister in Australia’s Liberal-led Commonwealth Government. I have just received a stock answer.

Dear Christopher,

As one of your constituents and a Liberal voter since I came to Australia in 1978, I have to tell you of my growing disenchantment with your party, to the point where I feel I can no longer vote for it.

I would like you personally to remain in Parliament and on the front bench, whether in government or in opposition, but the ongoing factional civil war and our new PM’s antics have me in despair. First there was the lump of coal in Parliament, now we’ve had the abandonment of the NEG, the refusal to take a stand on climate change, the description of the country’s most iconic building as a ‘billboard’ and – the last straw for me – the news that Mr Morrison is considering moving our Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem!

I know we have to trot submissively at President Trump’s heels to some extent, to keep our place under the USA’s nuclear umbrella, but to kowtow to a rogue state whose disregard for humanitarian principles and international law matches Russia’s or China’s, and to take sides against some of the most oppressed and dispossessed people in the world… well, words fail me.

And is it really only a device to curry favour with the 13% of Wentworth voters who are Jewish, as I heard on Radio National this morning? Is our foreign policy being driven by short-term electoral gaming? If so, I’d rather give Penny Wong a go.

I don’t usually send off an email while I’m still angry; I prefer to wait, re-read and edit. But not this time. I suspect my anger will only grow, so I might as well shoot this off now.

With good wishes to you, if not to your party or its present leader…

John Standingford
Linden Park
https://StroppyGit.com
16/10/18

Explanatory notes:

In February 2017 Scott Morrison brought a lump of coal into Parliament as a prop for a speech promoting the continued mining and burning of coal in spite of its alleged contribution to climate change.

NEG was the National Energy Guarantee, the closest thing to an energy policy that Australia has had for many years. It resulted from hard negotiations between parties that put energy prices ahead of decarbonisation and vice versa, Federal and State Governments, industry and consumers. Scott Morrison dumped it as soon as he became Prime Minister.

Wentworth is the constituency where Malcolm Turnbull, the deposed PM, had a 17% majority. The Liberal-led ruling coalition had a 1-seat parliamentary majority and was desperate to retain the seat after Turnbull’s resignation. They lost it to an independent. Coincidentally a TV serial called Wentworth is running at the moment. It’s set in a women’s prison and shows brutality almost on a par with what’s going on in the Liberal Party.

Penny Wong is the Shadow Foreign Minister – fair-minded, level-headed and popular.

The Bomb

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Remember when we were all afraid of being annihilated in a nuclear war between the USA and the USSR (aka ‘the Russians’)? At least, that’s what historians tell us; I don’t remember being afraid of that personally.

Well now there are so many people with their fingers on so many buttons that nuclear annihilation is just part of the scenery. If Israel, Pakistan and North Korea have nuclear bombs – whether of the atomic or the hydrogen variety – it’s a matter of when and how big, not if.  It’s like the next mega-volcanic eruption or the next really big asteroid strike or the next Global Financial Crisis.  Why waste emotional energy worrying about it?

This post was inspired by Kim Jong Un’s latest test, of course.  Nuclear bomb test, I mean, not psychiatric.  And also by a cool animation I saw in the Washington Post showing the size, location and perpetrator of every test since 1946.  Do have a look.