When I mention to Brits that I’m going to Wigan, they usually say “For what?” Well, my eldest sister Kay lives there, with a number of her 11 children. But, to be honest, I have grown to like Wigan. I know it quite well – where the shops are and such.
This time I had a wonderful visit. My niece Marie and her husband Dave have taken over Kay’s house and are looking after her. They made some great improvements on the house (which are on-going) and the situation there is ideal. Of course, the amazing collection of wine which they have smuggled in from Spain is not to be sneezed at. We ate out (Indian) and Dave took me to St Helen’s to buy some materials for our beer-making club. Basically, it was a very nice visit. A pity that Adam was not with me – he loves Wigan and the relatives there love him.
People are asking me: “What was the highlight of your trip to England?” and the only answer I can give is that there were six highlights.
Here is the first: London.
I had the great pleasure of staying with my friends the Guthartzes (Gutharcoj in Esperanto). They are (in)famous for putting up out-of-town guests. Someone refered to their home as the Guthartz Arms. Unfortunately for me, Lindsey and Rachel were in Cornwall with Lindsey’s Mom so I didn’t see them, but I had a great time with Norm and Sarah. Norm and I tried to out-talk each other and I’m not sure who won. There’s nothing like being with another reconteur to keep you on your toes.
Which reminds me… my brother Ed once told a joke at his office:
“Did you hear that the Pope raised all the urinals in the Vatican?”
“Because he wanted to keep all the cardinals on their toes.”
Everyone chuckled but one woman, so Ed asked:
“I suppose that you don’t know what a urinal is.”
She replied: “How should I know – I’m not a Catholic!”
Back to the topic.
Norm, Sarah and I went out to a vegetarian Indian restaurant where we ate so much that Norm and I could barely move. We were invited out for Shabbat which was great – firstly to the neighbours next door Friday night and then to others for luch.
My niece Annette came up from Brighton for a visit and spent Shabbat afternoon with me.
I met up with our friend Aviela Barclay (http://www.soferet.com) and we went to the British Library together in search of the Great Omar. We didn’t locate it but had a good time and a two-pint lunch. Then I visited their new house.
I visited the V&A museum on my own and saw many wonderful things, including a marvellous hammered silver binding by James and Stuart Brockman.
I also had dinner with Dina Newman, the esperantist who wrote the report about Esperanto in Israel in which I appeared (see previous message). Dina is a LIVE esperantist and it is a pleasure talking, laughing and joking with her.
Then I was off to Wigan…
Dina Newman, a Russian esperantist now living in London and working at the BBC, was here for a couple of months and decided to write something about Esperanto in Israel. Actually she interviewed several of us Israeli esperantists and is now working on the radio program. In the meantime she published a page on the Midde East page of the BBC news. Why my picture? Well, she commented that the BBC thought I had such a friendly face, that they decided to use it. The link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8159082.stm
After the Bible Box was safely in the hands of the Pope, I was asked to create an exact replica, which I did immediately. I was under the impression that it was for President Peres and had visions of a photo of me handing it over, but it turned out to be for the Visitors’ Centre at the Technion. At least I will be able to visit it when I’m in Haifa.
A couple of weeks ago I got a call from the Technion in Haifa asking if I could make a box that looked like an old book. I said that I could and they told me that they were working on a very special project. Someone there had engraved the entire Hebrew Bible (called the Tanach) onto a gold-plated silicon chip .5-mm. square and they wanted a box that looked like an old Bible to present it in. They left the design and execution up to me.
Part way through the construction, I was told that the chip was going to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Israel.
I used a copy of a finishing tool from the 13th century to make a design that created a magen David (Star of David) in the background leather. I was a bit nervous about making a box without having the material that was going into it, but when the chip in its glass case was brought to me, everything fit together perfectly.
The people who made the chip took it with the box to President Peres and the following week he presented it to the Pope. Unfortunately I was not invited to either presentation.