Thursday, 31 March 2016

CHAPTER I - Jerusalem, Jordan December 1947

There is a man leaning on the counter, a man like a bundle of twigs. He is thin, with the long odd shape of his teeth pressing through the scant flesh of his face, like an animal's muzzle, all the angles of his skull explicit agony to the flinching eye.

Leila glances away. She looks down at her clasped hands, but his presence demands her attention.

He is thin, but there is a wiry desperate strength to him. His eyes burn, and as he leans to speak to the man beside him, spittle wets his arid lips. He raises the thick glass to his mouth and drinks. The ridged curve of his throat convulses, He grins, and scrabbles avid spidering fingers at his arm where the blue ghosts of numbers are obscured by the raked wounds of his constant scratching. His voice is high, he laughs, there is a ferocious hunger to him.

He is unbearably ugly, repulsive. His macula are mute reproaches to her happiness; that at this moment of desperate struggle when survival is the only permissible desire she is alight, afire with passion, in love for the first time in her life.

In this place where the remnants of a people stand to fight for their last chance at life, ready to pay for each grain of sand with blood, she is a girl aglow.


by Manuela Cardiga


ME: So in the story, Leila goes into a cafe in Jerusalem to meet Joseph - she is in love, excited, and the whole world smells of desperation, fear and death. This man personifies that.

IVAN: A little info that Irvin told me: the Jews who came from the camps to Israel were looked down upon.

ME: Yes, they were grim reminder of "defeat". The man in the cafe, is a camp survivor. Imagine how uncomfortable their presence would have been.


ME: Imagine Israel in 47, with people still staggering from the war,
weary of war. And these living revenants of atrocity demanding reparation, reminding them that this is not the time to be young, to laugh or dance. It is time to fight. Never to forgive, never to forget


ME: Jews seen as "victims" when they wanted to be warriors. Maccabees

IVAN: Yes, how you know that?

ME: I know, I was there. The survivors were the archetypal image of the passive, patient Jew

IVAN: Yes, exactly, yes

ME: Hiding in plain sight to survive. The Sabra-to-be wanted to spit in the eye of fate, show the sinews of war to the world.

IVAN: The sabra called them "soap"

ME: Ugly, and so they were again victims where they thought to be home

IVAN: "Soap" from the rumour that Germans made soap out of the bodies

ME: The Germans did?

IVAN: It's not true.

ME: They didn't?

IVAN: No, but it was an ugly rumour and became an ugly insult.

ME: They made mattresses from hair, and lampshades from skin

IVAN: Yes, probably they did.

ME: "Wasting no part of the animal"...

IVAN: Yes.

ME: Odd that when I slipped into Leila's skin that repulsion for this man was so strong. The strong despise the weak because they fear discovering a true reflection of themselves

IVAN: YES! So true.

ME: Yet to survive, imagine the strength you would need. To live one more day when death would be such bliss. Ivan, I wish I could speak to your friend

IVAN: Yes incredible.

ME: I think this man in the cafe is a story wanting to be told. Waking up in Hell, struggling to live whispering to yourself each day:
"Next year, in Jerusalem".


ME: And then you get there... You cross the half the world that punished you for your faith, dreaming of a homecoming and there they turn their faces in derision.

IVAN: Yes, "soap".

ME: I think surviving cruelty at hateful hands might be easier, that being turned from warmth by your own people

IVAN: I think it would be very painful.

ME: So many stories about the Holocaust, has anyone told this one?

IVAN: I don't know.

ME: I think they would hate me for it. Israel has profited so richly from the Holocaust.


ME: It would be very embarrassing to admit giving the survivors such a miserly welcome. Martyrs are so much more lovable than survivors

IVAN: Yes. You can speak to him, to Irving. He has skype

ME: OK. Will you tell him what the story wants? That sounds so odd!

IVAN: I will ask him to speak to you.

ME: Everyone tells the story of the camps, I want to tell the after:
How bitter survival tastes when there is no welcome for the prodigal son. Oh, I forget! The Prodigal son is a Jesus-story. Do you know it?

IVAN: Roughly.

ME: A man has two sons

IVAN: Why do I have tears?

ME: Because truth hurts.

IVAN: Yes.

ME: Two sons, see? So one stays and works his Father's land, the other asks for his inheritance and travels to far, richer lands. does that not sound the story of Israel?

IVAN: Very much so.

ME: So the son travels far, and falls from prosperity into disgrace One day, scrabbling in the dirt and fighting the pigs for scraps, he thinks: "I have fallen to such misery. I shall return to my Father's house, for even the lowest of his servants has dignity in service and a warm place by the hearth" And so he returns, walking far on bleeding feet, and his Father sees him, and his love recognises him -though he is much changed - and he runs to him. The son kneels and speaks: "Father forgive me, I have sinned against Heaven and in your eyes and am no longer worthy to be called your son, but let me serve you as your meanest servant"

But the Father raised him up and dressed him in a fine robe and had his servants kill the fatted calf that all might partake of his joy.

The dutiful son who had been steadfast and true berated his Father:
"Your son travelled among the Gentiles, spilling his wealth and seed on barren ground, yet you receive him with open arms!" and the Father said; "Beloved, rejoice with me. Your brother was blind and was given sight, he was dead and now he lives"


ME: I am sorry those were not the Jesus-words but my interpretation of them.

IVAN: Good enough, I think.

ME: It is an interesting parable applied to the Israel situation of that time, the post war.

IVAN: Yes, very!

ME: The Jews - the good son - who stayed, working the arid land, doing their duty before God...and the Prodigals returning.

IVAN: It's very appropriate.

ME: Ah...Jesus was a good Jew. How well he knew us and the mean and twisted jealousy of our tiny hearts.

IVAN: Yes.

ME: I am not surprised they killed him. The enlightened are seldom welcomed

IVAN: Me neither, and you know, they still behave the same way now.

From "Conversations with Ivan Shapiro"
Hearts break and Nations war over the slightest things: a fumbled moan in a doorway, a twist of sand in the wind.

Hearts break and Nations war, and the watery salt they spill falls ever on thirsting ground, and from this nurturing rain stories spring.

Prelude from "Turquoise Moon"

Manuela Cardiga

Monday, 28 March 2016

All stories start and end in the heart.

From "Conversations with Ivan Shapiro"

Friday, 25 March 2016

New Experiment: White Wine and Kiwi Jam!

Ok, this may sound a little crazed but I now feel compelled to change fruit into jam....

Today I spied three hairy-skinned kiwis and was inspired!

So I took a nice BIG glass of white wine and boiled up the pips and peelings of one apple and the juice of one lemon. I then chucked the pips and peels away and added the (peeled) and coarsely chopped up kiwis, a cup of sugar and a dash of freshly-ground black pepper.

I simmered it up until it started to thicken, then poured into the heated jar.

Looks divinely tempting: the luscious green kiwi suspended in the golden-green syrup, rather like an edible jewel!

I tasted it too. It is amazingly complex and rich tasting, and not overly sweet at all. Smells absolutely divine; the citrusy perfume of the kiwi, the aroma of the pepper, the tang of the wine.

Try it out.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016


It's cold and miserable and I had nothing to do, I also had some sad apples in the basket and half a pot of mint tea...

So I quartered the apples (peels, pips and all!) and boiled them up for half an hour in about 500ml mint tea. Then I scooped out the apple (to make puree) and added a cup of sugar.

Simmered away until the liquid boiled, and stirred for 10 minutes, never letting it overflow.

Poured it into a jam jar.
It has now solidified into a lovely honey coloured thick substance....

I had a spoonful on hot buttery toast and it's lovely!

Where is the outrage of European Moslems to all this violence being practiced in their name?
Where are the silent marches proclaiming ISLAM IS PEACE?

Where are you, while your adopted countries are being savaged?
Stand up and be counted.
Silence shows tacit compliance with this violence.
Speak out, or get out.


Monday, 21 March 2016

Hearts survive, but to thrive you need to let go of rage.
Bitterness and anger leave no space for God's consoling angel.


Sunday, 20 March 2016


there is no spring
there is no breath
of hope to warm
the chill of no-home

a woman cried,
and clung to her pain

there is no blossoming
on these skeletal
bones, dark trees
dead eyes, wet streets
sleet-glazed debris

a woman cried
and attributed blame

god killed, did the deed
made her plead
god chilled the dead
hands of her child
god lied

a woman cried
and refused the balm
of tears, facing fears
sharing years of pain

a woman cried
and in her pride
she cried alone


Sunday, 13 March 2016

Being right is what makes defeat hard to swallow.

"Conversations with Ivan Shapiro"

Friday, 11 March 2016

Mathematics is one of those artifacts we create so we can comfort ourselves with science.

From "Conversations with Ivan Shapiro"