Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Springtime in London

On the banks of the Serpentine, Hyde Park

Landed at wet and windy Ben Gurion airport from Heathrow at unearthly hour this morning. Tel Aviv looking a bit grim compared to London in its first flush of early spring. There the magnolias are about to pop and there are daffodils and crocuses on every green patch. But while everyone was enjoying the unseasonably warm weather, the pleasure was tinged with the nagging question, "Is this part of global warming?" Unlike Israel, where the post of environment minister is considered a sort of booby prize for ambitious politicians, the environment seems to be dominating the political agenda in the UK. While we were in London the two men who will apparently be competing for the premiership - Labour's Gordon Brown and the Conservatives' David Cameron - released radical plans for drastically reducing carbon emissions and in a draft Bill published yesterday, ministers promised to legally enforce their commitment to cut emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

As we passed containers allotted for every imaginable category of recyclable waste, my London source (and proud dad of barmitzva boy) told me that there is heavy public pressure to make it more expensive to fly and have people take fewer holidays abroad. He predicted that one victim of the new minimum flights mindset would be imported fruits and vegetables. The British would go back to consuming locally grown produce in season. For us Middleasterners, too embroiled in our futile conflict to concentrate on the environment and still praying to the god of unrestrained consumerism, and all this was bit of an eye-opener.

The other big issue we encountered was of course how to relate to the burgeoning Moslem minority. We went to see the funny and provocative political farce 'King of Hearts' at the Hampstead Theatre which raises the possibility of a Moslem queen! There were few Moslems in the audience but there are about two million spread throughout the country and the Jewish community is wondering whether it is sitting on the edge of a volcano, or just paranoid.
Thanks to our generous and genial hosts in London for a great family 'simcha' and a stimulating break.
One of London's charms is the way it manages to integrate the new and the old. Here's the pub sign for the Three Kings (Henry VIII, Presley and Kong) near Smithfields Market.


Ondine said...

GORDON Brown, David, not Duncan.

Ondine said...

Otherwise very nice