• Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Hi, Grandpa's albums are as I said the record of a pilgrimage, which I don't know whether he intended to make if it hadn't been for the occasion provided by the IEC Conference, but which certainly, once the possibility was offered, was prepared very much as one. Throughout the trip, he is keen to underline the connection between whatever they see and Bible references, and in fact these references make up 90% of what he has to say, once he has finished describing moves in and out of sites, and historic place-names (I was going to say: and saying how much things cost, but this would be mean, wouldn't it? sarcastic).

    In Jerusalem, during the first half of their stay (they were accompanied by a Canadian couple, and sometimes other people whom their driver wanted to take along, presumably to increase his revenue), they visit all the sites connected to Jesus's last days, but also things with Old Testament interest. They had a guide who drove them around (guy called Basil), whom they didn't seem to love particularly, as he would take them to touristic places where they would be horded by "skin-the-tourist" merchants and led to shops in which he (or the driver) apparently had a commission if they bought something. Their trip was more peaceful when they drove out of the city, but not always. Here's a nice description of one such situation:

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    In Jerusalem, the three are constantly looking for a mass to attend to, which they went to every day, and which of course meant a fair amount of asking, knocking, walking, missing the right time, and occasionally ending up saying the rosary instead. It also gives Grandpa lots to describe in terms of practices, which part of the mass is said by whom, and how, and sometimes it's rather funny:

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Down by the river

    By the way, they never leave without their rosary and whenever a possibility arises, they're at it in various places, kneeling, sometimes surprising onlookers. They also piously dip these rosaries in "holy" well-water here and there along the trip, and Grandpa seems especially attentive to things concerning the Virgin Mary and Mariology. Naturally they don't forget Jesus, he's the main object of their devotions, and much of the emotions conveyed while up North in Galilee correspond to the genuine realization, felt by many pilgrims, that everything one has believed in before coming to Israel, is now seen in a contrasted intensity coming from the knowledge of the places where Jesus actually lived, walked, rested, etc.

    In opposition to their unabashed preference for things Christian, the Jewish and even worse, the Islamic reality of the Holy Land pales. Grandpa shows little interest for Jewish practices or customs, and if he does it's very much of an anecdotal/touristic nature, as when he notices such and such a house where they were able to have a peep, or women at a well, or donkeys carrying their loads.There is a notable exception, while they are being explained the huge cemetery on the Mount of olives:

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    It is of course rather moving to hear him speak about how he sees his own "day of reckoning", but also rather nice to hear him conclude about not wanting to be buried in Jerusalem, even if it meant reaching Heaven faster! Note however that the spectacle of the Jewish tradition inspires him an immediate Catholic thought.

    And now as far as the "Mohammedan" cult is concerned, well,...

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Perhaps partly true (although I'm not sure all Muslims would see their faith as "rigid and static"), but not quite yet prophetic about the cracking and falling to pieces... But you have to make allowances that Grandpa's somewhat dogmatic outlook hadn't really had time to open up and welcome all the fresh air which the Council of Vatican (which had finished only the year before in 1965) would blow into Catholicism!

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Above you can see a picture of Grandma near a donkey, and I'm posting it because, in spite of Monsieur Père's insistence that she loved them perhaps a little too much for his (more intellectual?) taste, for me they're a sign of the simplicity of her approach. The donkey, present at the Manger, represents Creation's humble patience and forbearance. It's true that the accounts don't go very far much in giving the other two pilgrims a voice of their own - Grandpa very rarely mentions what Grandma thinks, said, or even her reactions, but it certainly doesn't mean we can't imagine how thrilled she would have been all along, and what the whole stay meant for her faith.

    Something which Grandpa does do, on the other hand, and concerning Kathleen, is note her great interest for children, and it isn't only because he sees in this a welcome display of affection and because he too loves children. He makes it quite clear that for him this closeness to children, their presence during the trip and Kathleen's ability to befriend them has a deep spiritual meaning: in the land of Jesus, they all have, in a way, become children too, as he has taught: "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Some faith-filled gestures I thought were quite moving: for example they brought back some wine bought in Cana (where Jesus' miracle of the changing of water into wine occurred) and celebrated Grandma's birthday with it back in England. Or when they were passing through Sykar, where a tired Jesus had stopped to speak to the Samaritan woman (John chapter 4) and his disciples found him there but, leaving him to talk, went to the village to buy some food. Well, thanks to Auntie's presence of mind (but I call it faith), they did the same, and thus showed their discipleship.

    The most beautifully inspired part of the albums concern the stay in Galilee. As Grandpa writes, if this had been the sole destination of their travel, it would have been enough:

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    This is the moment to refer to the first two pages of the album, which are certainly Grandpa's contribution to the prayer dimension of his accounts.

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    Holy Land (3) - The religious dimension

    In the first page, one can look down upon the Sea of Galilee in its pristine emptiness, as if it was just out of the hands of the Creator,  the moments of the day reminding one of the first day in the book of Genesis. The second page is for me like a moment in Heaven, where the pair are joined in a peaceful vision of the vastness of divinity. The Church on the Mount of Beatitudes would then represent the restored Temple of the Lord, as seen in the book of Revelation, majestic in all its Glory.


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  • Holy Land (2) - humour

    One very pleasant aspect of Grandpa's narrative is his humour. This post will deal with that! It's rather unexpected, in fact, because of the very religious nature of the accounts. We knew he was a prankster in his own way (my Dad reminded me recently that when his sister Thérèse was visiting him in England a long time ago, Grandpa, without knowing her very well, had suddenly taken a hat and plonked it on her head!) and that he was a great one for jokes. But somehow teasing and humour isn't very compatible with faith: one wonders if the seriousness of the attitude isn't affected, and which is the person one should relate to: the believer, or the prankster? Well, you can make up your mind after you've read!

    First there are the ways Monsieur Père refers to himself, and it's often ironical and self-deprecatory. Several times he calls himself the scribe, or the scribbler (p. 44 for example) and once, when he has to leave the group to go to his professional appointment in Tel Aviv, he's the "so-called businessman" (p. 40). Before that, he had commented on one of the first photos of Grandma and himself in these terms: "Our special correspondent was fortunate in securing this photograph of a prosperous western businessman in the only tropical drill suit observed in Jerusalem. He is seen here talking to the leader of the party". Later, probably suffering from the heat, and in contrast with a younger and more resistant Kathleen, he calls himself and Auntie "the elderly goats" (p. 49) and p. 58 "the old crocks":

    Holy Land (2) - humour

    Another type of humour applies to the people around him, either in his own party or outside. Here are a few examples! They enter Jerusalem on the Wednesday, and Grandpa says  the first picture that Kathleen takes is of a camel and -oh - on the picture there also happens to be Veronica!

    Holy Land (2) - the fun they had!

    And just before that, on their arrival in Beirut, he introduces us to Auntie's new acquaintance: "The hotel porter (commissionaire? Maître d'hotel?) was attired - you can't just say dressed - in a fantastic Arab outfit. So we called him the Sheik. Kathleen asked if she could photograph him, and as you see, he had a companion." Here's the pic:

    Holy Land (2) - the fun they had!

    But MP continues after and says, most intriguingly:

    Holy Land (2) - the fun they had!

    "Never mind, I had one too"??! What do you think he meant? Was he talking about Kathleen?

    Precisely Kathleen is the other person he lampoons: describing the heavy loads which donkeys carry in Palestine, he writes (p.11-12): "Sometimes a load of brushwood completely hiding the donkey. Sacks of flour, boxes of fruit, and the inevitable Arab driver himself. Mind you, I've never seen an Arab wearing a hat like this, but why not?"

    Holy Land (2) - the fun they had!

    Perhaps also not quite deferential is another of Grandpa's comment of one photo where we can see Auntie in Jericho (p. 20): "Leaving Jericho - Veronica is apparently saying goodbye to one of Jericho's black goats - we went on to the Arab palace of..." Sometimes our Grandpa is downright sarcastic, viz this moment when he recounts his visit to a Samaritan village: "We sere shown their copy of the Pentateuch, which they claim to be thousands of years old, but certainly isn't, and listened to their high-priest speak of the water of life promised by Jesus, and then to ask us for that water of life in the shape of money."

    But I've kept the best for the end. In Bethany (p. 17), they are "shown the tomb from which Lazarus was raised (John chapter 11), but when [we] asked when he was buried, our guide said - how truly - that nothing was known. Paris? Marseilles? Constantinople? Anywhere but Jerusalem!" I'm glad he stopped at these three cities, because, I could feel that he was going to mention Shanghaï or Capetown! Okay, well, for those of you which this display of fun hasn't convinced (it's 1966 humour after all), here's MP's arrangement of their "holiday in Galilee":

    Holy Land (2) - the fun they had!

    I said it before, but it's true, Monsieur Père was a jolly good fellow!

     Here are a few other unusual pictures:

    Holy Land (2) - the fun they had!

    (apparently she thought herself too small next to the "great man"!)

    Holy Land (2) - the fun they had!

    She actually looks proud!!


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  • The Holy Land (1)

    Some time ago, I was reminded that Monsieur Père and Grandma had gone on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Israel, and I asked Noel if he could inquire next time he went to Bonnebosq. He did, and guess what? Mummy entrusted him with two albums, which our grandpa had composed, made of photos and a day-by-day handwritten record of the pilgrimage! He then proceeded to scan the albums (thanks again Noël for the good work!), and I'm therefore able to give you a full description. I suppose some of you had seen and perhaps even read it, but I hadn't, and it was with a lot of excitement that I discovered it.

    Here are the scans!

    The pilgrimage took place for 3 weeks in 1966, between Monday September 26th, and October 14th. I say pilgrimage, and it really was that, but the trip was organized thanks to the fact that Monsieur Père was to go to Israel to attend a Congress of the International Electrotechnical Commission in Tel Aviv between Oct 10th to 14th. Mum tells me he went free, and so they only had to pay for Grandma. I don't know what was done for Kathleen O'Rawe, who accompanied them. She was a friend from the Church, whom Grandma referred to regularly as being involved in Catholic circles (the Evidence Guild, probably), but I don't know much more about her (she died in 2008). They flew via Amsterdam, Athens, Beirut, and finally to Jerusalem: 4 flights! Owing to some fog though, they had to postpone departure which was planned originally on Sept 25th. On pages 3 & 4, Monsieur Père gives a funny account of the arrangements which were made owing to the delay.

    Programme based on the indications of the albums:

    (Album 1 is entitled "Jordan" because at the time the West Bank had not yet been regained by Israel, and Jordan's annexation of this territory had been recognized by England. See Jordan's history. Album 2 is therefore named "Israel")

    Album 1 (pages 1 & 2 are a meditative introduction) 

    Sunday Sept 25th: England (back home after flight is postponed): p.3

    Monday Sept 26th: Amsterdam : p. 4

    Tuesday Sept 27th: Athens & Beirut: p. 5-6

    Wednesday Sept 28th: Jerusalem : p. 7-10

    Thursday Sept 29th: Bethlehem p. 11-13; Hebron: p. 14-15

    Friday Sept 30th: Jerusalem p. 16; Bethany p. 17; Jericho p. 18-19; Kirbet al Mafjar p. 20; River Jordan p. 21; the Dead Sea and back to Jerusalem p. 22 and 23

    Saturday Oct 1st: Jerusalem p. 32-38

    Sunday Oct 2nd: Samaria, Sikar, Nablus and back to Jerusalem

    Album 2

    Monday Oct 3rd: Jerusalem-Israel side (MP in Tel Aviv) p. 39-41

    Tuesday Oct 4th: Ein Kerem and back to Jerusalem p. 42-44

    Wednesday Oct 5th: Jerusalem - Nazareth p. 45-50

    Thursday Oct 6th: Nazareth - Kafar Kana - Sea of Galilee p. 51-56

    Friday Oct 7th: Sea of Galilee p. 57-58

    Saturday Oct 8th: Sea of Galilee P. 59-60

    Sunday Oct 9th: Sea of Galilee p. 61-62

    Monday Oct 10th: Sea of Galilee - Tel Aviv

    Tuesday Oct 10th-Thursday Oct 13th: IEC Conference Tel Aviv - trips to Jaffa p. 65-67

    Friday Oct 14th: journey back: p.68

    The Holy Land (1)

    At Jerusalem airport, with time of arrival

    The albums are an account of the visits, and a selection of photos show rather obviously what they did and where they went, but what isn't so obvious is Monsieur Père's enthusiasm and humour, not to mention his writing skills. He writes extremely well, and the text, never boring, never fastidious, makes for a very interesting read. Furthermore, if you've been to Israel, as I have, it's interesting to compare what the sites (and the atmosphere) used to look like almost 50 years ago. There are certain places (like Jericho and the West Bank) which today aren't as easy to visit - well, at least when we went in 2007 we couldn't visit them. 1966 was a year before the Six-day war which was to change so much the country's perspectives. There one or two mentions of the building tension in the narrative (p. 63 notably).

    Naturally, as you will see in following posts where I plan to detail some aspects of the records, the religious dimension is very present. But even if this is true, Grandpa's observations as a tourist are not uncommon, and as an observer of mankind to some extent. So that all in all, the "scribe" (as he calls himself) makes his presence once again very close to us.

    The Holy Land (1)


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  • Am I right to think there's a difference in the house between these two pictures (1962 and 1980s)?

    Tell me if I'm wrong

    Tell me if I'm wrong

    I think I heard the toilet extension had been built at a rather later stage (but when?)

    29/10/2014. This is what Jo added concerning the first picture:

    The picture of Helene and you beside the ferns was taken from the back door of No. 9. I am pretty certain that the toilet extension, as you call it, wasn't built until quite some time after that. It was definitely not before 1962 when I left home.


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  • Hi a sort of little game: can you identify the objects circled on this picture?

    Can you identify these??

    I wondered whether the sort of box might be the same (or one of the same) as this one:

    Can you identify these??

    What do you think?? Then there's the other object which is on the cushion of the high chair: any idea?? And what about the frame on the wall? I think it's a mirror... Does anybody know if it's still somewhere?


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