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Friday, 20 June 2014

Kings of the World!

Kings.Of.The.WorldI know. I should be typing this post wearing full evening dress while an orchestra plays Nearer, My God, To Thee!

Instead, while I’m still under the illusion that I’m a queen of the world, I’d better explain that the picture (left) was taken as my husband, Brian Fink and I entered the “Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition”, brought to Israel this summer by Dudi Berkovich, owner of the Hadran ticket office.

The photo opp.’s a great stunt and is typical of the flamboyant $3M show being staged until the end of August at Tel Aviv’s Israel Trade Fairs Centre.

Jacques.Heath.FutrelleDescribed as a ‘moving museum’ because it’s being shown in many different places worldwide,  the exhibition as we viewed it, is an astute mix of artefacts salvaged from  RMS Titanic, scientific fact, social commentary and information about the individual passengers involved in the tragedy.

Indeed, entry tickets include reproduction boarding passes for actual passengers and we were given ours in the name of  Jacques Heath Futrelle, a first class passenger who had been travelling home to Scituate, Massachusetts with his wife, Lily May. He perished but she survived.  Boarding.Pass.Reverse

For any readers unaware of what really happened or who have never viewed the fictionalised 1997 movie, RMS Titanic was the British passenger liner which sank against all odds after striking an iceberg while on its maiden voyage  from Southampton, England, UK to New York City, USA during April 1912.

It is clear that as everything about the doomed ship was conceived in epic proportions and on an outlandishly lavish scale that it was bound to infuriate the fates. As I viewed the show, trotted up and down the grand staircase and – yes – fingered the real live iceberg! – I couldn’t help but recall biblical stories about the terrifying and untimely deaths of those who dared to defy Heaven.

The Israel show devotes a section to the Jewish passengers and along with famous American families mentions Joseph Abraham Hyman, who founded the Manchester, UK delicatessen still known popularly as ‘Titanics’.

But what few people know – and I discovered only by chance since emigrating to Israel – is that there’s another ‘Titanic’ shop also named after the doomed ship and it trades in Deir al-Asad, Galilee – the Arab village next door to Karmiel!  But I don’t have a picture, so you’ll have to visit the Galilee in order to see it.

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We enjoyed a profoundly enlightening morning at the show and then continued our away-day in the ancient port of Jaffa, now a sort of extension of TA and which has been gentrified beyond all recognition since we were last there in millennium year. 

The mangy port cats have disappeared, many of the ancient buildings have been sandblasted and their shutters painted bright blue – some over- looking the sea now being sold as second homes  via Sotheby’s International Realty.

Indeed, as we idled in the tiny alleyways of the artists’ quarter and beyond, we noticed that the area’s become so on-trend that it was even being used for photo-shoots.

But most entertaining for an old-fashioned pedestrian like me was to see groups of helmeted tourists being shepherded around the famous spots by guides while travelling on   Segway personal transporters. These are two-wheeled,  self-balancing, battery-powered  electric  vehicles which  allow participants to enjoy near-two-hour tours encapsulating the main history of  Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

No wonder the trips have been dubbed ‘SEGS and the City’!  But I think it’s now time to leave you wanting more. 

© Natalie Wood (19 June 2014)

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