Monday, 10 April 2017


My beautiful niece as the high-flying bride - 
 All photos courtesy of the Snapper ... of course!

Right now I am filled with joy. This evening I attended my lovely niece’s wedding in a forest somewhere north of Tel Aviv. Instead of the usual allocation of numbers, the tables at the dinner were given names. We sat a table called Joy.

We humans can’t help noticing all our negative emotions. They hit our heads and hearts with the clout and ferocity of a baseball bat. 

Yet often we fail to appreciate the second, minute or day in which there’s not only an absence of problems, but also a bursting rush of pleasure in the soul.

Over the decades I’ve learned to spot happy times when they happen. I wrap them up and store them away in my brainbox. Often they’ve faded before you can appreciate them and that’s a wasted opportunity to revel and glow.

Joy, however, is a rare and powerful positive emotion that proves impossible to ignore.

Tonight I experienced joy: a feeling impressing its presence upon me like a longed-for kiss from a loved one.

Tonight I was surrounded by hundreds of others experiencing joy. We shared an explosion of exuberance and hope, through a traditional collision of love.

However you feel about the situation in the Middle East, you’d be a weak cold person to deny two people the chance to celebrate their love in public. 

Tonight families and friends from England, France and Israel embraced joy together, and your ‘umble scribbler immersed himself fully, emotionally and physically, into this roaring torrent of happiness.

Forgetting everything else, including my own physical limitations, I danced my arse off like a crazy gorilla, and regret not a second of it.

 ....evidence of scribbler acting age-inappropriately...

People often ask me what it means to be a writer. What’s it like to live by the word?

A privilege, a pleasure, it’s also painful, both emotionally and sometimes even physically.

Back at our hotel room after the wedding I realise that I need to take notes. Joy is always worthy of notes, but the journey from our small balcony back into the room to my phone proves incredibly painful.

The night before we flew to Israel, while trying to remove my jeans in haste (you decide!) my ankle became caught in the dreaded trouser triangle. 

I fell over, full force onto my knee, and now, after hours of cavorting on the dance floor, that knee is sending shooting pains down my leg, to my 56 year old plates-of-meat.

Being a writer means doggedly hobbling across this room, in small explosions of grunting agony, to write this note, because I know that without the note, the thought might have disappeared by morning. 

Now I am still filled with joy, but by the time I return to Ireland I’ll be trying to remember how I felt, rather than writing with joy exuding from my fingertips, as they hit the tiny letters on my phone’s screen.

Later, coming down from it all, the Snapper and I sit on the balcony. The seats are modern, slung at 90 degree angles to the back, so that your lower body ends up shaped like an ‘L’. 

 The L chair....

I’m sure it’s all ergonomic, orthopaedic and probably biodynamic, but right now the angle this chair is demanding of my knee is producing searing pain down my legs, gripping my ankle in cramps.

Rolling up my trouser leg, I touch my knee and - oh yeh baby! - that’s boiling hot and so swollen, it looks more like a bag of pear drops than a functioning body part.

My lovely wife looks over at me. 

“Maybe you should get out of that chair.”

“Yeh, babe, you’re right. It’s not the best, but that manoeuvre might prove easier said than done. Mind you, the sooner I’m upright, the better it’ll be for my knee.”

She nods and then confesses:

“That’s true my love, but actually I wasn’t thinking of your knee. I was worried that those cables slung along the chair might be damaging your nice new suit.”

Evidently, despite her Church of England background, my wife has been so wholly and suddenly immersed in Jewish culture on this trip, she is now displaying new behaviours. Somewhat taken aback, I’m far too happy to see anything but humour in this situation.

So she’s more concerned about the shmutter than my leg?

“Hmm, let me think about this for a second. Am I right in thinking you’re kind of saying it's a case of your leg will eventually get better, but the suit will be destroyed?”

“Yeh, that’s pretty much what I’m saying!” she laughs.

“Mazeltov! You just became a Jewish mother!”

We both giggle together and start to look at the pictures she took tonight on her phone.

“Jewish weddings are such fun!” smiles the Snapper, as we see images of the sax player on one side of the DJ, the percussionist giving it large on the drums the other side, while the fiddler walks and plays inside the densely-packed dance floor.

“They are, aren't they!” I agree, remembering truly wonderful weddings back home, no less loving, yet far more grounded than today’s eruption of joy.


It’s over a thousand years since the Romans threw us out of this country. We scattered around the globe, evolving into Ashkenazy, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. Yet somehow, despite assimilating into so many varied cultures, we still exhibit remarkably similar behaviours.

We’re able to simultaneously talk to three people at once, while listening to another two. We wave our hands around as we argue and shout.

Also, we all love a good simcha: a celebration, where we open our minds and bodies to joy and dance.

Oh yeh, we love to dance.

©Charlie Adley

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