Sunday, 30 November 2008

41.In Memory of Zvi Alexander

(Zvi is on the right. Photo: Ze'ev Galibov)
Zvi Alexander passed away two days ago in Switzerland after suffering excruciating back pain for many weeks. He was 86 and was being treated for widespread cancer, but his physicians were unable to find a cause for the back pain, or to give him sufficient help. From a distance, this was most frustrating and perplexing to me. Through my occasional phone calls I could feel his gradual deterioration, but his mind remained crystal clear. I am not sure how much the cancer responded to the treatment, but the final heart attack would have been a merciful and rapid relief.

I became aquainted with Zvi at the Palestine-Israel philatelic meetings, when these still took place at the Victory Club. Whereas I was an amateur, he was clearly a top expert of Holy Land postal history from Turkish times to the War of Independence. His knowledge was phenomenal. His wisdom and wealth enabled him to create an outstanding collection and he reaped the top prizes at exhibitions. This is now housed at the Ha'aretz Museum in Tel Aviv (see: 'A New Book' 09. 06. 08). Despite all this, and his high former position in Isreal business management, there was not a trace of elitism or snobbishness about him. He was always very friendly and he had a marvellous sense of humour.

I was at the time editor of the
Palestine-Israel philatelic Bulletin, to which he contributed occasionally. By chance, one day, Zvi discovered my past history and decoration in the Israel Army (See 'Nuqueib' 26. &27. 04. 08). My senior army medical officer at the time, Gillon, is one of Zvi's good friends and his medical advisers. Later, for a time, I was able to help Rachel with a medical problem - a sign of his trust.

One day in 2000 Zvi showed me the manuscript of his memoirs about his directorship of Israel's oil industry. I found it fascinating. The book was published in Hebrew, but I suggested that he ought to publish it in English. Twice, Zvi angrily rejected examples of the translated English versions that had been produced by the Gefen Publishers in Jerusalem - they failed to preserve the nuances of Zvi's Hebrew style.
We solved the problem with the help of modern technology. Gefen e-mailed me their proposed English translation, chapter by chapter. By reference to the published Hebrew text, and knowing Zvi, I would modify the English style - including the technical details of oil exploration. This I then emailed to Zvi. There would then follow a very long phone conversation between us to sort out Zvi's misgivings. Once it was all agreed, I would email the final version to Zvi, and back to Gefen for type setting.

I advised Gefen not to touch
chapter 9: it dealt with Zvi's family, and it had already been 'edited' by them - Shaula and Kobi and even Rachel, I think. All ended well. The book "OIL - Israel's Covert Efforts to Secure Oil Supplies" appeared in 2004. But it is really of interest mainly to readers who know about Israel's personalities of the 1950s to 1970s. At my request, Zvi did not mention my work - it was purely technical and linguistic. Zvi gave me a generous and practical present.

Zvi's phenomenal memory and lucid style did not seem to diminish with the years. The book reflects Zvi's immense hard work and tenacity - qualities that he demonstrated in all his many fields of activity. Although Zvi encountered some unsavoury charachters and suffered occasional disappointments, he was never bitter in his comments.

When he told me the diagnosis of cancer, we both knew that the outlook was bleak. He said, "this is not the end that had I envisaged." None of us did.

May his memory be for a blessing.

40.Cheating by car insurers

A month after our collision we were informed, that the other side have admitted liability for the accident. The justice of my case was obvious, and although we were quite shaken, we did obtain the particulars of the other driver and of two independent witnesses. Taking this step had been absolutely essential. But we did not record the details of the police who had attended - and they did not point out the need to do so for filling the subsequent claim form. That was very unkind of them: we had no experience of such an accident situation in almost 50 years of driving. Luckily, Ilford Police were later able to supply the details from their computer record.
Combined with my detailed description and sketch of the event, this favourable result, of the other side's admission of liability, was to be expected. So we have no excess to pay the insurers, and our no-claim bonus is unaffected. That leaves the question of the value of our damaged car - and the dishonesty of our insurers.

We were informed, that the value of our 11 year old car was less than the cost of its repairs as estimated by the engineer from the repair garage. Therefore the car was a 'total loss'. I asked, whether the repairs could be done more cheaply with non-Toyota parts, thus avoiding this total loss situation. Our insurers replied that
by the terms of my policy they were not allowed to do this. Later I discovered from my policy, that this was a lie: If a car is more than 3 years old, they can decide to repair it with parts which have not been made by Toyota.

So why lie? Our friend the car engineer later explained to us the reason for this insurers' scam: They will remove my car 'to scrap', but actually repair the car much more cheaply, using non-Toyota parts, re-register it, and sell it to an unsuspecting new customer, while I lose out and have to buy a new car.

Next we discovered that my insurer's 'Total Loss Handler' was trying to cheat us. He wrote that my car 'has been valued' at £900. But I had been warned by half a dozen friends not to accept the first valuation. So I sent him particulars of 5 cars, similar to mine in make, model, age and mileage. All were priced higher by
£300 or more. The 'Total Loss Handler' replied that I might have falsified the data that I had submitted: he required copies of actual advertisements. He claimed that the pre-accident value of my car 'had been professionally calculated'. So I in turn requested proof of his 'professional calculations'. I had not lied - but he probably had.

Three weeks later he had not replied with proof of his valuation. I sent him the
required copies of five actual advertisements, again at least £300 dearer than his valuation of my car. I suspect that the insurance's 'Total Loss Handler' actually benefits from cheating me. Either he pockets part of the underpaid compensation, or it helps his promotion and bonuses from the company.

I only hope that I shall have no future use of the experience that I have gained in dealing with these crooks after my accident.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

39.Our Collision - Part 2

We are insured to receive a 'courtesy car' similar to ours, if ours cannot be driven. So we requested it for Friday, between 9 and 11 am. When it had not arrived after 11 am, I phoned and was told that the traffic was heavy but he was 'near you'. That was a lie. He finally arrived another 4 hours later, without any messages in the meantime. We were told, that 'there was a fault with the car and they had to replace it'. - Perhaps.

But instead of a 1.3 liter petrol, it was a
grey Volkswagen 2 liter diesel 'monster'. The photo is from our upstairs window. It is appreciably bigger, and much more difficult to reverse into our drive from the narrow road and parked cars. Tomorrow I shall try to ask for a smaller replacement.

My impatience was due to my need to reach the post office that day, to post back [certified] to the DVLC our written-off car's tax disc before the end of the month - for a refund of the unused next 3 months. Not that the insurers advised us on this. I thought of it and they confirmed. One more day, and a whole month's tax would have been lost.

Mind you, it's a nice car. Heated leather seats, and most controls are by push-buttons. There is no hand brake lever - just a button. There is no gradual release: this makes it difficult when starting uphill, in case it rolls back into the car behind.

On the following day,
Saturday, we were due to drive to Heather to celebrate Judith's birthday. But Ruth and Andy very kindly offered to give us a lift in their car, to avoid the stress of driving the 'monster' on the North circular, and returning in the dark. On the way back, the weekend traffic was extremely heavy. The return journey home took twice as long, and likewise their drive from us to their home. It took them a total of 4 hours on the road - through constant heavy rain.

We have started researching for a replacement car, and the insurers will no doubt make us an offer for our written-off car. Everybody has stressed, that their initial offer will be too low. We shall have to haggle.
The saga continues. .

Monday, 27 October 2008

38.Our Collision

Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon we were driving back home after visiting Heather. The North circular was busy but flowing. Around 5 pm [it was getting dark] at Telford Road a car emerged quite fast from a side road on our right - Bexhill Road. It did not slow at the exit from the side road, nor for the traffic on our side, which it clearly wanted to join. I braked and swerved into the adjacent lane
to my left. But it was not enough. My front right wing collided with his front left wing. Our tyre burst and the metal wheel was deformed [see photo]. His car had similar damage on his front left wing and wheel.

Neither car was drivable, and the stranded cars had narrowed the gap for traffic from 3 lanes to one single lane. The traffic in both directions slowed to a trickle - a major blockage. We were quite shaken, but had the presence of mind to ask 2 of the passing drivers who had seen the collisin to give us their particulars. And Judith exchanged names, addresses and car numbers with the other driver.

Someone phoned the Police but despite their sirens and blue light, it took them about half an hour to reach us through the blockage. At the time Judith was OK. [Only later did she report an ache in the front of the chest - clearly from the seat belt. There was no increased pain on breathing or coughing or movement, and I could find no bruising, and no tenderness suggestive of an injured rib / costal cartilage. I thought that our GP was very unlikely to order an Xray, and there were no tangible medico-legal implications or need for treatment.] I told the police who arrived, that nobody had been injured, whereupon they were only interested in directing the North Circular traffic past us, into alternate flows. They took no particulars and did not issue us with a reference number [as our insurer asked about next day]. Some 10 minutes later another police car arrived - to tow each of the 2 cars into the side road and free the North circular for its normal traffic. They advised everybody to exchange particulars - which we had already done.

We phoned the RAC and it took them another full hour, or so, to reach us. It was getting cold, but luckily it did not rain. Our car was loaded
onto the RAC's transporter lorry and we rode home in his cab, as we were insured to do. He had a SatNav which navigated very well. Due to parked cars, he had to unload the car in the road, in order to drive it into our forecourt. But first he changed the damaged wheel for our spare - and this is shown in the photo above. We later heard that it is illegal to drive on a damaged wheel - even though it was a distance of just 5 metres.

The other driver had phoned not the RAC or AA but his insurer. They also loaded his car, but took it to a nearby parking lot overnight. They
had not asked for trasportation, as they had been visiting friends in Bexhill Road. We could have done likewise, contacting our insurer, but by chance we chose the better option by letting the RAC get us straight home to deal with the aftermath.

We had notified Heather while we were waiting for the police. Once home, we phoned her again, and she sent a text message to Ruth, who was playing badminton. There was no [human voice ] reply from Daphne, nor the following morning, so I sent them an email.

We are friendly with the Nejads, who bought house no. 32 from us. We hold their key for their children, when they forget theirs. And they still forward out-of-date mis-addressed mail - nowadays just begging letters. As we waited for the police, who should greet me but Hamid, who had driven past and recognized the car. He had stopped and offered help, and to take us home. But with our RAC insurance there was no need, and I knew that it would take much longer - as it did.

Later in the evening I contacted my insurers [24 hours line] and started the ball rolling. They phoned back during Monday morning, taking all the details by phone. They arranged a visit from the chosen repairer. He arrived in the afternoon and took pictures and details. Tomorrow [Tuesday] we shall hear whether the estimated cost of the repair exceeds the current value of our 11-year old car - in which case the insurer will remove it and just pay us the current value. We are entitled to a replacement car - our insurer had put us in touch with their recommended hire firm, which is different from the repairer - but I suspect it will only be free, if the other driver's insurer admits liability. We shall sort it out.

We are also waiting to hear whether the other driver's insurer is accepting liability - it appeared to us, and to our insurer,
to be so. They will obtain the evidence of our witnesses next and let us know.

It could have been worse - or better?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

37.My New Face

After 15 years, I have shaved off my beard - compare this photo to 'my image'.
So instead of sending dozens of emails to all and sundry, this post will inform anybody who is interested - maybe all 6 of them!

In 1993 we spent a holiday on a couple of gulegs off the western Turkish coast. The pre-trip instructions did not mention the different voltage on the boat - incompatible with my electric razor. So instead of buying a Gillette razor locally, I decided to 'let it grow'. The 18 fellow travelers were all strangers, and Judith did not mind [see below]

There were some other problems. Peter Reynlds, the tour director, was a little odd. Although he flew with the group from London, and we all wore the yellow discs of ACE, he did not reveal himself until after arrival, when we had got out of the airport. And when he photographed any site, he made sure that no human beings appeared in the view. He died some years later.

Peter believed that we should have 'a relaxing time'. So he never told us the next item on the programme, or its timing, until we were ready to move off the boat. I found this very irritating. Also, he had no guiding license for Turkey and was liable to be denounced by jealous Turkish guides and arrested. So his explanations were given surreptitiosly, with one of us serving as lookout.

Our meals were prepared on the boat by the cook who was the captain's assistant. But one of our group could not eat onions - which is vital in salads. On the second day luckily I had the simple idea of asking for a small dish of chopped onions, that we could add individually to our food.

I did not enjoy the tour. While we were sailing between sites, I could not sunbathe - I would have burned. Nor could I read - motion sickness prevented it. And when we were moored in the evening, the electric light in our cabin was not sufficient for evening. And we were asked to be economical with the boat's battery power.

Our cabin had an annoying smell of sewage. Clearly there was a leak from the sewage container on the boat back to the toilet. And they emptied the sewage during the trip illegally, within territorial waters. When the [British] owner visited us on the last day, his reaction to deny it was as offensive as the smell. But I am sure that I was right.

One of our group was a retired GP - he and his wife were very pleasant people. He mentioned that he had an aching neck, and I suggested the use of a collar to restrict movement. He was well and active, but several months later I read his obituary in the BMJ. I wrote to his wife and she told me that he was found to have cancer of the pancreas. So it was a secondary in the cervical spine as the first symptom - unusual.

At the end of the tour, I looked like Yasser Arafat with my stubble. When we got home, I was going to shave it off, but most people said that it 'looked nice'. So we bought a beard trimmer instead.
With my bushy beard, and sparse hair on top, Heather remarked that I looked 'upside down'. But soon I removed the moustache. Trimming it accurately was tricky, food tended to catch in it, and I claimed that it interfered with my 'social contacts'.

So a few days ago I shaved it off. Judith came back from shopping, and we put away the merchandise. Then we had lunch. We chatted - I do not listen to the radio during meals. In the afternoon I emailed our daughters that my beard had gone - with a copy to Judith. That's when she first realized it...

None of our friends noticed it without being told. But they said that I looked younger. There were two adverse effects: shaving now took longer, and I actually bought a new razor. And people no longer offered me a seat on the tube. Ah well.

Monday, 8 September 2008


This morning on BBC 4 Woman's hour they broadcast an item on 'fibromyalgia'. I was puzzled and irritated, so before commenting I read the item carefully on Wikipedia.

In Britain apparently 2 percent of the population 'suffer' from it, and they are entitled to social security benefits. There are moves to make it legitimate in the European Parliament. But I suspect that if the Nazis had selected fibromyalgia sufferers to the gas chambers, every one of them would have done full work as a slave labourer instead: a perverse twist to their slogan: 'Arbeit macht frei ... von Fibromyalgia'. 'Work frees you from fibromyalgia'.

So there are more than a million sufferers in Britain, yet there are no clues as to the cause, or criteria for a diagnosis. Every medical test known to doctors will give normal results. Like other psychiatric conditions, proof of the illness relies on the verdict of the doctor - and this must be an enormous source of employment and income to many of my former colleagues. Cleverly, rheumatologists have not off-loaded fibromyalgia onto their psychiatric colleagues. Knowing that there is no physical abnormality whatever, makes it safe to 'treat'; and knowing that there is no cure, will justify prolonged 'treatment' despite its failure.

There is no effective treatment - except for psychiatric drugs and cannabis - but not apparently tested in double blind trials.
Just boost your out-patient statistics, and collect your salaries or private fees...

The only reliable statistics claim that 9 women are afflicted for every man. There are no data on mortality - I bet that it does not shorten life. It would be interesting to learn what the incidence of this 'disease' is in primitive societies, and among refugees. Is there any fibromyalgia in Iraq?
My biased view is that it is a psychiatric condition - invented less than 30 years ago - and it has become a true gold mine for doctors and patients. It's totally safe!

Friday, 5 September 2008

35.A Cautionery Tale

We get several lists of cut price books - by post or email. When the price suddenly drops, there is probably a new edition on the way. One can compare their prices on various Amazon web sites:, which is uk,, which is US, and even, which is Germany. I compare currencies and exchange rates and often I finally abandon my interest.
Virtually all these mailings include inserted leaflets with offers from other companies. But at our age, these offers are of no attraction.
There is Oxbow for archaeology, Post Script for art books and others, the British Museum bulletin, the Biblical Archaeology Review, and at the lower end of the market 'The Book People'. These latter have changed over time and now their offers are almost entirely of children's books and we have not ordered from them for some time. We watch out for their cheap offer of the London A to Z atlas, to update our own edition.

The latest posting from the Book People included an [unaddressed] circular letter from the Loyalty Awards Club, with a London address. 'As you may know', they wrote, 'from time to time we allocate a number of thank you prizes and awards to a limited number of selected recipients'. I should ring a premium rate number [at £1.50 per minutes, maximum 6 minutes] to listen to my Despatch Code and obtain my claim number. But the return postal address was not in London EC1 but in Weston-super-Mare.
My code was ...00075, and I had 'definitely been selected to be awarded a prize'. Electrical items required a payment of £6.50 for despatch and insurance. Judith and I both suspected fraud. If we did not receive the present, we would only lose £16.0 at most - provided we ensured that our premium rate phone call did not last longer than 6 minutes. But the Loyalty awards club would have a tidy income, possibly thousands of pounds from this one exercise.
We could not see how the hundreds of
customers on the book people's mailing list could all receive an unsolicited present of up to £5,000.
To investigate the credentials of the loyalty awards club was the sort of job the BBC would undertake.
As for us, we just needed to interrogate 'the book people', who had mailed the letter with their book list, on 0845 602 3030. Our local phone calls in Britain are free, but not o854. So I searched 'say no to 0845' and obtained the local number for the book people - 01248 679395. After a long musical wait they answered and said that they dealt only with orders for their books. They seemed to know of the loyalty promotion but suggested that I phone the Loyalty Awards Club. I suspect that they had been instructed to give this answer. I was sure that the Loyalty Awards Club would not admit to any irregularity, and so I demanded to speak to a manager of the book people.
They gave me the number, 0194 2721777 and a very nice lady from the management confirmed that I should not touch that 'loyalty' offer. The book people management team had been against this scheme and very many people had contacted them to complain, but her superiors had insisted on proceeding - they were of course paid a fee by the Loyalty Awards Club for including their 'award' letter in the mailing. She would pass my misgivings to her superiors.

Recently we heard from our friends, that they had received notification that they had won a huge prize on the Spanish lottery - el Gordo. They had never played that lottery, but they have a son in Spain, who immediately warned them that this was an attempted fraud.

From time to time I receive emails from UK banks, on what appears to be their genuine headed stationery. They need to update my particulars, and ask me to click on a web address to complete my details. However, with most of these banks
we have no dealings; and sometimes the letter has grammatical errors. It is an attempted fraud.
More rarely, an email arrives from a lady in Nigeria. Her wealthy husband has just died, and she needs me to help her to transfer his enormous wealth out of Nigeria - into my bank account in Britain, of course.
Now if she was young, and had requested my help to provide her with an heir...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

34.David and Bathsheba

As I mentioned in my post of 12th July, there was not sufficient time during the Torah study breakfast to do full justice to my chosen second literary gem from the Bible. It is one of my favourite stories. And from the 14th century onwards, it inspired many illustrations - which I have collected. They give a very accurate idea of the opinions of the artists - and of the Church - about the Biblical text and its implications. Unfortunately, this blogger is very unfriendly to the inclusion of images. It required much cunning and hard work: the images had to be added in reverse order and it was very difficult to out-smart the rigid layout and text formatting...

Unlike the story of Bileam and his ass, which is a simple straightforward narration, the text of David and Bathsheba and their adultery leaves a great deal to our imagination and interpretation. To begin with, we are not told, that David was already married at least twice: to Michal the daughter of King Saul (although Saul had given her to another man while David was an outlaw fugitive), and to Abigail, the widow of the villain Naval (who had died of a stroke just after David had wished him 'long life and good health').

From his palace in Jerusalem, David watches an attractive woman having a wash:-

These images of Biblical pornography were very popular. The woman is certainly having her wash in public, and especially in full view of David. David is told that the woman is the wife of Uriah, his Hittite mercenary. Her name is Bathsheba = 'daughter of the [marriage] vow'.

We are told that these events took place in the spring, 'when armies go to battle'. That is when the ground has firmed after the mud of the winter rain; and when the farmers have time available to serve their king while they wait for their new crops to grow. David has sent his army to fight against the Ammonites. They are besieging Rabbah in Trans-Jordan, present-day Amman. Uriah the Hittite mercenary is also there. But David has remained in Jerusalem.

hat he is watching from the palace is Bathsheba's ritual bathing at the end of her monthly 'uncleanliness'. She had observed the prescribed Biblical ritual. She had waited for seven days after the end of her menstrual flow and then she had washed. This has two implications:
First, if she just had a period, then she is not pregnant. But if her marriage to Uriah had not yet been consummated, then her new husband was exempt
by law from military service [Deut. 20:7]. So, why did Uriah abandon his new bride, preferring the male companionship of his colleagues in the army?

And second, Bathsheba was advertising openly - as all the artists show - that she was now available for intercourse, without incurring the Biblical prohibition on sex during menstruation - which was a cardinal sin for both parties. Adultery was a lesser offence.
But why is she already fed up with her new husband? Had she been shocked to discover after the wedding, that Uriah was gay? In that case she was doomed. Homosexuality is 'an abomination', says the Bible. But no punishment is threatened: so all these elegant Anglican clergy are safe. But she would not be able to get rid of Uriah, as only the man could divorce his wife.

Who says, that the use of reflecting mirrors to enhance the appearance of the photo is a modern invention?

The three pictures above (two of them by Lucas Cranach), and the next few images, contain a pictorial euphemism: an innocent expression that has a much stronger hidden meaning:-
The woman is shown washing just her feet; but in the Bible 'feet' can be a euphemism for 'genitals' - and
after her period, it is of course Bathsheba's genital area that had to be washed.

The same euphemism is also used in the story of Ruth the Moabite. She is advised by her mother in law,
Naomi, to wash and perfume herself and to go that night to the sleeping Boaz, the wealthy landowner, to lie 'at his feet'. She is doing in Biblical Canaan, what Monica Levinsky did to Clinton in Washington some 2,000 years later. And the euphemistic 'feet' appear again later in Bathsheba's story - as we shall see.

As a result of
Bathsheba's blatant naked publicity, David summons her 'to view his etchings over a cup of coffee', so to speak - exactly as she had intended.
Rembrandt portrays Bathsheba (modelled by his wife) twice. She is holding the king's letter of invitation, while she is having her 'feet' washed.

On the left, the ritual wash has turned into a party, watched by David at the back.

On the right, during the washing of 'the feet', Jan Steen adds an old woman - a common personification of lustful evil advice.
In most of the illustrations David is watching the delivery of his message, alone or with his courtiers. Often, he is wearing his crown and holding his attribute, a harp.

Here, David's invitation is being conveyed to the topless woman.
In Writing on the left, orally by a handsome courtier on the right.

I have found only one picture of Bathsheba climbing the steps to David's bedchamber. She is shown four times - finally on David's lap.
We have to imagine the rapidity of the actions: She came to him and he lay with her and she returned to her house. - So she consented immediately and it was just a quickie. But it fulfilled her purpose:

And the woman conceived - of course: it had been at the peak of her fertility - exactly mid-cycle. Again, we have to imagine the developments: she missed her period, her breasts enlarged, the area around the nipples darkened, and she was sick in the morning. So she sent and told David 'I'm pregnant'.
But do not expect any dialogue or interrogation: I would have asked, 'are you sure you're pregnant?' And: 'Are you sure that it's mine?' Possibly, the palace staff did investigate her claim to have a bun in the oven.

Instead, David immediately summoned the cuckolded Uriah back to Jerusalem. He questioned him about the army, and the war with the Ammonites. But although David advised him to ' wash his feet ' [genitals again!] and to go home to his wife Bathsheba, and even made him drunk, Uriah refused. I personally believe that he had heard about his wife's adultery from the palace staff, who would have enjoyed embarrassing the foreign mercenary with the juicy gossip.

Uriah stayed in Jerusalem for 3 days. He did not visit his wife. And she did not come to see him either. Perhaps this is another indication that their marriage had broken down.
Perhaps Carmel, from the Jerusalem District Conciliation Service, might have been able to mediate?

if Uriah refused both available options, either to adopt his wife's pregnancy as his own, or to divorce her, then he knew that he was signing his own death warrant.

Rembrandt portrays Uriah being sent back to the battle. David, Uriah and the old secretary all know exactly what is in the letter that he will hand to his army commander: 'put Uriah in the front row of the battle, and then withdraw and leave him to be killed'.

The two gospel illustrations
combine the naked Bathsheba exhibiting herself during her bath and watched by David, with the scene of her husband Uriah receiving the fatal instructions from the king.

Back at the battle scene, Uriah alone is not wearing armour.

The expected sequel is a brilliant parable. Nathan the prophet arrived and told David about one of his subjects, a poor man, who looked after a beloved lamb - his only possession.
His wealthy neighbour had guests, but instead of preparing one of his own sheep, he took and slaughtered the poor man's lamb.
David was outraged and blustered about punishment and compensation.
So Nathan told him:
'You are that man'.
And he informed David, that the baby that Bathsheba had conceived would die.

By then, Bathsheba had been told that Uriah had been killed in the battle.

So after the appropriate period of mourning, she became David's wife, and their next child was Solomon.

An exciting and touching story. I wish I could have written it.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

33.The Silence of the Blogs

When we studied the Old Testament at school very many years ago, certain phrases stuck in our mind. One such appears in the description of the contest of Elijah with the prophets of Baal. It is a dramatic and amusing story. It is among the scenes preserved on the walls of the fourth century synagogue in Dura Europos. The pagan prophets are trying to invoke their god, but 'there was no voice, and no reply, and none to listen.'
(I R 18:29)
The fresco (above the pictorial dado) shows the prophets of Baal trying to cheat, by hiding a man under the altar to light the 'miraculous' fire. But a serpent is sent by god to kill him - a post-biblical addition. We were told by our teacher that this threefold lack of response was the greatest possible insult: there was no one even listening.

This absence of Baal's response brings me to my blog. Ruth installed a 'stat counter' for me, so that I can see how many people have looked at my blog either once, or more than once. The total is about a dozen per week. As Maureen Lipman in the BT advertisement would say, 'it's not exactly all the rage, is it?' Yet my blog gives my email, and you can even respond anonymously. In conversation, a few friends have told me 'by the way', that they do read my blog. And today, for the first time, Judith received an unsolicited comment from an 'avid reader'. Thank you, Shirley!
Maybe I should not grumble. We are all more likely to complain, than to praise. So no response is probably a good sign. And I would not like to receive a message from some solicitor saying,
'We are acting for XYZ, whom you have libelled in your blog of [date], etc'
I am cynical, outspoken, and not legally trained: that is a dangerous
combination. So I'm careful. The nearest I have dared to come in previous blogs was the naming of two individuals 'whom I detest'. They cannot touch me for that; and I have plenty of dirt to dish about them if necessary, just in case.

Many years ago our eldest daughter earned some pocket money in the evenings by scanning the draft of The Times for libel or defamation before it went to press. But she is working hard nowadays, and I do not wish to involve her in any extra tasks. Furthermore, she does not actually read my blog, because she prefers messages to be directed to her explicitly. So when a post is relevant, I will attach it to an email.
Another reason not to involve her is because one should not deal professionally with one's own relatives - although I myself have totally ignored this principle, provided that it is within my medical competence: I even cut a sebaceous cyst
out of a close relative's neck.

Blogs are impersonal and require some stimulus to invoke a response. Looking at the responses to my daughter's blogs, they are certainly a mixed lot. Some comments only signify that the blog has been read: 'ooh, ah!' - similar to the inane comments by 'MED, USA' about the Israel photographs in Arutz 7 on the web.

But emails are different. If I have a question or comment - I send an email message. This action will reveal the other phenomenon of those who do not respond. My most recent example is my critical blog about the book of Egyptian medicine [17 July]. It had an undeserved complimentary foreword by a Pennsylvania professor, Donald Redford. On Google, he was quite famous. So I emailed him, attached my post and asked him why he had not been more critical. My email did not 'bounce', but it was not acknowledged as I routinely
request; and he has not answered. A number of reasons are possible, and replies are sometimes delayed. We shall see - and an addendum may follow.

Blogs are useful. Apart from giving me an outlet for venting my anger or for amusement, we now get much more day-to-day information about our middle daughter from her blog than from any number of enquiries by phone.
So now we phone her not to ask, but to comment.

Emails are free: please do respond - anonymously if you wish. But remember: I know where you live!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

32.The Happiness of our Leaders

Here is Ehud Olmert. At this moment, he is still prime minister of Israel. There are people who claim, that he is dishonest and has molested his secretary. With such a face? Never!!

Here are three images from our British Parliament: a youthful, almost juvenile, Alan Johnson. He is still our minister of health. To appear more mature, he has dyed his hair grey and painted rings under his eyes. Let us pray that he survives the re-shuffle.
He is flanked by the happy, almost ecstatic, images of Gordon Brown and Hazel Blears. They are both doing their best not to show their happiness. They must be thinking fondly of dear Tony and his brilliant transparent honesty.

Please print these pictures and frame them. You can hang them, or put them against the wall.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

31.A Poorly Written Book

This is part of the book's dust cover:


The French authors are Bruno Halioua, a dermatologist, and Bernard Ziskind, a cardiologist, both 'members of the French Society for the History of Medicine' - no qualifications for this membership are mentioned. The translator is M B DeBevoise.

Their research apparently started with an attempted explanation of the ten plagues of Egypt for their children during the Passover Seder. But most Biblical historians [except for the fundamentalist orthodox] now believe that the Exodus story is a myth - a fiction composed many centuries later to provide the Jews in Babylonian exile with a legitimate history. The ancient Egyptians kept no slaves except prisoners of war; and 600,000 Israelite did not escape en masse across Sinai to Canaan - which was under Egyptian control at the time anyway. And the volcanic eruption of Thera / Santorini does not fit the plagues' description either.

Furthermore, these authors clearly do not understand Biblical Hebrew, when they translate 'kinim' as mosquitos instead of lice, and plague as 'oth'.
You can safely skip this chapter at the end of their book. The authors love to quote from old Fench authors' works, often without giving references. I call this sycophantic name dropping.

The text is not well organized. Each chapter starts with a fresh sequence of references. But in the list, the pages to which
these references refer are not indicated at the tops. Footnotes would have been better.

Many important clinical and paleopathlogical findings are ignored - particularly the serological detection of Tb, leprosy and Bilharzia. And the two interesting cases of big toe prosthesis are not mentioned either. Nor is the image of gallstones shown. They do illustrate the limestone painting of a female acrobatic dancer but claim [without evidence] that she was a prostitute - and they ignore to mention her elongated limbs, probably due to arachnodactyly.

I'm not sure of the evidence, on which they base their description of spinal pathologies in embalmers as due to the need 'to lift corpses and to carry them up and down stairs'. Really??

The classical book on Ancient Egyptian Medicine is by John Nunn. This book is not remotely in the same class.

Monday, 14 July 2008

30.A Case of VISA Fraud

Ten days ago we were due to see Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe. Together with Judith, Daphne, Jeff, Ruth and Heather we had a meal at Strada restaurant near St Paul's. When it came to payment, the waiter brought the Visa device to our table for me to enter the pin. He tried three or four times with [apparently] different devices. Each time he said that the Tesco card was faulty. Finally I used a different card and it 'worked'. We crossed the Millennium bridge to the theatre. Being suspicious, I mentioned to Judith that we should check the Tesco visa account next day.

But before we did, Tesco Visa Fraud phoned.
Of course, I phoned back to make sure that it was them. ' Had we withdrawn cash with our card?' - which we had not. Apparently we never use this particular card for cash withdrawals. So our account had been robbed, and we were told to destroy the cards and wait for replacements.
I subsequently found out from
Tesco Visa Fraud that the cash withdrawal attempts had been made at Hammersmith. They got £100, which Tesco assured us would not be debited from us. But then, when they tried to withdraw £200, then £100, and £200 again, these further transactions were blocked. I was also told, that they had copied the magnetic strip data from my card and cloned it - they apparently did not need the pin, that I had to key into the device at the restaurant. This copying must have been done with one of the devices at the restaurant. It had been modified but I had not noticed. I would look more carefully in future!

I phoned the manager of Strada to inform him what had happened, and of my suspicion. Our only use of the card had been there. He was quite aggressive. They had some faulty devices but definitely honest staff. He denied any responsibility or interest and advised me to go to the police. So I suspect that he might be in on the scam.
I phoned the police who explained, that as I had not lost any money, I was actually not 'a victim': Tesco visa were the losers, and they would investigate if they wished. I'll wait to hear. It would be interesting to know the following:
# at what time after we had paid for our meal, had the cloned card been used?
# what are the home addresses of all the restaurant staff: any near Hammersmith?
# an inspection of all the card devices that are used at Strada - although I suspect that the 'faulty' device was quickly rotated to another premises - that's what I would expect them to do.

Within a week we received our new Tesco cards. We signed them, and phoned as instructed to activate them. I also phoned and was assured, that the pin for the new cards had not been changed.

But Judith returned from shopping [at Tesco!] to report that the new card had not been accepted at the till. So I phoned Tesco Visa. They confirmed that the card was valid, but that 'no transactions had been registered'.
To quote Ronnie Corbett on TV, I thought: 'Funny?'
On a hunch, while still on the phone, I turned the card over. There was no dark brown magnetic strip across the upper back of the card! The person at Tesco visa went to consult her supervisor. After some lovely Bach Brandenburg music, she returned. The cards that we had received were faulty. She apologized. I commented that if it was a faulty batch, they would get more complaints. I don't think that she was impressed.

She promised that we shall get replacements within 10 days. And by the way, She had some special offers for me from Tesco. I kept my cool and politely declined.
It shows you that I have mellowed with age. I did not even tell her, that she couldn't possibly make me an offer that I really wanted... not over the phone. That would have turned a case of fraud into one of vice. It would have shocked my reader[s] - and Judith was listening across the landing!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

29.An Update

A mixed bag - but then I do not know what is of interest to my reader[s]. Judging by the Stat Counter, my popularity is not increasing. And I suspect that Mugabe, he who tried to rig the synagogue council election, only reads my blog [if he does] so that he can sue for defamation: I hear that he is 'very litigious'.

I met the new rabbi of
Judith's synagogue who has just been appointed. A pleasant man with a good sense of humour and a beard: for me these are two important attributes. He told me about his dissertation for Leo Baeck college. A literature analysis of the Biblical episode, when Jacob's eldest son Reuben had sex with Bilha, one of his father's other wives. A very well researched and interesting paper on a topic that is obviously not represented in the Biblical illustrations that I collect.

He was kind enough to let me read his dissertation. I learnt a number of new facts - always an exciting event for me. Of relevance to other biblical episodes is the ritual Law, that if a wife had sex with another man [adulterous, rape or even while she was unaware - drunk or asleep], her husband was thereafter forbidden ever to have further intercourse with her.
I reckon that if that law was truly kept, and known to the cuckolded man, it would sooner or later in their marriage force half the Jewish husbands to become celibate. Needless to say, the reverse does not apply: a cheated wife and an adulterous husband are allowed to resume their intercourse. Otherwise, most other husbands would have to become celibate too.

On Friday we were notified that Sheila Flashman had died. Although we knew about her carcinoma of the pancreas, and the chemotherapy, she had seemed to rally. Apparently the end was rather sudden. A merciful fact, but we never managed to say good bye. She had oncology privately and was given a 50:50 chance. From her description, I got a much more pessimistic impression. I fear that sometimes people with malignant disease are still given too optimistic an opinion for a variety of reasons. She was one of the founders of Redbridge U3A and did a lot of good work.
I used to neglect attendance at funerals. I felt that my efforts should be directed towards the living. But I have changed my attitude - the surviving relatives deserve my presence. So we shall go to Chesunt tomorrow.

Some weeks ago I agreed to conduct another Torah study session before the Shabbat Service at Judith's synagogue. Given the choice, I picked the episode of Balak, when the she-donkey had a conversation with Balaam [Numbers 22 onwards].
There had been good publicity, including the synagogue newsletter with a
picture of a medieval woodcut from Nuremberg and a photo of me [only one of them showed the donkey]. Coupled with the rolls with salmon or chopped egg, some 20 people attended. It went very well.
I told them that these days, talking donkeys
and talking serpents are only found in the house of commons. Balaam's description of himself as 'the man with the closed eye' enabled me to allude to an illustrious present-day 'prophet of prudence', Gordon Brown.

I knew that this episode would not fill the hour - particularly as I deferred part of it for the Torah reading during the service. Therefore I also prepared a contrasting story of David and Bathsheba [2nd Samuel 11
onwards]. Telegraphic in style, it has much scope for comments. I modernized Bathsheba's message to David, 'I'm pregnant' into an updated version of the 'bun in the oven': 'I've got a beigel in the microwave'. This story has plenty of sexy illustrations, and I suggested a future 'Oneg' - an hour's programme with slides after the Friday night service. I think they were tempted.

I also read from the Torah scroll during the service. As an
ex-Israeli I am one of the people who can master the unpunctuated text without too many errors. Of the two people who were 'called up', the first was an Israeli boy of 13 who was celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in this way. Quite unusually, they had chosen this reform synagogue and had come from Ra'anana to London for a week to celebrate Alon's coming of age in this modest way. I understand that they had some diificulties with the email arrangements in English.
His father had been bullied by his own orthodox father and hated religion. Strictly speaking, of course, Alon would have become ritually responsible as an 'adult' Jew even without being 'called up'. He only recited the blessings before and after my reading, but his Hebrew reading of the punctuated few sentences was poor - he certainly had not been tutoured or prepared in any way. It will take another 5 years before he is allowed to cast his vote for that crook Olmert.

Monday, 23 June 2008

28.Last Night's Concert

After a very long interval, we went to a 'live' concert last night. For years, I have preferred records and CDs: Near-perfect quality, in the comfort of my home, at a convenient time. Still, these were cheap tickets through the U3A, and it was an attractive programme - the LSO at the Barbican.

We sat at the back of the balcony, but the acoustics are very good - and I had not forgotten to bring my hearing aid. Some people had brought binoculars, but they are not essential for an aural gratification [as Humphrey Lyttleton would have double entendred it].
Anre Previn had obvious difficulty walking and climbing the half dozen steps to the stage. He used no cane but he used the bannisters on both sides, and he sat on a high stool to conduct. From the programme we learnt that he is 79 [or 78]. Viewed from the long distance of our seats, my impression was not of Parkinsonism - unless it was well controlled by medication. He seemed to have weak leg muscles rather than arthritis - maybe due to trapped lumbar nerve roots: I know the feeling from my own experience. I felt sorry for him, particularly when the applause forced him to negotiate the steps to the stage for a second and a third time.

The music was excellent. During the 4 years of my private violin tuition as a boy, I was given a version of Mozart's 'Eine kleine Nachtmusik' adapted for solo violin. My performance was abysmal, but it made me familiar with this lovely piece of music. My gross technical inability, coupled with my reluctance to prectise, and the fact that I did not have perfect pitch, finally convinced me to give up. And I was able to convince our children to choose instruments that had a fixed pitch, rather than string instruments.

Next came a Mozart symphony - number 39. Beautifully played and very enjoyable. I'm not sure how much the concert notes add to my enjoyment. I'm not a musicologist but I do remember beautiful tunes.
After the interval the Brahms violin concerto was played brilliantly by Anne-Sophie Mutter, who is described as very well known. I discovered on the web that she was Previn's fifth [and most recent] wife - until 2006. They are obviously still good friends - he has just written music that they will perform together. She played superbly and did not use a score - but Previn did. Apparently she '...takes special pride in performing contemporary compositions for violin.' Well, include me out of those.

We travelled by tube, of course. On Sunday one can even park the car at the station forecourt. We had chosen to get off at Moorgate - equidistant with Barbican station. It proved to be a lucky choice, because as we waited on the platform to travel home it was announced that a signal failure had stopped the Metropolitan line there. Fortunately, the Northern line also connects at Moorgate, and we could join the Central Line at Bank. Had we chosen Barbican we would have had much more trouble - particularly as I had not brought my usual folder of bus and tube maps.

Compared with listening at home, the outing adds more than an extra hour at each end, and dislocates supper. But at least it didn't rain and it wasn't cold. We shall probably go again...

Monday, 16 June 2008

27.Lucky Friday the 13th, and an enjoyable weekend

Friday the 13th was certainly not unlucky. I had forgotten all about it and did not stay in bed. Then we had some good news, and like the old Jew in the Catholic church, "I am telling everybody". (if you do not know this joke, and you are over 18, ask me).

First thing, Ruth had received the exam marks for the spring semester. Professor Langley-Evans congratulated her. He told her that, 'once again, it was an amazing performance'. Ruth was top of the Biosciences students for year one (by a country mile), as she had been in the autumn semester.
She emailed us saying that she was so pleased, that she might not be able to squeeze her oversized head out of the building. I consoled her by pointing out that as a result, her hat would now be big enough to contain the entire week's shopping.

Then we heard from Heather, who is losing her job due to 'downsizing' at Camden. Gordon Brown needs all their money, to repair his idiocy with the 10p tax rate. So he has to squeeze the local authorities. Her employers and colleagues at Camden had been extremely generous as a token of their appreciation of her work there. Very heartening. My own pride is tinged with sorrow concerning the loss of the occasional lunches at her nearby Caf, where they serve excellent falafel...

It was David's birthday. Rather than possibly wake him up, we had phoned him the previous evening. Later Heather told us, that she had in fact woken him up - so we need not have worried.

Then we drove to Harlow for the Wansfell-2 weekend course on Symbolism in Art. It was an excellent series of slide talks and I learned much more than I had expected. Clare Ford-Willie knows her subject very well and spoke clearly and fluently, aided by abundant good slides. The fellow students were a nice bunch of people, including some former students from my own Wansfell courses. The good food included the customary treat of bacon at breakfast - not obtainable at home.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

26.Egypt and Canaan

Last night I attended a very good lecture at the monthly meeting of the West Essex Archaeology Group [WEAG] at Woodford County High school. I now only attend when the topic is of interest to me - and this certainly turned out to be most enjoyable. Using PowerPoint, Rachel Sparks from the Institute of Archaeology surveyed and illustrated the evolution of the links between Egypt and Canaan in the middle and late bronze ages [MBA & LBA], roughly the second millenium BC. She divided the period into three parts:

In the MBA I [= 2,000 - 1,800 BC] there were sporadic trade exchanges ['trading and raiding']. The route was overland along the 'way of Horus' and by sea - to the ports along the Levant coast. The Egyptians did not penetrate far inland. They still regarded Canaanite cities as potentially hostile, as evidenced by the execration texts: plaster effigies covered with the names of Canaanite cities, then cursed and smashed them. But bearded semitic men bearing merchandise were portrayed.

In the MBA II & III [= 1,800 - 1,200 BC], there was deeper Egyptian penetration inland, and an increase in trade and significant cultural exchange. At that time the Hyksos resided in the delta - foreigners probably from the Aegean. The delta site of Avaris was inhabited by Canaanites. Many storage jars of Canaanite origin were found there, whereas burials in Canaan contained many scarabs of Egyptian design - but often produced in Canaan. When skeletal remains could be analyzed, the male were often Asiatic/Canaanite and the females local Egyptians - there was intermarriage.

In the LBA [= 1,550 - 1,150 BC], the Egyptians actually conquered Canaan. The Egyptians mounted concentrated annual campaigns into Canaan, gradually extending their rule northward - despite a Canaanite revolt - the battle of Kadesh.
The loot was taken back to Egypt, where such Items can be recognized. The siege of Askelon illustrates the action. In the delta, the Hyksos were expelled and all traces of their culture were obliterated. Tribute was also extracted from the conquered Canaanite cities. Loyal rulers were appointed by the Egyptians, and their sons were usually taken to Egypt as hostages. When these princes later returned home, they spread the Egyptian culture that they had absorbed. There is a theory, that Joseph was such as hostage prince. [ Incidentally, the Romans employed a similar method ].

Local fortresses in Canaan were built by local labour. Burials included antropoid coffins, that contained shabtis in the Egyptian style - so these were probably Egyptian dead.
To remain in power, the Canaanite elite had to behave like Egyptians. Beit Shean was completely Egyptianized - they even imported Egyptian potters to work there. [ And I'm reminded of the Egyptian governors' style mansions at Dir es-Saidiyeh and Tel Afek - there must be others ].

The ethnicity of the inhabitants can be identified from various criteria: the images [beards, clothing, skin colour, tattoos], the texts and language, the names of individuals, and the style of their possessions.

The questions after the lecture confirmed my own views of the Biblical narrative. That part of the Old Testament was only written around the 5th century BC, or maybe later. The whole story, from the Patriarchs to Joshua's conquest, is a later 'spin'; the 'Apiru' that are mentioned in some extra-biblical texts refer to stateless vagabonds and terrorists, not to 'Hebrews'.
The topic of the Exodus was not mentioned at all in yesterday's non-Jewish forum. Its historical existence has now been convincingly rejected by contemporary scholars. Although Canaanites obviously resided in the delta at that time - during the LBA, they were not Israelite slaves. The Egyptians kept no slaves,
except for prisoners of war. Public works were performed by 'corvee' labour - Egyptians who served the king during the period of the Nile's inundation, while these farmers could not engage in agriculture.
During the period of the postulated Biblical exodus, Canaan
in the LBA was entirely under Egyptian rule: so where could Moses and the Israelites escape to?
The Old Testament is a very well constructed literary work. But I personally no longer celebrate Passover, its festival and its ceremony.
But then, I'm agnostic: I do look forward to encountering Tony Blair in Hell.

Monday, 9 June 2008

25.A New Book

For over 50 years, Zvi Alexander has built up a most significant collection of Holy Land postal history - that is not just stamps but postmarks and entire letters and postcards. It is probably THE most important and comprehensive such collection in existence.
For the last 24 years Zvi has exhibited various parts of his collection internationally, and has been awarded Grand Prix and numerous large gold medals - the highest philatelic accolades.

Rather than selling his unique items, he has generously donated the entire collection to the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv on a 50 year loan. The museum's philatelic pavilion has been named after him and he has endowed it for onward displays and education.

To mark its opening earlier this year, the Museum produced a sumptuous glossy hardback catalogue. In some 200 pages it illustrates and briefly describes (in Hebrew and English) a selected fraction of these postal history items, beginning in the 15th century, through the Turkish post, the European postal agencies of Austria, Germany, Italy and Russia, to the British Mandate, and finally the war of independence in 1948. The postal items are linked by selected historical photographs and thus form a marvelous overview of the history of the country and its postal services.

Even for a lay person, the material provides a fascinating and vivid survey. But if you know the
philatelic background, the wealth and quality of these items (not to mention their market value) are astonishing. Quite a number are described as unique - 'the only recorded item'. My personal friendship with Zvi has given me additional exciting insights into his hard work in locating, researching and acquiring these rare gems.

As Amazon would say, five stars plus!
It is sold at the Museum for 150 sheqel - about £23.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

24.The General Medical Council (GMC)

To practise medicine, doctors have to pay the GMC an annual fee, to remain on the Register. Only doctors who have no income from any source worldwide, including from pensions and investments, are exempt. But until now, no more payments were required after the age of 65, whether or not one engaged in gainful medical work. The GMC now claims, that the 2006 law against age discrimination prohibits them from exempting the over-65s.

So for the time being, the cunning lawyers and the greedy GMC councilors have actually been provided with a golden opportunity to rake in a great deal of extra money from elderly doctors.

In my opinion, the spirit of this law is intended to prevent older persons from being more disadvantaged, and not the reverse. To prove this and clarify the law would require very high and expensive legal authorities. I wonder: what about my old-age advantage of travelling free on London transport? And my exemption from prescription charges, and concessions on entrance tickets? Will all this be abolished now to avoid discrimination against the young?

The GMC should have changed their regulations in a different way to comply with the 2006 law - as interpreted by their lawyers. Instead of the exemption by age, which is now allegedly illegal, they could have introduced an exemption for those who do not engage in any gainful medical work, irrespective of age, and irrespective of non-medical income. But that would have demanded logical, intelligent and compassionate thinking by a body that is notorious for its archaic habits. Rumour has it, that they still use quill pens and are not particularly computer literate.

After I reached 65 and no longer had to pay my GMC fee, I did no gainful medical work of any kind. The only use that I made of my ongoing GMC registration was for private prescriptions for a short course of antibiotics for relatives of friends who visited from abroad. On several occasions I provided emergency help on airplanes or during meetings. Presumably all this will have to stop. When needed, my GP or a former colleague would write me a private prescription. To resume paying the annual GMC fee - currently £390 - just to allow me to perform these trivial actions is naturally out of the question.

I have my own personal bad experiences with the GMC.

When newspapers print a report that the GMC have 'struck off ' a delinquent doctor, their full personal particulars are always reported. But when these episodes are later reported in the GMC newsletter, they are left anonymous. No medical reader would be able to recognize such a culprit, if they were to seek work despite their ban and endanger more patients - it has happened. The GMC newsletter invites readers' comments - but my letters were totally ignored twice.
The GMC logo used to include the term 'protecting patients'. No more. They changed the motto to: 'Regulating doctors, ensuring good medical practice'. They should add 'ignoring doctors, endangering patients'.

When I arrived in Britain in 1962 my qualification, MD (Jerusalem), was registered by the GMC on my Temporary Registration. But as the medical school in Jerusalem was not interested in foreign accreditation and did not apply for it, my degree was not recognized by the GMC for full registration. I had to re-qualify. After making enquiries I chose to get the simplest 'recognized' qualification - from the Apothecaries' Hall in Dublin. The procedure was a farce - maybe I'll describe it in another blog - so I was not surprised to learn a few years later that the GMC had withdrawn its accreditation from
the Apothecaries' Hall in Dublin. Nevertheless, my licence of LAH remained a 'kosher' degree. I ignored it when I provided my personal details: it was secondary to my original MD.

Imagine my surprise in 1996, when I was notified by the GMC that after 36 years they had decided to re-designate my qualifications. Henceforth I was no longer registered 'MD', only 'LAH'. I tried to reason and to protest, but the dinosaur refused to budge.
Later I passed the membership exam of the Royal college of physicians and was subsequently elected a fellow.

So as of this morning, sod the GMC registration:
I am still MD, FRCP.