A month after that, and I found myself in the heart of the spiritual state of Israel: in a little piazza surrounded by charming stone-built houses, in the Polish Warsaw ghetto style, I believe. The square was empty, save, in the centre, for a single olive tree and a picturesque rough-hewn wooden bench under it.

I sat myself on the bench and, in the early afternoon sun, smoked half a joint.

The other half I put behind my ear, for later.

Some naked urchins, fiddling their circumcised penises, scrambled over the cobblestones to where I rested and began pestering me for money and sexual favours, but I shooed them away with a dignified flicking of my fingers.

A smartly dressed man in a white tunic appeared, clutching an empty tray.

“Would Sir like to order?” He spoke Hebrew.

“Bring me a wholesome meal. I can’t eat just any old kosher cack.”

Some time later he returned and presented me with what appeared to be a British Rail pork pie, swimming in watery gravy. A splash of cheap ketchup bled away at the side of the translucent pyrex dish.

It would have to do. Fuck the insolence of these waiters: I could just as easily have eaten this shit in London. I wanted something exotic, like a doner kebab.

He placed the plate, with its child’s spoon, at my feet.

I clapped my hands. “My good man, where is my table?” It was more an order than a question.

He said nothing.

He returned with a plastic stool.

Had I been wearing gloves and carrying a cane and had I owned a hat, I would have placed them neatly on the stool.

The waiter disappeared.

I ate in silence.

An Arab, in shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and sunglasses, fooling no one, entered the square.

We nodded at one another in greeting.

He came over to where I sat and stared disdainfully at the pie on the stool.

“What the shit is that?” he asked, quite disgusted.

“What’s it to you, you fucking Egyptian clitoridectomer?” I replied curtly, in literary Hebrew.

We didn’t seem to be getting on.

Then I suddenly took a photograph out of my wallet. “Have you seen this man?” I showed him a picture of Hitler from his early days, smartly dressed as a Brownshirted fuck-thug.

The Arab sat down next to me and studied the image.

“Have you seen this man?” I repeated in English, insistently, yet somehow in full control of the situation.

He handled the portrait lovingly.

He drew a deep breath, and then exhaled in a heart-rending sigh.

“Tomorrow, I take you, dear brother,” he said.

I could not see his eyes behind the sunglasses, but I knew they were moist with emotion.

My heart soared with excitement.


There is a profound old saying in the Middle East: “When a man goes to a holy city, the camels get erections. Yet when a man visits the devil, the street-dogs fuck one another.”

Clutching a copy of the Italian-language version of the Blue Guide to Istanbul and with my yarmulke firmly clipped on, I set about exploring Jerusalem.

I showed a taxi driver a picture of the Hagia Sophia. “Take me there.” I ordered.

Without hesitating, he drove me to a supermarket peddling organic vegetables to arseholes from New York.

I showed him a picture of the Bosporus.

He drove me to a windswept park on the edge of town, the sort of place a paedophile would go to bury a body.

I showed him an engraving of Sultan Mehmet IV.

He drove me to an abandoned abattoir.

Without my Blue Guide, I could never have seen any of these interesting things.

I could never have seen anything.

I’m not blind.

Are you?


Some people read signs in the sky, tea leaves, bones, stock market reports, and other knick-knacks.

But I—and here you must take me seriously—I personally read coils of shit in the toilet pan.

This is neither as crude nor distasteful as it sounds, and it undoubtedly requires a degree of skill. Think about it.

I learned everything I know about shamanism, astrology, and numerology from a book called Help Yourself to Psychic Supremacy by Colonel Johnny Abraham Two-Dinners, US Native Red Indian American Army Volunteer Trackers, Retired.

For instance, after one particularly noisy motion—I forget when—I had put a question to, as it were, the innermost forces of the universe. “Shall I buy a second car now or wait for the prices to come down, after Christmas?”

I took a good look at the logs floating around.

The ones on the left of the water seemed to form a series of linked semi-circles, a bit like a smoothly-written number five.

The hank on the right, floating alone, was curved like a banana, so you could say it represented the number one.


51 what? Days? Dollars? People?

I had to take the thought away with me and let it speak to me. You should not rush astrological insights.

Later that night, racked with spiritual uncertainty, I decided to smoke a joint and watch a  dumbfuck film about a masked Mexican wrestler superhero I had already seen about 51 times, called, I think, Santo vs. Blue. What a film! Riveting.

And at some stage, during my joint and during the film, it all became clear.

Santo asks a bandit if he has raped the girl up the arse.

“Si!” says the bandit emphatically through his dirty Mexican teeth.


It struck me like a thunderclap.

My crap did not read “51,” it read “Si!,” Spanish for “Yes!”

Yes, I was to buy the second car now, straight away, and not wait for the January sales! Excellent.


All this is by the by.

While I was in Jerusalem, I had a profound spiritual vision.

Call it Jerusalem Syndrome if you like, but to me, it was an extraordinary experience.

I was in my hotel bedroom, sometime around midday, lying on the bed.

I had the television on.

I may have been dozing, but I don’t think so.

Suddenly, I heard the television announcer shouting: “We interrupt normal programmes to bring you a message from Yahweh himself!”

I sat bolt upright, quite forgetting my doctor’s advice about straining my bad back.

A strobe light flashed from the TV screen, and a deep voice—the deepest I’ve ever heard—roared: “Mayday, motherfuckers! Mayday! Listen you fucking idiots, this is it. When will you fucking wake up! Stop all forms of organized religion immediately; they are a complete waste of time. Destroy all churches, temples, synagogues, mosques etc. everywhere, and replace them with supermarkets, cinemas, second-hand bookshops, liquor stores, hire-purchase stores, thrift shops and airports. Men! Fuck your women. The vagina is the best thing in the universe, you fucking swine! Can’t you fucking see sense? What are you waiting for? Women! Service your menfolk. Children! Do your homework. No need to piss about! Tell all religious leaders they are unemployed. If they do not listen, kill them, quickly and painlessly. In gas chambers, if necessary. No problem. Treat all forms of organized religious behaviour as a dreadful mental illness, as much to be feared as pitied. Speak with your fists if you have to. That’s all. Over.”

The station announcer, looking bewildered and terrified, reappeared. He began reciting a series of horrible Jewish or Islamic prayers, spittle cascading out of his mouth.  “Yahweh! Yahweh!” he moaned, flailing his arms about helplessly.

I knew just how he felt.

Oh, Christmas.

Trembling, I leant forward and turned the set off.

A message from Yahweh! My God!

How to celebrate the enormity of it all?

Using the hotel telephone, and a magazine I had bought from an Arab kiosk, I ordered up one of the most expensive and attractive call-girls I could find. Her name was Maria Magdalena; nice touch. Her price range was so many shekels for a hand-job, more for a blow, straight lay, 69, and so on. She was worth every penny. For a few brief minutes, fondling her lovely big wobbly tits, I was able to forget about fucking Hitler and his stinking band of Judeo-Islamic scum.

Actually, Yahweh didn’t say the bit about men and women and the vagina; I added that in myself, although the general vulgarity of His language is accurate.

And all the rest is true, believe me.

Oddly, he really did say the bit about children doing their homework. Curious.


The next day, on the campus of Hebrew University, all the talk was of the Yahweh videotape.

Everyone had copies.

The students’ refectory was a cacophany of discussion groups, and there was only one subject.

By coincidence, Arab television had, at the very same time as the Yahweh broadcast, had a broadcast from Allah.

But the Arabs were surly. Allah had described them as “coagulated fucking camel dung” and promised to wipe them all out as soon as he had done some cosmic calculations. “I’m going to kill a few more of you at the next Hajj, you scum,” he is reputed to have said. “A camelshit fake broadcast” was the general consensus in the Arab quarter. “An Israeli hoax.”

Yeah, sure.


At the agreed hour, the Arab appeared.

He was dressed in an ill-fitting, lightweight business suit, his navel obscenely visible in the centre of a triangle of exposed flesh where his white shirt could no longer conceal his cous-cous ridden gut.

He appeared anxious, flustered.

“We must hurry,” he said, putting his arm across my back and urging me towards a waiting taxi.

“My brother,” he said, nodding at the taxi driver.

The driver and I greeted one another with disdainful tilts of the head.

The Arab lurched into the seat next to me and told his brother to drive on.


We twisted and turned along the narrow cobbled lanes of the Arab Quarter in Jerusalem for some twenty minutes.

Then we stopped outside an archway leading to a passage hidden in shadow.

My guide got out of the car and looked around furtively. Pointing to the passageway, he motioned to me to get out and go into it.

I did so.

I heard my guide talking roughly to his brother, and then the taxi sped away.

“Come, come.” He pointed the way with an outstretched palm. The exertions of the drive—and its attendant planning—showed itself in sweat dripping off his earlobes.


I was ushered into a darkened upstairs room filled with 51 or more male devotees, all squatting patiently and silently on pieces of cardboard on the bare stone floor.

I took my place amongst a group of black-cloaked and black-turbaned scholars; I understood them to be Iranians.

We were tightly packed, shoulder to shoulder

A shaft of sunlight illumined a wooden platform in the corner furthest from the door.

Occasional coughs punctuated the air of expectation.

A deep-voiced “Waaaah!” swept the awaiting crowd as it greeted the entrance of the master.

He was dressed in a flowing white robe and black turban and looked every bit the mouthpiece of God.

At least I thought so.

He looked to be very old—perhaps in his late nineties, or early hundreds—the Middle East is that kind of place—with a straggly white beard, and the pale skin of the sides of his face were freckled with large black sun-blotches.

But his gait was confident and determined, and indicated an atavistic military bearing. And his imperious movements were, somehow, faintly recognisable, as if from a thousand grainy black and white newsreels.

My guide, his voice quivering with emotion, whispered, “This is the Supreme Mullah Mufti Grand Ayatollah Sheik Abdulph Hittite-lal.”

Of course!

Of course it was!

Christ, yes.

The men around me raised their arms smartly in the Hitler salute.

I felt a lump the size of a golf ball in my throat as I did the same.

Sieg heil! Sieg heil!

At last!

Nazi-hunters, eat your fucking hearts out!

Simon Wiesenthal, pull your head out of your fucking arse!

My Lord, what a day for me, after all these years of fruitless searching for the old man!

My guide whispered, “He will begin with an audience, and then he will give a sermon.”

One of the master’s students looked up and shouted out in our direction. “Quiet at the back, you Jewish trash!”

We fell silent.

One of the Iranians turned to me and made a gesture as if to cut my tongue out with a pair of scissors.

Charming, you fucking Persian wog.

Mufti Hittite-lal and his entourage took a few moments settling themselves on the platform.

Their shuffling about reminded me of dogs settling in their baskets.

Then, from a room to the left, we heard sobbing.

A woman, dressed in black and veiled and obviously in great distress, was ushered into the gathering.

I saw one of the Master’s acolytes stand up and flick a switch on the wall behind him.

Then he adjusted two microphones on short stands on the floor, one pointing at the master and the other at the supplicant.

The woman was positioned in front of the Master’s platform and urged to speak.

Her sobs, amplified into the tannoy, reverberated unsettlingly about the room.

“Hush, sister, hush,” said the Master in a gentle, comforting voice, though with a marked Viennese accent. “There, there, sister. Stop your crying. Hush, tell us your difficulties, my dear sister. Come, tell.” He held out a hand to her as a gesture of tenderness.

My guide, his voice cracking with passion, whispered in my ear, “This is the sweetest man in the Middle East…so sweet….”

I nodded, as did many others who heard the comment.

“Master, oh Master. My husband is sick….my children have no food…” she began, between sobs.

The Master nodded. “Go on, my child.”

The woman began to sob uncontrollably and mumbled inaudibly into her chador.

It was a typical, faintly boring, tale of Arab-Palestinian woe.

Hittite-lal suddenly raised his palm, cutting her short. “You have indulged in sexual practices? You have fucked many men? You are fucking every day?”

His tone was stern, even severe.

“No, Master, no!” she wailed. “My husband is unable to work…we have no food….”

“You have committed adultery?”

“No, Master! My children…”

“Masturbation, nuh?” He turned to his students for confirmation.

They nodded.

He indicated to the woman to come up on to the platform. He had her turn around and kneel before him. He put his hand under her chador and probed between her legs.

After some tense moments, his examination was complete.

“Clitoris, nuh!” He turned triumphantly to his students.

“No, Master!” she protested. “Piles, master! Piles!”

“Gaaah!” He pushed her away contemptuously. “Gaaaah!” he rasped into the microphone, making a noise like sandpaper against concrete and showing us his huge, palpitating pink tongue.

I tried to assume a scholarly expression.

The Iranians looked on attentively.

The other men about me glared angrily at the woman.

Bloody bitch.

I tried to recall some old medical textbooks I think I once browsed through. I vaguely remembered a coloured illustration of a cross-section of the female genitalia, but that was it. There are times when my privileged education really and truly lets me down.


For all installments of “Wavelength,” click here.

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  1. Part 1