My visitor today is a dear friend from Crooked Cat Publishing, Miriam Drori. Welcome – come in, make yourself at home and help yourself to anything you’d like to eat or drink.
Thank you, Ailsa! I’ve finally made it to Bingergread Cottage. I believe you have some cake over there. And coffee would be nice. I hope the dog is friendly. Lily…?
Yes, that heap of fur is Lily and she is very friendly. Just push her away gently if you don’t want her actually ON your lap. Most of my guests are only asked about their books but I’d like to chat about your passions, even though you said recently on your blog that you weren’t to use that word. So, go on…what do you campaign about? What is very dear to your heart?
When I said I wasn’t to use that word, I didn’t mean it. Someone wrote an article in which he said, “Passion is something that takes place in a bedroom.” But the article was about inappropriate words in the world of business. I think it’s all right to be passionate in life.
I agree. One should have at least one thing to care about passionately.
Raising awareness of social anxiety disorder is what I’m passionate about. Not so much because of me – although it would be nice to get a bit more understanding – but because of all those people out there who are alone and depressed. People who could be contributing to society, but are instead fobbed off with pills and benefits.
This isn’t the place to go into a long explanation, so I’ll just say this. If you see someone who holds back, keeps to the sidelines and doesn’t join in, don’t assume they don’t want to be included. They might welcome a friendly helping voice. On the other hand, they might not appreciate being put on the spot, so take it gradually. And please don’t laugh at them. Bullying may well have helped to cause their social anxiety. Thank you.
Yes, I spend a lot of my time trying to make people aware of my own mental disorder and explain that we are not all axe-murderers. I was bullied too as a child and it stays with you forever. History. You now live in Israel but started out in London. Tell us more.
While studying maths at what is now called Royal Holloway, University of London, I met a guy at a guitar lesson. (He was studying electronics engineering at Imperial College.) We went out for a year. Then he moved to Israel. We kept in touch for two years before I decided to follow him. After another eighteen months, we got married. Neither of us learned to play the guitar, but we’re still together decades later. End of story?
Yes and no. All of that is true and I might never have emigrated if I hadn’t met D. And yet, I’ve never once regretted the move. Israel gave me a sense of belonging that I never felt in England. I have a lot of fondness for my country of birth. When I go back to visit, it doesn’t feel foreign like every other country. But now, like then, I still feel embarrassed to say I’m Jewish. Then, the feeling was ingrained by my parents, who lived through the antisemitism of the 1930s. Now, I feel a growing need not to draw attention to who I am. I’m saddened by the need for tight security outside synagogues and Jewish schools.
I’m happier living here amongst like-minded people than I would have been if I’d stayed in England, and I want things to stay that way. That’s not to say that all Israelis think the same way. There is a wide range of views here. But even those on the left don’t agree with many of the views that come from abroad, simply because they live here. Because they support the continued existence of the one tiny Jewish state, while others don’t care if it remains… at best.
Perhaps Israel is another passion of mine. It’s just as misunderstood as social anxiety disorder.
I can understand that. Being a mongrel myself I tend to keep a few of my roots a bit quiet and only very close friends know the whole truth. Shy? Yes, surprisingly so.
You recently went travelling. Can you at least point us towards the resulting reports?
We’ve travelled a lot lately. Prague, Venice, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway. All very different and delightful places to visit. Our last trip was to India – the third time we have visited that vast and varied sub-continent.
A common question, when we mention going to India, is, “Don’t you find it hard to see all the poverty?” The fact is that we saw signs of poverty a bit on our first trip and not at all on the other two. We travel in groups and with guides, and obviously they want to show us the best parts. We did see, due to the sprouting of mobile phones, a lot of seemingly comfortably-off Indians who delighted in photographing themselves together with us. We were surprised and amused: we went to India to see and photograph them, but we became the attraction.
Mostly, as on our previous trips to India, we had a wonderful time. There was one notable exception – an episode that brought home to us what the Third World is like. If you want to read more about the trip, I’ve written three blog posts so far: one, two and three.
Our next trip, as you’ve probably guessed, will be to England. D is going to join me after I’ve done some gallivanting on my own.
Yes, I know where you are going and I’m going too but let’s keep it secret so we can tell the tale afterwards! Tell you what – let’s make this a two-day event because I’m really enjoying our natter. I’ll pour more coffee while you cut us some cake and we can continue tomorrow