Sunday, 12 January 2014

Terry’s Travels - the Hazards of Chutney and the Archeology of Masada

From "The Pilot", 1995, comes one of a short series of articles penned by the Reverend Terry Hampton, at one time Vicar of St Aubin on the Hill Church, and then Rector of Grouville Church.
Terry was a gifted speaker, who wore his ability to communicate lightly, and had a very distinctive literary "voice" which perfectly captures the way he spoke as well. He was a good friend, and had a keen interest in archaeology. I remember showing him round the dolmens with his son Mark in the late 1970s (very young at the time) – I was doing dolmen tours even back then!
Around 1995, he went on a sabbatical to Israel, partly exploring the current day land, but also to engage in the archaeology and history, and this is one extract from his notes which appeared in "The Pilot", and it is full of lively and amusing anecdotes.
Terry's Travels
Having sent various missives to the esteemed Editor by camel train, I discovered on a flying visit to the "sceptred isle" that they hadn't arrived. As our flat has a fair number of pigeons zooming around it, I shall perforce have to catch one and attach this epistle to a hind leg and see if that will do the trick. (It did, and your missive, rather soggy, was retrieved from the Royal Square at the end of February - but we didn't have room for if last month!-Ed.)
So, how to reduce three months' news to a single page? Impossible, for me, you may think!
One of the problems of living in Israel is language. Hebrew is written from right to left for a start, and they don't often put the vowels in words. So shopping has its own pitfalls. Recently Rosemary bought two litres of milk, having carefully read the label. Late at night I tried to pour some only to find it was solid. Careful examination of the label revealed that the "milk" was in fact yoghourt, so if anyone knows any nifty ways of using vast quantities of the stuff, do please drop us a line, quickly!
I have a new party trick. Away with dreary games like Pass the Parcel, instead, why not try Chutney Throwing! I discovered previously unknown skills in this much neglected area of human endeavour during the Christmas holidays when Mark, fiancée Jo and Rowan joined us for Christmas. We had bought the chutney, passed, of course, by Rabbi Dimwitz and therefore strictly Kosher, at a many-levelled supermarket. (I can recommend the Apple one, very good.) Unfortunately, in removing the jar from the table, I had forgotten to check the grasp of the lid on the neck of the jar. They were not in close embrace alas, and chutney flew everywhere. The stuff seemed to be alive: carpet, curtains, clothes and cutlery all awash. There are still stains on the Arabian rug on which I sit. Me thinks I might suggest a new Olympic sport - there are already some mighty odd ones like dancing around with a long ribbon - and ask that chutney throwing might be included. After all, its far less dangerous than throwing the hammer, where huge men hurl a heavy ball over 70 metres, and need to be caged in lest they hurt people.
Also, the used-to-be-called Third World could compete on equal terms with the more developed countries. They have enormous ancient skills in the uses of chutney making and spice flavouring. Old clothes are best for the sport, and they would have plenty of those; indeed in many countries men only wear a loin cloth. Perhaps one of our readers might like to moot the idea with the Jersey Island Games Committee as new, revolutionary and unusual sports do take a time to be accepted. (Tennis has only joined the Olympic Games quite recently, but that may be due to the behaviour of its male participants.)
While over on my "whistle-stop" tour, I gave a talk at St Aubin-on-the-Hill about a planned Jordan/ Israel trip (4th-14th May). It was lovely being back in old haunts, and the church looked superb. Now that Jordan is available to cross over to, we can visit Jerash, Petra and a host of other fascinating places. We hope to have a look at Gadara too, though, whether there will be any pigs around seems unlikely! The undersea viewing dome at Eilat really is something, once we've crossed from Jordan, and the drive up through the Wilderness of Sin, past Timna and on to Bethsheba, will be breathtaking.
And if anyone hasn't been to Masada, then we shall certainly make sure they get there, in our car if necessary! (If you want more details of the trip please contact Mrs Denise Waller).
Now that I'm back (forgetting to buy some new socks while over), I must get down to some hard work at the Albright Institute. A team of scholars have been writing up the final reports on the Masada dig (1983), and some fascinating material is coming out. For instance, I'm sure you know that the Romans dated their years according to the name of the Consuls. Well, on some wine jars sent to King Herod (good vintage stuff, of course) is the year and the name of Consul Sentius Saturninus.
And it was not so many years ago that Herod's name was first found on something archaeological; strange that, as he was the greatest builder in the history of Israel, even greater than Solomon. Certainly history and archaeology play strange tricks. I'm waiting for the volume on the weapons and artillery used at the Masada siege - it's being prepared by an Israeli woman scholar which seems rather odd. Perhaps we shall have a spate of Westerns with women gunslingers: "Kim Basinger and the Sundance
Miss." Ummm!
One always has doubts and fears about returning to a former parish. But the welcome I got from Francis and our friends at Grouville Church a few Sundays ago soon banished them. Thank you all for such a special Sunday with you, and for the Wednesday Communion group.
I do hope that people will support the Jersey-Keswick Convention in June as they sounded very helpful indeed. The Methodist minister who explained about them told us that the idea of a Jersey-Keswick had originated in St Ouen, and then wondered aloud if any good thing could come out of St Ouen? (Bible students will recognise the reference!) I had the joy and privilege of growing up in St Ouen -but perhaps that would only reinforce the preacher's beliefs!
Heyho, time to get this off to Jersey, but first to secure a pigeon. (Memories of Dick Dastardly and Mutley watched with the children many years ago.) Hope it makes it.
Terry Hampton

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