Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It was 40 years ago today

On the left is a picture taken in the morning of 25 September 1978, featuring my parents and I outside their bungalow in Cyn Coed, Cardiff. In a few minutes, we will load my luggage - one suitcase, one rucksack, two guitars and a mandolin (I'm holding it in my right hand - if one looks closely, the tuning pegs can be seen) - into the car before we set off for Heathrow Airport. My parents will return home at the end of the day; I will be starting a new chapter in my life as I emigrate to Israel.

I wonder what I am wearing on my head: I don't remember ever having a straw hat (prior to Italy this year) so it can't have lasted long. I also wonder what happened to that rain coat.

Despite the fact that there were 10-12 of us emigrating this year, only myself and two others flew today as we had settled our affairs and were ready. I remember that my parents had wished that I delay my departure by another two weeks - I emigrated just before the Jewish New Year and they wished that I wait until after Yom Kippur. But I had absolutely nothing to do in Cardiff; I also had very few possessions with me - everything else was packed away.

I remember being disappointed that no fuss was made of us on the plane - I half-heartedly complained to the stewardess that we should at least be served champagne as we were the only olim on the plane (we were flying El Al). When we arrived at Lod Airport (it hadn't yet been renamed Ben Gurion), we were whisked into a side office where we received our documents as new immigrants.

At some stage we left the offices, met the friends who had come to welcome us, and drove to Kibbutz Mishmar David, which was about half an hour away, in order to begin our new lives.

Unlike so many of my friends, I have stayed in Israel and have never contemplated returning to Britain. Apart from anything else, I didn't have anything to return to, especially after my parents emigrated four years later. I get contrasting pictures about modern-day Britain: it seems to be a less welcoming place than it was 40 years ago, but I have to remember that I never lived there as an adult. True, I did spend a year working in London, but that was limited in time and I had a huge safety net behind me. 

I do not regret for one moment my decision to live in Israel.

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