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Sunday, July 17, 2011

An English Tea Party with the British Ambassador

Once a year, during the school vacation, the English Teachers Association in Israel holds a two day conference.

It’s a great way to inject a bit of interest  and enthusiasm into our weary bones just after the  end of year exams and to exchange  tips / lesson plans / strategies / ideas, recommend books and replenish some of our enthusiasm for our chosen career

There’s also a large book exhibition where we get a chance to peruse and order books on teaching English from all the large book publishers.

Often one of  the  book publishers  treats us to a lunch, but this year we were honored with a visit from the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, and so the British Council in Israel laid on an English tea party, complete with mini sandwiches and cakes and pastries.

The one disappointment was the TEA. Now one thing I’ve never given up is my English tea. Whenever I return to England I always stock up on  good old Tetley, PG Tips  or something similar and in LARGE quantities.

Israelis, like the Americans – just don’t know anything about a decent cup of tea. They think you drink it without milk and consequently it is sooooo weak.

But I did expect better from the British Council. I  expected them to have a decent supply of real English tea.

But one look at what was poured out of that English look-alike teapot and I knew ………… it was the weak foreign stuff.


Matthew Gould’s speech  almost made up for the terrible tea.


He was charming, witty, knew how to poke fun at himself  and talked a lot of sense –  characteristics that don’t often go together these days. He explained his hesitation at applying for the post,  being Jewish himself and his visits to several mosques prior to leaving for Israel to assure the British Moslems that he was also their representative as well, even though he was Jewish.

He discussed the anti-Israel boycott  and anti-Semitism on some of the UK university campuses and explained the delay in passing the bill that will halt the possibility of our members of  Knesset and other ex-military personnel being arrested for war crimes when they visit Israel.

He even answered the pointed, political questions  we posed, very clearly and astutely.

I almost forgave them the awful tea.