Thursday, November 22, 2001

It's our last night in Jerusalem now. I was sort of hoping for it anyway, because I'm getting a bit restless and want to move on, plus the weather's turned cold, but Simon was wanting a couple more days. He's changed his mind now though. I think Jerusalem's getting to him.

Jerusalem, and I cannot stress this enough, attracts some very, very, very odd people.

For all the history, and churches, and mosques, and soldiers, and big walls, and immense religious significance, it is definitely the people in Jerusalem that I'll remember most vividly in years to come. I cannot imagine there being anywhere else on Earth with such a high proportion of insane people. The terrifying thing is that we've only been here three nights so far and I know we've only just scraped the surface of the pure mentalism that exists here.

Last night at the hostel was just ludicrous. As an experience it was unforgettable and I don't regret it, but we have as a result moved to a new hostel, because there's some experiences that aren't worth prolonging. It was like being some in stupid film with over the top, charicatured, stereotyped lunatics. Except these people were sitting right next to us.

I did mention most of them in yesterday's entry, but oh boy, there was some character development since. The killer turned out to be the nicest of the lot. He seemed quite intelligent too, just very nervy and twitchy. You could honestly see him snapping. He seemed to get on quite well with this Russian guy who was sharing a bed in our dormitory. The Russian guy was totally spacey and spoke like he was drunk, but was also quite friendly. Seeing the Russian guy and the killer interact was a most curious experience as the conversation stammered by and leapt from topic to topic. Amusingly, they confided in us that they thought the slugman (who almost grunted at me one more time before getting an early bed) was a bit crazy. We laughed, and in a rare moment of revelation the killer said "Everyone here is crazy!"

It turned out to be the Israeli/Canadian/Swede that was the craziest of the lot. He was called Johnny, or so he said. To be honest, I doubt quite a lot of what he said. Such as him being a marine. He spoke loudly in this blues-singer type drawl. He said he'd been in the Israeli desert, serving in the military, for the last 14 years and had hated every moment of it. "Land of milk and honey?" he scorned loudly, "More like the land of shit and piss!" and he repeated this remark at least five times. He had a "friend" called Andrew, another guy who must have been in his 50s and seemed quite Jewish, who he had loud conversations with. Johnny also warned us that the Russian guy was crazy and liked to take shower at 5am and would speak to himself loudly in Russian.

But the reparte was best between Johnny and the crazy woman allegedly in charge of the day to day running of the hostel, Susan. A nasal American, at least in her forties, with miserable curly hair and baggy trousers in shreds. Her face seemed permanently contorted in an expression somewhere between utter bewilderment and utter contempt. She was a floaty, spaced-out creature, and Johnny delighted in yelling abuse at her. The abuse appeared to pass her by and it was only when Johnny called her his wife that she meandered down the stairs and looked at us and screeched wretchedly "I'm not his wife. He's not a marine. He's a homosexual," and disappeared again.

We had a couple of beers and took an early night, deciding then that maybe we'd just move on the next morning. We'd already shifted from the dormitory to a marginally more expensive private room because it had begun to piss it down with rain and the dormitory roof was leaking water onto our beds, and the electricty sockets next to them really didn't look too trustworthy.

I was woken up in the middle of the night with some sort of commotion downstairs. As we discovered, our room functioned as an ear to the entire hostel. Johnny was cursing loudly about some doorhandle to a toilet door being missing, telling Andrew (I presume, it's very possible he was speaking to himself) that Susan was an intelligent woman and had probably hidden it to get revenge. This went on for ages, and it was later in the morning, when Susan was up, that a small story began to emerge.

All this I gather from Johnny's continued abuse towards Susan, and a phonecall between Susan and the hostel owner. Something about another guest that night, in a private room, who'd paid for two nights but had left that morning and wanted his money back for the second night. She seemed insistant that it was because Johnny had been getting into fights (something he'd told us) and had been breaking glass all over the hostel that night. She kept calling him an "assassinator" and screamed furiously down the phone that she hasn't been telling guests that he was a killer, it had been him boasting about it. She kept saying the word "assassinator" over and over. It's already become one of my favourite words.

So that was two killers, at least, we were staying with. I'd love to have stayed longer but... well, time to move on. We're now at our third and final hostel in the city, and it seems quite good. There's even someone normal in our room, a Dutchard called Ivo. He's pleasant, relaxed, not obviously nuts and apparently not an assassinator.

Still, we're leaving tomorrow to Eilat. Prompted mainly by some mysterious experience Simon had today with a small gay Jew from London, also called Simon. We were doing our own thing today, and when we met back up again, Simon was looking visibly shaken and very quickly agreed that he wanted to leave Jerusalem tomorrow. He met this small gay Jew from London, also called Simon, in the post office and apparently Simon the Jew (as we'll call him) was very intense and tried to psychoanalyse him and was very personal and touched his leg, and as Simon escaped, Simon the Jew asked him if he was 100% heterosexual or just 90%. That's all I've gathered so far, Simon has been very vague on the whole affair so I'm going to check out his account to see if he gives any more detail. But he did seem decidedly shaken by it all.

That's Jerusalem then. A city full of mentalists. Tomorrow - Eilat.

Oh yeah, and it's our 100th day travelling today. Our 100 shots of beers in a 100 minuters has been postponed, but a good few drinks looks pretty certain. And also, in just 4 days time (26th Nov) it's my 23rd birthday, so I'm expecting a simply gargantuan amount of emails wishing me a wonderful birthday and unconfined joy for the future. Ok?

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