Gate story #1

It’s 1989 and I’ve recently arrived back from Israel after spending time in Jerusalem doing crazy stuff like hanging out in a yeshiva (male jewish learning centre) which did mess with my head a little…. and when I wasn’t in that yeshiva, I would spend time traveling to odd places to earn money anyway I could – like picking olives.

So for 2 weeks I’d live on some ancient hillside earning my money in olive oil, going down to the desert and spending time with some Bedouins in The Sinai.

I did a bit of snorkelling, but most off time was hanging out by the campfire listening to the Bedouins’ stories of the past. Here you would meet with all sorts of people like the full moon brigade (nowadays more likely to be in Thailand). I remember there was one guy who told me he felt a bit horny. I know I shouldn’t have done but I asked when he last had sex and he replied 13 years ago….. there was probably too much good acid going around in those days

Anyway here I am, back in London spending time with my Father working as an electrician’s mate. I felt like I was I living in some Cat Stevens Song (for those who are much younger than me check.

One day Adrian, my elder brother, phoned me to say that he had found a restaurant in Hammersmith and was going to be opening in a few weeks and did I want to give him a hand.

I had no real intention of getting involved in the restaurant business. I was planning on going back to the desert.

However, I did, as all I ever wanted to do was spend time with my older brother whom I loved and idolised.

So I find my way to Hammersmith, to this place called Temple Lodge, another strange place of religious significance. It seemed weird. I asked myself how did I end up in a Rudolf Steiner centre after being in all those other holy places that I hung out in.

The Temple Lodge crowd were a bit strange to say the least, they weren’t unfriendly but they were definitely not outgoing.

So here I am, helping my brother open a vegetarian restaurant in a Rudolf Steiner centre. While my brother didn’t know much about running a restaurant, I most definitely knew a lot less. More of this in future posts.

So why is The Gate called The Gate? Well, the Steiner Centre had a cafe call the Angel Gate and I was just back from the holy land where, to be honest, I’d become a bit of a zealot so there was no way I was going to have a Christian-centric name above the door. Oh the irony. I insisted we drop the ‘Angel’ bit and called it The Gate – even though there was a gate at the entrance which featured Angels..Go figure. I got my comeuppance though. 24 years after opening the first Gate, I opened the second one in…Angel.

While the building works were going on in Hammersmith the priest, Peter van Breda (a great friend), and I are talking about the refurbishment and I said it would be nice to use the original gate in some way and he said sadly they were stolen – surprise surprise – during the works but he did have the first copy of the gates with angels in them.

So here I am 25 years later with a Gate (and a gate) in Hammersmith with angels and a Gate in Angel. Coincidentally the name Michael translate to mich-angel in Hebrew and English as ‘he who is like god’.

I’m most certainly NOT claiming any sort of divinity but there’s quite a few lessons here, not least of which is ‘Don’t be a zealot’.