WONDERLAND – JEWS ON A CRUISE: Wednesday 29th February, BBC2, 9pm
Gaby Lock and his wife Tikwah have been married for over 40 years, but have never been on a holiday together so it’s no surprise that it takes them a while to pack for a cruise around the Mediterranean. Our chatty camera man suggests that one of the reasons for this could be the 613 commandments that Orthadox Jews must live by, but it’s probably more to do with the fact that Tikwah is trying to fit clothes in the suitcase without removing the hangers first. Viewers may remember this couple from Paddy Wivell’s Wonderland film on Hasidic weddings last year and this warm-hearted follow-up is just as interesting, although it says as much about elderly married couples as it does about about Judaism.
This Stamford Hill couple are quirky, dogmatic and ultimately, despite their various eccentricities, very likable and as the cruise goes on, their relationship is examined in touching detail. Gaby is an vivacious and talkative individual who enjoys meeting new people, a habit which often means his rather reclusive wife gets left behind and in these unfamiliar environs the situation is thrown into stark relief.
In fairness to Gaby, he simply seems to have a hunger for life and a desire to try new things, which is nothing to be ashamed of. He tries the late-night entertainment, he doesn’t like it, he goes to the ship’s relationship counsellor and looks confused, he gets into an argument with a (bloody strange) tour guide in Crete and ends up discussing the island with her for hours. “I think very little of myself,” says Tikwah in a private moment. “He knows everything and he does everything.”
It all sounds quite morbid on paper, but the atmosphere of this Wonderland film is not one of a failing relationship, but a couple clearly in love with each other and committed despite their differences. At times it’s even strangely comic. Maybe it’s because I’m a bloke but I couldn’t help but sympathise with Gaby, yet the camera man seemed to be more upset with his behaviour than his wife and watching him buy her a present from the trip he went on without her is undeniably cute. Seeing him kick-off during the creative towel folding is also a bit of a trip in itself. Yeah, you read that sentence right..