The first thing that I was unprepared for was the length of time it would take, which I hadn't even considered until one of the Chevre announced 'by the time you walk out of here at 1am, you will be very different'.
Sorry, 1am???? What?!?!? I checked the train timetable. Last train left at midnight. Sigh. So what to do? Three options:
- Leave halfway through the meal and connection at 11:30 and catch the last train home.
- Stay until the end of the meal and catch a taxi home, tripling the cost of the meal.
- Stay until the end of the meal and wander the streets of London until the first train home.
The first connection finished and everyone headed down to be seated for the meal. I was lucky enough to be sitting near the front, next to the head table, so that I could keep up with everything that was going on. One thing that I was prepared for was that I was going to leave the meal feeling ever so slightly drunk. Anyone who knows me understands my capacity for alcohol - e.g. zero, zilch, zip, nada. One sniff of vodka and I am reeling. One sip of wine and I get giggly and instantly need a wee.
But with the Seder meals you drink 4 glasses of wine. And I am not talking about a leisurely sipping of four glasses of wine throughout the meal, sensibly on top of food. I am talking about downing two glasses of wine in one go before you even start the meal. Kabbalistic binge drinking, if you will. There is not enough time for a non-drinker to prepare for that one. So there is another excuse.
What am I excusing? My stupidity, perhaps? My ability to take two and two and make nothing?
At some point early in the meal (definitely after the first glass of wine, it has to be said) I glanced at the head table.
"Oh" I thought "There's that chap that looks remarkably like Guy Ritchie. Uncanny".
I thought no more of it.
Ten minutes later. "Oh. There's that girl who looks remarkably like Lourdes - I thought that she would be with her father in San Diego". Still no connection. But even better, five minutes later (and probably after the second glass of wine):
"Oh, doesn't that woman look like Madonna? Remarkable. Can't be".
And I kid you not - I made no connection between the three. In fact, I was more likely to think 'How funny to have three lookey-likey's in the same room!' D'Oh!
So of course, it was them. The entire family was sitting at the head table. I guess that if anything I expected them to be in San Diego if attending Pesach at all, and I didn't expect to see them all together, let alone just tucked in with everyone else, unpestered.
And that's the great thing about Kabbalah - there is integrity in the belief that everyone is equal.
And I was fascinated with their presence, but not for reasons that you might suspect. I don't fawn over celebrities - they are just people like everyone else - but still, I was at times transfixed.
Why? Because there have been so many things written in the media lately about Madonna and Guy - so many things that the gutter press have tried to skew and scratch and scrape at to tarnish their characters - and much as I hate the media with a passion, I read some of the articles thinking 'I hope that's not true'. And blessed with the opportunity to observe them (from a non-pestering distance) together as a family I was able to abolish any doubts that I had.
Guy Ritchie 'finishing with Kabbalah and burning his white clothes'? Nope.
Guy hating Madonna so much that he now refers to her as 'It'? Couldn't have been further from the truth - their strong friendship was very apparent.
Madge and Guy fighting over the kids? Don't be daft.
At no point in the evening did Madonna take centre stage - that's not what she was there for. She was plainly dressed. She wore no makeup. She looked like a woman who had just had her application for child adoption turned down and then flown halfway round the world with her children. She looked understandably tired and jet-lagged but despite that she continued to take care of her children as all good mothers do.
There was no evidence of any of the family 'putting on a front' to face the public - their behaviour was very natural: A marriage that hasn't worked out and two spiritual parents who are keeping it together for their kids.
I wonder if some of you reading this were hoping that at some point in this post I would reveal some gossip, like maybe she left with someone else, or they had a few sharp words, or she had a personal taster for her food, or her kids ran riot. Nope. Boring, isn't it? Nobody would pay me for: "Madonna and Guy and their family sit and eat a meal and are nice, normal people"
Sorry to disappoint, but I'll leave the gossip to those without a conscience.
Kabbalah Rookie, Journalist to the StarZzzzzzzzz