Blogs

Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.


  • Storm in a bra cup. Or why M&S shouldn't reduce its big bra surcharge

    Alex Kasriel
    May 8, 2009

    It has just been announced that Marks & Spencer has scrapped its surcharge on bigger bras after a revolt from large busted women.

    A group calling itself 'Busts 4 Justice' won enormous support for its fight against the extra £2 levy on bras larger than a DD-cup.

    I myself am in the higher-than-DD-cup bracket, but you know what, I didn't resent paying more for a £16 bra. At least M&S stocked bras in my size. (It has always been a struggle to find anything above a DD in most stores.) And at least at M&S underwear is cheaper than the rest of the posh brands who charge upwards of £25 for a bra, whatever the size.

  • Twenty Firsts Meme

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    I've been tagged by Daniel Finkelstein to answer this Q&A, so here we go:

    First Job: I worked in Mecca bookmakers, Long Lane, Hillingdon. My main memory is of my first day there when, trying to be helpful, I stepped up to serve a customer who had walked in. After I'd put his bet on, I got the most terrible, angry stares from the rest of the staff. I assumed I'd made some awful mistake, and asked what I'd done wrong. ‘Never, ever do that again,' the manager told me. ‘Do what?', I asked. ‘Serve him'.

    I had, you see, crashed in on the highlight of their day. The man I had served was - cue drum roll... - Russell Grant's father. (If you don't know who Russell Grant is: trust me, you're missing nothing.) And serving him was the biggest event of the day.

  • MEPP is moving

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    The JC is very lucky to have Sky News' Tim Marshall writing for us. He has an excellent blog post up today on MEPP - which, in case you're not au fait with the diplomatic shorthand for 'The Middle East Peace Process'. You can read it here.

    Here's Tim's main argument:

     

  • The JC wot done it (or, at least, we helped)

    Jan Shure
    May 7, 2009

    I am feeling smug. Forgive me, but something the JC has been campaigning for has become a reality. It isn't, sadly, world peace, or the eradication of hunger, but - in the context of British Jews, it is a tiny victory. This coming winter, there will be direct flights - 14 in all - between London and Eilat. They will be operated by Isrotel - they will be called the Isrotel Sun Express - and I like to think that the JC played some part in the decision to launch the flights.

    Last September, in the JC comment pages, I wrote an opinion piece entitled "Why does Israel make it so hard to visit Eilat?" (www.thejc.com/articles/why-does-israel-make-it-so-hard-visit-eilat-0). I pointed out that British visitor numbers had fallen from around 45,000 in 1997 to 6,000 last year, and asked why we sun-loving Brits were no longer flocking to Israel's south to "soak up the winter-round sunshine, luxuriate in its world-class hotels, snorkel round the coral reef, take desert tours and generally chill out."

    The answer - or, at least, my answer - was that it was no longer as easy to get to Eilat as it had been back in 1997, when there were two weekly flights to Ovda by El Al, and a third by Monarch. Two years ago, Longwood Holidays put on its own somewhat erratic charter flights to Eilat (operated with Israir, and the subject of substantial criticism), and last winter arranged a series of flights which were discontinued in January when the media fall-out from the Gaza conflict virtually wiped out demand for Eilat holidays.

  • Oh dear, what can the matter be?

    Marcus Dysch
    May 7, 2009

    I anticipated numerous problems that could crop up on my trip to follow Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor around Belfast.

    Getting locked in a toilet cubicle at Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly, was not one of them.

    Having successfully negotiated the understandably tight security at the parliament building – you’ll remember Loyalist killer Michael Stone threatening to shoot a security guard in the lobby in 2006 – I was waiting for the Israeli delegation to arrive for their meetings.

  • Cock-up, not conspiracy

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    Yes, yes, it was lovely to see both Arsenal and Chelsea booted out (especially as Chelsea lost to my second favourite team).

    The idea seems to have taken hold that the referee last night was in some ways carrying out UEFA orders to avoid a second all English final.

    Last night's match thought was proof that, when it comes to cock-up versus conspiracy, it's almost always a cock-up. How do those who think Chelsea were beaten by a UEFA conspiracy explain the fact that the ref wrongly sent off a Barcelona player? If he'd been trying to force a Barcelona win, the last thing he would have done is send off a Barcelona player, especially when there was no cause to send anyone off.

  • The EU knows best

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    Dan Hannan has an interesting post on his blog, on what he (rightly) calls the EU's attempts to get its hands on the internet. As he writes:

    Viviane Reding, bonsai Commissioner from the bonsai state of
    Luxembourg, wants ICANN, the company that allocates Internet addresses,
    to be taken over by an international consortium: what she calls "a G12 for Internet governance".

    What is her problem with the current model? That it doesn't work?
    That it's too expensive? That people can't register the names they
    want? Nope. She objects to it because it is American. As she put it earlier this week:

  • Ratzinger , Benedict and the SS

    Stephen Pollard
    May 7, 2009

    We had a seminar here last week on Pope Benedict, prior to his visit to Israel.

    One of the stories which emerged, about which I - and, having asked around, the same goes for many other people - was wholly ignorant was his extraordinary decision as Cardinal Ratzinger to break away from a ceremony marking the Normandy landings, to visit SS graves at La Cambe.

  • Avram’s still unique

    Danny Caro
    May 7, 2009

    Avram Grant. Remember him? Still the only man to take Chelsea to a Champions League final.

    While referee Tom Ovrebo has been struck off the Christmas card list of every Chelsea supporter, the conduct of German captain Michael Ballack and Didier Drogba, who was off the pitch having been substituted, must be punished by Uefa.

    Two of the most high-profile players in the Premier League lost their cool, chasing the match official to protest and vent their anger at several decisions they felt he had got wrong.