Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Public schoolboys

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 24, 2009

    I took part last night in the first Spectator debate. You can read about it here.

    Especially interesting was the barbed comment at the end of David Davis' speech. He was arguing alongside me in favour of grammar schools:

    Today we are witnessing the results of a failed revolution, where
    egalitarians abolished grammar schools to level opportunity in our
    society, and accidentally destroyed the chances of the very people they
    were trying to help.

  • Prime Minister Bercow?

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 24, 2009

    Paul Linford has a fascinating post on previous examples of 'young' Speakers (I do like that adjective being widely applied to a 46 year old man):

    The year 1789 is chiefly remembered for being the year of the French
    Revolution. But it was also the year the Commons elected two
    thirty-something Speakers who both went on to occupy Number 10 Downing

    The first of these was William Grenville, who was
    elected Speaker at the ripe old age of 30 and held the office only very
    briefly before quitting to become Home Secretary.

  • Hit me bubelah one more time

    Marcus Dysch
    Jun 22, 2009

    According to reports in the States today, Britney Spears is set to agree to play a role in a somewhat peculiar film about the Holocaust.

    The National Lodger website claims the controversial singer will appear in "The Yellow Star of Sophia and Eton" after completing her Circus concert tour.

    Apparently the film features the story of Sophia LaMont (Spears' supposed character) who builds a time machine and travels back to World War Two where she meets Eton, a Jewish man held in a concentration camp.

  • The Lubavitch rabbi and the ‘Kill children' controversy

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 22, 2009

    Rabbi Manis Friedman is a veteran Lubavitch lecturer whose students at one time included Bob Dylan in Minnesota.

    But now he has become the centre of controversy over remarks he made to an American Jewish magazine saying that the “only way to fight a moral war” is to “kill men, women and children”.

    He was one of the rabbis invited by Moment’s Ask the rabbi column to respond to the question, “How should Jews treat their Arab neighbours?”
    Here is most of his published response:

  • Pied pipering

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 22, 2009

    I love this story from the Aberdeen Press and Journal:

    A PLAN to drive youngsters away from congregating at a shop by playing classical music failed — when the children became fans.

    Bosses at the Co-op store in the Cove area of Aberdeen became fed up with the youngsters causing trouble outside.

    They invested money in a music system which played only orchestral sounds in the hope it would keep them away — but it failed.

    Duty manager Craig Singers said: “It had the opposite effect.

    “On nights when the music wasn't playing the kids would
    come into the shop and ask why it wasn't on. They grew to like it. That
    wasn't what we wanted to happen.

  • Hands off our rabbis, Israel

    Simon Rocker
    Jun 19, 2009

    English rabbis are apparently highly prized among Jerusalem's strictly Orthodox community.

    But the Jewish Tribune columnist Ben Yitzchok is none too impressed at rumours that representatives from Israel are "fishing around" London in the hope of recruiting rabbinic talent.

    Let them grow their own rather than deprive London's strictly Orthodox community of "another one of their treasured rabbonim", he advises in this week's edition.

  • Don't switch off yet

    Geoffrey Paul
    Jun 19, 2009

    Of course, it had to happen one day. A reform synagogue in Virginia podcasts all its religious services and, reports the rabbi of Temple B'nai Shalom in Fairfax Station, “It's been fantastic for our members, especially the elderly, people with chronic illness and those serving in the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and foreign service assignments.” Why, people even “take services on their vacations and on business trips...our teens listen to the podcasts even when they are not away.” I cannot imagine this will ever catch on with the United Synagogue. Can you imagine, no more deficit shuls or crumbling cathedrals (often the same)? Services will be transmitted from Studio 4B at Marble Arch and from the property sales there would be tons of money for the redundant rabbis' pension fund. Of course, it would spell the end of communal kiddushim and we would have to take kiddush at home alone. No, most definitely not for the United Synagogue. Not in my lifetime...

  • A nose for a good story

    Jenni Frazer
    Jun 18, 2009

    How, I wonder, could I have missed this piece of essential information for the world of journalism? The New York Times has a perfume critic.
    True, the appointment is now nearly three years old, but hey, some news takes time to filter through and it's always worth saving the best until last.

    But a perfume critic? In a newspaper? The perfectly named Chandler Burr, one of those roll-off-the-tongue American names which sound like parcels or marker posts for remote villages, is indeed the incumbent of this post. Every so often, his column sniffs the latest and then distils the top ten smells for a breathless public.

    Just think of the sheer, unbridled luxury of a newspaper that has a correspondent for absolutely everything. I'm sure that's what the JC is missing. We need a perfume critic. I love the smell of burning chopped and fried fish in the morning...

  • They're like us

    Stephen Pollard
    Jun 18, 2009

    Wednesdays are bad blogging days for me - it's press day - so forgive me being a day late with this, but if you haven't read Daniel Finkelstein's wonderful column on Iran, drop everything and do so now. It's here. I won't print an extract because I want you to read it all.