Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • A Littlejohn

    Jenni Frazer
    May 11, 2009

    New readers start here. A favourite catchphrase of the columnist Richard Littlejohn is "You couldn't make it up."

    Much the same thought flickered briefly this morning as I listened to the long litany of excuses trotted out by MPs caught in the Telegraph's relentless spotlight over the parliamentary expenses scandal.

    My absolute fave today was the Conservative woman (her name, mercifully, escapes me) who, having had the temerity to claim for dog food, now thinks that she's making things right by repaying the claim — a whole £4. This is not just chutzpah, this is 24-carat gold chutzpah. Like I said, A Littlejohn.

  • The Pope is deeply suspect to Jewish eyes (The Times)

    Stephen Pollard
    May 11, 2009

    I have a piece in today's Times on the Pope's visit to Israel. You can read it here.

    This is the conclusion:

    If ever there was a case for avoiding public display and concentrating
    on quiet activity, surely it is this. Instead of a visit that risks
    inflaming already heated passions, far better to let the Pope’s future
    deeds demonstrate that his actions to date have been an aberration.

  • Another plot

    Stephen Pollard
    May 8, 2009

    The Olympics. Now, whatever you might think of London taxpayers being crippled for generations so that people can run around and throw things in 2012, here's something I bet you didn't realise.

    It's all a Zionist - aka Jewish - conspiracy.

    Specifically, the dates of the London Olympics.

  • 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?" ( 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.