Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • So near but yet so far

    Danny Caro
    Jul 24, 2009

    The dramatic scenes at the end of the Open football and rugby finals are what makes the world of sport so special.

    Who would have thought that Team GB would lose both matches? After the defeat against France, Jonathan Kestenbaum’s men kept stepping up a gear and the difference between gold and silver came down to the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a penalty shootout.

    The boys went into the competition on the back of three friendlies against strong opposition. Each match was followed by a penalty shootout. But with little at stake, other than perhaps fine-tuning techniques, this was a case of practice not making perfect.

  • India's Security Barrier

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 24, 2009

    Last night's Channel Four News featured a lengthy report on a security barrier.

    But, shock horror, it was not Israel's fence/wall in the West Bank, but rather the one at the centre of India's efforts to protect her border with Bangladesh and slow the threat from Islamist militants.

    When complete, the barrier will consist of no less than 2,000 miles of barbed wire, manned by thousands of armed troops. The intention is that by next year the whole border will be sealed off.

  • Fashion victim

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 24, 2009

    Much giggling among the fashion cognoscenti at Amy Winehouse's appearance in court this week, dressed in a mimsy little pinstripe suit and completing the look with a pearl necklace and discreet pearl stud earrings. Ms W is clearly into the Miucca Prada frump look, and has plainly been advised by those in the know that she will get a more sympathetic hearing from the judge if she covers up her tattoos. The astonishing thing, given La Winehouse's previous form, is that she took any notice of someone telling her how to dress. Perhaps her trigger response is no longer "No, no, no..."

  • Do reviewers always read books?

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 24, 2009

    Another shocker review for Ten Days, this time in Scotland on Sunday.

    It's always interesting to me when people who are supposedly reviewing a book seem to be reviewing an entirely different book.Forgive me for being so self-referential here, but this latest review is an especially interesting example of that. 

    I've rarely before had a review from someone who seems incapable of understanding the language in which I write. But I have to wonder whether Mark Horne, the S on S reviewer, can read English.

  • Ronaldo bringing peace to the Middle East?

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 23, 2009

    The Daily Telegraph has a story on its site about former Golden Boot winner Ronaldo (the original, fat one) who is to star as himself in a movie due to be made in Lebanon.

    There’s plenty of potential for mirth in the simple facts of the matter: Would any child really dream of the toothy striker without waking up in a cold sweat? Does this mean his football career is finally over? Is he really still only 32?

    I could go on.

  • The man behind...

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 23, 2009

    Ever heard of John Barry? Not the Bond composer - the other one.

    I hadn't until I read his obituary. Chances are you have had cause to thank Mr Barry for his invention at least once in the past month. Mr Barry, you see, was the man behind WD-40, and as such did more to contribute to day to day life than many far more exalted names.

    Have a read of his obit. It's a fascinating case study. 

  • He never said it

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 23, 2009

    This is the big one, as punctured by Gideon Rachman:

    Whenever European leaders want to justify the drive for ever-closer
    union in foreign policy, they quote Henry Kissinger’s famous remark -
    “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?”. The comment is meant to
    epitomise Europe’s failure to get its act together on the world stage.
    The hope in Brussels is that if the Lisbon Treaty goes through, the
    Americans will finally get that single number to dial; it will be the
    new EU foreign secretary for Hillary Clinton, and new EU president for

    The Kissinger “who do I call” remark was trotted out at almost every
    seminar I ever went to Brussels. So I’m delighted to add it to the list
    of “famous sayings that were never said”.

  • How to blow your case, by Nadine Dorries

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 22, 2009

    Unintentionally hilarious post on Tory MP Nadine Dorries's blog.

    She starts off having a go at the idea that MPs have too much holiday, arguing that the fact that they aren't sitting doesn't mean they have the time off:

    ‘MPs take 85 days holiday' is one example. I don't suppose the headline ‘MPs hammer the constituency work during the month of September' is really eye catching enough, but is the truth ever as good as the fiction?