Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • A Class Act

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 20, 2009

    It seems I am the proud author of the first book on James Purnell's shelf.

    On Saturday he told the Guardian that he had spent his time since leaving the Cabinet rearranging his books:

    In his time on the backbenches Purnell has set about arranging his
    thoughts, both literally and metaphorically – it took one weekend to
    arrange the books in his flat from A to Z (A Class Act, by his former
    cabinet colleague Lord Adonis, the transport secretary, to Emile Zola).

  • Barking

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 20, 2009

    This is what is known as cause for thought: it seems that 25 per cent of the British population are certifiably insane.

    Twenty-five per cent of the British public refuse to believe man has walked
    on the Moon, a survey conducted on behalf of E&T magazine has

    Although perhaps even more disturbingly,

  • Naomi Klein's view of Jews

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 20, 2009

    Naomi Klein, poster girl for so many on the left, spoke last week at a seminar in Ramallah. Her words have received almost no coverage outside Israel. They should have done. Because they reveal something pretty revolting about the way she views Jews. 

    Jews, she said:

    even think we get one get-away-with-genocide-free-card.

  • Back with a bang...

    Danny Caro
    Jul 17, 2009

    I know that football is a funny old game but saw the same GB Open football team go from the ridiculous to the sublime within the space of two days.

    A poor display against France was followed by a top-class performance against the boys from Brazil of all teams.

    It made me feel proud to be British as I know that this is how the team can play.

  • Stumped...

    Danny Caro
    Jul 17, 2009

    I thought that trying to explain the offside rule to my wife was hard but that is nothing compared to explaining the rules of cricket to my Israeli cab driver.

    I mean how do you explain LBW and the different ways of getting out?

    I tried hand gestures but he looked stumped!

  • Wet, wet, wet

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 17, 2009

    To everybody's favourite reading, Fort Lauderdale's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which reports that an "ordained Jewish cantor," Debbie Ballard, is training at a Florida scuba shop in order to perform Jewish weddings under water.
    Apparently they get round the glass-smashing by getting the groom to smash a lightbulb with his flipper, while later the couple "sip wine out of a sippy cup", whatever that may be.
    The paper has gone as far as consulting local rabbis for an expert opinion.
    "As long as certain traditions are kept, the ocean wedding could be legal according to Jewish law, said Reform Rabbi Barry Silver, of L'Dor Va-Dor congregation in Boynton Beach, Fla.
    "Rabbi Richard Polirer, of congregation Beth Hillel in Margate, Fla., said the idea could grow on him.
    "But he said he doesn't know if couples should do it just for the sake of it.
    'Just because you can doesn't mean you should,' he said."
    Like they say: only in America.

  • Too soon to tell...

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 17, 2009

    Gideon Rachman has a nice post on apocryphal phrases:

    I was amused to read this column by one of President Carter’s former speech-writers,
    pointing out that Carter never used the word “malaise” in the famous
    speech in 1979 that became known as the “malaise speech”. A shame since
    both the speech and the phrase have come to define the Carter era as
    one of gloom and defeatism.

    The anecdote supports a personal theory of mine that a great many
    era-defining sayings are apocryphal. James Callaghan, Britain’s prime
    minister in the late 1970s, was lambasted for saying “Crisis, what
    crisis” when he returned from an overseas trip to a strike-torn
    Britain. Except he never said it. It was a newspaper headline
    purporting to summarise his comments.