- Paul Lester
Oct 2, 2008
Oh dear. Just when I thought my ex couldn't impact on my life any more, she goes and gets me banned from driving. In a way. And it's all because of my fab! new! JC column about life as a single dad. All will be revealed in next week's installment of Suddenly Single. Suffice to say that your relationship with your former spouse doesn't quite end with the decree absolute, the Get, or even the bit where you glare at each other across the kitchen table as removals men chuck all your worldly possessions into bin bags with all the finesse of a butcher in a slaughterhouse (non-kosher, natch). Not quite, no. Still, some good things have come out of my new-found north London notoriety and having my face plastered across the front cover of the world's foremost Jewish newspaper - everyone I know, and even people I don't know, have taken to stopping me in the street (which is quite impressive because I drive everywhere, although, like I say, not for much longer) to utter the immortal words: "Have I got a single Jewish girl for you!" A phrase to strike fear in even the hardest Jewish man's heart. Mind you, I'm not hard, not remotely, so actually I'm looking forward to six months, at least, of furious, relentless blind-dating. Maybe I should turn it into a regular feature in the JC. Oh, I already have.
- Paul Lester
Sep 29, 2008
Phew! That's a load off. I wrote my first column about the disintegration of my marriage in the single most widely read journal in the north London Jewish community, including references to all concerned, and the ex didn't want to have me tarred and feathered. Feathered, maybe, but then she always thought I looked good in soft fabrics. Not only did she not mind, she thought it was quite funny. Quite funny. Certainly not very funny. No, she made that abundantly clear. Actually, as though to prove that the JC is the single most widely read... etc, on Friday, after publication, I got a bigger response to something I'd written since the time I interviewed Snoop Doggy Dogg just after he'd been arrested for murder. To sum up, then: if you want to get the attention of a large group of Jews, write articles about divorce and homicidal American rappers.
- Simon Friend
Sep 26, 2008
As well as the much talked-about new state-of-the-art student centre in Euston, this week UJS moved its central offices from its longstanding base in Endsleigh Street to Camden Town. In addition to several stylish meeting rooms, a video-conferencing suite has been fitted for the umbrella organisation to be in touch with Jewish societies around the country, with the aim of “greater unity and integration when planning events and better communication when discussing issues”, according to UJS chair Adam Pike.
- Simon Friend
Sep 26, 2008
Freshers’ weeks mean a traditional drive to boost J-Soc memberships — but this year there has been a more centralised flavour. The Union of Jewish Students has been ferrying 15 laptops around university campuses to create a more comprehensive database of Jewish students.
- Gideon Schneider
Sep 25, 2008
Being named after the place of your conception may just work for Paris Hilton and Brooklyn Beckham, but ‘University College Hospital Fertility Laboratory' hardly has the same ring. Not even Bob Geldoff or Gwyneth Paltrow would entertain such a name.
I am referring to the fact that the combination of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy I am likely to receive has a one in ten, to one in five chance of leaving me infertile. So this week the hospital arranged an appointment at the lab for me where my inchoate offspring could be frozen for future defrosting. The reality of my visit was a cold, clinical room where the footsteps of the lab technician could be clearly heard just outside the door. Hardly a candle-lit boudoir. I sympathised with couples who have to go through much worse when trying for children.
In the past two months I have several times enjoyed the hospitality of various in-patient wards. While being prepared for my general anaesthetic for the biopsy on my neck, I was stripped and paraded before an assembly of doctors and nurses in a gown not even Primark would claim ownership of, before being spread out on a slab like a sirloin steak waiting for the surgical knife. (Actually I felt worse for the doctors than myself in this particular case.)Being hooked up to several drips as well as receiving a battery of blood tests has left me feeling like Obama's Palin-shaped voodoo doll. On occasion I've resembled the back of a computer with wires and tubes snaking away from my arms and chest. I have also been squeezed, prodded, pinched, poked and groped by various doctors, with the added pleasure of having it all witnessed by medical students. At first a person's inhibitions make such experiences an emotional ordeal. However, as anyone who has spent time in medical care will tell you, there comes a point where getting worked up about intrusive treatment feels like more of a hassle than just letting the doctors get on with it.
- Paul Lester
Sep 24, 2008
Not that I want you to feel sorry for me or anything, but my wife left me last year for the chap who was doing up our house. So now I’ve got three things in common with Larry David — a neurotic dislike of most social situations, not a great deal of hair, and an ex with a predilection for Men Who Can.
Don’t get me wrong — I would have felt just as humiliated if she’d run off with our dentist or even our mortgage adviser. But there was something doubly upsetting about the fact that she chose someone who can put up a shelf while juggling a spirit-level and a copy of The Sun when, frankly, I’m useless at either.
Suddenly, after 14 years with an unusually practical Jewish woman, I was faced with the frightening prospect of doing everything myself — including the washing, working heavy machinery (my brand-new Indesit weighs a ton) and dusting my piles of pristine rock magazines. I’m an anally retentive freelance journalist who writes album and concert reviews and interviews musicians for a living.
- Anshel Pfeffer
Sep 23, 2008
Gordon Brown will probably manage to ward off the latest Labour rebellion, for now, and depart from his party's conference for the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Effectively a lame-duck prime minister, just waiting for the moment in which one of his cabinet ministers plucks up courage to wield the knife.
President Shimon Peres has also left for New York, after calling in Tzipi Livni last night, to entrust her with forming a new government. Ehud Olmert remains caretaker prime minister for at least a few more weeks, as Livni will not likely succeed in scraping a coalition together until the High Holy Days season is over. If she fails, then Israel goes for elections, with Olmert still standing uneasily at the helm.
Peres and Brown will meet another lame duck in New York, George Bush, who has been reduced to irrelevancy in the White House. Real power will return to Washington only in January with the inauguration of the new president.
- Gideon Schneider
Sep 19, 2008
I've got cancer. Here's what to say if we meet
A few days before my diagnosis, I had been sceptical about the accuracy of that advert that says one in three people in the UK will be "directly affected by cancer". Surely some advertising guru had sexed up the stats for dramatic effect.
However, an unexpected phone call from my GP hit me with the news that the lump on my neck was in fact Hodgkin's lymphoma, and not the harmless cyst I was hoping for. Well-meaning nurses as well as the specialist were quick to reassure me that if you had to choose a cancer, this immune-system-attacking variety was the best one in terms of prognosis. I was glad everyone approved of my choice.
Having been diagnosed, I was determined to be practical rather than emotional. I wasn't saddened, nor was I fearful; and after telling my family and some close friends, it transpired that my mortality was something others were concerned about, but not me.
My parents and grandmother took the news badly, distressed by the injustice of it all. After the initial tears had been shed, my mother did what all good Jewish mothers do and asked me to move back to the family home so she could feed me well. I declined, because retaining some independence while weakened during the impending treatment felt empowering.
- Anshel Pfeffer
Sep 16, 2008
The collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers over the weekend prompted an interesting debate in the online forum of the white-racist website Stormfront. Some posters saw the demise of the financial institution, founded by America's grandest German-Jewish banking dynasty 158 years ago, as the ultimate triumph. "Who said Jews were ever good at money? They run a Con Game. Jews can't even manage their own banks," wrote one of them. Others were less jubilant, since "Jews didn't own Lehman Brothers, shareholders did. You me and anyone that has a pension scheme or an insurance policy has lost. The Jews will have known it was coming and moved their investments to a safer place months ago." Still others argued that, despite the bank not being family-owned for decades, this was still a debacle for the Jews as its senior management were hook-nosed.
Putting these rantings aside, it is still too early to say whether the subprime mortgage crisis is good or bad news for the Jews. Do the stories of Jewish-founded banks such as Lehman and Bear Stearns resonate differently than good ol' American household names like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae? Have internal dog-whistles gone off? It would be encouraging to believe that in the 21st century, outside of the depraved imagination of supremacists, Jews are no longer the prime suspects in international financial disasters, and indeed there are no signs of that happening yet. But ancient stereotypes are double-edged. In today's politically correct environment, saying that Jews are good with money can cost someone their job and reputation. But let's admit the truth: many of our chosen people have done quite well out of that image when trying to attract investors over the centuries.
When the credit-crunch crisis is finally over, and the Chinese, Japanese and Gulf Arabs are energetically rebuilding the ruins of Wall Street and the City, will we finally be released from one of our oldest stigmas? The goons can always go back to using the blood-libel.
- Graham Morrison
Aug 20, 2008
The closing ceremony is in three days. I've been here since 6th August and now it feels like time to go home.
Working at these events is like living in a bubble in a world where you lose track of time completely - and if you're not careful, reality. The seven hours difference between Beijing and London does not help either; it keeps you out of bed. And on top of that, you come to the conclusion that if you really want to follow the Olympics, in front of the television in London is probably the place to be - you just miss the atmosphere and the snippets that turn a report into a story.
Until this morning, the weather the last few days has been glorious, but this morning the rain returned. No amount of metaphorical rain though could dampen Team GB's party - as I write they are number three in the Olympic pecking order. Well maybe one thing could. Before the Games, UK Sport had a measurable target in medals, while the BOA just wanted to see progress. The target for London 2012, though, was stated as 4th. So what will Team GB do for an encore?