Spy thrillers are always suspect, aren’t they? Either the writer is boasting about his or her expertise, or they tip over from the preposterous into parody. Not so with the thrillers of Mishka Ben-David, the first of which, Duet in Beirut, is published in English for the first time this month. For 12 years Ben-David was a Mossad operative — and it shows.
Joanne Rosenthal fits the cynical profile of the Manchester United fan. She lives in London — although she was raised in Salford — and rarely attends games. But she is a pivotal player in the upcoming Jewish Museum, Camden, exhibition showcasing the Jewish contribution to football, on and off the pitch, and the influence the beautiful game has exerted on Jewish life in this country.
In the great panoply of iconic male acting roles, the part of an impoverished milkman in turn-of-the-20th-century Russia — transport, horse and cart — and a hot-shot detective who scorches the earth in a red-striped Torino are worlds apart. But no.
I am sitting with David Baddiel in a tea room, not far from the Hampstead home where he lives with fellow comedy writer Morwenna Banks and their two children, talking about fame, the territory of his new stand-up show. Baddiel’s first proper stand-up gig for 16 years is a meditation on the absurdities thrown up by celebrity.
If Google’s tax arrangements are any guide, its London offices may be an illusion. So it is hardly surprising that getting to your desired floor can prove tricky. The lifts into the internet giant’s colourful Tottenham Court Road premises are bafflingly complex, controlled from the outside, like a time machine. But once in, there’s no mistaking where you are.
Invited to the May fundraising dinner of the British support group for the Tikva children’s home in Odessa, the Duchess of York was so moved by the stories of its work that she asked the charity if she could visit.
Throughout my life, I have always felt a responsibility to help many charities — UK based, those in Third World countries and Jewish causes worldwide. Rarely a day passes when I don’t get a call from someone telling me about another commendable organisation that needs help — and they all genuinely do.