I was in the middle of mending a blue Japanese bowl with a tube of superglue when the phone call came. Aren’t these fast-acting superglues a real godsend when you’re in a rush and you really need to bond broken objects together “in seconds”. (Obviously I’m using the phrase “in seconds” in its strict superglue sense of “in roughly the same length of time that it takes to stage an American presidential election campaign”). My guess is that when the inventor of superglue was testing how long his new product would take to set he did it while travelling westwards on board a Concorde flight, with the result that what appeared to be a few seconds on his watch when measured in local time zones, was actually six hours in real time.
Still, it’s results that count, isn’t it? What’s important is that, after sitting immobile for six hours while gripping together your two bits of china from your broken bowl, the superglue has worked its magic, successfully creating an unbreakable bond between one piece of porcelain and your index finger, while simultaneously securing the other shard to your thumb.
It turned out that it was the editor of the JC on the phone. The paper is starting a new series of columns on its comment pages and he wonders if I would like to write an article to launch it.
ME: What would you like me to write about?
THE EDITOR: You can choose. Pretty much whatever takes your fancy. Something amusing was what we vaguely had in mind. Got anything up your sleeve?
ME: As it happens I have. Right now I have some superglue up my sleeve.
THE EDITOR: Umm… Anything else?
ME: Let me think for a second. No restrictions on subject matter at all, you say?
THE EDITOR: Not really, no. Though if it was of some interest to Jews, however tangential, that wouldn’t do any harm, what with our being the JC.
ME: So what should I do? Drop in the names of some famous Jews, like Woody Allen and Henry Kissinger and Sarah Palin?
THE EDITOR: Sarah Palin’s Jewish?
ME: What about making a mention of bagels somewhere in the piece. Would that do the trick? Someone has just written a book about bagels.
THE EDITOR: I think our readers are pretty much up to speed on bagels.
ME: Look, it’s kind of you to ask me. I’m flattered, really I am. But I’m not sure I can help. I just don’t think I can find a way of writing an article that casually slips in the word “Jews” or “Jewish” to make it resonate a little more with an audience of Jewish readers. And to be honest, I’m a bit busy at this very moment. I’ve got to work out how to unstick a telephone receiver that is now superglued to my right palm. I could write a piece for you about that, of course. But would anyone read all the way to the end of it?