Jenni Frazer


By Jenni Frazer, July 22, 2010

Nobody, apparently, was more surprised than the villagers of Villabuena de Alava in Spain's Rioja winemaking region when an extraordinary building started taking shape right next door to their 17th-century church.

But oddly, the small but eclectic Hotel Viura, named for one of the important white wine grapes of the region, now blends into the landscape, despite its ultra-modern concrete cubist architecture.


Mandelson on Judaism, Lord Levy and his JC dad

By Jenni Frazer, July 22, 2010

Lord Mandelson's book, The Third Man, Life At The Heart of New Labour has enjoyed a heady reception in the week since its publication. He has the relieved look of someone who has run a marathon without keeling over, as well he might, since he reveals that he only finished writing two weeks ago. "It only came off the presses the day before the launch," he says. "It was a high-wire act. Now I'm used to living dangerously, flying too close to the sun, but even for me it was a bit of a daredevil project."


Rioja country: Spain with a touch of glass

By Jenni Frazer, July 8, 2010

There are, at present, 317 people living in the isolated northern Spanish village of Villabuena de Alava. But - given its location in the heart of Rioja wine country - it is not surprising that there are 43 wineries.

If you exclude the priest and the mayor, we are probably looking at one winery for every six people.

Travelling from Bilbao airport to Villabuena - my base for a weekend of learning about the best of the bodegas - the eye is immediately struck by three things.


Review: The Chosen One

By Jenni Frazer, July 8, 2010

By Sam Bourne
Harper, £7.99

It would, I suppose, be deeply frustrating, both for the reader and the writer, if real life were to intrude on the neatly wrapped plots of mysteries and thrillers.

Whenever a hero or heroine comes up against a brick wall, in the real world, generally, that's where they tend to stay.

Thrillers, however, demand that the protagonist solves a mystery or unravels the next clue with phenomenal ease.


How far will they go?

By Jenni Frazer, June 25, 2010

Two unlovely human beings, Michael Heaton and Trevor Hannington, have just been convicted at Liverpool Crown Court for a series of racially inciting posts on the internet, on their own warm and cosy Aryan Strike Force website.
Among their choicer comments: "They will always be scum, destroy 'em with whatever it takes" and "I would encourage any religion or race that wants to destroy the Jews, I hate them with a passion."
And: "Kill the Jew, Kill the Jew, Burn down a synagogue today! ... Burn the scum."


Don't use the N word

By Jenni Frazer, June 15, 2010

The former TalkSport presenter, Jon Gaunt, is presenting a remarkable defence in his battle to get his job back after he was fired for calling a councillor a Nazi on air.
His lawyers told the High Court that the word "Nazi" is "now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult. "There is now a recognised slang of the word Nazi [as] one who imposes their views on others," Gavin Millar told the court.


Life imitates art

By Jenni Frazer, June 4, 2010

Phone rings in the JC Newsroom. "Is that the Jewish Chronicle?"

Me: "Yes."

She: "I know you will think this is silly, but... it's about this so-called aid convoy."

Me: "Yes?"

She:"Well, I wondered if the Israelis had read PD James' book, The Black Tower."

(I am now wondering if it was the right thing to do to have answered the phone.)

Me: "Why?"


And have no eyes to see

By Jenni Frazer, June 2, 2010

A 21-year-old American art student, Emily Henochowicz, took part in a demonstration a couple of days ago in Jerusalem, protesting against Israel's actions in the Gaza flotilla operation. According to the Associated Press, a witness said that Ms Henochowicz, from Maryland, had not taken part in anything violent, but she was on the receiving end of a teargas attack by Israeli soldiers who were dispersing the demonstration. In the event, appallingly, she lost an eye, and is now in Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital recovering until her family can take her home.


Lib Dem used 'racist' tactics, says Kaufman

By Jenni Frazer, May 27, 2010

A furious Sir Gerald Kaufman has accused the Liberal Democrats of antisemitic attacks on him during his successful bid to be re-elected as MP for Manchester Gorton.

Speaking this week during the Queen's Speech debate, Sir Gerald, Labour MP for the constituency since 1983, rounded on the Lib Dems and told them they would "have to indulge in some internal house cleaning".


The orphans' picnic

By Jenni Frazer, May 26, 2010

It used to be said, as the old joke had it, that the definition of chutzpah was the boy who shot and killed both his parents so that he could attend the orphans' picnic.
I have a new definition: Christian Aid.
A press person for this charity is offering one-on-one interviews with people "who have spent months in Israel and the West Bank monitoring Human Rights Abuses".


About time

By Jenni Frazer, May 14, 2010

The row that has erupted between 100 Jewish Jerusalemites and the Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel has a whiff of an accident waiting to happen. Sooner or later someone was going to challenge Wiesel's sentimental fantasy version of life in the Israeli capital, seen from the dreaming towers of his academic life in America.


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

By Jenni Frazer, May 11, 2010

A glorious moment on this morning's Today programme when James Naughtie finally wound up a contribution from Lord Ashdown with the admonition that the subject would be revisited, "Seriatim" - in other words, in sequence. Just delicious that nobody on Today thinks that the programme's listeners need a translation. From my point of view, Nemo me impune lacessit...


The long and winding road

By Jenni Frazer, May 6, 2010

To my heart. This morning's interview on Radio 4's Today programme with Sir Paul McCartney was just magical. Macca for PM, say I.


Here we go again: same old 'thrills'

By Jenni Frazer, May 6, 2010

I have said before in these pages that some thriller writers who start out well, all too soon find themselves in a trap, hidebound by the parameters that they have drawn for themselves.

This is most apparent with writers who have a regular cast of characters, whose foibles and general mishegassen have to be explained from book to book.

If you start out with a 35-year-old glamorous redhead, for example, with a bad cigarette habit and a Malcolm Tucker-esque vocabulary, as one of your principals, then you are more or less obliged to reintroduce her in every book.


Lest we forget

By Jenni Frazer, May 4, 2010

On Wednesday, I asked how long it would be before Gillian Duffy sold the inside story of her encounter with the Prime Minister to The Sun.
A couple of days went by and there was nothing in the papers and many commentators heaped praise on Mrs Duffy's head for being strong-minded enough to refuse blandishments.
So let us not dismiss lightly then the fact that Mrs Duffy was all over the Mail on Sunday at the weekend. And let us not confine the word "hypocrisy" to politicians. The fact is that the so-called "ordinary members of the public" are just as venal when the price is right.


Oh, no. It can't be

By Jenni Frazer, April 29, 2010

1321: Gordon Brown does not seem to have learned enough from the unplanned broadcast of his comments about Gillian Duffy, the BBC's Carole Walker says. He failed to take his radio microphone off again after a brief walkabout in Manchester at the end of a day dominated by his unguarded comments. This time the camera crew stopped him to remove it before he said much more.

Make it stop. Please, please, make it stop.


Place your bets

By Jenni Frazer, April 28, 2010

On how long it will be before Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy sells the inside story of her unfortunate encounter with the Prime Minister to The Sun...
According to the Sky News website, Mrs Duffy said she was "very upset" to have been described by Gordon Brown as a "bigoted woman," and appeared to accuse the Prime Minister of over-education "in using words like that." Perhaps he should have put an adjective in front.


One happy little comedian

By Jenni Frazer, April 27, 2010

So pleased to see that the towering talent that is Mel Brooks has been awarded his very own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Now he's 83, it's not a moment too soon.


Curiouser and curiouser

By Jenni Frazer, April 21, 2010

So, someone threw an egg at David Cameron - in Cornwall.
And that leader of the LibDems, what's his name, Nick Cl-egg, is also in Cornwall.
Just saying.


By the way

By Jenni Frazer, April 19, 2010

This morning's Guardian front page pic of the People In Charge at Downing Street (ie not Gordo, sadly), showed a fabulous array of tie-wear - co-ordinated, I do so hope, by the wonderfully louche Peter Mandelson, resplendent in an unstructured summer linen jacket. From left, an unhappy looking Tessa Jowell (relieved of the necessity to wear a tie), then Miliband, in red tie, Mandy in purple, a wheezing and sweaty Lord Adonis in a green job, and, almost most splendid of all, Lord West (who he?