Paul Lester

Festive cheer? I’ll have a bypass, please

By Paul Lester, January 21, 2010

That was fun. Christmas, I mean. ’Tis the season to be jolly? Not round these parts it wasn’t. Festive cheer appears to have bypassed my neck of the woods. Must have been the wrong kind of snow.

Sorry, did I say Christmas? I should have said Chanucah. Can we split the difference and call it Chrisucah? How about Chanumas?

Whatever its name, it was expensive. You know those news reports saying spending was up over the holiday period? That was me, that was.

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Vampire Weekend: Don't call us white

By Paul Lester, January 14, 2010

Vampire Weekend, the four-piece from New York, have been described as “the whitest band on the planet”.

This not entirely flattering label was pinned on them in 2008 after the release of their million-selling self-titled debut album of world music, which sounded like a bunch of young punks playing Paul Simon’s Graceland. Accusations of cultural imperialism were levelled at them for their appropriation of African music idioms.

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They're not all nice Jewish girls, you know

By Paul Lester, December 17, 2009

At the risk of sounding like Frank Sinatra, this year I’ve lived a life that’s full, even if I haven’t exactly travelled each and every highway, mainly because I only just got my car back after a six-month driving ban.

Regrets? I’ve had a few, among them being insufficiently exacting when it comes to dating, mistakenly assuming that if you throw enough lockshen at the wall, some of it will stick.

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OK, so being a lone father

By Paul Lester, November 19, 2009

I decided that, because I’d been writing this column for over a year, it was time to do one about my children. They were delighted. When I told them on the way home from school that they would be the focus of an article in the JC they were very impressed, albeit a little concerned about the literary merit or otherwise of the content.

Oops, no, sorry – I just nodded off and dreamed I had a completely different set of kids. Actually, the first thing mine said when I told them was: “How much of the money are we going to get?”

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Interview: Leslie Mendelson

By Paul Lester, October 28, 2009

When Ellie Greenwich, the co-writer of 1960s hits like Leader of the Pack and Da Doo Ron Ron died recently, the subtext of many of the obituaries was: where have all the classic female songwriters gone? As though to answer that question, here comes Leslie Mendelson, hailed by Jac Holzman, the legendary record label owner, as a new take on the all-time greats.

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Marriage? We’re not designed for it

By Paul Lester, October 22, 2009

I’ve been on more dates this year than in the previous 10 combined — call me old-fashioned, call me weird if you like (why not? Everyone else does), but I tended not to date much in the decade that I was married. And in the course of dating I have become something of a relationship expert. Turns out that one of the great things about being single is that you suddenly acquire a wealth of information on the condition of being unattached.

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Review: Barbra

By Paul Lester, October 1, 2009

Love Is The Answer
Sony Music

With 140 million records sold, Barbra Streisand is the world’s most popular Jewish entertainer. She is also arguably the most popular entertainer among the world’s Jews. For a generation of a certain age she is unquestionably the last word in class and sophistication, and she has endured because she has continued to release music of quality and distinction without pandering to trends. Anyone expecting an album of high-tech R&B should probably alight here.

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It's true! I’ve become a babe magnet

By Paul Lester, September 9, 2009

Most men, I find, tend to exaggerate, especially when it comes to the fairer sex, and mostly they do so by accentuating the positive — boasting, I believe they call it. I exaggerate, too, only in the negative. It’s kind of a hobby. When my wife left me two years ago, I had a field day — literally, I invited friends and family (and some random passers-by) to a large expanse of grass near my house, sat them down on blankets with tea and bagels, and spent 12 hours moaning about how useless I was with women.

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Suddenly single: My name is Paul and I’m addicted to online dating

By Paul Lester, August 6, 2009

It’s as accepted a rite of passage for the Jewish male as the barmitzvah and supporting Spurs, and as inevitable a part of life for the average divorcee as — to paraphrase Woody Allen — death or taxes. I’m talking about JDate, the online “Jewish singles network” which, after months of trying to resist, I have finally joined.

I tried to resist it because, basically, I saw it as a sign of weakness, even failure, on my part. What kind of red-blooded, north London Jewish man has to resort to a website to meet women? The kind you see in the photograph on this column.

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Sorry ladies, there really is a science to pulling

By Paul Lester, July 30, 2009

Five guys walk into a bar — an Englishman, an Irishman, an Asian, a West Indian and a Jew. No, it’s not the first line of a joke, it’s what happened the other week when I, plus several other blokes of varying races and creeds, went to a nightclub to try and meet women after learning how to score on a course run by an organisation called Love Systems.

As Samir, one of the students on the three-day “boot camp” held in London, put it: “If you feel ill, you call a doctor, so why not have someone you can go to when you’re having trouble getting a girlfriend?”

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Forget the DVDs. To pull, go to Tesco

By Paul Lester, July 8, 2009

There is an advantage to being a single dad with a six-month driving ban who spends most of his free time trudging home from Tesco with bags of Coco Pops and Cheese Strings (and you should see what I buy the kids). No, honestly, there is. It’s not a huge advantage, granted, and I’d probably struggle to get a bank loan to brand it and market it, but it does represent an upside to all that schlepping and straining: you sometimes get to strike up conversations with new people on your gruelling journey home, some of them girls.

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In Watford, it’s smart to fail the dress code

By Paul Lester, June 11, 2009

One of the few good things about getting older is that you no longer have to care about the dress code of nightclubs. This is because you don’t go to nightclubs, mainly out of fear that young people will point and laugh.

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Pulled a Queen fan. I’m a royal failure

By Paul Lester, May 14, 2009

It’s been a busy old month. In fact, I’ve become a bit of a dating machine. I could give lessons… on how to fail dismally on a regular basis with a huge variety of women.

First, there was the sultry Spanish waitress I chatted to at a restaurant in Camden. We were getting on quite well — luckily I know how to say “you’re one red hot mama” in Castilian — so we arranged to meet at a bar in Notting Hill the following week.

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Zarif, Sy Kaye and Alexis Strum

By Paul Lester, April 23, 2009

Zarif

Meet the upbeat Amy Winehouse. Zarif Davidson is the London-born daughter of an Iranian-Jewish mother and Scottish father who is currently wowing the music business — she has just been supporting US R&B supremo Chris Brown at the 02 Arena — with her exuberant pop-soul.

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Chat-up guru can’t help my inner creep

By Paul Lester, April 20, 2009

My New Year’s resolution this year was to make more effort, to go out more, to be more proactive with regard to meeting women because, let’s face it, they don’t just turn up unannounced at your front door — unless you count the haggard care-in-the-community type who tried to sell me kitchen appliances before Christmas. So last week I bought some new clothes — well, a woolly hat and a hoodie — and I snapped into action… before deciding it was too cold to leave the house and slumping in front of the telly. Again.

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I’m just not into the swing

By Paul Lester, April 20, 2009

I keep saying I’m going to do some online dating but, to be honest, there’s been no point, what with the avalanche of mail arriving for me at JC HQ from single women responding to this column and asking for a, well, Jewish Date.

I say avalanche. There have been two letters so far, so I haven’t exactly needed to hire a lorry for a trip to the local landfill. Still, two letters mean two potential dates, and two potential dates mean one potential future ex-wife. How exciting.

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The good news — I’ve pulled. The bad news — it was in a gay disco

By Paul Lester, April 20, 2009

Spring is here and a young-ish Jewish man’s fancy turns to… wretched, neurotic self-regard. Well, usually it does, but not this month. No, this month I’ve taken a sabbatical and kept the navel-gazing and melancholic self-absorption to a minimum — quite a strain, as you can imagine.

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You wait for weeks, and then two girlfriends come along at once

By Paul Lester, April 17, 2009

‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive,” declared a great man, not Jewish but we’ll let it pass. I faced a bit of a quandary myself this month on the tangled-web front.

It’s a profound ethical dilemma. Who is more at fault — the love cheat, or the one who spies on the love cheat and finds out through means nefarious and foul that they are being deceived?

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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I’m just not into the swing

By Paul Lester, February 18, 2009

I keep saying I’m going to do some online dating but, to be honest, there’s been no point, what with the avalanche of mail arriving for me at JC HQ from single women responding to this column and asking for a, well, Jewish Date.

I say avalanche. There have been two letters so far, so I haven’t exactly needed to hire a lorry for a trip to the local landfill. Still, two letters mean two potential dates, and two potential dates mean one potential future ex-wife. How exciting.

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Turn off the klezmer and turn up the Ramones

By Paul Lester, February 5, 2009

I hate Jewish music, but I love Jews who make music. Or to put it another way: I never listen to klezmer or any other types of so-called traditional “Jewish music”, but my record collection is full of albums by Jewish musicians.

Now, if I had been born several hundred years ago and was lucky enough to get a job on a Jewish, 16th-century version of the NME (the Jew Musical Express, perhaps), I would probably have been out every night, lapping up the latest sounds by the hottest klezmer ensembles in all the coolest Eastern European dive bars.

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