Paul Lester

Meet my ex-in-laws - I think

By Paul Lester, September 2, 2010

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to my parents, who will inevitably be reading this, because, in the three years that I have been living in my house, I have never quite got round to inviting them over for tea. But I did have my in-laws over last week.

Did I say in-laws? I meant ex-in-laws. The parents of my ex-wife. Outlaws? No, that's not right, although I believe there is the shady matter of an overdue library book when they were crazy young marrieds that we won't go into here.


No point fretting - some of the best acts had awful opinions

By Paul Lester, August 12, 2010

Massive Attack's Big Chill gig is not the first example of musicians taking a stand against Israel.

In June this year, venerable songwriter Elvis Costello cancelled two concerts that he was scheduled to play in Israel in protest at what he saw as Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians. "It is," he said, "a matter of instinct and conscience."

Bobby Gillespie of acclaimed electro-rockers Primal Scream once allegedly defaced a "Make Poverty History" poster so that it read "Make Israel History".


I'm getting dumped, all because of soap

By Paul Lester, July 22, 2010

So, I've been seeing a young lady for a few weeks. But before all you single females out there start wailing, believing you've lost your chance with London's most eligible nebbish, let me reassure you that this new relationship of mine may not last forever. In fact, it may not last till the end of next week.

How, you're wondering, is it possible that, in between the last column and this one, the romance has begun, blossomed and is already withering on the vine? Even Jordan and her cage fighter have managed better than that.


Interview: Lucinda Belle

By Paul Lester, July 1, 2010

It would probably be easier to list the things that session musician, recording artist and all-round busy bee Lucinda Belle has not done. She has toured with the Pet Shop Boys and Annie Lennox, been Robbie Williams's backing singer and harpist at the BBC Electric Proms, performed a duet with Mel Brooks and jammed with Tom Jones.


My night of text mania

By Paul Lester, June 24, 2010

Most men go to the pub or watch the footie. Me, when I'm bored, I go meshuggeh with my mobile phone.

I'm a text maniac. A text pest, only the real victim is me, when I get my bill. I'm allowed 500 free texts per month, but somehow I manage to exceed the limit every time. Which is amazing, considering I only have six friends, and I rarely, if ever, text any of them.

There is something about the text that suits people you hardly know; it seems a little cursory to dispatch a conversation with someone you've known for three decades in a three-line - or even three-word - message.


The moment when Matisyahu lost his cool

By Paul Lester, June 17, 2010

This is probably not the ideal moment to be interviewing Matisyahu, unless you enjoy the company of fired-up pop stars. Because it's the Tuesday after the Gaza aid flotilla incident and the Chasidic reggae artist and rapper - staying at the Holiday Inn in Brent Cross as he promotes his latest album, Light - is not happy.

The rangy New Yorker, 31 at the end of June, prowls around his hotel bedroom in kippah and green jogging pants. He places his tallit under his crumpled white T-shirt and sits down on the couch. In between mouthfuls of vegan curry, he assesses the events of the weekend.


An old girlfriend, fresh humiliation

By Paul Lester, May 13, 2010

In the last Suddenly Single I concluded that, having temporarily run out of ways to meet new girls, it might be an idea to reacquaint myself with some old ones, and by "old" I mean females I knew in the past rather than women of pensionable age.

Then again, I might have more luck with the bus pass and blue-rinse set. Besides, is it just me or are OAPs looking hotter these days? I'd go to bingo every week if the crowd was full of Stephanie Beachams. Unfortunately, at my local Mecca in Watford the clientele is more Pat Butcher - "two fat ladies" is probably about right.


Paul Weller's favourite kibbutznik

By Paul Lester, April 28, 2010

Geva Alon has been called "the Israeli Neil Young", his plaintive voice soaring above gentle acoustic guitar or the fuller sound of a band.

His newly released third album, Get Closer, was produced by Thom Monahan, who has worked with alternative folkie Devendra Banhart, Americana types such as The Jayhawks, and the grungier likes of Dinosaur Jr.


When it all goes wrong, ring an ex

By Paul Lester, April 15, 2010

Have you seen that film, A Complete History of My Sexual Failures, in which a grungy Kurt Cobain lookalike tracks down all of his ex-girlfriends to find out where he went wrong? I haven't but apparently it's a bit like Homer's Odyssey, only instead of an epic poem concerning the long voyage home by an ancient Greek war hero and his search for meaning and salvation, it's a documentary about a scruffy Londoner who learns the hard way that a lack of hygiene and terminal lethargy will get you dumped. A lot.


Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and a date from hell

By Paul Lester, March 18, 2010

Just in case any of the JC's more impressionable female readers are labouring under the illusion that the writer of this column is in some ways a decent catch with a vaguely exciting career and attendant glamorous lifestyle, please allow me to tell you this cautionary tale. It is the story of a date from hell that I went on the other week and it should singlehandedly put the kibosh on any chances I might have had with the opposite sex for the foreseeable future.


Speed dating Jews? It's better than Freeview

By Paul Lester, February 18, 2010

It was either a famous Greek philosopher or an obscure Jewish divorcé who said that being married to a Jewish woman is one of those things you should try for a brief period, and then give up for the sake of your mental health.

One hesitates to use a word as loaded as "survivor" in this context, but what the hell - I was once married to a Jewish girl and survived.


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.


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.


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.


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?”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.