Let’s kick uglism out of politics



This article was first published in The Guardian

I was appalled to see in a recent opinion poll that 74% of voters said they would be more likely to vote Labour if Ed Miliband changed his face. Actually, I wasn’t appalled because I made that up. But it wouldn’t surprise me if Labour’s lead hit double figures on condition that Ed swapped the Miliface for someone else’s. Possibly his brother David’s. (more…)

Jews and Gardens

A lulav and etrog. What the hell ARE they?

This article was written for the Jewish Quarterly.

Last week I finally tackled my garden (this is not a euphemism). What was once a small but impressive Titchmarshian plot we inherited from the previous owner had become in the space of a few years a sea of weeds and nettles – a bit like that Chinese Emperor’s terracotta army, only in nettle form. Despite the occasional surge and one or two attempts at shock and awe, the War on Nettles, like the War On Drugs, had proved unwinnable. It was time to do something about it.

I should say that it’s when failing at gardening that I feel my most Jewish. Show me a Jew with green fingers and I’ll show you a Jew whose pen has leaked. (more…)

Very Superstitious

The Queen Mum. Nothing to do with me.

Here’s a thing I wrote for the Jewish Quarterly.

I am superstitious. Medieval-peasant superstitious. Large-gossipy-18th-century-shtetl-fishwife superstitious. I’ll always refer to “the Scottish play” rather than, you know… the one that rhymes with MacDeath, even if it makes me sound like some old Victorian ham (if I can use that term in a piece for a Jewish magazine). I even hesitated about writing… the word that rhymes with MacDeath, as I’m not sure what the rules are. (more…)

Les Jews Olympiques

This article first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle.

When I suggested doing a show about “Jews and the Olympics” for Jewish Book Week, I recognised the suspicious look in the organiser’s eyes. It was a look that said: Jews and the Olympics? That’s going to be a short show. (more…)

Futureman. Is that a Jewish name?

Here’s a thing I wrote for the Jewish Quarterly.

Future Rabbi?

Congratulate me. I’ve just written a whole sheet of A4 by pen. After years of computercentricity it felt weird, foreign, as unwelcome a throwback to the 1980s as news that The Tweets have reformed so we can hear the “Birdie Song” live again (ah, “The Tweets”. Now there’s a name that finally has meaning in this social network age). As I heaved the pen clumsily across the paper, sweat pouring from my brow, Repetitive Strain Injury gathering in my freaked-out forearm, I felt like a man trying to plough a field with a… well, with a pen. (more…)

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