Sunday, March 12, 2006

My intellectual/fressful week


Dinner with Freedmansister at the White House with £10 off any main course, which made it just about value for money. Excellent food and generous portions, decent service, and bumped into the "other" Michael Freedman - now Melech Freedman, with a more resplendent beard than mine.

Then to Blondie's for the first instalment of "From Plato to Foucault", his fortnightly journey of introduction to philosophy. Freedmanslifers welcome to join in future weeks, it's very chilled. Brochure available here if you want to come along. We looked at Plato's Phaedo, which is the tale of Socrates' final philosophical discourse with his disciples before taking the hemlock on orders of the Athenian electorate. 3 hours of discussion cannot be reduced sufficiently, but suffice it to say that Socrates was a bit self-righteous although full of sensible and bright ideas.


Dinner at Freedmansister's lovely new flat in the shtetl - baked breaded haddock with some nice veg and the tiniest pot of tartare sauce I've ever seen.

Then to Kinloss for the final instalment of the KLC's weekly learning annexe. We enjoyed the first talk on the history of London's Jews, noting especially the ironies of the institutions of Anglo-Jewry not learning from it. For example, the United Synagogue placed advertisements in the newspapers of the shtetls of Eastern Europe, telling them not to emigrate to London, and the Jewish Chronicle followed the Board of Deputies' advice and used a double-page spread advising London's Jews to stay indoors and not participate in the counter-demonstration against Mosley's brownshirts that turned into the Cable Street stand-off.

The second talk was given by Sarah Stern, Director of Governmental Affairs at the American Jewish Congress. She told us several stories of how she had helped introduce policy to the American government that openly and proudly helps Israel and the Jews either directly or indirectly. I asked her what advice she would give the community here, given Henry Grunwald's argument of "why shout when a whisper will suffice?" She gave a very diplomatic answer that she hadn't been in the country long enough to understand the nuances of our circumstances, but that we should all work harder to defend Israel's corner.


Went to Alan Dershowitz's talk at the School Of Anti-Semitism (SOAS). Enjoyed him wiping the floor with what he politely coined "critical students" - or more correctly, took great satisfaction from their self-destruction. Best example was one who accused Dersh of something or other, and he responded by offering his accuser $10,000 if he could substantiate the claim. On being comprehensively trounced, the accuser stood up, mouthed off a bit and made for the exit. Dersh asked whether he could leave behind his name and address so he could send the $10,000. The accuser screeched and gesticulated that "Mossad agents are here, here and here; they have my photo already," thus totally discrediting himself.

Then Bison and I went for a £5 curry dinner on Warren Street, in this little basement restaurant where we were the only diners. The food was perfectly adequate for the price, although we were highly amused by the starter portions: a tiny bhajee and samosa to share between us.


Buffet dinner and a private tour of Vinopolis and its museum courtesy of my new best friend Trevor Gulliver. The Bankside Gastronomic Festival saw the inauguration of Bombay Sapphire's gin bar, Bar Blue, and their own section of the museum, and was a general excuse for a fress of great proportions, with beautiful fresh food supplied by Borough Market. Learned a lot about how gin is made, with its aromatic botanicals, and got to grips with 4 different (and utterly superb) gin-based cocktails, along with 2 excellent wines from the cellars and some of the beer from Vinopolis's own micro-brewery. Not that I'm biased, but I strongly recommend a visit.


Spent the day at Bison's place, helped cook chicken and garlic lokshen soup, rosemary and honey lamb, roast tatties and a Tesco/Tofutti lazy dessert. All quite excellent.


Grandma's 80th birthday lunch - we surprised her by bringing Freedmansister back from the shtetl and corralling her closest friends from around London to join us for blue champagne cocktails, home-made gnocchi al pesto, Dover sole and steamed triple-choc pudding.


Working my way through the leftovers and going to see Danny Finkelstein interview Nick Robinson tonight. Will report back during the week.

By the way, still 2 tickets up for grabs for The Apprentice on Tuesday at 6.15 at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith - first come, first served...

No comments: