No queues please, we’re Jewish: a Limmud sketch

Limmud has a meat dining room. It opens at 6pm each evening and, being much smaller than the regular dining room, participants are only allowed to eat there on one of the four nights of Conference (a token must be handed in for the privilege). On other occasions we’re sentenced to the cavernous main dining room and a tragic life un-meated.

Last night I went for my meat dinner. This is the story of what happened.

5:45pm – join queue, about five metres long.

5.46pm – elderly couple from Manchester casually stroll down the corridor, get into a chat with the family in front of me. Overhear a conversation, “Will the pork be glatt kosher?”

5.48pm – elderly couple from Manchester begin drifting forward in the queue, keeping up with the family in front.

5.51pm – elderly couple from Manchester are now basically fully ensconced ahead of me in the queue. Classic chat-and-cut manoeuvre and very artfully executed (as, no doubt, the animals being served inside were).

5.55pm – queue reaches far end of corridor. Overhear a conversation: “We don’t use the term ‘annexation’. We use the term ‘extending civilian control’.”

5.56pm – queue begins bending back on itself in an Escher-like spiral, so those who have been waiting for 10 minutes begin to rub shoulders with those who only just turned up.

5.58pm – queue-jumpers turn out in droves.

5.59pm – all distinctions between the two columns of the doubled-up queue totally break down. Family members who had had ‘places saved for them’ begin arriving; queue officially begins growing in width rather than length.

6pm – meat dining room opens bang on time in orderly fashion. Oh no wait, that’s what would happen if we were an orderly people. Just my little joke. Overhear a conversation, “I was listening in and I was just astonished at how fascist she was!”

6.04pm – people at the back of the queue(s) assume that the dining room must be open by now so start pressing forward.

6.05pm – doors of dining room buckle dangerously inwards.

6.06pm – dining room opens. People who had been at the front leaning on the doors fall into the room in comical style.

6.07pm – people file in.

6.08pm – proceedings grind to a halt as it transpires that 20-30% of those in the queue don’t have their meat meal tokens but want their extenuating circumstances to be considered in depth by the bemused teenage volunteers desperately trying to maintain order and a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

6.16pm – admitted to dining room. Enter clever one-way system around the self-service food counters.

6.19pm – successfully compile meal. Wait patiently to leave one-way system.

6.20pm – wait patiently to leave one-way system.

6.21pm – wait patiently to leave one-way system.

6.22pm – wait patiently to leave one-way system.

6.23pm – wait to leave one-way system.

6.25pm – realise that both ends of one-way system converge on one narrow thoroughfare.

6.26pm – violate the Highway Code’s rules on box junctions and force my way out of the labyrinth. Take a seat near the entrance.

6.31pm – realise that sitting near the entrance is like living in a show-flat and everyone walking in peers closely at my plate for a sneak preview of the meal (it was Chinese themed as it happens, as people discovered by Peking at my plate).

6.32pm – FOOD!

PS: I do love Limmud though.

So here it is, The Channukah Special

chanuka11Some say that the Channukah story is highly mythologised and that the actual events of 167CE were more in the way of a civil war in which the ultra-traditionalist Jews waged a vicious campaign against the modernised Jews who mixed with wider society.

But still… latkes.

And dougnuts.

And dreidl.

And, most importantly, as always, presents.

On The Apprentice, candidate Courtney (Sorry, I just slipped into a coma. -Ed.) was criticised for selling only 33 own-brand products at his novelty gift company. But I can do way better than that. So, without further ado, allow us to unveil to you this year’s hand-picked, topical, Channukah selection of:

gabriel-festive-innovations-2016
See you next year!

How girls should behave in the office: 1921 style

Rosy cheeks, cheery disposition

Rosy cheeks, cheery disposition

Edward Jones Kilduff, MA, wrote The Stenographer’s Manual in 1921. It’s devoted not, interestingly, to stenography (ie. shorthand-writing), but to telling young girls how they should act at work.

It’s also side-splittingly hilarious. Mr Kilduff MA’s pearls of wisdom include:

One of the most common criticisms made by businessmen against stenographers is that they are not businesslike, that they do not have the proper attitude toward their work. This criticism is probably a sound one and is partly due to the fact that many women do not take business as seriously as do men. They do not take the same amount of interest in it, but often allow other matters to take precedence.

Thanks! And while you’re in the area giving advice, do you have any dieting tips for girls?

Train yourself to get up in plenty of time to make your toilet properly and to eat a good breakfast. Don’t lie in bed until the very last moment, then jump up, rush through dressing, eat a hasty and scanty breakfast, and just get to the office on time. You can’t work well if you eat breakfast like that.

Of course, girls hold a lot of sway in the office:

Some stenographers stay home or away from work on the slightest provocation, and often because of imaginary ailments. Perhaps they do not realise that their absence may prevent one or more dictators from getting their work done.

Wow! If only the rest of us could bring down dictatorships simply by pulling a sickie!

Some conduct is absolutely off-limits:

Suppose a girl on her way to her desk passes by the desk of a friend or acquaintance and pauses to talk about such a topic as dress, what they did last night, or where they are going for the weekend. The temptation to do this is very great, but the good stenographer will avoid it. When you are in business, be businesslike.

37561a3122e37900b7ea79e278410afc1But nothing is quite as off-limits as breaching the workplace mechitzah:

Do not become familiar with the men workers or allow them to become familiar with you. This does not mean that you are to be cold and distant to them; not at all. You should be pleasant and agreeable, but bear in mind that it is safer to be considered too strict in these matters than too liberal.

On which note:

The business man silently criticises the stenographer who wears an attire more suited for social affairs than for office work. He may like ‘dressy’ clothes, but he believes that the office is not the place to wear them. He much prefers to see the girl appropriately attired for her work-and this means simple, plain, workaday clothing.
He knows from experience that the overdressed girl is usually an inefficient worker, for she either thinks more about how she looks than about her work, or is so much dressed up that she can’t get down to work, or
is so uncomfortable that she can’t do good work. He believes that for work she should wear working clothes; not playing clothes. A girl who dresses in a businesslike way appears to be a better worker, and she usually is, for fashionable shoes, high heels, a tight dress-these will not let a girl do good work. She is too uncomfortable.
Then there is the matter of overdoing the use of perfume, powder, and other cosmetics. The business man strenuously, but silently, objects to them. He doesn’t like to have his office turned into a beauty parlour.

So there we go. Wear workaday clothes, no perfume, don’t fraternise with men – and you can bring down dictators!

Valuable advice right there.

No monopoly on jokes

monopoly-jerusalemThe popular board-game Monopoly has just released its Jerusalem edition. Its pieces include a kippah, a camel, a menorah and an Egged bus. The boot used in European editions of the game is replaced by a complex Levirate marriage ceremony.

This new version contains a few special rules. For instance, the conditions under which participants have to Go To Jail are more lenient for Israeli citizens than for Arab players, and the Free Parking square is essentially valueless because everyone parks wherever the hell they like anyway. Houses built on the eastern half of the board are liable to summary demolition at any time.

Other cards include:

g64598(Normal disclaimer that this is satire and not self-hatred applies. All rights reserved. Do not Holocaust me.)

Still life

The Nestene Consciousness denied all involvement

The Nestene Consciousness denied all involvement

Police in Hudson, New York have received a complaint after breaking into a snow-covered car to rescue a frozen old woman who passers-by had reported was trapped inside… except she turned out to be a hideously realistic mannequin used for medical training. Could happen to anyone really.

The car’s owner was unimpressed and filed a complaint, however the local police chief told reporters:

Just to clear the record, all citizens should be put on notice that if you park your locked vehicle on the street on a sub-zero night with a life-size realistic mannequin seated in it… we will break your window.

Police brutality eh.

In other news, Lord Sugar has just got through an entire series of The Apprentice only to discover that one of the finalists was an inanimate mannequin, and sources close to Theresa May suggest she is regretting her decision not to appoint one as Foreign Secretary.

More shells from the West Bank

Security: it's no yolk

Security: it’s no yolk

Those Israeli public servants who aren’t engaged in exciting military duties or the thrilling perversion of Jewish values are, it seems, desperate for excitement. Because the Israeli press reported this week that a very bored border inspector has “foiled an attempt to smuggle unmarked eggs into Jerusalem from the West Bank”.

The officer in question was clearly very committed to cracking down on Palestinian eggstremism, and hatched his plan, at great personal whisk to himself, keeping in touch with his colleagues using experimental Israeli cryptographic technology (basically all the signals were scrambled).

The officer gave the following slightly lame comment to the media:

True, this was not an attempt to smuggle weapons but we know that egg-smuggling still poses a threat to the public.

Yes. Perhaps Iron Dome needs a few tweaks.

Conclusion

wishing-all-my-readers-a-joyous-channukah-and-a-happy-new-year

Next year in a hotel on Mayfair

Well, as the Greek warrior of time is defeated by the Maccabee of destiny, and as the menorah of fate is lubricated the oil of eternity, it seems to be the end of the blog post.
In tonight’s episode, Gabriel’s Festive Innovations were played by the cast, while Jerusalem Monopoly was produced by Hasbro. Donald Trump was named as TIME magazine’s prat of the year and Edward Jones Kilduff poured concrete over the glass ceiling. Boris Johnson failed to behave himself, and eggs were smuggled. This was an Gabrielquotes production!