I’m getting married (subject to Acts of God)

I’ve been away for quite a while (because it turns out that the student rabbinate continues to be busy – although I have been building up a collection of Jewish resources that may interest some of youz). But it’s the summer now. So: previously in my life…

Traditional Jewish marriage contracts are rather nice and often look something like this:

Formal legal contracts with wedding suppliers are more ‘tedious’ than ‘nice’ and often look something like this:

Fortunately, they often contain some entertaining snippets.

One venue we looked around offered two packages: one called “Absolute Elegance”, and one, slightly more [over]expensive, called “Absolute Indulgence”. This led to a real dilemma about whether we wanted our wedding to be elegant or indulgent – because it couldn’t possibly be both.

The smallprint is neither elegant nor indulgent. Within it are buried unacceptable conditions such as one banning us from inviting “terrorists and narcotics traffickers” to our big day, and another totally unreasonable rule that we have to “comply with the law”.

There are also a lot of get-out clauses in which the venue gets to cancel the event and keep the money – for instance “declared war in the country in which the venue is located”, which, since we’re looking at a post-Brexit wedding, is not quite as implausible as it sounds.

There’s also a general exclusion of liability in respect of “Acts of God”. Now, given that the Jewish view says that marriage itself is an Act of God, who knows where that leaves us…

Wedding insurance, meanwhile, is something that I’d never even realised existed until this whole expedition started. One provider offered to throw in, for just £40, “ceremonial sword cover”, which I’m kind of imagining looks like this:

And there are quite a few exclusions here too – for instance “radioactive contamination” isn’t covered, so I’d better not visit Zizzi in Salisbury any time soon. And, “This insurance does not cover anything which happens gradually. So if the venue burns down really slowly, or if the aforementioned “declared war” only materialises as the result of a lengthy series of developments in international politics, we’re totally screwed.

Let them eat confit

It may not be a total surprise that St Paul’s Girls’ School churns out a lot of MPs and Cabinet ministers, because their “Austerity Day” at the end of June  clearly prepared its pupils for a life firmly in-touch with the common Briton.

“Do you want chips with that?”

Austerity Day at St Paul’s involved a change to their menu. Instead of their normal fare of “duck leg confit” and “slow-baked Moroccan lamb with broad beans, prunes and preserved lemon”, the girls were served the sort of thing what poor people (apparently) eat, viz baked potatoes with coleslaw, and fruit for dessert. The aim of the project was to help them “learn about less fortunate people”.

Other special days coming up at St Paul’s this autumn, to help them get an even greater insight into the lives of less fortunate people, include Refugee Day (in which the Geography and Chemistry departments will have to swap classrooms against their will), Homelessness Day (the Lower-School Stradivarius Band will go busking in Hampstead) and Grenfell Tower Day (where the Sixth Form common-room will have a log-effect fire installed in the corner).

No horseplay

I was recently in the lovely Yorkshire town of Thirsk, where I spotted a solicitors’ office declaring itself to provide “Rural & Equine Lawyers”. So apart from representing horses, what does an equine lawyer spend their time doing?

Well, some of his mane work includes:

  • Race relations
  • Disputes between neighhhbours
  • Jockeying for business
  • Generally having a good old mews about the law

You’ll never find an equine lawyer doing shoddy work or offering up their two centaurs unless requested. No doubt they face a number of hurdles in their work, but then I guess they should just be grateful to have stable employment.

On the other hand, a lawyer who represents themselves has a foal for a client (Thank you, I think we get the gist of this section. -Ed)

Our NEwest railway operator

When the government seized the East Cost liNE back from Richard Branson’s shiny hands (shiny with all the extra-Virgin olive oil of course), they renationalised it under the name “London North East Railway”.

This hastily-cobbled-together fresh-off-the-shelf entirely-made-up gluten-free company began operating last month, and recently published the branding guideliNEs for its shiny NEw logo (see left) and style. As you’ll observe, they’re particularly proud of their idea to embolden the letters NE to represent the North East.

But then they took this idea too far, by suggesting that they should embolden the letters NE in any word in which those letters happen to come NExt to each other. For example:

There are also some other suggested words which might conveniently have their NE bolded, including: WinNEr, GeNEtic, CaffeiNE, PioNEer, FortuNE and ToNE of voice. GoodNEss knows how often a rail company is likely to NEed to use those words (geNEtic? seriously?) but it’s good to know that the option’s there. It’s such a fantastic idea after all.

The document they published also reveals:

“LNER is not: recessive, plodding, boring, flippant, distant, bland, awkward.” – though it sounds a bit flippant if they’re seriously presenting this as a worthwhile document. It goes on:

“LNER is: confident, innovative, serious, playful (Yes: serious and playful. -Ed.) friendly, stylish, proud.”

No mention of it being a train operating company. But hey ho. At least it’s not “distant”. Except its shed in InverNEss. That’s distant.

Alex Rider’s latest adventure

Following the revelation in a minor Parliamentary committee that the government does, in fact, use children as spies when it considers it NEcessary and proportionate” to do so – and that it wants to liberalise the (few) restrictions on doing so – it seems that Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series is based on true events.

The law only currently allows these child spies to be deployed for up to a month at a time, perhaps because their attention span is so short and because otherwise MI6 will have to pay lots of fiNEs to angry headteachers. We’re reliably informed that they’re given codenames such as “Double-O Seven-to-NiNE years old” and prefer their Ribena shaken but not stirred.

They’ve already doNE our country sterling service. ONE brought in vital intelligence exposing the fact that Maisie in Year 6 was stealing sweets from her friends’ bags, and another top-secret source finally revealed who was behind that graffiti on the table in the art room. Agents currently in the field include oNE in deep cover in the 3rd Wandsworth Scout Troop, gathering evidence which, it is hoped, will lead to the conviction of a sinister figure known only as “Alfie” who is believed to be the brain behind a series of major breaches of the Scout Promise.

Anyway, details of the NExt Alex Rider book has just been released…


A barrage of balloons

Donald Trump, pictured, is to be parodied by an ugly balloon

As was observed earlier this month, the group of people outraged at arch-racist Tommy Robinson’s imprisonment ‘just for doing free speech’ [by delibeately jeopardising a criminal trial] is almost exactly the same as the group of people who, deeply committed to free speech as they are, feel that a large hot air balloon parodying Donald Trump as an “angry baby” shouldn’t be allowed because it might hurt his feelings.

The Trump blimp is currently flying over Parliament Square, which seems to be becoming a flashpoint for disputes over whether or not people are allowed to say things we disagree with.

Other political parodies likely to appear around the UK in the coming months include a Boris Johnson-themed macaroni penguin. Boris Johnson, meanwhile, will be heading to the Antarctic to hang around like a penguin doing nothing useful, a skill on which he’s been working lo these many years.

World Cupdate

Some football thing happeNEd.


So, as the balloon of time flies over the plaza of destiny, and as the branding manual of fate gets misused by the intern of eternity, it appears to be the end of the blog post.
In this week’s episode, the World Cup was played by a lot of men in shorts while Donald Trump was played for a fool. St Paul’s took the proverbial out of the poor, and John Lewis decided not to insure this blog post because it was written gradually. Transport services were provided by LNER. This was an Gabrielquotes production.

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