Parents can be cruel.
On those long summer evenings in the backyard, as I neared the triumph of a rare gritty century, when the only light left was the rapidly fading pink of the sky, my father would bowl the ball along the ground so I couldn’t see it.
Alas there were no referral systems in those days.
He would say it was character-building.
This week I thought of Gloria Connors, who coached her own toddler to greatness.
“See, Jimmy,” she said as she slammed shots past him, “Even your own mother will do that to you!”
A neighbour’s son has been trying to get into Oxford. She went with him for his interviews and waited outside.
I’m afraid her desire is much greater than his.
She told me that she lives daily with her own failure to get into Oxford.
Young Ben must not let her down.
* * *
The Supreme Court has grappled valiantly with the gnarled problem of pushy parents and race relations.
Last Wednesday (Dec. 16), their Lordships handed down a 91-page judgment.
The Jewish Free School (JFS) in London is over-subscribed. It has strict criteria for admission. One is that the youngster should have a Jewish mother.
The Dad of a kid called “E” was so keen to get young E into the JFS that he took his case to the summit of law’s Mt Sinai.
He must have deep pockets.
The school rejected E because his Ma (Italian at the time of his birth but later a convert) wasn’t Jewish enough.
She had done a conversion course before E was born but it didn’t pass muster with the Chief Rabbi and the Orthodox Jews.
They apply what is called the matrilineal test: the child of a Jewish mother is, as the court put it, automatically and inalienably Jewish.
The wise men and woman of Little George Street ruled five to four against the school, concluding their policy was discriminatory.
* * *
In a far cry from “It was bluebell time in Kent”, however the President, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers (snap), began his judgment in E v JFS thus:
“The seventh chapter of Deuteronomy records the following instructions given by Moses to the people of Israel, after delivering the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai:
‘1. When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou.
2. And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them.
3. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
4. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly’.”
I don’t know about you, but if I were a Girgashite I’d be mightily piqued by that early version of the Race Relations Act.
* * *
As they say in the classics, the dissenting judgments were strong.
To Lord Rodger (pic) of Earlsferry, (at para. 225) the decision of the majority meant that there could in future be no Jewish faith schools which gave preference to children because they were “Jewish according to Jewish religious law and belief”.
And in another juridical slap (para. 226) he observed:
“The majority’s decision leads to such extraordinary results, and produces such manifest discrimination against Jewish schools in comparison with other faith schools, that one can’t help feeling that something has gone wrong.”
Lord Hope of Craighead (para. 157) said the school had made a religious decision and it was not “the business of the courts to intervene in matters of religion”.
With respect, as good counsel say, I’m with his Lordship on that one.
* * *
Why do these things have to cost so much? The case took three hearing days and five huge-fee silks appeared.
Why couldn’t the school and the father have come to an arrangement?
* * *
The best show in town this week, though not for the blameless defendant, has been about the grey-suited Mrs Bibi Giles (seen here with hubby Peter) and her medical complaints.
Mrs Giles took her gynaecologist, Mr Thomson, to the Worcester County Court accusing him of sexual assault and harassment.
The consultant said Mrs Giles had sent him suggestive texts and asked him to “christen” her with his “Angus beef sausage”.
It’s no coincidence that the gyno’s first name is Angus.
Another witness, the delightfully-named Mr Thrush, said Bibi (there was some evidence that she was a former Miss Guyana, but I doubt it) called Mr Thomson frequently and was a bit strange.
The case collapsed when another doctor came forward and said that he too had been on Bibi’s radar.
She had pestered him for a relationship saying she had a high libido.
Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins said Bibi had “form”.
She was ordered to pay £30,000 towards Mr Thomson’s legal costs. It was the end of a disgraceful injustice for the doctor.
But I’m leaving the most startling false allegation till the end.
Mrs Giles claimed Mr Thomson, who was described as an expert in keyhole surgery, examined her in the presence of a nurse and gave her two leg-buckling orgasms in a minute-and-a-half.
It’s a shame that it’s not true. Angus could make a fortune if he left medicine.
* * *
From the deep snow, frozen roads, blocked tunnels, stranded passengers and threatened strikes of Great Britain, may I wish both my readers a happy Winterval and a splendid 2010.