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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Did I get it right this time?

This is a very dangerous subject. I raised it as a comment years ago and, after a tense half-hour of existence, it was deleted. Yet I feel I need to repay a debt.

I'm talking about Jews. No doubt I've come into contact with Jews in the UK but very rarely as Jews, if you know what I mean. British Jews seem to prefer not to advertise their ethnoreligiosity. Fine by me and I sympathise. Antisemitism is unfortunately still rampant; were I a Jew I might well opt for silence.

Things were entirely different when we lived in the USA. There Jews - and we seemed to meet plenty - were as extrovert about their origins as the Irish. Our elder daughter befriended a Jewish girl at school and her parents invited us to a dinner party. Lobster was served and I was clearly failing to get out the good bits. Ed, the paterfamilias, took my plate and showed me how. "The Brits," he said, "aren't much good at anything these days." I said we were rather good at choosing our servants. Ed roared with laughter and said, "Brits one, Jews zero."

Jews seemed to crop up a lot in American publishing and I began to realise that Jewishness was a far more important element in American humour than I'd realised. Incisive yet self-deprecating, they'd got my number.

A few nights ago BBC4 put out a programme about the Jews' enormous influence on musicals - shows and movies. It was easy to see how the music linked up with Jewish culture. But many of the lyric writers were also Jews.

We'll have Manhattan,
The Bronx and Staten
Island too.
It's lovely strolling through
The zoo.


Lorenz Hart. As I say, a debt of gratitude.

3 comments:

mike M said...

0.2 percent of the world population, 20% of the Nobel Prize recipients. A clever tribe.

Rouchswalwe said...

Lorenz Hart died too young.

Roderick Robinson said...

Both: Thanks for responding. I knew this would be more or less a no-no. The subject seems to terrify most Gentiles, worried they'll get something wrong. It used to terrify me but the BBC4 programme - direct, informative and unafraid (inevitably presented by a Jew) - forced me to bestir myself.