At the cap­tain’s ta­ble

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - David Rob­son

NO JEW has ever played cricket for Eng­land which seems both un­fair and a mis­take. Catholics, Protes­tants, Mus­lims, Hin­dus, Sikhs, yes, but nary an Is­raelite, un­less you count the great Fred True­man who dis­cov­ered late in life that his ma­ter­nal grand­mother was one of us (by con­trast with doc­tor-direc­tor-in­tel­lec­tual Jonathan Miller who said of him­self “I’m not re­ally a Jew, just Jewish”, Fred told the JC he was happy to be called a Jew, though you’d be pushed to find any­one less Jew- ish).

True, there has never been a Jewish crick­eter good enough to play for Eng­land, but that is not much of an ar­gu­ment — dozens of not-good-enough crick­eters have played for Eng­land. Eng­land cricket is deep in the wilder­ness. Per­fect! We Jews are a na­tion formed by the wilder­ness. Eng­land cricket at present is es­sen­tially a tale of tsores and no­body knows more about tsores than we do. We thrive on tsores. We know how to en­joy it.

Clearly the Eng­land cricket selec­tors don’t know the mag­nif­i­cent joke about the Jewish man who made a for­tune and bought him­self a large yacht. He kit­ted him­self out in a braided naval jacket and a nau­ti­cal cap. Then he in­vited his old Yid­dishe mum to come and see it. “This is my yacht, mother, and I’m the cap­tain,” he de­clared proudly. She looked him over: “By you, you’re a cap­tain, by me, you’re a cap­tain. But by a cap­tain, are you a cap­tain?” At least three of the best Eng­land cap­tains of re­cent times have said Eng­land’s Alas­tair Cook isn’t a cap­tain. Yet cap­tain he re­mains.

Ed Miliband is Jewish and he’s Labour’s cap­tain, though whether by a cap­tain he’s a cap­tain is far from clear. David Cameron is ob­vi­ously some sort of a cap­tain. He also claims to have Jewish con­nec­tions — he told the Knes­set his great-great-grand­fa­ther was a Jew ( azoy, as they say at Eton). It’s as close to Jewish as his cabi­net gets. Cameron’s new line-up is more McVey than oy vey (though in another way it’s pretty oy vey too).

These summer do­mes­tic tragi-come­dies are a use­ful dis­trac­tion from the se­ri­ously per­turb­ing things that are go­ing on else­where. And talk­ing of tragi-come­dies, would Eng­land have done any worse in the World Cup if Rooney had been re­placed by an un­known called Ru­bin? They couldn’t have done.

As a dis­trac­tion from these dis­trac­tions I have been watch­ing Orange Is The New Black, the Net­flix women’s prison drama. For me there is only one dis­ap­point­ment — the Jews. All we get is the cen­tral char­ac­ter’s wimp­ish fi­ancé and his lawyer fa­ther and dot­ing mother. Stereo­typ­ing. Why no tat­tooed, cropped, Jewish les­bian bank rob­ber? That’s what I’d like to know.

All the above are sto­ries of losers. We’re fail­ures at sport, Cameron hasn’t won a gen­eral elec­tion yet and the women’s fed­eral prison isn’t ex­actly the Carl­ton at Cannes. In ev­ery case they go down fight­ing (sort of). Change the cast and let’s see them go down kvetch­ing.

The cabi­net is more McVey than Oy Vey

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