Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Stronger IN

So the moment of truth has finally arrived and I have decided to vote REMAIN. Here is why.

First and almost last is simply because the UK cannot go it alone. It doesn't mean the country will break down or fall apart (though with Scotland that too could happen) but simply that the UK that emerges after exit is complete will not be the same country it is now. It will not be as strong economically, financially, culturally and in so many other areas where we make a difference in the world by what is known as soft power.

In today's world it is the very largest countries and trading blocks that matter. In a world of the USA, China and the EU (without us) the UK stands not a chance. It may be the 5th largest economy in the world but that is precisely because it is a member of the EU and the rest of the world can buy its products and services and deal with it under the EU framework.

I could go on to quote economists, scientists, politicians and business leaders the world over who've been popping up in droves but there is hardly a need. If there is a choice between joining neighbouring countries in trying together to improve all our lives and make the world a better place or standing aside and withdraw into ourselves the answer, to me at least, is self-evident.

But we want our country back, say the Brexiters. The sovereignty of this country is being lost to Brussels, they complain. We are a plucky little country and we can go it alone. It was our finest moment in the 1941 and we can do it again.

But for the sake of what? For the right to decide our light bulbs, the suction of our vacuum cleaners and the speed of a cupa? Is that what was at stake in World War II and for which we fought? And who is to guarantee that it won't happen anyway if they become international standards (in which we have little say) or if it is introduced by a future Labour, or indeed, Conservative government? There are far more important things at stake than the regulations which exist in every country to some degree and much of which will have to be reinvented if Brexit was to win.

But, they say, Norway and Switzerland manage so why can't we? Well, there is a simple answer. Norway has a population of 5m and Switzerland 8m whereas Britain has 64m people. So what are we comparing here? Britain has a permanent seat on the Security Council, is a member of the G7, a nuclear power and her language is the international lingua franca. We may not lose all this overnight but our influence will wane and are we to risk giving it up for the sake of turning ourselves into Zurich gnomes? Zurich and Oslo may be pleasant enough places but only London is one of the greatest metropolis in the world for tourism, art, culture and of course finance. Show anyone outside Britain a map and ask them to point to Norway, Switzerland and the UK and which are they most likely to get right?

It is this soft power as well as the financial muscle which is at stake. Losers quit and quitting in this case can lead to national decline, economic strife and social unrest. And all for the sake of what? We begged Europe in the 1970s to be accepted, we got our way on the Euro, on the social charter and other issues. Even on immigration, just look at the barriers as you enter the tunnel in Calais to see that immigrants from outside the EU cannot come in easily. And as for people from EU countries, let them come.

When I ask Brexiters whether they prefer Poles, Romanians or people from other continents I don't need to tell you what the reply is. We are surrounded by immigrants running convenience stores, cleaning our homes and offices, builders, plumbers, mechanics and the like. If Brits wanted to do these jobs the Europeans wouldn't come. My father and grandparents were once immigrants from Europe and so is most of our community. I like the ease with which I can travel throughout the continent and I am happy to share that comfort with people from neighbouring countries. When the US introduced draconian new visa rules in the aftermath of 9/11 it was the EU that could object whereas Britain on its own would be laughed out of court. Just see how we capitulated to the US on the Iraq war where Britain had full sovereignty.

It is always easier to wage war than to broker peace and peace is rarely perfect. Europe was twice at war in the last century and on each occasion it dragged with it the entire world. If you asked a soldier in the trenches or a passenger on a cattle truck what they thought of a Europe at peace for more than 80 years in return for some powers transferred to a central body in which we all have a say, what would their response have been? Where is the sense in going it alone in a fast changing world where Russia is resurgent, China is belligerent and the USA pivots to Asia. Who will care for a tiny island singing Land of Hope and Glory and harking back to its heyday of empire and literary giants if it refuses to join in with its neighbours in embracing the future?

And as for the supposed benefits of £350m a week, even if we assume it is true it will never reach us. The government is not run from a single cash register from which you draw set amounts. At the end of the cold war we were promised a peace dividend, yet I do not recall a hospital, school or other project which was built because the cold war had come to an end. Government is a vast pit and by digging up one part you do not fill another. The money, whatever it amounts to, is swallowed up somewhere else and in this case much of it will be spent replicating what we already have from Brussels.

So I come to my last point which is the very crude question, is it good for the Jews? While the question can be a legitimate and important one it is also often raised by those who cannot think beyond Jewish interests. Europe has, for better and very much for worse, been a home to Jews for 2000 years and perhaps more. We have seen the best and the worst of Europe though our history in the UK has not always been rosy either.

However, as a project the EU has been at worst Jew-neutral and at best a very positive development. True there have been calls from Europe on Shechitah but then so have there been calls in the UK. There are indeed very nasty and virulently antisemitic political parties in Europe but they have no sway over EU politics or policy. From the UK to the Baltics it is the neo-nazi parties who are bitterly opposed to EU membership. It is tyrants like Putin and dangerous nutters like Trump who hate the EU and look what they’re doing or propose to do to their own countries and to their neighbours.

The EU has the protection of minorities at its heart and from which we as a people benefit. We more than anyone else know the consequences of a divided Europe and we should be happy that Europe with the UK in its midst is a stable, prosperous and vibrant place.

For these reasons I am IN.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Sink or Drown

So we're in the headlines again. This time no one's been arrested or convicted, no abuse has been covered up, no school is faced with closure and no followers of 2 rival rebbes have come to blows. Not only are we in the headlines but some of us even got a ride on a chopper - for free - while the consolation prize for the rest was a trip on a real lifeboat.

This is mamesh the matzev of matzevs except that, strangely, Hamodia sunk the story on page 39, which is probably where Pravda buried its story of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. I must be exaggerating because of course there was no disaster, nuclear or otherwise, and all that happened was that the lives of 34 boys were at risk but anyhow nothing happened in the end especially after Shomrim turned up on the scene so what's all the fuss about?

Well, let me tell you exactly what the fuss is about. The fuss is that our schools, communal leaders, rabbis, askonim and the whole bang lot of individuals, committees, institutions, charities, organisations, va'ads and whatnots give not one hoot for our children or our adults for that matter. You read that correctly: not one hoot. That is what the fuss is about though given the washes we're put through some might think even that's not a great deal.

When it's abuse we say it's not true because the allegers have left the community and so perforce must be lying. When a guy, a menahel no less, is caught on camera red handed he's apparently showing affection to the poor kid. And when we are finally forced to confront some uncomfortable truths because the lies and cover-ups have exhausted themselves we switch gears. Sexual issues are too sensitive for our poor fragile souls and so it's best for the victims to be sent packing while the perpetrators continue plying their wicked trade unhindered. And all the while doubting whether the modern world's fuss about the whole subject is all that it's cooked up to be.

If it's corporal punishment the tone shifts yet again. The odd beating has never done any harm, it's being phased out and it was just a one, or two or three, off. When it's accidents, well we have Hatzole so no one needs to know. And when it's just a downright lousy education in decrepit buildings, it's because we care for their souls and that is what really matters.

We have become so desensitised to what we're capable of that even after a saga like this it took headlines in the national and local press - but never our own - to tell us exactly what went wrong. It would not be fair to name the yeshive concerned because they are no worse than any of our other local schools or yeshives. One could argue they are better because while the rest of the kids were dragged off to the most idiotic demonstration only our turnip-brained unemployed are capable of putting on, this yeshive at least gave its kids a day off. They also did not take them to Chessington Zoo or Trent Park or some other unimaginative outing but travelled further afield to Dover with its white cliffs and stark coast line. Mind you they did take some local flak but that was not for the risks they exposed the kids to but rather for taking the boys on frivolous excursions a few days before Shavuos. Just imagine the boys had been introduced to Vera Lynn and The White Cliffs of Dover, now that would have been a scandal.

As a catalogue of near, and actual, mishaps has shown, whether it's Clissold Park, Dover or Kathmandu, as far as some of us are concerned, the dress code must always remain the same. Our kit has supposedly seen us through two thousand years of exile and so it should be able to withstand the odd rough patch thrown up by the British Isles. Thus, whether it's the Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia, Cumbria or, as in this case, below the Dover cliffs, forget Berghaus or North Face. It's black city shoes, buttoned white shirts, suit trousers with a below-knee jacket and that on top of a waistcoat. A concession of Tzitzis on top of shirt may be made but only for the super cool trying to earn their Nike swoosh. Just don’t do it, ought to be their moto.

This attitude is not confined to the UK and covers not just kids. To the contrary the more of us there are the worse it gets. Just over a year ago, two people were trampled to death at the funeral of Rav Wosner in Bnei Brak. Of course, accidents can happen anywhere but it’s the reaction that marks out the responsible and sensible from the daft and reckless.

No enquiry was set up, no one has been prosecuted, no one has lost his (always 'his') job and no one has been held accountable in any way. That is two people dead. Passed away. Went up to Heaven. Went to the Garden of Eden. Whichever euphemism you choose to employ will not hide the plain and simple fact. Two people were killed by the gross negligence of reckless idiots who assembled a huge crowd late at night without any prior planning and co-ordination and contrary to the advice given to them.

There were all the tears in the world for the bride of one of the victims and for the other victim's widow and child because we are experts at after-the-event nausea. Yet a single stitch in time is just too much to fathom. And when it comes to finger pointing it's anyone but ourselves. Those responsible nebech have wives and kids, and they didn't mean it, they really meant well, consider the amount of chesed they've done in their lives and all the other excuses we so expertly produce for those rare occasions when our denials are too much even for ourselves.

So it comes as no surprise that here too our response was as if on cue. In its report on page 39, Hamodia published a photo not of the boys or the RNLI but of a Shomrim squaddie who seem to have moved on from nabbing muggers in Stamford Hill to coastguard rescue in Dover. It was left to the Hackney Gazette to ask the obvious question of how it was allowed to happen because to our newspapers the boys, sorry the bochurim, had simply 'got lost'. Lost, that is, despite 9 signs telling them not to do exactly what they went and did. As a friend said to me in shul, our community is like the person to whom a 'wet paint' sign is an invitation to poke a finger.

After all, where's the wisdom and ingenuity in following the well-worn path? Follow the tracks of the sheep, is a figurative exhortation to dress in yeshive-wear while out trekking but as for any practical application, well we just don't do the literal stuff. Rules are there to be broken and signs to be ignored. And our newspapers are there not as a fourth estate but to cover up for the other estates. They're there to admonish us for talking loshon hore and during chazoras hashatz but not for trifling matters like saving lives. That would fall into the category of rubbish recycling, gardening and other veiberishe zachn which real heimishe guys don't engage in. So the front-page headline was reserved for the 'UK' anti-education demo which in reality was nothing more than a morning off for Stamford Hill kiddies who were unlucky enough, or very lucky depending on your point of view, not to be taken to Dover for the day.

And lest I forget there was the reaction of the PR firm. The same Shimon Cohen who popped up in the aftermath of the Scottish misadventure 12 years ago showed his face yet again. In both incidents an 'investigation' was promised though this time 'parents' also made an heroic £5,000 donation. These are the same 'parents' who if not for the providence of mobile phones would presumably be donating to the defence fund of whoever was accused of whatever might have befallen the boys. Now add, chas v'cholilo, and chas v'sholem, and 'you mustn't say that' but still do nothing practical and hold no one to account. If I were one of the supposedly investigated I wouldn't lose a minute's sleep unless some outside body decides to poke its nose into our affairs and in which case expect a yom tefilo linked to an urgent fundraising drive.

But for now life goes back to normal. Boruch Hashem for the great miracle that nothing happened. The closer the shave with death the greater the ness and so all the more reason to be grateful for the Chasdei Hashem. Never mind that we have had several drownings in the last few years, all of which were the result of entering the water at unauthorised spots and at inadvisable times. Never mind that there was a drowning in Miami a few weeks ago where some chasidim took a dip close to signs warning of riptides. If you hold demos not to have to study geography how on earth will you discover what a tide is. The sea is dangerous, we know that, and if we survive it we have Hoidi on Friday evenings to thank for the miracles towards sea dwellers. And if we don't survive it well then it's a reminder that we must repent and show more respect to our gedoilim and dress tzniusdig and be grateful to Shomrim for averting an even greater disaster. Omein.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Star Wars

Readers of the Jewish Chronicle were kept entertained over Pesach at the clash of two titans of Anglo Jewry over none other than our friend, the revered 'Rabbi' Pinter.

It all started when Geoffrey Alderman suggested that the way to resolve the Ofsted 'crisis' (or the-failure-to-educate-boys crisis, with no inverted commas) would be to facilitate round-table discussions between Ofsted, the government and local chareidi parents. Alderman then added that he can think of no one better to facilitate such discussions than the Great Beard himself.

We'll come back to this marvellous suggestion a little bit later though logistically it should not be too difficult. Boruch Hashem, Pinter's beard has been released from the camera lens shutter where it had become entangled and which forced him to go AWOL while the BBC and the Independent were running prominent stories on local boys' schools. The 'Rabbi' did however pop up to call for the resignation of the head of the National Secular Society. Pinter might have an eye for any vacancy that could arise following his call, or he could always slip one of his gifted offspring into the empty chair. If a surname automatically qualifies you for a headteacher job why not for the head of the National Secular Society too?

Anyway, to get back to Alderman's column, his innovative proposal of Pinter facilitating something to do with parents was not before he labelled Pinter the 'self-appointed spokesperson' of our community. And this appears to have sufficiently riled Shimon Cohen to prompt him to take up cudgels on behalf of the Great Man. Pinter's Caretaker, you could say. Cohen after all does spinmeistering for a living though I honestly cannot tell you whether Pinter is a client or if this is altruism of the highest order.


After dismissing Alderman as Anglo Jewry's 'Mr Destructive', Cohen went into sycophantic overdrive. Pinter, you see, is not just any spokesman and never mind a 'self appointed' one. Believe it or not, the Great Man's achievements are 'legendary' though regretfully no list is provided of what those achievements might be.

Well, with a ringside view of these two giants locking horns it falls to your hapless blogger to try and separate the sparring sides. With Pinter being in the frame, it makes this that bit easier to resolve as no endeavour of his is complete without photographic evidence making its way to the weekend papers.

Who can't just rattle off those Herculean achievements? Setting up a chareidi publicly funded school; cushy jobs for himself, his late wife and at least 3 of his daughters; a wedding hall for which hard-pressed families pay through their noses even while the Legend stands cap-in-hand at the Treasury gates supplicating on behalf of those very same mugs; setting up a kitchen with public funds to facilitate the hall but withholding school dinners for years from the school kids. Do we need the even scarier legends? Like hauling a pornographer to the opening of a chareidi girls school renowned for its adherence to every footnote of Oiz V'Hodor Levusho?

But enough of all this legend already. Let's get down to the real stuff of facilitating discussions between the government, Ofsted and parents, though here I'm afraid both Alderman and Cohen have got it awfully wrong. The difficulty with this proposal is neither the government, the majority of whom are on Pinter's speed-dial, nor Ofsted with whom he is on first name terms. It's that pesky thing called parents which Alderman clumsily throws into the equation where the problems really start.

Parents? Who they? They breed and feed the nippers and provide the grease for the cogs of our great machine to turn, so is that not enough? Parents in Stamford Hill have even less say in their children's education than Pinter has in the hiring and firing of the head of the National Secular Society. Being a good parent in Stamford Hill means delivering your children to the school gates and turning away body and mind the second you've prised your hand away from the screeching toddler. The next time you'll take them in your arms will be when giving them away for a second time down the aisle en route to the chupah. During the interim schooling years, however, it is the parents’ role not to look, think or know.

The other side of this bargain is that the schools will take charge of the little ones mind, body and soul from as early in the morning till as late at night and for as many days of the year as circumstances allow. The schools will also turn out good yidelech who pray a lot and think a little and let God (with some help for George Osborne) do the rest. And all this for a basement rate of school fees which barely pays for decent koidesh lessons, never mind a full secular curriculum. That's the deal and trust me it works well most of the time.

Alderman also goes one further. Not only should parents be at the table but, Pinter, that champion of parents' rights, should facilitate the discussions. That chap at whose schools the initials P T A are as rare as the Great Man off-centre on a photo shoot and where elections for just the one parent governor are even rarer, where parents are threatened and blackmailed into submission, where parents are lied to and brickwalled when the arbitrary admissions disfavour them, where exams are redacted and marks withheld while parents are kept in the dark, where information is provided to parents about once a term during a good year, where parents are good only for ‘producing’ letters in 65 of their names in supposed support for a headteacher from the anointed family. And Alderman believes that no one other than this champion of parental rights is better placed to facilitate such discussions.

Sorry Mr Alderman, but your idea is a dud from inception. It's not the parents who have willed this madness into being and it's not disenfranchised parents who will resolve it. The problem lies with people in the public eye like Pinter who will talk of anything but the real problems in their own backyard. When several years ago people with some foresight tried to facilitate just such discussions they were rebuffed not by parents but by the same school heads who are now wailing the loudest.

Our enemies are not Ofsted nor the government but our own short sightedness. The cry for reform is no longer driven solely by a government trying to keep a lid on Islamic extremism. It is now the products of the system who have grown up with nothing to show for their years of their so-called education who are calling for reform the world over. Having been reared by our system, they know our modus operandi from the inside and are proving as adept in the game as we have been hitherto. Those same ministers and MPs, media and lobbying groups no longer listen only to the long beards but they are also getting to hear the sorry tales some of those leaving have to tell.

For Alderman, though, this was at least just a proposal. According to Cohen, however, such discussions have already taken place. Come on Mr Cohen: we'll forgive you the "legendary achievements" if you can tell us where and when they were conducted, how many parents were invited and how parents can join future discussions. Copies of the minutes would also be useful though requests of that nature are known to create blockages for your Legend.

Seriously, though, Mr Cohen: are you really suggesting that such meetings would take place without a single photograph finding its way into the papers? Did the most photographed person after Taylor Swift turn up to these meetings incognito? Given a photo with some local parents is not something to make a fuss over, but is it truly the case that a meeting with clean-shaven, yarmulke-less Ofsted and government officials did not merit a single group photo with you-know-who in the centre?

Now that would be legendary indeed.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016



In normal societies and communities, when planning a new settlement, you might design colourful posters to attract young families, you might include some photographs or an artist's impression to entice the curious, you might hold a public meeting to gauge the interest and answer questions, you might invite people to nominate themselves to form a steering committee and you could even hold elections for this committee. In due course you would inform people who have expressed an interest on how the settlement is progressing, the range of available housing, the public facilities, educational institutions and so on.

If this is how it would operate in normal circumstances amongst normal people then say what you like about us but normal we are not. Perhaps I should rephrase that for though we are no less or more normal than anyone else that is not the conclusion you would reach reading the above notice.

This notice announces a 'new' settlement in Westcliff for "general-chasidim". This could be defined as moderately enlightened chasidim who can stomach living next door to someone with a different hat or coat so long as the hat's furry and the coat shiny and if an overcoat then shiny too but alos hooded, shapeless and reflectors on the upper arm. Should the neighbour, however, be a jacketed type with a downward titling hat or, Go- forbid, a hatless, coatless specimen then let them head north to Hemel Hempstead or in fact anywhere but east of the M25.

Anyhow, back to the notice. We can debate if it was written for the normal or less so but what shines through from every line is the contempt it has for those it is supposed to be serving. This of course comes as no surprise to us locals and is exactly what we expect round here from anyone in charge of anything .

Just consider the dry facts. A junta of four unelected individuals announces to the general public in as uninspiring language as it could muster that they have set up communal institutions in Westcliff with the 'guidance and blessing' of the gedoilim. Don't bother asking who the gedoilim might be because there are far more important things for which you will have to take them on trust. Such as the roof over your head.

For to gain even a foot in this Stamford Hill-on-Sea you may deal only with this 'non-profit' lot. On green and pleasant land this New Jerusalem may indeed be built but for dark satanic mills it shall not want either. Look not at the writing and consider only the look of the notice. No topography will compensate for the colourless and harsh typography of the notice and even this is no match for the sheer contempt of its content.

You need not take my word for it. Here is a translation of the last paragraph of the notice, the sting in the tail if you like:

"Understandably, for the [settlement] to succeed we require the public's assistance not to buy or hire houses without the committee and, therefore, to enforce the above, we hereby announce that it will not be at all possible for anyone who buys or rents a house not through the committeeto to make use of the communal institutions." (emphasis in the original)

Were this a notice from the Homerton Hospital in respect of the Shabbos room or the Cohanim sidewalks you'd have 5 extra supplements in our newspapers to cover the 'scandal'. If El Al spoke like that to an idiot holding up a flight they'd be bringing down the Israeli government. And if that was Ofsted writing, Interlink would produce another set of bogus statistics with its self-proclaimed Mrs "Intelligent" referring to our 'traditions' of buying up real estate on the cheap.

But since it's some newly arrived apparatchiks laying claim to Westcliff it's all in order.  Don't bother asking how many properties were bought on the cheap on someone else's turf to create the fortunes of the undersigned, and don't ask why what may be done with impunity in Stamford Hill or anywhere else becomes a capital crime if done in Westcliff. All you need to know is that someone somewhere has put himself in charge and by definition is wielding a big fat stick.

Because when they talk about 'communal institutions' they have in mind nothing other than our dear precious neshomelech. Dare to buy a home through anyone other than our 'non-profit' agents and your kids can sit at home or wander the streets but don’t bring them to us. This is the initiation rite for askonim the world over and there's no reason why Westcliff should be any different. Treat the kids like pawns and you'll earn your place in the chareidi hall of fame.

Benefits cheats will get their shishi and landlords letting sub-standard property to heimishe tenants will get their top-table but buy your own 2-up 2-down without it passing through the askonim's grubby fingers and you've had it. No rov or dayan is required for this edict because there's nothing revolutionary or novel about it. That four individuals can on their own accord hold a community to ransom simply because this is what they have decided is what counts as normal round here. Nothing illegal, of course, and they'll quote you scriptures in support as only the devil can.

But as a window to how we're treated by our own there are few better. No sense of fairness. No politeness. No kinds words. No explanation. No accountability. No transparency. Just raw brute force. Because so we said, so we can and so we will.

Welcome to Sod 'em on Sea.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Hey, Ofsted, leave them kids alone


Note to Hamodia:

1. If you’re going to run an article on Ofsted it might be an idea not to use pictures of kids with longer hairstyles, shorter peyos and blue and patterned yarmulkes. Their schools are hardly affected and since you’re so proud of our tradition why not use the more traditional look.

2. It’s really useful being told the Latin etymology of words but perhaps also a few words on English and how it’s taught, or rather not taught, in our local chadorim would come in handy.

3. The absence of chareidi Ofsted inspectors – chareidim make up about 0.03% of the UK population – is indeed a scandal of biblical magnitude but may we also know why past chareidi inspectors could never find fault with chareidi schools. Even you’ll admit that they’re perfect only 99.9% of the time.

4. If you want your informed readers to truly believe in your campaign it would be useful to have a quote from a named person. Surely you can do better than a quote from some Interlink spinsheet, though I can understand if the spokespeople are concerned about some uncomfortable questions on their own schools.

5. Talking of Interlink, rather than setting up yet another project with a wonderful name LinkEd to compliment NAJOS, AOJOS, UOHC education committee and probably more acronyms lurking in the background, might it not be an idea for them to defend what is actually going on within the local schools? Or is this project simply to fill a gap in the grants?

6. Grouping yourself with the Board of Deputies and quoting MPs does indeed give your cause immense credibility. But don’t you think that since the issues facing local chadorim are of an entire different nature to those facing the other Jewish schools it might be useful to address those issues? Just asking, of course.

7. I’m afraid the trumpeting of tradition, though it did wonders in the past, has somewhat run out of steam. If this story is kosher you may have heard of the boy who cried wolf a few times too many. I’ve also been searching for a tradition of not teaching kids to read and write and other basic skills and perhaps you can send me some mareh mekoimes. And while you’re searching maybe you’ll also find a source for barely being able to write in Hebrew and Yiddish either.

8. I know your pages have to accommodate the many pictures of engagements, weddings and funerals of the gedoilim and their innumerable grandchildren but perhaps can you also find some time for school admissions, not the national rules you so wonderfully elucidated upon this week, but the ad hoc ‘rules’ and outright lies concocted by schools when they don’t like the length of your wife’s wig or skirt.

9. Please take the above as constructive criticism which is usually allowed. And notwithstanding the above it was really comforting to read your article after coming from the Tribune where Reb Michoel Posen had a half page on how to work the benefits system which was rather upsetting. At least on your pages I could read how the next generation is being prepared to stand on its own feet and for that we really do need Rachamei Shamayim.

(10. I really must apologise for this last one, but since I’m writing I hope you’ll forgive me this minor point. When you next bump in to your ‘consultant’ Pinter can you please have a word with him on ‘his’ school hall. The DfE have just published the 2014/2015 school performance tables showing the self-generated income for Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls School to be £70 per pupil. At 334 pupils this works out at a total of £23,380. However, the school has said that it hired the school hall out 118 times in 1 year at £750 per hire. That makes it £88,500. I know sums don’t come easy to everyone and I wouldn’t want to trouble him on the fact that the community actually pays more like £2,500 per hire because it is after all Stamford Hill. It would however be nice if you could please get from him a short comment, which he is usually so generous with, on this slightly taxing subject.)