Miriam Gross

Diary – 31 December 2015

Also: my Muslim friends’ radicalisation worries; facts about Proust’s Paris; a Parisian dentist in London

Disappointingly, the recent film about Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, does not include the thing about him which most struck me in Walter Isaacson’s biography: Jobs habitually parked in disabled parking bays. Naturally, this is something that I (in company with many drivers, I suspect) long to do whenever disabled spaces are the only available parking, especially when two or three of them are standing empty. But I don’t — even for a five-minute dash to Tesco. The fear of exposure stops me, as well perhaps as a smidgen of unselfishness. The fact that Steve Jobs unhesitatingly committed this minor offence reveals more about him — that he was unscrupulous, that he didn’t care what anyone thought, that he thought rules were made to be broken — than anything shown in the film. Another annoying aspect of the movie is something that it shares with many recent TV thrillers (especially English ones): the action starts right in the middle of the story. As a result, one is thoroughly confused and fed up long before one has worked out what’s going on. The notion of starting a narrative at the beginning and proceeding chronologically seems, unfortunately, to be regarded by directors as unacceptably inartistic and old hat.

For a few years, I have been giving lessons to two Muslim immigrants who are eager to improve their English and their knowledge of England. So I have witnessed at first hand how pained these young men are by Islamic terrorism and how worried they are about Islamic radicalisation. They feel deeply grateful to be living in England. One of them recently sent his eight-year-old son to a madrassa — once a week — to learn the Arabic script and study the Koran. After a few weeks, the son started coming home and making critical comments about his mother: she was not wearing the right kind of hijab, hers was too small; she ought not to go out on her own (the mother works part-time at a hospital).

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