Miriam Gross

Diary – 25 October 2018

Eight years ago, in the course of doing some research into literacy teaching in London, I visited many primary schools. One thing that struck me — and I didn’t of course mention it in the pamphlet I wrote on the subject — was how many primary school teachers were severely obese. One isn’t supposed even

Diary – 8 June 2017

Hundreds of terrorists and suspected terrorists have gone through the British educational system. Yet amid all the pre-election talk about extremism, I have not heard a single mention of the role that schools could play in countering future radicalisation. Do teachers, for example, ever look at online Islamist propaganda together with their Muslim pupils and

Diary – 26 January 2017

Did you know that if you use the f-word while talking to a BT representative, they hang up on you? Here’s how our conversation went when I finally got through after several abortive attempts and ‘holding’ for at least 15 minutes. Me: ‘I’m ringing because the engineer who was supposed to come between 8 a.m.

Diary – 31 December 2015

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,

Diary – 27 March 2014

I had a slight shock last week, while listening to Desert Island Discs. The admirable nurse Dame Claire Bertschinger had chosen a reading of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ as one of her eight discs. The poem, beautifully read by Michael Caine, was nearing its climax when it came to an abrupt stop. If you do this

Diary – 4 August 2012

What explains the extraordinary success of Fifty Shades of Grey? This question has been much skirted around but, as far as I know, no one has come up with what seems to me the obvious answer: a large proportion of women are to some degree closet masochists. Of course it’s an embarrassing thing to admit,

Diary – 3 March 2012

When we switched on the BBC’s 6 o’clock news on 18 February, we had no idea that it was the day of Whitney Houston’s funeral, and even less that the coverage of this sad event would blot out all other news. So we expected the item to come to an end. But it never did.

Diary – 30 October 2010

The other day my husband and I went to Winter’s Bone, the much praised (overpraised, we thought) film set in Missouri. Both of us have normal hearing but neither of us caught more than about half of the dialogue. Naturally, we didn’t fully grasp what was going on. It was a familiar experience. In many

Diary – 26 June 2010

‘New is not generally a word to use in politics. It is exhausted before it even begins: it generally means that the user of it has no ideas of any depth, and runs out of steam early on.’ I came across this observation in Norman Stone’s wonderfully unorthodox ‘personal history of the cold war’, The

Diary – 14 November 2009

Not long ago, I astounded the men sitting next to me at a dinner party (yes, dinner parties still take place here and there) by saying that I thought Gordon Brown was handsome, and indeed had sex appeal. The men exclaimed that I had gone off my rocker. But the women within earshot immediately chipped

Diary – 9 December 2006

I was completely taken aback by the brutality of Casino Royale. I had asked various friends who had seen the film, including two mothers who had gone with their children, whether they would recommend it. One mother told me that she and her 11-year-old boy had loved it — he had already seen it twice.

Diary – 4 February 2006

The other day I went into the National Portrait Gallery gift shop to buy a postcard of George Orwell. There wasn’t one. I then looked for Anthony Powell. Again, no luck. V.S. Naipaul wasn’t there either. In the course of my search, however, I couldn’t help noticing that there were two versions of Helena Bonham-Carter

Diary – 19 November 2005

I’d never have guessed that there was a connection between Joan Collins and the novelist Anthony Powell, the centenary of whose birth is being commemorated with an exhibition at the Wallace Collection. But there is, as I discovered quite by chance 20 years ago when I went to interview Powell to mark his 80th birthday.

Diary – 22 July 2005

During last Thursday’s two-minute silence I was in Knightsbridge, standing on Brompton Road. When it was over, the hundreds of office workers and shoppers who had come out into the bright sunshine broke into spontaneous applause. I found myself enthusiastically joining in, to my own surprise. I am usually rather put off by public displays

What it means to be Jewish

The fact that I am Jewish has always mystified me. It bears no relation to anything else in my life — not to the way I was brought up, not to religion since I am agnostic, nor to any community in which I have lived. My parents both came from secular, middle-class, professional German (and

Diary – 29 January 2005

The Telegraph Group, for which I work, happens to use the same taxi firm as the BBC, and in the days when I was lucky enough to be driven to my office at Canary Wharf, I made friends with several of the firm’s regular drivers. In the course of our chats I couldn’t help learning

Diary – 16 November 2002

Whatever critics might say about Martin Amis’s Kobra the Dread, his recent book on Stalin’s atrocities, he was certainly right when he pointed out that people are generally indulgent, even flippant, about communist tyrants in a way they would never be about Nazis. This thought strikes me every morning as I walk through Canary Wharf