Jake Wallis Simons
Telegraph writer. Novelist. Broadcaster. Also draws pictures.More >
"Meet the Settlers: A journey through the West Bank"More >
Jake's fourth novel, "Jam", is out now. "A skilful road rage novel" – The TelegraphMore >
Jake presents radio and television for the BBC and others.More >
Has been known to put pen to paper.More >
Is it OK to lie to your kids? It certainly used to be. Victorian children grew up in fear of the bogeyman and other horrors, which was intended to keep them in line; to this day, many parents use similar techniques, serving up porky pies at every opportunity (that’s Father Christmas shining in the sky, darling. But he won’t bring your PlayStation if you’re bad).
But now researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found that children are less gullible than we thought. Not only are they able to spot a lie a mile off, but they also pick up when people are “withholding information”.
“When someone provides us information, we not only learn about what is being taught, we also learn something about that person,” said Hyowon Gweon, lead author of the study. “If the information is accurate and complete, then you might also trust that person in the future.”
In other words, when parents lie to their children, they lose their children’s confidence — not exactly ideal for the relationship.
It’s obvious, really. After all, adults don’t trust liars; why should kids be any different? Continue reading on the Telegraph website
Produced by Dunlop and others, it’s a golf tee in the shape of a headless female form. You place the ball where the head should be, and hey presto: you can both knock the bitch out of the park and drive towards the hole. Talk about two birdies and one stone.
As a red-blooded young man, I don’t take kindly to losing. I don’t much like coming second, either. As much as I try to hide it, I do quite like to win.
So it was that when I was asked to take part in a “taxi race” with two of my colleagues – one using a mini cab, another using a black cab, and the third using Uber, the new travel app – I put my money on technology, and quickly volunteered to use the app. With GPS technology on my side, surely I could not fail?
Harry Wallop yoked his fate to Addison Lee, London’s largest mini cab company. Joe Shute was left trying to hail an old-fashioned black cab in the street. The fools! We all know how difficult it is to flag down a taxi if you’re not in central London. We know how peeving minicab companies can be. And we know that smartphones are the future.
Mwah ha ha, I thought.
The race, which involved travelling from Highbury in north London to the Telegraph offices in Victoria, was devised as a test for Uber, which has been kicking up a storm of late. Less than five years old, it is already worth about £10 billion, more than British Airways, Easyjet, and even Royal Mail. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
I’m dreading Father’s Day. Not because of how my own family will behave, I hasten to add. If previous years are anything to go by, I’ll get some very sweet, handmade cards from my kids, a lie-in and perhaps a token present. Bliss.
What I dread is the deluge of products that are designed as Father’s Day “gifts”, all of which are underpinned by one message: dads are morons.
It is a little-acknowledged fact that society is saturated by stereotypes of men as beer-swilling, boobs-obsessed, barbecue-burning, homoerotic, football-crazy, emotionally illiterate, single-tasking, hypochondriacal, belly-slapping, belching Black ‘n’ Decker airheads, with stiff upper lips and stiff lower members.
No sitcom is complete without a character conforming to this stereotype. No radio or television debate about the battle of the sexes is complete without comments that support it. And Father’s Day represents open season, at least so far as the commercial world is concerned… Continue reading on the Telegraph website
But this year, a brace of new whiskies have taken centre stage, pinching several high-profile awards.
These “world whiskies” hail from climes not usually associated with the drink: Sweden, South Africa, Taiwan, even India. What could be a betterFather’s Day present for the chap who has everything (and is fond of a dram or three)?
“Many world whiskies have only emerged relatively recently, and many expressions tend to be young,” says whisky writer Alwynne Gwilt, also known as Miss Whisky. “Some people are put off by this, as well as the higher retail price. But give them a try. You’ll be blown away.”
It all started in March, when a Tasmanian whisky, Sullivans Cove French Oak cask, won the coveted title of World’s Best Single Malt Whisky at the illustrious World Whiskies Awards 2014. It was the first time that the prize had been won by a distillery outside Scotland and Japan (which has already become a leading whisky country, producing distinguished drams such as Yamazaki, Hakushu and Nikka).
This led to a renewed interest in whisky from Down Under. There are nine distilleries in Tasmania, and many of them – including Lark, Nant, Old Hobart and Hellyers Road – have won multiple accolades. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
“Agile clam flavours with a suspicion of red kryptonite. Great with roadkill or clam chowder.” With this sentence, a prankster in Brixton, south London, uncorked the great wine debate: are tasting notes really just a lot of old drivel?
The parody appeared as part of a series of jokes that were surreptitiously placed over the real product descriptions in a branch of Tesco. The roadkill one was the most obvious, but others were more subtle: “great with Jaffa cakes”; “full bodied with a hint of wet sand”; “taste guide: dancehall”. All of them undermined the almost religious faith we have in The Wine Experts.
The notion that wine tasting is, shall we say, subjective, is nothing new… Continue reading on the Telegraph website
By anyone’s standards, it’s not the greatest start. I’m all togged up and jogging out to the ocean when I realise my wetsuit is on back to front. (So that’s why my legs seem to want to bend the wrong way. That’s why I feel as though I’m being throttled.)
“Your wetsuit’s on back to front,” yells Steph Bridge, 42, one of the best kitesurfers in the world, over the noise of the wind. I blush. “Don’t worry,” she says, “it’s a learning curve. Learning curves are awesome.”
This is the positive attitude that has led Bridge to become not only a four-time world champion in her own right, but the matriarch of an extraordinary kitesurfing dynasty. She has three sons, Olly, 16, Guy, 14, and 13-year-old Tom, all of whom are – if you’ll pardon the pun – high fliers. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
“I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism – we get enough of that anyway,” he said at the Cheltenham Science Festival.
“Even fairy tales, the ones we all love, with wizards or princesses turning into frogs or whatever it was. There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it’s statistically too improbable.”
Statistically too improbable?! Haw. OK, it’s now official. Dawkins has completed his transmutation into a parody of himself.
Now, as someone who thinks of himself as two drinks short of atheism, I have always quite liked Richard Dawkins. But in recent years it has been like watching Michael Jackson gradually become weirder and weirder, leaving those who respect him behind.
Not that there isn’t a grain of truth in what he says… Read on the Telegraph website