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  • Jake Wallis Simons

    Jake Wallis Simons

    Journalist. Digital, print, radio, TV. Author of four novels

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  • Digital


    "Meet the Settlers: A journey through the West Bank"

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  • Fiction


    Jake's fourth novel, "Jam", is out now. "A skilful road rage novel" – The Telegraph

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  • Broadcasting


    Jake presents radio and television for the BBC and others.

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  • Cartoons


    Has been known to put pen to paper.

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Sky News: JWS debates ‘raunchy royals’ and other terrible American TV with Paula Middlehurst and Carolyn Dailey

Gordon Ramsay’s method of teaching kids about swearing is a shiitake idea (Telegraph)

It’s a totally shiitake idea.

Gordon Ramsay, the television chef famed for his toxic combination of a volcanic temper and a potty mouth, is teaching his children, aged 12 to 16, to swear in code.

“I tried to teach them some side language,” he told Jimmy Kimmel, the American talk show host.

“Look, cursing is not smart. It’s an industry language, and sometimes Daddy lets it slip – 20 times a day. So I came up with some really nice sort of alternatives to curse words.”

And what were those?

“Rather than saying the word s—, which you know is not nice, [they use] shiitake,” Ramsay explained. “And instead of the F-word? Fructose. Rather than saying a—, it’s asparagus.”

Cute. But, like I said, clearly a shiitake idea. As evidenced by the fact that at his children’s last parents’ evening, one of their teachers told him that his sweary code was “still offensive” and that he should desist.

His reply was as audacious as it was predictable.

“I said, well, it’s a Japanese mushroom, it’s delicious, now f— off,” he said.

I rest my case.

Look at it this way… Continue reading on the Telegraph website

Why do so many brands view dads as non-parents? (Telegraph)

As a measure of social progress, the hoards of men that cook these days have got to be a good thing.

Gone is the time when the kitchen was purely a feminine domain. More than 40 per cent of all family cooking is being led by dad, and half of fathers now identify themselves as the primary grocery shopper.

Indeed, it may have gone too far: the dominance of male television chefs – and the fact that men tend to be paid more than women in restaurant kitchens – is widely regarded as an example of misogyny in the workplace.

All of this, however, will likely be news to the American branch of Amazon. Although the family-discount scheme is branded Amazon Family around the world, in the United States it is known as Amazon Mom.

And it’s not just about cooking. Amazon Mom also sells nappies, baby equipment, toys and so on. So not only is Amazon characterising men as non-cooks, they are also, it seems, non-parents. Continue reading on the Telegraph website

Do you have a terrible handshake? (Telegraph)

I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s nothing worse than a limp handshake. Actually, there is: a limp handshake from a chap who has not washed his hands.

New research has revealed that just 38 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women wash their hands after visiting the lavatory. Add that to a flaccid grip, and… ick.

Little wonder, then, that scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, have discovered that people tend to unconsciously smell their hands after shaking, “just like rats”.

There can be little doubt that shaking hands well is a skill. Getting it wrong can spell disastrous consequences. Research published this weeksuggests that a lacklustre shake is one of the biggest mistakes people make during job interviews. A poor handshake really can damage your career prospects, it seems.

Yet – as the compilation of handshake fails below demonstrates – getting it right is hard… Continue reading on the Telegraph website

European Union ‘is breaking international law’ by funding illegal West Bank building projects, report claims (MailOnline)

The EU is acting illegally by funding unauthorised Palestinian building in areas placed under Israeli control by international law, say an NGO, international lawyers and MEPs.

More than 400 EU-funded Palestinian homes have been erected in Area C of the West Bank, which was placed under Israeli jurisdiction during the Oslo Accords – a part of international law to which the EU is a signatory.

The Palestinian buildings, which have no permits, come at a cost of tens of millions of Euros in public money, a proportion of which comes from the British taxpayer.

This has raised concerns that the EU is using valuable resources to take sides in a foreign territorial dispute.

Official EU documentation reveals that the building project is intended to ‘pave the way for development and more authority of the PA over Area C (the Israeli area)’, which some experts say is an attempt to unilaterally affect facts on the ground.

Locally, the villages are known as the ‘EU Settlements’, and can be found in 17 locations around the West Bank.

They proudly fly the EU flag, and display hundreds of EU stickers and signs. Some also bear the logos of Oxfam and other NGOs, which have assisted in the projects.

Questions have also been asked about the conduct of EU workers in the region, after a picture emerged of a man in EU uniform threatening soldiers and bystanders with a rock outside a settlement in 2012. An EU spokesperson declined to comment on the picture. Continue reading on the MailOnline website

Sky News: Should prisoners be allowed to vote?

Why are so many men attracted to Ukip? (Telegraph)

It may not come as a surprise to learn that Ukip is the most male-dominated party in Britain. After all, this was the party of Godfrey “Fridge Sluts” Bloom, and Stuart “Women Can’t Play Chess” Wheeler.

But the scale of the phenomenon is startling. According to the latest figures, a whopping two thirds of Ukip’s voters are male, making it by far the most male-dominated party in Britain.

By comparison, men account for 55 per cent of the Tory vote and 54 per cent of Labour voters. (The Green Party has the opposite phenomenon, with men accounting for just 46 per cent of its support.)

Moreover, Ukip is just superficially addressing the matter. While it is possible that Victoria Ayling might become Ukip’s first female MP in Grimsby in May, there is no getting away from the fact that just 11.5 per cent of Ukip’s 502 parliamentary candidates are female.

On the eve of the Ukip conference in Margate, at which its manifesto will be launched, it seems timely to ask: what lies behind Ukip’s manly appeal?

According to Rick Nye, the Managing Director of Populus, the company that carried out the research, the answer is complex.

“When it comes to the smaller parties, different types of voter are drawn to different sides of the anti-establishment coin,” he says. Continue reading on the Telegraph website

It’s up to dads to take a more active role in raising kids (Telegraph)

Yay, dads! Boo, mums!

This, in a nutshell, seems to be the philosophical position of parenting expert Noël Janis-Norton, who has advised celebrities including Helena Bonham-Carter.

In her new book, Calmer, Easier, Happier Boys, Janis-Norton argues that mothers tend to be “too possessive” over their sons. This, she says, causes fathers to become emasculated, which sends a damaging message to their growing boys.

“Without a strong father figure, boys may struggle to learn how to express their emotions constructively, how to handle their physical strength and learn to respect others and themselves,” Janis-Norton told MailOnline.

“Mothers need to allow dads to be dads and to have their own relationship with their children – and in particular with their boys – without trying to micromanage.” Continue reading on the Telegraph website

Bear Grylls is right: health and safety culture is ruining childhood (Telegraph)

I’m not basing this on scientific research, but I’d wager that a majority of Britons will agree with me when I say that I find Bear Grylls insufferably irritating.

As far back as 2007, somebody posted on Yahoo! Answers, “is Bear Grylls the most contrived and annoying thing on television?” It was met with an enthusiastic response.

Of course, you have to give him a certain grudging respect. He’s a former SAS reservist, after all, and you have to admire his TV presence and knack for self-promotion.

But it is this self-promotion – combined with the fact that he calls himself “Bear” – that gets right up my nose, and the noses of a good portion of the country.

Last May, he made the grand announcement that children should be allowed to play with knives. It garnered the predictable media attention, and no doubt raised healthy sales for the range of branded knives he had just released.

Now Mr Grylls is at it again. This week he has announced a “manifesto for children”, demanding that parents ban all computer games and encourage their kids to take more risks in the outdoors. Troubled teenagers, he said, should be forced to climb mountains, and mandatory community service should be introduced.

Could this possibly be timed to publicise the new Bear Grylls ITV series (which starts at 9pm on Friday)? It. Surely. Could.

But as irritating as it is to watch Grylls harnessing good ideas for his own commercial gain, there is no denying that these are some very good ideas indeed. Continue reading on the Telegraph website

Labour’s paternity leave proposals are stuck in a timewarp (Telegraph)

Spectacularly bad. Not just bad, but spectacularly bad. These are the words that came to mind when Ed Miliband unveiled his new paternity leave policy today.

The details of the policy were simple enough. A Labour government woulddouble the length of paternity leave from two weeks to four, and raise the payment to new fathers to £260 per week, which is £100 more than at present.

The plans – which, according to the left-leaning thinktank IPPR, would cost a total of £150 million in 2015/16 on top of existing spending on statutory paternity pay – would supposedly be funded by “savings from tax credits”.

“Too many dads don’t take up their rights because they feel they have to go back to work so they can provide for their family,” Mr Miliband said.

Now, this might seem like a step in the right direction. It might seem like a welcome progressive move to make things easier for new fathers, and more equal in the home (even if the idea of splurging more of our money is worrying, particularly when the purse strings are released by Labour hands).

But the reality is that Labour is already behind the times. The law on paternity provision was changed in December, and will come into effect after April 5 this year. And the new coalition system, known as Shared Parental Leave, is lightyears more progressive than Mr Miliband’s freshly minted policy.

Come April, parents will be able to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay, on top of an initial two weeks. This means that couples will have the flexibility to decide whether the mother or father will be the primary carer, and to share the responsibility as they see fit. Continue reading on the Telegraph website