When Carrie Bradshaw met Blair Waldorf…

As Gossip Girl heads towards its fifth season, even the most dedicated of fans must be coming to the realisation that this show cannot go on for ever.

Let’s face it, there are only so many times you can pair the same couples before each episodes feels like a horrible deja vu trip.

There has to be a limit to the number of times Serena can get pregnant / be drugged / fall for a bad boy / show her cleavage in an inappropriate situation.

We’ve already done murder, suicide attempts, kidnapping, fake cousinry, gay teen and fairytale endings.

Short of a nuclear apocalypse with Nate coming over all Jack Bauer-esque, or a plane crash which sends Blair into the hands of the Others and follows her struggle for supremacy, the show must not go on.

But it appears that even when the inevitable occurs, we will still be able to follow the exploits of a group of genetically blessed and deliciously caustic New York yoofs. Step in to scene, Sex and the City (the new class). According to Deadline:

“The CW has emerged as the leading candidate for The Carrie Diaries, a TV series project based on Sex and the City author Candice Bushnell’s recent book about Bradshaw’s high school years.

“There are no deals in place, and talks are in preliminary stages, but I hear that Warner Bros TV would produce and Gossip Girl executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are being courted to shepherd the project through their Warner Bros TV-based Fake Empire banner. Former Sex and the City writer/producer Amy Harris, who is writing for Gossip Girl this season, will likely pen the adaptation.”

So, another scandalous show to attract the wrath of parental watchdogs. The fact is, most adult Sex and the City fans probably don’t want their favourite women tampered with.

I read The Carrie Diaries and it was bad. Really bad. Absurdly bad. And unless this show is set a couple of decades ago (i.e. without Blackberries, social networking and with pre-Hillary Clinton views on feminism) – a concept which would probably alienate plenty of viewers, I can’t see how this would work.

And yet. Gossip Girl is aimed at teenagers (I know, I buck the trend, what you gonna do?) so the demographic this adolescent SATC will be designed for probably won’t remember Carrie et al.

Sex and the City is the preserve of those of us born in the 1980s and before – the kids of the late 90s and the noughties probably haven’t been allowed to watch the reruns yet (at least, I seriously hope so).

Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda to rise again? If Josh Schwartz is on board, don’t bet against it.

Reclaim the hoodie: in support of a much-maligned item

I’d like to start a campaign. About hoodies.

Before you start worrying that this is some kind of reactionary outburst, relax. It’s not.

I love hoodies. But if you believe what you read, only teenage gang members wear them. They wear them so much that at one point David Cameron wanted to hug the individuals in them.

But lots of other people wear hoodies. Students, with their university logo emblazoned on them.

Members of youth groups and sports clubs wear them with pride, a reminder of achievement or team identity. Friends design their own logos to keep memories alive.

Sometimes you wear them to keep cosy and warm, all the better with fluffy slippers and pajama bottoms (cocoa optional).

A midnight run to a 24-hour Tesco? Hoodie is a must.

Sometimes for function. Nothing better than a scrunched up jumper for protection during one of Britain’s freak rainstorms. Newly coiffed hair? Pull on the humble hoodie for instant protection.

They keep you warm at night and make a great impromptu picnic blanket. They’re a must for any backpacker facing an overnight journey.

And do you know what? Worn with the right bottoms – skinny jeans, a denim skirt – they can actually look halfway decent.

Ladies and gentleman, people of Britain.

It’s time to reclaim the hoodie.

Ps. If you don’t believe me, check out the celebs who sport hoodies too.

A Gossip Girl goodbye

Is there something in the water at the Gossip Girl HQ?

Last year we waved goodbye to Little J, then Vanessa was hounded out for offences connected to abuse of hair extension privileges.

That’s fine. Those departures we could deal with.

Both characters committed the cardinal sin of Gossip Girl; namely, having had shenanigans with all the available menfolk. Ergo, no more plotlines.

But, tragedy. Guess who is next to go.

Only Eric VdW, everyone’s favourite gay younger brother.

He of the biting wit, the sardonic put downs that float gently over Serena’s empty head, and the random buddy-show friendships with various uninspiring male characters.

I’m heartbroken. The Upper East Side will never be the same again.

According to actor Connor Paulo: “Eric’s going to college and he’s going to stay there. He doesn’t come home for Christmas anymore.”


Jody McIntyre and the Tottenham riots: quelle surprise (The JC)

Two days after the worst rioting in Tottenham since the 1980s, and the facts of what happened are slowly coming together.

What’s already fairly clear is that not all the rioters were locals; as David Lammy MP noted in the Times: “Many of the people arrested weren’t from Tottenham. The grief of one family must never be hijacked to inflict grief on others.”

Coming after months of social unrest and protests, particularly in the capital, the idea that a peaceful protest could be hijacked by the more anarchic elements in society should come as no surprise.

Nor should the fact that one of the key figures has been pinpointed as Jody McIntyre, a far left protester who rose to prominence in the wake of the student rallies after he alleged that he had been knocked from his wheelchair by a policeman (the incident was investigated and the Met was later cleared of wrongdoing).

It later transpired that McIntyre was no political ingénue, but a venomous anti-Israel campaigner who had made a catalogue of unfounded allegations against the Jewish State on his personal blog.

He labelled Israel schizophrenic and lunatic and spoke of having a casual sandwich break with Hamas terrorists (only he didn’t describe them as terrorists). In the months since, he has been on the platform at Palestine Solidarity Campaign events and continued to rail against Israeli “apartheid”.

Of course, he’s been less vocal on the subject of the rockets fired at Israeli towns, the murder of a three-month-old baby by a Palestinian extremist, or the bomb that went off in Jerusalem earlier this year – killing a British Christian.

He is, of course, a poster boy of the far left, a darling of the socialist world. He even writes for the Independent and occasionally for the Guardian. Regardless of his views on Israel, he has painted himself as a crusader for the oppressed, a fighter for the poor and unrepresented.

So as small businesses and the homes of those who didn’t have a back-up plan were being destroyed, was this bastion of the left condemning the violence and its impact on those who didn’t deserve it?

No, actually on Friday he slammed the lack of accountability in the police in an Indy post about the “violence and provocation” of the force.

And the next day, as the riots broke out, he was advising his more than 9,000 Twitter followers to get involved and add to the pain.

“Be inspired by the scenes in Tottenham, and rise up in your neighbourhood,” he cried. “100 people in every area = the way we can beat the feds.”

I’m sure those people who have had their livelihoods destroyed will be delighted to have been part of the attempt to “beat the feds”.

Hey, my flat’s burnt to the ground, my windows have been smashed, kids terrified. But we’re sticking it to the man, yeh.

Today, as most of us looked in horror at the photographs of destruction on the front pages, McIntyre didn’t show any remorse. “You ask if looting is justified, I ask if the police will ever be held accountable for killing people?”

It’s for the Indy to decide if they want him to continue writing in their name (they stated yesterday that they don’t “condone lawbreaking”).

I doubt the PSC or the rest of Britain’s far left anti-Israel brigade will distance itself. He hates Israel, so that’s enough. It doesn’t matter how unpalatable the rest of his behaviour is.

But isn’t it interesting that someone like McIntyre, a self-proclaimed campaigner for social justice and rights, is only bothered when it suits him.

This post was first published on The Jewish Chronicle website. Read more of my work for The JC here.

How education – and fun – can continue throughout the summer (The Times)

When the school bell rings on the final day of the academic year, you can almost taste the anticipation; six odd weeks of freedom, of mornings in bed, afternoons spent in the delirium of having nothing pressing to get on with and evenings without the burden of homework.

But as has been a subject of debate on the pages of The Times and elsewhere, not everyone benefits from the break. Too many pupils slip in the absence of a structured timetable and a teacher to guide them.

Short of cutting the summer holiday – already among the shortest in Europe – as Janice Turner suggested, the summer slide is inevitable. Or is it?
Education doesn’t have to be in the classroom. It doesn’t have to involve a whiteboard, or “Miss” at the front of the room explaining a topic and handing out worksheets. Education doesn’t have to be formal.

This post first appeared on The Times School Gate blog. Read the rest here.