Saturday, 24 April 2010

Heaven, hell and the minimum wage (written in the style of Matthew Offord)

As part of Barnet trades council's election campaign without a candidate I am keen to get up early and get out onto the streets of Barnet. After a wholesome breakfast of a fruit salad and some oat cereal which should keep me going for a couple of hours, I gather up all the things I will need for today's stall.

My significant other is not likely any time soon to be my actual husband - it is too bad as I will miss out on that handsome £150 tax break that the Conservatives are offering for anyone prepared to tie the knot that couldn't see the point of it before. Nevertheless, he very kindly offers to give me a lift, but I turn him down because I want to get on public transport and see how it works.

I make my way up to the bus stop and wait in the unseasonally glorious sunshine for a 251 bus only pausing to exchange some bored looks with my fellow passengers. I do not have to wait long before [...oh, God, I'll skip this bit and get on to the more interesting part].

I am excited to see that there is a B&Q superstore at Whetstone. I can't wait to hurry inside and roam up and down the crowded aisles looking for a wallpaper pasting table. I hope no one thinks I am going to do some decorating! I want it for a quite different purpose altogether!

I exchange a couple of text messages on my mobile phone with someone that I am due to meet at my final destination of the morning. He tells me that he is very relieved to hear that I have bought a table and that he doesn't have to bring the picnic table I asked him to bring along in case after all. This means that he is now free to RIDE HIS BIKE! He's very pleased about this as am I.

Barnet trades council is very hot on the environment, unlike the Tories who are lashed up in Europe with a bunch of climate-change deniers. I would be please to elucidate to anyone that I could find that would stand there and listen to me long enough some of the highlights of Barnet trades council's proud record on the environment. It includes:
- we are signed up to the Coalition for a Sustainable Brent Cross Cricklewood Redevelopment;

- ummmm... er... that's it. (Note to self, must dig out some more environmental cred point scoring achievements.)
[skip to the good part where I finally get to name-drop a local eating establishment] I finally reach East Barnet after a rather bad-tempered bus journey completed with my wheeled case full of leaflets, a rucksack, my new wallpaper pasting table and a rather officious bus driver. Since I am early for my meeting with my fellow campaigners I am delighted to be able to pop into the Sunshine Cafe on East Barnet Road just opposite Sainsbury's and a few doors down from the Lord Kitchener public house, and have a delicious egg mayonnaise sandwich and a scalding cup of coffee. It's a real privilege to be able to eavesdrop on some old maids of the parish congratulating each other on still being alive. I think we can all relate to that!

P.S. How could I forget?! While I was on my 251 bus-ride through Mill Hill I saw that Roger Tichborne out campaigning in the blazing heat, him and a stout fellow. I'll bet Roger's sorry now that he succumbed to the inducements of the Lib Dems, and resisted the allure of joining instead my rather confusing election campaign without a candidate. Only time will tell. That and the good voters of Mill Hill!

[anyway, back to East Barnet, bloody hell, how much longer can this go on?] Where was I? Oh, yes, at East Barnet I finally got to set up my stall outside Sainsbury's. We got there just after the Labour Party canvassers left, that was a close shave. I managed to snatch a few words with one of them, who told me that the council is run by the Tories. It's interesting what you can learn from these political johnnies.

My stall was on a very serious matter, far too serious to parody in a blogpost like this. Hopefully, you'll all've given up reading by now and won't tick me off for that. Anyway, while we were campaigning in the glorious April sunshine, asking people to fight for jobs, homes and public services and not to vote for the racist, fascist BNP, a group of Christians stood next to us doing some open-air preaching. But not before one of them came over and introduced himself as a fellow trade unionist. Did you know that the Unite union organises a faithworkers branch? No, neither did I, but it does! And this chap is a member! After we had had a nice chat about why it is wrong to vote for the BNP, he went back to his preaching of the gospel telling people that they have a basic choice between Heaven and Hell. It looked like the good people of East Barnet knew exactly what he was going on about!

Anyway, over the next couple of hours we met a good many more very interesting people and I hope we managed to steer some of them away from evil and onto the righteous path of loving their neighbour as they would have others do unto them. That could be of any faith, of course. (I hope I haven't missed anyone out.)

There was just time on the way back to get a lift from one of my fellow campaigners who kindly drove me up to the High Barnet station passing a pub - I think it was called the Old Red Lion, Barnet - where a large number of men in football shirts stood drinking in the scorching heat of the unseasonably warm spring afternoon. I wonder what they were doing. I'll go back next week and find out.

I am pleased to say that I just had time to stop off for a revivifying fresh juice drink at the Blu Cherry juice bar on my way back through Whetstone, before catching the 251 bus back home to my home. Tired but revivified. And rather tired. It's these things that make being a non-candidate so rewarding.


Rog T said...


You know I love you dearly and would never normally criticise your blog, but sadly on this occasion I think you've failed miserably.

If you really want to achieve the style of writing you say you were trying to achieve, then if you can nip up to the shop and I'll get the electric drill out and give you a full frontal lobotomy.

I have a map of the brain, so I can completely eradicate the bits which deal with fairness, compassion, financial prudence and common sense.

Once this has been done, I think you'll be able to write in the style you want to, no problem at all.

Citizen Barnet said...

Thank God, because I'm exhausted!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Barnet TUC AGM thought favourably of the "North and West London Light Railway" running east-west across Barnet.

Maybe that support could be formalised - "Support in principle" is desired. That does not imply agreement with absolutely every detail - but we are not at the detail stage yet, anyway.

Anonymous said...

A minor but important point Vicki. Your stall today may have been in East Barnet WARD but was in actually in NEW BARNET.

The 'local' Conservative candidates (none of whom actually live locally) constantly make the error of referring to New Barnet as East Barnet. It just indicates how little they know or care about the area.

Citizen Barnet said...

Thanks for this clarification. I am from the west of the borough and I do indeed not know my new from my east. I arrived on the 326 bus which passed a sign for East Barnet village. I promise myself to go and visit it some time.

Duncan Macdonald said...

Just to confuse the geography even further a large portion of New Barnet is actually in High Barnet ward.

Anonymous said...

And another large bit of New Barnet is in Oakleigh Ward!

Citizen Barnet said...

While we are on this knotty subject, does anyone know a good place to find ward maps? For Barnet... for other places?

I mean a map that shows streets and ward boundaries superimposed on it.

In vain hope, Vicki

Anonymous said...

Try here:

The recent Save New Barnet Campaign newsletter ( had links to google maps for the 3 wards covering New Barnet:

East Barnet Ward

High Barnet Ward

Oakleigh Ward

Citizen Barnet said...

This is a big help, thanks. I can make my own maps on this website!