Thursday, 15 July 2010

Brian Coleman, Barnet's most distressed gentleperson

In childhood, things that one comes across randomly outside one's normal experience can have a big impact. A porn magazine thrown away in a hedge, for example. (Another time.)

I once came across a copy of The Lady magazine (125 years old this year). I quickly surmised that the world of The Lady was restrained and a little dull, but refined, so not all bad.

I was intrigued most of all by the advertisements, particularly one for a home for distressed gentlefolk.

So there were these people who were broke and needed charity, but because they had once been gentle, they needed extra special care, because, well, once gentle, always gentle, I suppose. The poor are always with us (as Lib Dem councillor Susette Palmer reminded us on Tuesday night) but the poor should, as far as possible, only be people who had been born poor.

It was a very intriguing idea, and provided me with an early insight into class society.

Now, to Brian Coleman. My friend said the other night, when I told him about the Barnet council leader and cabinet members' allowances hike, and how Brian Coleman now gets about £130,000 in annual allowances from his various positions: "It's outrageous, why don't you let the papers know about it, the Telegraph, for example?"

I laughed gaily: "Why, they know all about it already. Everyone knows about it!"

And they do, and that's the shame of it. So, not for the first time, I pondered the question of how Coleman gets away with it, and I came up with two answers:

1. Coleman, for whatever reasons of cronyism or whatever, is part of Boris Johnson's team at the GLA, and cannot be sanctioned by his own party for fear of making Johnson look bad in what is now (though the election's not till 2012) the pre-mayoral election period.

2. Coleman was not unseated by his electors at the last election, they go on backing him in spite of all his stunningly and deservedly bad press. The only reason I can think of is that the affluent voters of Totteridge and Whetstone actually think £130,000 is not all that much. Perhaps they feel sorry for Coleman, like some sort of distressed gentleperson who's gamely gone into politics on their behalf and mustn't be allowed to suffer pecuniary disadvantage on account of it.

Why, the man must have his suits tailored and be able to wine and dine people at the Haven as much as any other man of his class.

Oh, surely, the voters of Totteridge and Whetstone can't be as moneyed and foolish as all that?


Mrs Angry said...

do you think, as according to the article in the Telegraph yesterday, people like me are really confused conservatives who still think they are champagne socialists, that I might qualify for assistance from the distressed gentlefolk charity in a few years time? I don't eat my peas with a knife, and I have been to a tea party at Buckingham Palace without causing any embarrassing incidents?

As to little Brian and how he gets away with it, it might be:

a. he has sold his soul to the devil or
b. he knows where the bodies are buried

To be fair, he has to get his suits tailored as he would be too fat for an off the peg job.

As to the Haven, I wonder how much custom it loses from customers not prepared to run the risk of sitting on a table near Mr Toad?

Don't Call Me Dave said...

Mrs Angry

Your argument presupposes that Brian Coleman has a soul. What evidence do you have to support this outlandish theory?

Mrs Angry said...

You seem to have forgotten, DCMD, that Brian is a pillar of the Methodist church, and indeed lives next door to one,conveniently, and suprisingly modestly, in what looks very much like a vicarage, or presbytery, so that must be very conducive to the spiritual life., His entire life in fact, has clearly been one of Christian love, self sacrifice and abstinence, and John Wesley himself could hardly hope for a greater acolyte.

Don't Call Me Dave said...

You mean the rent controlled flat owned by the Church and intended for people on low incomes starting out in life?

Citizen Barnet said...

He's a real master of the art.

Mrs Angry said...

I think you must be mistaken, DCMD: I believe that the church, which is a charity, would feel obliged to use its assets according to Christian principles: shelter the homeless, feed the starving, clothe the naked. Whatever you do to the last of my brethren,you do unto me, said the Lord. I don't think he said look after the rich, the overfed and the overpaid, did he?

Mrs Angry said...

I meant least of my brethren, of course ... don't want to misquote the Almighty, who has already been displeased by our Brian this week ..