I fear that my car may have been spotted parked outside the Massage Parlour in Bath Road yesterday. (That would be my new Smart Car Roadster, which I finally got round to showing to my Luton mates the other day. They burst out laughing: “It looks like a cartoon sports car! It looks like you!” I am not quite sure what to make of that).
I digress. Can I just put on the record that I was in fact attending an event at Arnos Vale cemetery, and a religious event at that. It was the annual event to honour Rammohun Roy, who died of meningitis at Beech House in Stapleton and is now buried beneath a rather impressive tomb in the cemetery. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with Richard and Joyce Smith, who were instrumental in rescuing the cemetery from the clutches of its evil capitalist owner (we’re allowed to say things like that now), and getting the Council to do a CPO, then successfully applying for lots and lots of Lottery dosh to restore it to its former glory.
One of the things I’ve finally, finally got round to doing this recess is starting to add people to my Local Heroes page on my website. It’s always annoying when you’ve put something off for months and months, and then you find it only takes a matter of minutes to do it. The idea of the page is to mark the contribution of people towards helping their community, or in some way making life in east Bristol better. Richard and Joyce are on there, along with the wonderful Reg Gregory from Barton Hill. More will follow, and pics.
The Rammohun Roy tomb has recently been restored with the aid of a substantial grant from someone in Calcutta; I think they said £70,000. Difficult isn’t it? I love the cemetery and want to see it restored in all its Gothic splendour. But would £70,000 have been better spent helping kids in the slums of Calcutta? (Or Kolkatta as I think we call it these days). Discuss.
One of those embarrassing moments which only ever seem to happen to me occurred during the speeches. I’d been introduced to the master of ceremonies, if you can call her that, earlier on. In her closing remarks she said, “And I want to mention two very special guests. The first is the MP for this area, Jean Corston….” Silence. Jean, my predecessor, now Baroness Corston, had done an awful lot of work in supporting the Lottery bid. Was she there? Or did they mean me? “Jean, can you make yourself known?” I looked around. Everyone was looking in my direction, so in the end I kind of half accepted the accolade and half pretended I wasn’t there. Profuse apologies were offered to me afterwards.
I will be back at the cemetery in a few weeks time. They’re going to be ringing the bells in the bell tower for the first time in maybe 90 years or more. I was introduced to Betty Utting and her son Howard, who used to live in the cemetery gate house, which must have been fantastic. Betty is in her 80s now, maybe older, and has never heard the bells.
After the Arnos Vale event I caught up with my three firefighter friends in St George for some door-knocking. I spent most of Saturday delivering leaflets there too (which include a picture of me perched on a fire engine, which I would share with you, but I don't have a copy yet). Came across Richard Eddy fiddling with a map and looking lost, and a rather humourless Lib Dem leafleter (is there any other sort?) Also came across an English Democrat leaflet, which is basically bashing the Scots for taking all our money, raping our women, pillaging our homes, wearing kilts and playing bagpipes… that kind of thing. Substitute Scots for Somalis and you’d have a court case on your hands.
Spoke to one woman who was thoroughly confused by all the contradictory things being said in the rainforest-worth of leaflets piling up on her doormat. I told her it was quite simple. Just work on the assumption that the Lib Dems are lying, the Tories are clueless, and the Labour candidate is a lovely man who rescues people from burning buildings. I may have said this before, but I never cease to be amazed by how many people Kevin knows. And by his ability to turn people from a ‘don’t know’ to a ‘definite’ within two minutes of being introduced to them. Of course we might be proved wrong on polling day, and a lot will depend on getting the vote out, but it looks like we have reasonable grounds for being ever-so-slightly optimistic at the moment.