Monday 30 January 2012

Will he bite back? Mrs Angry tempts Brian Coleman with a canape

The Famous Five in trouble again, daring to write to Tory councillors

Well - Mrs Angry has just returned from the police station.

Yes: tossing and turning all night, overcome by remorse by her dreadful teasing of poor Brian Coleman, she decided there was nothing else to do but take herself to the nearest cop shop and turn herself in, before Brian contacted them and informed them of her dreadful crime.

Can I help you, Madam? asked the officer on the duty desk.

Yes, said Mrs Angry, bowing her head in shame. I have come to report myself for committing a terrible offence.

Dear me. What have you done?

Mrs Angry explained that she had written an email to a local Tory councillor, which he said was malicious because she was being anonymous. But, she sobbed, I was just being me: is that so wrong, officer? I don't even know if I really exist, let alone live anywhere.

And what did you say in this email, Madam?

I referred to the undemocratic assault on our local authority's constitution which has had the effect of repressing the freedom of expression at all local residents' meetings.

Yes, and?

And I invited him to the next meeting.


That's about it. Except ... he said if I did it again, he would ... sniff ... report me to the police.

What for?

Oh. Er ... I'm not sure ...

Madam, said the police officer, who was a graduate entry fast track policeman with a degree in comparative literature and a well developed sense of irony, What sort of dystopian nightmare world would we live in, if a resident and/or local blogger could not write to an elected representative without fear of the threat of being reported to the police? Is this 1984? Is this councillor some sort of Big Brother dictator?

Yes, said Mrs Angry, with a quivering lip: This is Broken Barnet, and we're talking about Brian Coleman.

Right, said the policeman. You might have a point then. If I were you, Mrs Angry, I would go home and hide under the dining room table and never come out again ... but there, there ... don't cry ...

When Mrs Angry got home, she sat under the table with her lap top, and found a message from fellow blogger, Mr Mustard. He told her he had also had a reply like this from Councillor Brian Coleman, after writing a perfectly reasonable letter to him as Mr Mustard.

============ Forwarded message ============
From : Coleman, Cllr Brian Conservative
To :
Date : Tue, 02 Aug 2011 10:23:26 +0100
Subject : Anonymous letter
============ Forwarded message ============

I believe you to be the author of an anonymous letter sent to my private address ( I am sure you are aware this is an offence )

Any further such letters will be reported to the Police

Please not that I do not wish to receive any further communication from you and should you persist this will be reported under the Council’s malicious communications policy

Goodness me. Wonder what the offence is? Is being anonymous in this sense and not giving a full address similar to say, a councillor who fills out their declaration form and forgets to give the details of property owned in the borough where legally required to do so, as might appear to be the case of some Tory councillors in Barnet? (Not Brian, of course, as we know he lives in a charity owned flat).

Mrs Angry understands that Mr Mustard's solicitor took the matter up, and Mr Mustard tells her "I did an FOI about the council's malicious communications policy and the answer was that one did not exist" ...

Aha. Now Mrs Angry could understand someone objecting to an email or letter in which some sort of personal threat was made, as clearly this would be unacceptable. To respond in such a manner to this sort of communication is of course completely unneccessary and simply makes him look a fool.

So, Mrs Angry thought perhaps she would try again, just to see, if she played by the rules, what would happen. What a good idea! She decided to write to her (interim) Assembly member, Brian Coleman, and see if he would be more receptive to her invitation.

Dear Brian,

I recently attended the Talk London event with Mayor Boris Johnson, held at the Peel Centre in Hendon, and was rather disappointed that you, as the local AM, were not on the panel to ask questions. I know that there were one or two of us in the audience who would have liked to raise the issues of the catastrophic new parking scheme, and a shocking new proposal to hire out our local parks and greenspaces to private customers. I did keep putting up my hand to ask a question, but sadly you seemed not to be able to see me, even though I was sitting right at the front.

I would like to ask you now if you would care to come to the next Finchley and Golders Green Residents Forum to speak to us about these terrible new schemes. We have already asked the local councillor and Cabinet member who is responsible for the two policies to attend, but he has declined to appear, because he is very shy. As I know you are not at all shy, and always keen to speak up on controversial issues, I am sure you will welcome the opportunity to come and mingle with some of your consituents and listen to their concerns. If necessary, I am sure that we could provide a light buffet and some canapes. And don't worry: we don't bite! Well, no, that's not entirely true: I used to, but I am trying to give it up.

Yours in anticipation,

Mrs X


And do you know, citizens, within minutes she received a lovely reply. Look:

"Thank you for taking the time to write to me. Your email has been received and will be dealt with as soon as possible. If you are a constituent of Barnet or Camden, please ensure that you have included your full name and address. I receive a large number of emails, letters and phone calls each day but I will aim to respond to your message quickly. Kind regards Cllr Brian Coleman AM FRSA"

Thank you for taking the time to write to me ... Kind regards! ... Cllr Brian Coleman AM FRSA! You see: he can be thoughtful, and oh: what do you mean, an automatic response? And did I realise there is a GLA election coming up?

Let's see. I don't see why he would not respond to Mrs X, if not Mrs Angry, do you?

BTW: Mrs Angry and Mr Mustard are coming to NLBP tomorrow: do say hello, if you see us. If we manage to get in and out without being detained, we will explain further, in due course.


baarnett said...

Every time I see the "FRSA" I am reminded about the material on the internet, about whether that title is "earned" or "purchased".

I wonder if Bwain could add anything useful on that subject.

Of course, Mike Freer can also remind us of titles that can arise by merely attending BT events, can he not?

Finally, it is at times like this I also remember "The Artist who used to be called DCMD", who bemoaned the fact he had 'things' both AFTER his name and - get this - BEFORE!

Mr Mustard said...

Now you have blown it Mrs Angry.

We were going to be welcomed by a nice polite officer from Corporate Governance and now I wouldn't be at all surprised if we get get greeted by a Cabinet Member who thinks we should be up before the beak ( I seem to have turned into Berie Wooster but at least we will only be fined half a crown ). If the Cabinet Member is not there then the staff will probably stampede along the corridors to cheer us from the rafters for trying to save them from a fate worse than Crapita and that dark airless windowless room in which we were going to have to examine the faded yellow pages of the register ( I must remember to pack a torch ) will have to be swapped for the largest conference room in the building where you can autogrpah copies of the Sustainable Communities Strategy whilst I ferret out the fine details of members' interests.

Mrs Angry said...

I think FRSA is one of those things your friends wangle for you & vote you in: boy stuff. Perhaps I am being unfair. You, Mrs Angry? Unfair?

As for DCMD, I think you mean Little Lord Fauntleroy? S'ok, he doesn't read the blogs anymore ...

baarnett said...

This mystery contains some rather adult things. Bwian, the Council Leader's secret controller, has been getting "nonnimus" letters — hence the book's title — "Spiteful Letters." Possibly Enid thought "Anonymous Letters," would be too adult a title for Bwian, so took on "Spiteful."

Anyway, to quote the current lines on inquiry...

"Of course, Mrs A, the Barnet Bloggers have noted that the spiteful emails are postmarked 11.45am on Mondays from Totteridge (a town near to Barnet Town Hall.) They quickly think that the email-writer must get the 10.15am 326 bus, to get the right IP address on the email! But couldn't there be another method of transport? Cars? TAXIS? Anything? O.K., cars weren't really the norm for transport in the 1940s, which is the era of present-day Barnet Council, but they were around anyway. Only Brian knows much about taxis and anything else, but had it to be the 10.15am bus? Hmm. The email-writer could have posted the email anytime after Saturday! And some people did have cars! Then...? Naturally the Bloggers are correct. But oh well..."

I'll tell you if any other evidence appears. But, Mrs A, you are advised not to leave the borough until this nasty business is cleared up.

baarnett said...

Does DCMD get his butler to read the blogs for him, then?

Mrs Angry said...

baarnett, I think it was very clever of Brian to work out that the poison pen letter from Mr M was from Mr M if it was anonymous, don't you? Perhaps he deduced it from tell tale clues, like Miss Marple.

Mr Mustard, your typing is all over the place: I hope this does not mean you have started knocking back the sherry: you have important work to do tomorrow.

Oh, and Baarnett, I suspect DCMD's butler used to write his blogs for him as well ...