Sunday 4 December 2011

Malice in (Winter) Wonderland: Mrs Angry goes to Barnet Fayre

Greeting the Mayor: Cllr John Hart, doffing his cap, Brian, Brian's mum, MP Theresa Villiers

A warm smile from Councillor Coleman

Councillor John Hart amusing himself behind Mayor Lisa Rutter.
Poor picture quality due to Mrs Angry laughing too much.

Just fancy that: Mr Coleman's helmet displayed in the Barnet Museum

Well, as promised, Mrs Angry has just returned from a visit to Barnet Fayre. Not Barnet Fair, the centuries old gypsy horse trading event: Barnet Fayre, the recently invented Tory councillors' vote trading event. This one works by appearing to sponsor local shops and organisations with grants from Boris Johnson, at the same time as killing local shops and organisations with Brian Coleman's new parking scheme.

If you remember, in Barnet Council's recent press release about the winter wonderland, a cheery message from Mayor Boris proclaimed:

"I'm delighted to be able to support the High Barnet Christmas Fayre Parade through my Outer London Fund."

Hmm. Interesting. Mrs Angry only realised today that in fact the Christmas Fayre is not a new event at all. What, therefore, exactly did Boris' money go on? If anything?

The Barnet press release promised other attractions like an ice skating rink, and real reindeer. There may have been a rink somewhere, but Mrs Angry saw no reindeer, either in the High Street, or flying above the Fayre, but then, as someone pointed out, as the name of Barnet's Mayor is Lisa Rutter, it was probably advisable to keep both parties at a safe distance.

Speaking of which, yes, here he is: Councillor Brian Coleman, AM, FRSA, standing alongside his mum, MP Theresa Villiers, and Lisa Rutter.

An icy chill swept through along the High Street and through the winter wonderland of Chipping Barnet: onlookers regarded him with ill disguised hostility and muttered about the parking. 'What an a******e', said a man standing near to Mrs Angry, who laughed to herself, and hid behind a van to sneak some photographs.

Also present, mysteriously, was Mill Hill councillor, retired diplomat and expert linguist John Hart, who was wearing a hi-vi jacket, which was odd, but perhaps he was doing some sort of community service. Councillor Hart's moustache had been freshly waxed, the old devil, and is in fact becoming positively Daliesque in style, just as his political career reaches similarly surreal extremes of notability. Later on, Mrs Angry noticed, the old boy was sitting, feet up, in the lost children's tent. Wonder if anyone bothered to collect him?

The councillors stood in front of the Mayor, Coleman bristling with self importance as usual. With perfect comic timing,- and I promise those one or two readers who may question this point that I am not making this up - the music on the PA system started broadcasting a festive favourite: George Michael singing 'Last Christmas, I gave you my heart ...' for some reason this tickled Councillor Coleman's fancy, and he chortled with sudden amusement. Mrs Angry chortled with sudden amusement too, for reasons she cannot explain, sadly. Poor old George.

After listening to HM the Mayor open the Fayre (she has now created the most marvellously gracious, if not regal air for these occasions, Mrs Angry notes, and clearly adores her role) Mrs Angry slipped away round to the Barnet Museum, still clinging to the wreckage of the Barnet Tories' philistine budget cuts, which have already lost us the Church Farmhouse Museum in Hendon.

Barnet Museum is a real treasure, and in any other borough would be cherished and promoted, rather than held to ransom by our bunch of shameless, grasping, ignorant Tory councillors who have no respect for heritage, history, culture or the arts.

The Church Farmhouse Museum, of course, was ruthlessly discarded because of its property value, a priority target for the asset stripping programme which is in full swing in this borough now.

The main reason that the Barnet Museum is still open is, frankly, because of a degree of uncertainty over the ownership of the lovely Georgian building in which it is housed, and potential difficulties over the legal challenges the closure of the Museum and resale of the property will cause.

The other reason is the determination of the wonderful voluntary staff who run the concern with such dedication: they have presented the council with a Big Society style plan to ensure the survival of the museum - three months later, they are still waiting for the formal assurance of promises given that they will be able to put this plan into effect. No doubt Barnet is still trying to find ways to obstruct the deal so the property can be flogged off.

What a shame that the local Tory councillors and the MP, Theresa Villers, who is, Mrs Angry understands, a member of the body which runs the museum, have done so little to give their support to their campaign for survival.

Councillor Longstaff has showed some vague interest, (he was in the High Street later, and clocked Mrs Angry on the way home, fixing her with an unforgiving glint in his eye, for some reason) but as usual the Tories have simply sat on their hands and failed to offer any real help.

This is a mistake: local residents will be outraged if the museum is shut down, and so they should be. The devastating impact of the parking scheme has alienated every voter with a car in the borough: the effect of another high profile closure would be incendiary in this traditionally conservative area, where middle class residents groups and local societies are so active.

Staff at the museum told Mrs Angry that there will soon be a new attempt by a university research team to locate sites associated with the Battle of Barnet, a pivotal moment in the Wars of the Roses, which took place here in 1471. There is believed to be a large burial pit, somewhere, for example, which if found would be of enormous significance, as so few archaological relics have ever been found. Two small cannon balls were discovered on Hadley Green just a few years ago, and are on display in the museum. If the new survey is successful, and archaelogical evidence is found, this would be very important for the museum, and for Barnet.

Nearly six and a half centuries ago, noted Mrs Angry, as she looked at the museum's displays, the Battle of Barnet ended in confusion, with opposing sides attacking their own allies, and Warwick the kingmaker dead in the bushes, killed by his former supporters in the Yorkist army. Evidently loyalties in the fifteenth century were transferable - and so they are even now, here in Broken Barnet, in the twenty first century, where treachery and infighting among his own ranks may well soon prove to be the undoing of another kingmaker ...


Mr Mustard said...

Burial pit Mrs A. I noted that Cllr Cornelius was in a big parking pit and I offered him a way out but he has has got a firm hold of his spade and wants to carry on digging.

baarnett said...

"Speaking of which, yes, here he is: Councillor Brian Coleman, AM, FRSA, standing alongside his mum, MP Theresa Villiers, and Lisa Rutter."


Mrs Angry said...

hmm, Mr Musard, digging his own electoral grave.

baarnett, didn't you know? That is why he is so fond of women with the name Theresa.