Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Dead in the water: no, not Brent X Cricklewood - Brian Coleman's political career

Big brother's little brother addresses the grateful citizens of Broken Barnet

Boris blusters while Brian scans the audience for troublemakers.

"Heightened alert", said all the security signs.

True, there was a sense of barely repressed hysteria, in some quarters, at the Talk London event last night. It was kind of a Broken Barnet political Glastonbury, with Boris mainlining, and Brian Coleman playing the part of a rather troubled Michael Eavis, worried about crowd control, and all the acts finishing on time.

We trooped through the gates of Hendon police centre, and then through three sets of security checks, all of whom scrutinised your ticket and verified your identity with great interest, as if you were about to board a flight to New York with a box of fireworks and a big stash of weed in your hand luggage. Mrs Angry made it through, despite the fact that her ticket, thanks to the cheeky blogger who ordered them, bore the unlikely name of 'Mrs Morris Mustard'. Wishful thinking, Mr Mustard? Join the queue, mate.

'Erm, do you think', Miss Angry had suggested to her mother as she prepared to leave the house before the meeting, 'that you ought to wear a disguise, Mummy?' 'Why?' asked Mrs Angry, suspiciously, mindful of the fact that her daughter would prefer, when seen with her mother in public, that she was wearing full camouflage and not associated with her in any way. 'So you can trick Brian Coleman into letting you ask a question,' she said, 'Doh ...'

Miss Angry is wordly wise beyond her years. It was too late to change, however, and Mrs Angry was obliged to sit through the event last night hoping that her especially chosen red rag to a bull coloured dress would attract Brian's attention and counteract the aura of invisibility which seems to surround her when in his company. Didn't quite work out that way, though.

Arriving early, once in the hall Mrs Angry was able to find a well placed seat in the third row in perfect eyeballing distance of the panel, and guest speaker, and our beloved Chairman, Brian Coleman, when they made their eventual entrance nearly an hour later.

Mrs Angry waved cheerily at Brian, which was noted by council leader Richard Cornelius, who was unable to contain his amusement and tittered - Cornelius, it should be said, has a notable habit of exhibiting an inappropriate demeanour in formal occasions, and indeed a propensity for saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time. (Like last summer, when he told his fellow councillors 'I think I would be a good leader, please vote for me'.)

Brian's face on spotting Mrs Angry and Mr Mustard and other bloggers and local activists in the front of the audience was a joy to behold, in fact. He fixed Mrs Angry with a most unwelcoming glare and appeared to be - goodness me - visibly nervous.

In the row behind were a number of women residents wearing t shirts expressing their intention to fight for our town centres, and condemning the council's idiotic parking policy: and this appeared to have an unsettling effect on our Brian too.

Standing at the podium, MC style, like a very unfunny Ricky Gervaise at the Golden Globe awards, he then made one of his unintentionally comical attempts to appear statesmanlike and magisterial, and gave us a stern lecture, laying down some HOUSEKEEPING RULES (are there any? I've just been winging it, all these years. Perhaps someone should have told me. Too late now, sadly.)

Questions were to be SHORT. Answers were to be SHORT.

(Btw, Coleman is very SHORT: Mrs Angry, at five foot eight, towers over him, and she has a horrible feeling he takes smaller shoes than her. He looks bigger, in his own imagination, anyway, standing behind a podium, or sitting at a committee table, ranting.)

Boris stood to make an opening speech. It was interesting to note a process he underwent of transforming himself into his public persona, easing himself into the performance by a short series of gear changes as his speech got going.

Starting on a muted note, mumbling about pleased to be here, soon worked up to a full stream of consciousness, bumbling Boris act - arrived by tube, you know, perfectly comfortable experience, North Circular improvement at Henley's Corner (TFL), marvellous, glad no one had called him a Tory tosser yet, (still plenty of time, we were thinking), er then we were off on a series of unrelated topics, all strung together in a consummate piece of filibustering, blustering Boris -American GIs arriving in Paris, 1944, the Olympic games of 1948, safety in London, the murder rate, planting trees, oh and the Boris Valley Green Walk, he added, looking at Brian, who nodded gravely, thinking no doubt with great pleasure about the cycle path that he has accidentally approved but has been well and truly cocked up, due to lack of enough money to join it all up.

Lastly, social housing, something we do not do here in Broken Barnet, as it encourages a regrettable dependence on the state by the undeserving poor, although we do encourage Tory Assembly members to enjoy the benefits of charity flats with fixed rents, oh, and then transport. We are in a neo Victorian phase of development of our transport infrastructure, said the Mayor. Boris presented this as a good thing, but Mrs Angry began to feel slightly uneasy at his curious attachment to the past, and worried that he sees himself as a man with an historical destiny. Beware the man who thinks he has an historical destiny.

He really wants, he told us, to put the village back into the city. For some reason he looked towards Coleman at this point. Was he looking for a village idiot, wondered Mrs Angry? There will be a lot of competition in Broken Barnet, but only one outstanding candidate.

To be continued.

No comments: