Talking about eating disorders is a good start, if you're also able to support Beat, the Eating Disorders Association with a donation then you can give them some money by clicking here.
Sunday, 22 February 2009
Monday, 16 February 2009
On Thursday night we went to the Rootmaster restaurant - or, rather, the Rootmaster Bustaurant - for an early Valentine's dinner.
As you might guess by the punning name, it is a restaurant inside an old Routemaster bus. For overseas readers, they are the classic, original double decker London bus - red, of course. The bus is parked just off Brick Lane, near to the courtyard area where The Big Chill Bar is.
The bottom deck of the bus is the kitchen, which you can see into from outside, so it's up the traditional Routemaster steps to the top deck for the seating area. You can see photos on the website - obviously it's not a huge restaurant, being just the top deck of a bus, but they fit a fair few seats in and it's very well decorated. There's a large table at the back of the bus where we sat with four other couples, which would be great for a group of friends. Actually, that's how I heard about it - my friend Megan had been there recently with a group of her friends visiting from Australia.
The food (and drink) is all completely vegan, which was an added interest as Owen is vegetarian, but I had really picked it for the unusual setting. The food was absolutely top quality though and the whole experience very stylish. The menu is on their website, I had very tasty gyoza to start and an excellent teriyaki stirfry for my main course, followed by an awesome hot banana roll. The service was good too - we took our time and spent a good couple of hours there, but other people were getting in and out more quickly if they wanted.
So, yes, it's got a bit of novelty value - but the food is excellent and we had a great time all round. If you fancy trying it out, make sure you book in advance though. I did that over e-mail.
Sunday, 15 February 2009
Another issue that came up at Monday's Full Council was Jacksons Lane.
The arts centre in Highgate has been vulnerable to losing Arts Council funding, due to the Council's lack of support. My Lib Dem colleagues in Highgate, Cllr Neil Williams, Cllr Bob Hare and Cllr Rachel Allison, have been engaged in a long-running campaign with Lynne Featherstone MP to help secure the centre's future.
On Monday the Labour Cabinet Member responsible told us that Haringey is now going to provide some money - and his u-turn is welcome. But he extraordinarily claimed that he didn't understand the fuss and had always been offering money to Jacksons Lane, despite plenty of evidence to disprove this.
If you need independent proof that Haringey Labour did a u-turn on Jackson's Lane funding (which is the result of Lib Dems and residents campaigning to save the centre) - then you can now find it direct from the Arts Council:
This was a very welcome last minute offer by Haringey, without which we would not have been able to continue our commitment to Jacksons Lane.
Is it any wonder that local residents do not trust Haringey Labour when they try to rewrite history like this? Fortunately, we have local elections next May and all the voters of Haringey have the chance to kick them out and make a fresh start with the Lib Dems.
Just a short postscript to last Monday's council meeting, where Haringey Lib Dems proposed freezing council tax. Haringey Labour rejected the proposal, choosing instead to push the borough's already extortionate council tax rates even higher.
They even said that we were only proposing a freeze as we are in opposition and that if we were in control now we wouldn't freeze it. Rubbish - we had costed our alternative budget proposals and told the Full Council meeting how a council tax freeze could be achieved, without any frontline services being cut. Just one of the savings we proposed was to cut the Council's propaganda rag Haringey People (which my Lib Dem colleague Cllr Robert Gorrie accurately referred to as 'a fantasy comic') down to four - useful - issues a year.
Labour councillors still opted to vote against our proposals and hike local taxpayers' bills up still further.
One of the Labour councillors said, in support of his 'argument', that Lib Dem councils like Islington promised council tax freezes in opposition but failed to deliver them in power. Like much that we heard from Labour on Monday night, this statement was simply the result of stupidity, misinformation or deliberate untruths.
When they took control, Islington Lib Dems promised to reduce the massive tax burden that years of Labour rule had left residents with. And this year Islington Lib Dems are AGAIN proposing a freeze on council tax. But will Islington Labour join with their Haringey colleagues in voting against a council tax freeze and for another increase to hard-pressed taxpayers' bills?
Of course, council tax is the most unfair of all the taxes we pay anyway - and the Lib Dems campaign across the country to abolish it. You can sign the petition to axe the tax as part of our campaign led by Tom Brake MP by clicking here.
Saturday, 14 February 2009
Just a quick reminder that I am auctioning a Spurs pennant signed by 12 of the players (including Michael Dawson, Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley, Ledley King, Jonathan Woodgate) to raise money for the excellent charity Refuge, who help victims of domestic violence.
The autographed pennant was kindly donated by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and you can see photos of it and information on how you can win it by clicking here.
But hurry - the auction closes Tuesday (17 Feb) lunchtime!
Friday, 13 February 2009
The red card from Sunday's match (where Spurs played so well for much of the match and just couldn't turn the possession and chances into goals), reminded me of this article I randomly came across the other day - an interesting run down of 10 'classic' red cards.
It was linked to from where I was reading about Dean Windass having been given three red cards in one match, which I thought was pretty impressive. That makes No.9 in the list.
One sending off that I remember in particular isn't in the list. Carling Cup semi-final, second leg, 2002, at White Hart Lane: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink sent off for slapping Teddy Sheringham. Only problem was that it wasn't Hasselbaink, it was Mario Melchiot - poor ref Mark Halsey got a bit confused. The FA did manage to correct the mistake on this occasion.
Thursday, 12 February 2009
I have blogged previously about the Kinks' links with Fortis Green, but I've just come across another musical link with my ward that I had no idea about.
Fairport Convention were apparently formed in a house on Fortis Green. A house called Fairport. I've delivered leaflets there for 7 or 8 years now and always liked the house name... never occurred to me there might be any link to the band though!
It has inspired me to look into the history of Fortis Green and Muswell Hill more (not just the musical history) - I've obviously picked up various bits of 'intelligence' over the years and heard some fascinating stories from residents who've lived in the area for decades, but I think I'll get myself a book. Anyone got some good recommendations for books on local history?
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
A couple of weeks ago we bought a new house for our oriental fire-bellied toads, Bert and Ernie. There wasn't anything wrong with the one they came in, we just wanted to give them a bit more room to swim around and a nicer looking tank that we can see them better in.
We bought a new, taller terrarium from this place just off the M4, along with a few bits and bobs to make their new home look pretty. There's a lot more water around than before - and so much less dry land, the one down side of which is more crickets jumping into the water before they can be eaten. We have a gravel bed to the water and a couple of new rocks, plus some new wood to join the old piece they liked. We've also got a small pump to circulate the water and provide a nice running stream over one of the rocks.
Bert and Ernie seem to be loving the whole thing - they've got a wider range of hiding places, assorted places to sit (either basking or semi-submerged) and a good range of things to clamber over and around. The water pump seems to be a hit too, sometimes they like to almost take a shower in it.
We might make a few more tweaks over the coming months - would be nice to get some real plants in there and we could probably do with a slightly larger section of continuous dry land - but in the meantime our toads don't have any complaints and are enjoying their new home as you can see from these photos.
We're still pretty new to keeping toads, so if anyone out there has tips of any sort they'd like to give us, please add a comment or drop me an email!
Tuesday, 10 February 2009
What Haringey Labour really thinks about the residents of Highgate, Muswell Hill, Fortis Green, Crouch End...
Last night's meeting of Full Council was a predictable affair. This is the annual meeting where, as a prelude to the budget being proposed, the Labour Leader gives Haringey's grand sounding 'state of the borough' address.
Of course, this year there was a new leader giving the speech, following the Labour resignations over the Baby P case. But other than that nothing was different from the previous six I've heard - a strange, self-congratulatory picture of Haringey's fortunes being painted, which most people would struggle to recognise as reality.
The new leader at least delivered her speech well - although choosing to boast about having now "only" 25.4% of Haringey's streets classified as having unacceptable litter levels seems odd. The old leader made a useful intervention on the Icelandic banking fiasco - when Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition Robert Gorrie asked why the promised report had failed to materialise, Cllr George Meehan also expressed his disappointment that having promised the report before Christmas it had still not been presented to Council.
Although Labour have taken on some of the budget proposals we made last year, they didn't listen to us last night (including rejecting our proposal to freeze council tax, instead increasing it) - preferring to make astonishing attacks on Haringey residents in the west of the borough.
The hypocrisy of Haringey Labour is staggering. They talk about the inequalities in our borough and the east-west divide - remember, this is the party that has controlled Haringey for four decades and run the country for 12 years, yet failed to do anything about it. Instead, they like to perpetuate the myth that everything is rosy west of Wood Green.
The massive decrease in life expectancy rates as you travel west to east across the borough is the starkest evidence that Tottenham, on the whole, has much higher levels of deprivation than Hornsey and Wood Green, on the whole. But the Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration came out with the astonishing (and completely untrue) claim that there is no social housing in the west of the borough! Her argument being that councillors from this half of Haringey can't possibly comment on the appalling state Labour have left much of our housing stock in for years, as we don't have any residents living in it. Well, we certainly do - there is council-provided housing in every ward in Haringey and poor quality council housing in every ward too.
It seems that she has never been to the west of Haringey and is completely unaware of the social housing that does exist. What a damning indictment on the Labour Cabinet's interest in the west of the borough. The hypocrisy is that they accuse us of not having an interest in Tottenham (not true) while they themselves freely admit that they have no interest in the west.
She was joined in her west-bashing by newly elected Seven Sisters councillor Joe Goldberg - who said across the chamber "go back to Highgate and have your high tea", a truly breathtaking attempt to accentuate the gap between east and west, not attempt to deal with the mess his Labour colleagues have made. And doubly hypocritical from this councillor - having just been elected for Seven Sisters ward in Tottenham and choosing to mock the people of Highgate, I'm told he lives closer to Highgate than Seven Sisters himself.
Monday, 9 February 2009
There's something quite romantic about a Bugatti sitting unused in a garage and then fetching £3m at auction. Even if it does seem like a lot of money, however good the car looks and - for the purchaser, hopefully - sounds when the ignition is turned.
But even £3m is fairly small fry when it comes to Haringey Labour wasting our money - remember the Tech Refresh fiasco and the Icelandic bank deposits fiasco and the (stalled) new civic centre fiasco? And they're just some of the ones that topped £3m, the smaller amounts all add up too.
Tonight is the first of two Full Council meetings which will set the budget for how local taxpayers' money will be spent over the coming year. The meeting kicks off at 7.30pm and you can watch it live via the power of webcasting - click here.
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Looking for a great present for a Spurs fan? Or just something for yourself?
Thanks to the generosity of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, I have an autographed Spurs pennant, which I'm auctioning now on eBay.
The club have donated this pennant to me so I can raise money for Refuge. So if you're interested, then just go to eBay and place a bid!
It's signed by Michael Dawson, Ledley King, David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas, amongst others - full details and more photos in the eBay listing.
I've seen almost identical things on sale online for sums like £150 - but the starting bid for this is just £4.99. And you'll get the benefit of supporting a great charity too!
100% of the winning bid will go directly to Refuge. Thanks again to Spurs for their support.
By the way, if you're not a Spurs or football fan you can still sponsor me for the marathon at www.justgiving.com/matt4refuge, of course.
The season at Spurs has been a mixed bag - unlucky defeats, bad defeats and embarrassing defeats. Ok, there have been some good bits too - especially since Harry Redknapp took over. And I've already bought my ticket for the Carling Cup Final against Man United, which is only a few weeks away now.
There isn't time to go over all the Spurs news in the couple of months since I last blogged (you'll be relieved to hear), so I'll just include these photos from our last home match - the 3-1 win against Stoke on January 27th. A vital win, obviously. Next match is tomorrow, the return fixture following our amazing trip to the Emirates last October.
But I was disappointed yesterday by the decision to give Robbie Keane the captain's armband at Spurs.
I think the decision to re-sign him was odd - justified only, perhaps, by the lengthy injury layoff faced by our other returning striker Jermain Defoe. But Robbie is back at White Hart Lane, he is a talented player who can bring sparkle to a game and I hope he finds some form to help us climb clear of the relegation zone.
I never rated him as a good captain when he used to take on that role at Spurs before. I know Harry has said that you need someone who is going to get angry and have a go at players when necessary, which may be true. But Keane's type of angry has always seemed to be a petulant, selfish sort of anger though - he has a go at players from a personal point of view rather than to get the team going.
I've blogged about it before, but Michael Dawson (pictured in the photo on the left) is the obvious choice of captain for me, especially now he is back in the team and playing so well. In fact, with the transfer window now closed I am just relieved that no one snapped him up. With a team that looks strong on paper and Roman Pavlyuchenko really starting to look class, getting Jermaine Jenas fit again and seeing Wilson Palacios make his mark at White Hart Lane could be crucial to a safe (and happy?) end to the season.
Friday, 6 February 2009
Last week I ended up sitting next to Alison Steadman on the tube - most recently seen in Gavin & Stacey but well known for an extensive career on tv and stage. She was presumably heading home to Highgate after starring in the Alan Bennett play Enjoy. Owen has already seen it and thought it was very good, I'm going to have to get around to seeing it myself.
I had been sitting on the tube trying to figure out if it definitely was Alison Steadman when the person she was travelling with pointed out her interview in that day's londonpaper to her - which clinched it. Talking of star-spotting, I think I saw Meera Syal filling up a car at the Shell petrol station in Hornsey at the weekend too... but it was dark, so I'm less confident about that one.
Anyway, the play I saw most recently was Three Days of Rain. I normally only really blog about plays I've seen that I want to recommend, but for this one I'll make an exception. I would rather be doomed to three *years* of rain than have to watch it again.
The first act was not promising - and quite a few people did leave at the interval. The second act though was truly atrocious, all in all quite easily the worst bit of theatre I have seen for ages. The cast aren't really to be blamed, although the accents were dubious at best, the play is just completely without point. That we managed to endure the whole thing without leaving (unlike the plot writers, who presumably left very near the start of the whole thing) should warrant some sort of medal.
People might be keen to see Nigel Harman or James McAvoy - and you do get to see McAvoy in a wet vest, if that's your sort of thing. But if it is, then I suggest you take earplugs/an iPod to stop you from having to listen to any of the play. I did actually physically cringe at some points.
So if you're looking for a play to see, steer well clear of Three Days of Rain. But you could go for either Entertaining Mr.Sloane (Matthew Horne from Gavin & Stacey and an at one stage fairly naked Imelda Staunton) or A View from the Bridge (well put together Arthur Miller play), both of which were excellent.
Thursday, 5 February 2009
So, what kept me so busy between November and February that kept me away from blogging for so long?
The simple answer to that is "the usual". Aside from a great two weeks off over Christmas and New Year, both work and Council have been busy. Spurs have been keeping me busy too, both with worrying and with going to the games, and there have been gigs and theatre too - so it hasn't been all hard work.
Politically, we had the Seven Sisters by-election in January, where Labour just managed to hold on with a tiny majority. The new councillor is Joe Goldberg, PPC for Witney (David Cameron's seat, of course) and a former Chair of Labour Students. Our Lib Dem candidate was PPC for Tottenham David Schmitz, who managed to secure a sizable increase in the Lib Dem vote.
In fact, the Seven Sisters result has clearly (and rightly!) got Labour worried, as shown by their own predictions for us Lib Dems taking control of Haringey at the local elections next year. I agree with their predictions and I agree with the residents who keep telling me it's time for a change after decades of Labour rule in Haringey.
The day-to-day of the Council has of course continued - to briefly mention just a few things: three Fortis Green ward surgeries a month as usual (I did one last night - no one came, which isn't too surprising considering the icy weather); plenty of casework (from getting residents more cash to redecorate walls damaged by Council incompetence, to fighting off recurring planning applications, to trying to stop vulnerable residents with blue badges being unnecessarily distressed); plenty of meetings (including stepping in to chair scrutiny review sessions, also the budget setting meetings are coming up this month); and plenty of leaflets (though not as many as I should have last month, as I did my back in and was in agony for a couple of weeks).
And it will all continue. I'll try and get back to updating my blog with a few more bits of very local news, to give a flavour of what being a councillor is all about. But, as always, if you have any questions - including being interested in being a councillor yourself - or need any help on council issues then please just email me.
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Tuesday, 3 February 2009
I don't feel too guilty about my lack of blogging over the last couple of months - it coincided with an increase in Haringey Lib Dems blogging as it happens.
Neil Williams, former Leader of the Opposition and Highgate Lib Dem councillor, has been successfully blogging all the juicy (but accurate and important) stuff about Haringey politics and our current Deputy Leader Richard Wilson (Lib Dem, Stroud Green) has joined the club too, another good source of what's happening in Haringey politics.
Not forgetting the blogs of our very own Lib Dem MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Lynne Featherstone and Fiyaz Mughal, Lib Dem councillor for Noel Park, there has been a good range to keep people busy while I've been away. And not one of them has been distracted from politics by blogging about music and Spurs, as tends to happen with me...
Monday, 2 February 2009
Hello all, it's been a while. And it's this snow that has left me with a few spare minutes to have a go at kickstarting the old blog.
December, Christmas, New Year and January have all been and gone, but winter has only just properly started it seems - the photo is Muswell Hill Broadway this morning around 8.30am... not a bus in sight, for a change, as they were all withdrawn from service this morning.
Having made it into work, left early to make sure I got back before it got cold and the pavements got slippy. I know that makes me sound like an 82 year old, not a 32 year old, but I haven't got the best sense of balance even without ice and tend to fall over/walk into things regularly anyway.
Tonight's activity was meant to be a photo shoot with fellow councillor Emma Jones (Labour, Bruce Grove) at Alexandra Palace - at 7pm we were due to be photographed in our running kit for the local paper. Like me, Emma is running the marathon - you can sponsor either or both of us by going to my fundraising page and Emma's.
But the weather has spared everyone from a photo of me in my lovely Refuge running vest for now. Although my Lib Dem colleague Neil Williams has kindly dug out a photo of me in my last marathon running vest, for Amnesty. Not for the faint hearted, but you can see it on his excellent blog here.
That's all for now, but I'll be back soon. Please, please, please sponsor me - and the minimum donation is only £2!
All views expressed in my blog are my own and do not represent any other person, party or organisation