Whilst there are many Barnet Conservative councillors I disagree with about policy issues, there are some on a personal level I get on quite well with. Perhaps top of this list is Councillor John Hart. He is as old school as they come, but I admire many things about John. When he lost his council seat in 1994, he didn't go off and sulk or moan. He just stood again in 1998. Then he lost. He stood again in 2002 and again he lost. So he stood in 2006 and managed to scrape in, splitting the ward with two Lib Dem councillors, Wayne Casey and Jeremy Davies. In 2010, as we were campaigning, the canvassing figures seemed to indicate that the Lib Dems would win. John told me that the one regret, if he lost was that he wouldn't be able to help people who needed it. This wasn't a comment for blogging, just a comment over a glass of wine at a social occasion.
I am very grateful for the help John gave Mill Hill Village football club, when he intervened at a time Barnet Council were seeking to impose a huge rent increase on the club. As John is now 80 years old, I doubt it is fair to expect him to work as hard as some of his more sprightly comments, but from the evidence I see, he's one of the few Tory Councillors who actually bothers to do things.
As I said, John is very old school. He has, on occasion, upset people with comments which they have felt to be racist. Whilst I can understand why people have drawn this conclusion, I believe this more to be due to John not really getting the current era of political correctness than any feeling of malice toward people of different origins. I myself have groaned at some of his pronouncements, but at least he is himself.
As we campaigned in 2010, I'd bump into Jophn and he'd tell me outrageous stories and jokes, which had I published, would doubtless have caused uproar. I didn't and wouldn't because they were said in private and were John being himself. He can also take a joke. One of the doors I knocked on was clearly a brothel. A rather attractive oriental lady ushered me in. When I realised what was happening, I made my excuses and left. Later on I bumped into John and told him that one of his constituents was annoyed he'd not visited. John indignantly stated "I've knocked on every door in Mill Hill". I told him the address and said the lady of the house was most upset he hadn't bothered. John sheepishly admitted he hadn't visited that house. I suggested he get himself around there straight away as she was considering voting for me in repayment for the snub. A couple of days later I bumped into John. he had a mishievous twinkle in his eye and informed me that the lady had been most satisfied with his visit. He then said "it's just as well i didn't take Sury (Khatri) around, he's in enough trouble already with his wife for spending all this time canvassing".
Anyway, it seems John has written a novel. It is called "Mammoth Boy" and details John's early years 12,000 years ago, when as a youth he became fascinated with cave paintings. The whole story is detailed here in the Hendon Times - http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/topstories/9701030.Councillor_makes_debut_as_novelist/ . John is a colourful character and I wish him well with his book. I will be writing to him for a signed copy.
Note : The book isn't really about tales from Johns youth, It is set in 15,000 to 12,000 BC and tells the story of an orphan who becomes fascinated by mammoths and cave paintings.Whilst he is the elder states man of Barnet politics, he's not quite that old.