Former society chairman speaks out about why he loves Highgate
PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 January 2013
Mat Schwitzer, 95, has lived in Shepherd’s Hill in Highgate for 61 years. He was formerly chairman of the Highgate Society and he is leader of the Highgate Philosophy Circle. On Wednesday, he will share some of his probing philisophical ideas with an audience at the society in South Grove, Highgate.
What brought you to Highgate?
My wife and I lived in a small flat in Swiss Cottage. When she became pregnant we looked for a house. We found out that it cost £8,000, which was then an astronomical price.
What is your favourite thing about the area?
The Highgate Society and the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institute. They do a lot for the preservation of buildings and trees, and on the other side you meet very interesting people. For me, history and an interest in science and culture is important.
What is the worst thing?
There are very few parking places. Fortunately I no longer drive but I drove for 50 years and it was always difficult to park. Perhaps they could build an underground car park or one could persuade St Michael’s Church to allow cars to park there for a small fee.
Which is your favourite shop in the area?
Mr Raj’s Corner Shop has been there for many years and it’s always been very friendly, even before it was Mr Raj’s. The service is excellent and the fresh food counter and deli is good. Mr Raj himself is always very helpful.
What is missing from the area?
There used to be a Post Office, but that was closed about two years ago and the only one is in Archway Road. There are always long queues.
What makes you smile on your way home?
To think of my home where I have lived for 61 years and where everything is still as my wife had arranged it.
If you were mayor for a day, what would you change?
I would abolish parking tickets, which only enrich councils and have no other purpose.
What tips would you give to somebody moving to the area?
Join the Highgate Society because it does a marvellous job. They are responsible for Highgate staying a village. I go every Saturday morning to have coffee and you meet lots of interesting people and always learn something about Highgate or the surrounding areas. I don’t need to tell you why it is interesting to meet interesting people!
Where in the world would you twin with Highgate Village?
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, where I lived and where one can sit in the open air in the summer in the central square, sip coffee and eat a delicious chocolate cake, and where the streets are still cobbled.
If you had to write your own epitaph what would it say?
Husband, father-of-four, grandfather-of-six and philosopher, which enriched his life and made his love for his family deeper.