Former distance runner David Bedford is a ‘fast food predator’
17:00 15 December 2012
David Bedford, who has lived around Hampstead his entire life, is a former world record holder for the 10,000 metres and until recently was the race director for the London Marathon.
What brought you to Hampstead?
I was born at Queen Mary (maternity home) in Hampstead so I guess the stork brought me here and ever since I have been in or around Hampstead, my spiritual home.
What makes you smile after a bad day?
A great pint of London Pride at the Duke of Hamilton. Is there any better way? Perhaps a swim in the ponds in summer, but not in winter because it’s far too cold.
You’re mayor for the day, what would you change?
I would bring back all the pubs that have been shut over the last 20 years. I’d get rid of the parking restrictions which mean that people from outside are not welcome in Hampstead. It’s impossible for people to visit so they don’t come. We need a massive underground car park, strategically and carefully placed so that it allows people to come, but does not destroy the village feel.
Tell us one of Hampstead’s hidden secrets?
I’ve spent a lot of time running and walking on the Heath and one of my favourite bits is Pitt House Gateway near Jack Straw’s Castle (the ruins of North End House where former prime minister William Pitt stayed as he battled depression in 1766). Most people don’t know it because it’s part of the Heath that people don’t walk on. There are parts of it you would not want to picnic on, but that’s not one of them.
It’s a special occasion, where would you take your guests? I would always go to Villa Bianca or La Gaffe as my two restaurants of choice. Villa Bianca still has a classy feel about it and, although some people question the food I find it absolutely fine and always feel like you’re there for a special occasion. But often as not I am a predator of local take-aways, especially if they do a good curry. If anyone comes to visit me they always stay at La Gaffe, which has that wonderful family atmosphere.
If you had £100 to blow in Hampstead, what would you spend it on?
Beer, probably in the Duke of Hamilton on a Monday when it is even cheaper than normal. You would get an awful lot for your money: there might even be enough for Tuesday!
If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say? Failed to win the Olympic gold, but as race director for the London Marathon, raised half a billion for charity.