Sunday, February 24, 2013
Michael Welbank, of Belsize Avenue, is deputy chairman of the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee and has lived in Hampstead all of his life.
Tell us a little known secret about your area?
The secret place I love is a little tree avenue which runs down behind the wall of Heath House. Half-way along, there is the beginning of a little avenue that goes out and then suddenly stops for no reason. I have often wondered who planted that tree-lined avenue and where it was going because it’s a very private and wonderful little space.
What makes you smile after a bad day?
When I get off the tube at Belsize Park after being in the station, you feel that it’s so much cooler up here. It’s a dramatic drop in temperature – by about three or four degrees.
If you were mayor for the day, what would you change?
I would introduce a 20mph zone. Not because it makes a lot of difference, but it actually signals that you are moving into an area where the motorcar is not the predominant force. It shows that we are all together in shared space. I don’t mind people going at 30mph at midnight, but the restriction would be a signal that the space is being shared by everyone.
If you were given £100, what would you spend it on?
I would go to Artigiano in Belsize village because it’s bloody good food. It’s a very good local restaurant and – although people don’t travel all the way across London to it – for a meal around the corner, God it’s good.
If you had to choose an actor to play you in a film who would it be?
If he was still alive, the late Sir Michael Hordern because he had a certain physical resemblance and a wry sense of humour which appeals to me. But among today’s actors, it would be John Hurt. I wouldn’t mind being seen as John Hurt or him being seen as me.
If you could go to dinner with anyone in the world who would it be?
Michael Heseltine appeals to my brand of politics. He will take a decision for the benefit of England, whether that fits in with his party’s politics or not. Otherwise it would be Lord Patten. Both of those I have had the privilege of working closely with because they have both been ministers of the environment. I admire them immensely.
Michael Welbank was in conversation with Josh Pettitt