WHO'S WHO: John Foreman, veteran barber

PUBLISHED: 15:19 30 May 2007 | UPDATED: 14:32 07 September 2010

John Foreman, 75, is retiring from the Barber Shop at the end of the month. He has been working in West Hampstead since 1946, when he was just 14 years old. FOR HOW LONG HAS YOUR FAMILY LIVED IN WEST HAMPSTEAD? To my knowledge, since at least the 1880s.

John Foreman, 75, is retiring from the Barber Shop at the end of the month. He has been working in West Hampstead since 1946, when he was just 14 years old.

FOR HOW LONG HAS YOUR FAMILY LIVED IN WEST HAMPSTEAD?

To my knowledge, since at least the 1880s. My grandfather was in Hampstead when it was on the edge of London. He got a job with Hampstead borough and worked there all his life.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE AREA?

It's just where I was born. I've always enjoyed Hampstead village.

WHAT IS THE WORST THING?

I've never really thought about the bad things, but I suppose it's the way the high streets have changed. Each street used to be full of family-owned businesses, Mr Wolfe the watchmaker, Bob the butcher, I knew them all and they knew me. Now they're all restaurants and shops and I don't know any of them. Still, it's the same throughout London.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN THE AREA AT THE WEEKENDS?

I'm not here. I now live in Ilford in Essex - I can't afford to live in Hampstead. When I come in to Hampstead from the tube, I walk straight from the station to work, and at the end of the day I'm straight to the station and back home. I'm a bit cocooned from the area.

WHICH BOOK ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I read a lot of military history books, particularly on the Royal Scots Greys. I served in them and I've always been interested in them. I've just finished reading a compilation of Officer George Buchanan's letters to his mother from the Crimean War.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT RETIREMENT?

I'm looking forward to visiting art galleries, joining a night school, painting, indexing my collection of military history books. I'm looking forward to the general freedom I'll have to go round seeing all the places I want to see.

IF YOU HAD A MILLION POUNDS TO SPEND IN A DAY,. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

There was a film about that once, wasn't there? The chap actually had a bit of trouble finding things to spend it on. I'd pay to have West End Lane tarted up - the council had a scheme a while back where they were going to tidy up the clutter, colour co-ordinate the shops, get the business names polished and emboldened. It was a marvellous idea, but nothing came of it.

what would your motto be?

My regimental motto, Second to none.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN THE AREA AT THE WEEKENDS?

I go running and I sit in the park. I have a drink at the pub, eat and cook. I look around the shops and that's all that I do here.

WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE MOVING TO THE AREA?

Look for a good barber.

IF YOU WERE MAYOR FOR A DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I'd abolish parking restrictions. That's the most damaging thing from a trader's point of view. I've seen trade go down since they introduced restricted parking round here. I'm speaking with a business hat on.

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