New year message: 'Gridlock-down' in Hampstead

Sebastian Wocker

Sebastian Wocker - Credit: Archant

After a month in Brazil, arriving back in Hampstead in March 2020 to find only one grapefruit and four tins of oxtail soup on the shelves of Sainsburys was, admittedly, a bit of a shocker.

Naturally, I decided to live out a sort of dystopian-Chernobyl-cum-World-War-II-ration-book fantasy in order to cheer myself up. After all, seeking out loo roll and pasta at black-market prices can be fun. And might not steamed-up glasses and inhaling my own CO2, somehow, become an opportunity for growth? A chance to slow down and become a human being rather than a human-doing.

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Granted, that Heinz oxtail soup didn’t taste nearly as good as the last time I’d eaten it back in 1979, but the rediscovery of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, last quaffed by myself in 1981 — sheer frugivorous joy!

Moreover, there was peace and quiet. No school run, no rush hour, no HGVs. Just birds twittering and, best of all, deliciously clean, very breathable air. But all things must pass and now Hampstead is in the worst of all worlds: not lock down, but gridlock down.

As for 2021? Hopefully, along with Covid-19, that BID thing (Hampstead Village Business Improvement District Ltd) will be kicked into touch when the ballot is held this summer. 


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Having forced money from struggling local businesses, charities, state schools and NHS surgeries since 2016, the BID actually sent out letters in April threatening summonses in the middle of lockdown: what a ghastly piece of work it is.

Hampstead Village Voice. Picture: S Wocker

Hampstead Village Voice. Picture: S Wocker - Credit: S Wocker

So, the Hampstead Village Voice will be campaigning to ensure that, similarly to Trump, it does not receive a second term. Oh, and there’s other rubbish to deal with. Actual rubbish. 

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Camden Council’s woeful, uncoordinated commercial refuse system must be held to account, because mountains of split plastic bags strewn around our high streets do not remotely constitute an acceptable refuse infrastructure.

Far be it for me to slag off my own magazine, but our winter of discontent edition will definitely be a load of rubbish. 

  • Sebastian Wocker is editor of the Hampstead Village Voice, the next edition of which will be newsagents from Friday, January 15 priced at a whopping £3.

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