'Eat pray lido - and traffic fines'
Russell Bentley, Actor and Belsize Park resident
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Sorry all for the radio silence but back to back audio books, child pickups and the daily jaunt to the sanctity of the lido has prevented me from checking in with you all.
There were copious Jubilee parties in our fair north west London enclaves. Bouncy castles, aisles of coronation chicken, bunting and cake judging in Oak Village along with a Caleigh (cèilidh) to end the festivities.
Oh and before I forget I must plug a bit of positively theatrical news folks and tell you with unabashed delight that yours truly will be appearing as a disgruntled husband in Jon Canter’s new hilarious play Spoons (local boy who has written for Fry and Laurie, Arabella Weir, Lenny Henry) about a marriage counsellor, directed by another local Highgate boy director Paul Schlesinger (former head of comedy at Radio 4 and producer of the brilliant W1A and 2012).
Now I know it’s "hilarious" because I road tested the comedic content on my non-actor pals at the lido (a bit of an oxymoron as the lido is littered with thesps and creative types as you may know) getting them to test me on poolside during the recent heatwave.
"This is hilarious’ said Justine, said Mimi, said Andy, said Phil - well the untold many who dutifully held a ragged and marked script in their hand testing me on my lines. One of the lifeguards, Eve, pulled me to the side and look concerned. You’re getting odd looks from swimmers as you parade around a 60 metre outdoor pool with a bound script in hand, wearing only speedos and muttering to yourself.
Spoons will be at the Edinburgh Festival from August 3 to 28 and will have previews at the King's Head Theatre in late July.
Now onto my monthly moan about traffic fines. Yes I know it’s a rite of passage for all of us living in Hampstead and Highgate, it’s a bit like acne or any form of growing pains except these don’t seem to go away no matter how much we try to avoid them.
- 1 Olivia Newton-John: From West Hampstead to worldwide fame
- 2 Polio virus detected in sewage in Camden, Barnet, Haringey and Islington
- 3 Under-fire King William IV supporters rally behind pub with petition
- 4 Last unit in Belsize Villagee snapped up by wine outlet
- 5 Camden's first 'parklet' installed in Belsize Park
- 6 'Will MP get the LGBT+-friendly government he wants?'
- 7 Warning to ensure escape route from basement flats in case of flooding
- 8 Biggest 'shooting star' meteor shower to peak this week
- 9 War veteran tackled suspected thief in Hampstead – and then 'got the sack'
- 10 Hospital trusts increasingly reliant on international medical staff
This debacle though feels more prescient and frankly worrying. A change of address and notification to the DVLA and the post office didn’t do the trick when a fine wasn’t sent to my new address.
This led to a charming phone call from Lewis (I’m using a pseudonym to protect his anonymity unless Lewis is his pseudonym). One Lewis rang me from the school gates to inform me that an unpaid fine from January had been passed to a debt collection agency with a name resembling that of a friendly family firm of solicitors but felt more like Reggie and Ronnie Kray demanding shake down money.
"But how can I owe £500 when I didn’t know I had a fine to begin with?"
Oh and given the recent scam calls I’m not prepared to give my bank details over the phone. Freddie looked very perturbed at a red faced daddy huffing and puffing at the gates when his father was informed in unceremonious terms to pay right away or face immediate clamping.
My question is this and I implore any lawyers or legal pundits to come forward and put their heads above the pulpit and say. ‘yes an independent car enforcement agency can clamp your car and locate the whereabouts using CCTV. Essentially big brother is watching.’
I caved with the threats put in front of me and my bank balance feels much lighter, my blood pressure and anxiety levels higher and I am now appealing the case with Transport for London and have the charge rescinded as it feels more like extortion than ‘sorry Mr. Bentley we are definitely working within the legal perimeters of the law.’
But there is always walking folks, bike riding oh and the gorgeous local home from home the pool or, as I now call it, "eat pray Lido".
Namaste and happy July all. I shall return…like an unpaid traffic fine.
Russell Bentley is an actor and writer from Belsize Park.