WHO'S WHO: Alex O'Rourke, 50 years a mechanic
Alex O Rourke, 81, has been a mechanic in Daleham Mews in Belsize Park since 1959. He will be hanging up the jump leads and retiring in the New Year. HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN HAMPSTEAD? For 50 years, all bar nine months. I ve been here for so long
Alex O'Rourke, 81, has been a mechanic in Daleham Mews in Belsize Park since 1959. He will be hanging up the jump leads and retiring in the New Year.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN HAMPSTEAD?
For 50 years, all bar nine months. I've been here for so long I've outlasted everyone else who has ever worked here.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT THE AREA?
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Well it used to be absolutely lovely but it has altered quite a lot, hasn't it? I guess I'd say the people here are the nicest thing about the area.
WHAT IS THE WORST THING?
- 1 Old Hampstead police station sold by Department for Education at £4m loss
- 2 Man left with £1,200 vet bill after puppy 'mauled' on Hampstead Heath
- 3 Taste of Nawab: A community staple with Tripadvisor acclaim
- 4 Christmas at Kenwood: 'Winter wonderland' primed for Hampstead Heath
- 5 'Lobster-like creature' pulled from Hampstead Heath ladies' pond
- 6 Outdoor dining and one-way traffic to stay in St John's Wood High Street
- 7 Crouch End entrepreneur supports Moroccan women with textile business
- 8 Skyscraper plans rejected by Westminster Council over damage to views
- 9 High Court date set for disabled swimmer's challenge over ponds charges
- 10 Man stabbed on Finchley Road
That's an easy question - the answer has to be the traffic. The parking restrictions and the wardens are definitely the worst thing here.
WHICH LOCAL SHOPS ARE YOUR FAVOURITES?
I only really use the local newsagents and the Belsize Village Deli. The deli is great, I love their Coronation Chicken, it's really nice and original because it has huge chunks of chicken, big pieces of mango and nuts. I also like the pizza place, Papa Del's.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LOCAL BUILDING?
Definitely not the garage! St Stephen's Church up the road on Rosslyn Hill is lovely though, really beautiful.
WHAT IS HAMPSTEAD'S worst EYESORE?
The nuclear bunker at the old Town Hall on Haverstock Hill had to be the ugliest building around, but that's all changed too.
WHO WAS THE LAST CELEBRITY YOU SAW in the area?
Oh, you see lots of them around here. Sean Bean lives on the Mews so we see him a lot - he came into the garage last Friday. I see Fiona Bruce passing through the mews a lot too and I also see the Gallagher brothers [of Oasis fame] in the village sometimes.
IF YOU WERE MAYOR FOR A DAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I'd do away with all the parking restrictions and traffic wardens. And I agree with Boris - I'd get rid of those bendy buses, they're always blocking the roads and they're a nuisance.
IF YOU HAD TO TWIN Hampstead WITH ANY OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD THAT BE AND WHY?
I think there's actually a 'Hampstead' in Canada. It's only a twin by name but I'd go there, because my family lives in Canada. It's beautiful there. I drove through the Rockies from Vancouver to Calgary a while back and that was great.
IF YOU HAD A MILLION POUNDS TO SPEND IN A DAY WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
I'd probably get out of England and move to Canada. But then again I've never really wanted lots of money because it seems to just cause a headache. You read in the papers about people panicking about their money and their savings but because I'm not a millionaire I don't have lots of money to worry about, so I can carry on being as happy as always.