Get­ting the key to the city an en­vi­able hon­our

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION -

BE­ING close to some­one who is paid to write, my fam­ily and friends never know when I might use an ex­pe­ri­ence that they have shared in my col­umn. If it could be a sen­si­tive is­sue, I al­ways check first – peo­ple rarely say no.

When Bm@il was on the getwest­lon­don web­site I used to get re­sponses from all over the UK, in­clud­ing my home town of Birm­ing­ham, and as far away as Aus­tralia where ex-pats like to check in on their for­mer lo­cal area.

Last week I met a long­stand­ing friend from Ruis­lip, who now lives in Taun­ton. She asks me to save copies of the Gazette and I am al­ways amused as she scans them say­ing things like: “Ooh yes, I re­mem­ber when you were sick af­ter over­do­ing the al­co­hol and adrenalin when we went to New York (be­ing a ner­vous flyer, I talked non-stop)”.

It was Marg who pro­vided me with a car­rier bag to pro­tect the yel­low cab’s in­te­rior.

But a real lit­tle gem fell into my lap the other day when I had lunch with two friends I taught with in Green­ford, and I dis­cov­ered that one of them is about to be granted the Free­dom of the City of London.

Bob­bie can claim the Free­dom by pat­ri­mony, be­cause her fa­ther be­came a Free­man in 1932 for his work at the Man­sion House. The City, she said, has al­ways meant a lot to her from his sto­ries when she was young.

Ex­cited by this news – and I con­fess a lit­tle en­vi­ous – I thought I’d see if I could claim Free­dom of the City of Birm­ing­ham. I mean who wouldn’t want the right to herd sheep over spaghetti junc­tion and go up Cor­po­ra­tion Street with a drawn sword?

The key to a city is granted to lo­cal res­i­dents who are held in high re­gard by the com­mu­nity – others are vis­it­ing celebrities or dig­ni­taries. Well, I qual­ify in one area. I may have lived in west London very much longer than Brum – but I visit!

But as it was granted to Joseph Cham­ber­lain in 1880, David Lloyd Ge­orge in 1921 and Sir Si­mon Rat­tle in 1996, maybe not.

I’m re­ally fed up now, par­tic­u­larly as I’ve dis­cov­ered that Bob­bie will even have im­mu­nity from press­gang­ing, can be drunk and dis­or­derly without fear of ar­rest and, if con­victed of a cap­i­tal of­fence, be hanged with a silken cord rather than the stan­dard hemp rope.

Email me at bmail­bar­

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