LOUISE BALDOCK’S BLOG, 20 FEBRUARY 2009
So that’s a councillor then is it?
I think today has been a microcosmic example of all that is the best about being a councillor.
Every day is NOT like today but today has been splendid and exciting and low and emotional and I want to share all of that with you.
First of all I should say that I went to bed a bit earlier last night because I had a lot on today. So instead of taking a book to bed, I took a brochure from SAVE Britain’s Heritage, entitled “Triumph, Disaster and Decay: The SAVE survey of Liverpool’s Heritage”. The note that came with this wonderful, yet depressing publication asked me to look at page 27 where I came face to face with a photograph of the houses on Prescot Road, Fairfield. Houses that I have been so upset and in fact, truthfully, tearful about the proposed demolition of. And underneath the photo, the caption says “These houses on Prescot Road, Fairfield were mothballed by Liverpool City Council in 2000 and are now slated for demolition. “The Council has been delinquent in its failure to act” according to Councillor Louise Baldock.
Indeed, and I could say something very much more strong even than that.
So, I went to sleep in a rage, and the very early alarm woke me just after 6am. For a change I was up, showered and dressed and in Kensington by 7.10am – an hour earlier than usual, and parked up outside Lidl on Kensington. As an aside, I did pop into McDonalds for a coffee, which was as horrible as always, I don’t know why I keep on trying, it is the worst coffee in the world and this time was no different.
I met Leanne from BBC Radio Merseyside in her Radio Car outside our Deane Road Jewish Cemetery at 7.10am.
And of course I could not resist telling her that Saul’s girlfriend who edits our Friends newsletter is also a Leanne – and Saul said exactly the same thing when he arrived.
We did an interview which I think you can listen to here for the next week, with Leanne and Tony Snell (Snelly). Afterwards Leanne was keen to join us in the cemetery for unofficial photos and a brief tour. But even before we could scrape the early morning ice from the cemetery gates we were joined by Andy, an official Liverpool Daily Post photographer. We were surprised to see him as we had not booked him, until he said that he was driving into work when he heard on the radio that we were in the cemetery and thought he would come and join us.
Andy, Leanne, Saul and I spent nearly half an hour having a quick tour of our historical cemetery, Saul was on top “tour” form, even though it was at least 4 hours earlier than his normal surfacing time.
I drove into work, in nearby Edge Lane, full of enthusiasm, despite having been up an hour earlier than normal.
Then I did a good morning’s work before I had to leave again to go into town to officiate at a British Citizenship Ceremony. We always have them on a Sunday afternoon and lots of dignatories like to spend that time with their family so I probably fall in for more than some other people do. Anyway, the Home Office has now decided that it would like some of its staff to sit in on ceremonies, and of course they don’t want to work on a Sunday so we were asked to officiate on a weekday and because we agreed, were joined by perhaps a dozen civil servants.
It was a lovely ceremony, the only slightly difficult moment for me was when I learnt that we were expecting new citizens to sing along to the national anthem, and not just stand to attention as normal. As a committed republican I cannot sing the national anthem, so I moved the flag around and then positioned myself so that I could have my back to the lovely new citizens and they need not know that I was not singing. I expect some politico out there is gong to make something of that, but they ought to hear my speech and all my references to all the best things about the city and the country before they pontificate.
Anyway, I bestowed British Citizenship on 25 new people – 15 adults and 10 children – today and I could feel some real and deep joy in the room. I have had to change my speech a bit as I used to talk about Capital of Culture which is not relevant now, but I have an interesting link through the former raison d’etre of the building as the Cotton Exchange and then to talk about slavery, the cotton trade in Jamaica and the new International Slavery Museum in Liverpool.
Then after the conclusion of the service, we took photos and then, as I was ready to go, one of the registrars showed me the comments in this week’s guest book and one of those was so positive and so encouraging, that she had to find me a tissue to wipe my eyes before I could go back to work.
Which I did of course, and later today I published the latest monthly internal magazine which my colleagues all enjoyed and which gives me a real boost.
At 5.30pm I left work and drove the few hundred yards to our surgery, with Wendy, where we caught up on diary engagements and casework. She needed to go off and collect her daughter from the station at about half-six whereby I had a very useful meeting after surgery with the guys from the Liverpool Mural Project.
We have the money and the desire, but what we don’t have yet is the gable-end! So if you have a gable-end in mind, for a fantastic Kensington and Fairfield historical mural, do please point it out here! We are all very passionate about delivering a historical and exciting mural in our ward.
After our meeting I came home via the supermarket and then spent 2 hours on the phone to a dear friend in Sheffield, who was letting me know about another dear friend who died yesterday.
So a day in mixed parts, some great and positive, some functional and some really upsetting, I reckon that summarises the life of a councillor.