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Camden New Journal - One Week with JOHN GULLIVER
Published: 26 June 2008

Society president Lord Leonard Hoffman, Deborah Moggach and Society chairman Tony Hillier at the annual meeeting
Deborah Moggach, Lord Hoffman and the Heath

THE Heath is everything the countryside should be but isn’t, according to author Deborah Moggach.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the Heath and Hampstead Society on Tuesday, the writer – whose credits include 14 novels, numerous screenplays and a BBC adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, due to be broadcast in the autumn – told the audience at the Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel of how the fields on her doorstep in Southend Green provided fresh air and inspiration.
“When I go out of London,” she said, “I spend much of the time pushed against hedgerows as four-by-fours whistle past, putting up with the stench of industrially spread silage on the fields, disturbed by bird scarers and watching people’s attempts to steal diesel, which is one of the more popular modern countryside pursuits.”
She said the streets around her home highlights all that is wrong with the “great outdoors”.
“I like nothing more than swimming in the ponds, watching the kingfishers and woodpeckers, collecting sorell for soup, wood for my fire and grass for my chickens,” she told fellow members.
Perhaps the love for the area is in her genes – Deborah spoke of her grandmother’s Hampstead upbringing. She was a singer called Helen Woodyatt and had recalled meeting King Edward VII’s mistress Lillie Langtry in the ladies’ at the Everyman at Holly Bush Vale. “She was, at the time, applying rouge to her nipples,” Deborah told the audience.
Born in Keats House in 1890 – “it was simply rented out then and she remembered swinging in the tree in the front garden” – her grandmother’s early years were punctuated by the Great War. Not only did she lose her husband and her brother, but also 11 first cousins. Deborah also revealed that her grandmother found peace walking over the Heath following the deaths of so many loved ones in the trenches.
She had been influenced, she added, by her grandmother’s experience when penning her most recent book, the war-time novel In The Dark.
Meanwhile, back-slaps all round from Heath and Hampstead Society president Lord Hoffman. He told members at the meeting that their decision to fight plans to build a luxury home in the Vale of Health with a judicial review could be used as a legal precedent to protect the Green Belt right across Britain.
He said: “This victory was in the spirit of our predecessors who fought to preserve the Heath.”

I never realised how big a scrapper Dave 'Boy' Green was!

TRAVELLING back to London the other day, I found myself playing ‘musical chairs’. I had failed to book a seat and was scurrying from one unoccupied seat to another.
Soon I found myself sitting next to another man in the same boat.
Settled at last on the home stretch to King’s Cross, I got chatting to the nervy well built fellow in his 50s.
At first, I thought he had been drinking because he was twitchy. Then he looked at me at the start of a conversation and there wasn’t a whiff of the old sherbet on his breath. Wrong again, I thought.
When he told me he had been a boxer I assumed he meant amateur. “No, pro,” he said proudly.
Then he introduced himself as David Green. The name should have clicked because he went onto say he had been welter weight champ of Britain and Europe in the 70s, and had lost a world title bout in the States with Leonard Ray Sugar who had knocked him out in the 4th round
He had turned pro at 21 and fought 41 bouts winning 37 of them. He had retired at the age of 28.
His prize money for the world title bout was £100, 000, he said.
He would have stayed on in the game, he said, but his manager – “a wonderful man” – insisted he retired at 28.
I didn’t know how disciplined a boxer’s life was until he told me that he had had to get up every morning at five, train in the gym, stay away from drink, and make sure his weight always clocked at 10stone seven.
Naturally, he had met all the greats, Mohammid Ali etc, and was a friend of the old British heavyweight champ, Joe Bugner
I could see he had a florid complexion with a boxer’s nose, and a decidedly twitchy shoulder.
His manager had obviously been right. Three or four more years in the ring, and he could have ended up in trouble, I thought.
As it was, he told me, he ran a successful packaging business near Peterborough, had three children and grand-children, and looked very happy and contented.
He had trained at St Pancras Boxing Club, fought at the Bloomsbury Hotel, and had often gone for long runs on Hampstead Heath.
When I got back to the office, I mentioned my chance meeting describing him as David Green.
“David Green?” queried a colleague. “You mean Dave Boy Green!” His voice rose with excitement. “You mean you met Dave ‘Boy’ Green! He was called ‘Boy’ Green because he had such a young boy’s face.
“Oh, I remember him, he was a great scrapper. Nothing fancy, but a great scrapper!”
Looking back on our encounter, I recall how polite and ‘gentlemanly’ David Green was. In many ways typical of the boxing fraternity, you might think. He had come from an ordinary family and had made his parents proud of his days in the ring. You could say he had found himself as a boxer.

Sir Terry Farrell's ‘Ramblas’ plan

IT’s not the usual way to celebrate your birthday, but then architect Sir Terry Farrell is not your average 70-year-old.
While many may choose the occasion to plan a gentle retirement, Sir Terry was outlining his vision for a major redesign of central London streets.
The architect used his birthday on Monday to give a lecture at Westminster University on a plan he has spent 10 years developing to create what he calls the “Nash Ramblas” – a pedestrian-friendly path leading from Primrose Hill through Regent’s Park, down Portland Place and through the West End to Carlton Terrace and The Mall.
Among an enthralled audience of more than 100 architects, urban planners, politicians and business leaders were Primrose Hill-based Sir Simon Jenkins (who was enthusiastic about the scheme), Oxford academic and Nash biographer Dr Geoffrey Tyack, Labour GLA member Nicky Gavron and LSE professor Tony Travers.
Sir Terry lamented that the funds for his vision – which would join up key Nash designed streets in central London and put pedestrians’ needs ahead of the car – had yet to be offered by local or central government.
He said: “We are all to ready to pay for giant engineering projects such as a water-pipe ringing London, and give them priority, yet we seem to have a problem committing investment into urban schemes that will improve the look and feel of our city.
“The economic benefits mean such public works to improve the look and feel of London are vital if we are to continue to be a city of world importance.”
It was an eloquent and wonderfully delivered plea for the recognition of good design: many happy returns, Sir Terry.

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