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Camden New Journal - One Week with JOHN GULLIVER
Published: 8 October 2009
Hetty Bower blows out her birthday candles
Hetty Bower blows out her birthday candles
I’m blown away by Hetty’s energy on 104th birthday!

I TURNED my head in time to see her walking, almost bounding, towards me.
Dressed in a stylish sharp blue dress, her face wreathed in a broad smile, it was difficult to believe this bustling woman was celebrating her 104th birthday.
I was standing at the edge of the dining hall crowded with Hetty Bower’s friends on Friday in the Mary Feilding Guild in Highgate, all waiting for the big event – Hetty’s arrival for her birthday party.
The weekend before she had walked three miles to raise more than £1,000 for charity.
On the table near me was a display of photographs of Hetty on the walk in Harpenden. Other photographs showed Hetty “training” earlier for the charity walk in the Grampians in Shropshire where she stayed at a youth hostel with her daughter.
There’s little point in asking Hetty how she does it, how she manages to look at least 20 years younger – she’s just one of those tough East Enders who never lets anything get her down.
Without any prompting, she talked about how ever since the 1920s she and her late husband used to go youth hostelling in Shropshire every year. She must be the oldest youth hosteller in Britain.
Hetty also talked animatedly about a classical concert by a Czech ensemble in Welwyn Garden City her daughter was taking her to the next day.
She was keen to go because she hoped to meet an old friend, the former Czech ambassador to Britain, whom she looked after in 1940 when he was a baby of two at a hostel for Czech refugees in East Finchley where she was a warden.
What a woman!

Children’s CCTV graffiti bails out Banksy blank

THE mysterious stencilled maid in Chalk Farm Road achieved such notoriety that, when someone painted over it, the Roundhouse ordered its rescue.
But since Banksy’s mural was lost forever after a second whitewashing, the wall has been left sadly blank.
Now, schoolchildren from secondary schools in Camden, under the supervision of a Roundhouse art tutor, have stencilled their own graffiti display.
Their mural has a surveillance theme – with CCTV cameras angled at the words “Street Dreams”.
Was this a nod to Bristol-born Banksy, who made his own street dream by so successfully dodging the authorities?

Coxes all set for a joint exhibition

THEY say artistic sensibility runs in the family, and here is the living proof:
Her dad is a renowned architect, whose work on social housing after the war helped provide much-needed roofs over heads, who has helped rebuild the historic Port Royal in Jamaica and whose artwork is as feted as is his building design.
His daughter is a leading ceramicist and printmaker whose collages, screen prints and pottery are in much demand. Now Oliver and Jane Cox are coming together to display their work over the next fortnight in the Grove Terrace studio in Highgate that Oliver designed 50 years ago, and where Jane held her first solo show in 1994 after graduating from the Royal College of Art.
I’m very much looking forward to comparing her bold designs to Oliver’s incredible draughtsmanship.
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In our healthy interest?

I THOUGHT I was simply in a grumpy mood when I found in my post a thick booklet, laid out in magazine style, setting out an annual report of The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust.
What a waste of money, I thought. Surely the hospital could have found something better to spend our money on? Couldn’t it have been published in a cheaper format?
But I am not alone, it seems.
In a short article in the Guardian’s Society supplement yesterday (Wednesday), Tony Russell, founder of a mental health campaigning group, Breakthrough, afraid the government will make cuts in vital services, writes: “Make cuts, but make them in expensive IT and communications departments, and stop wasting money on fancy brochures promoting foundation trusts. Why do we pay for these massive quangos that don’t do anything? Let’s cut defence spending, and pull our troops out of Åfghanistant.”
Amen to that.

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