FRANK Dobson wrote an interesting review here for this week’s CNJ of Ros Bayley’s work on the history of the Lissenden Gardens estate, which sometimes gets located as being in Kentish Town, sometimes Gospel Oak and sometimes Highgate. For those who don’t know it, it’s a gorgeous red brick estate next to Parliament Hill fields.
Frank’s review had a few bits I’ve heard before. Anybody who has ever heard him speak him at the Commons or public meetings about the importance of council housing will be familiar with his recollection of the celebrations that erupted when the council took control of the estate and the bottles of champagne which stacked up in baths full of ice. His point is that at one time Camden Council bought council homes rather than sold them.
Even if you have heard some of Frank’s homespun tales before, there is another reason to catch his review. The picture. Look at it. I know it was a while ago but look at it, he looks completely different. Who’d have thought there was ever a world without Dobson’s whiskers? It’s like trying to imagine a world without apples. Like trying to dream up some kind of altogether different universe where chips are good for you, the 29 bus isn’t scary to ride and Spurs have a team good enough to win the league. Too bizarre to think about, but there’s the proof of a clean shaven Dobson in black and white.
These days, Frank won’t be seen without a beard and them the rules. So when Lord Gould advised him he’d win more votes running for London Mayor if he shaved it off back in 2000, he got short shrift.
Dobson simply told him to: ‘Get stuffed’. Too right.