You there, in control of the grants, in the back row…

A LEISURELY afternoon matinee for Tom Copley had a surprise finale on Sunday. The London Assembly member was among the audience at Top Hat at Upstairs At The Gatehouse in Highgate and after, lights up, was there to help toast the theatre’s 20th birthday.

Little did he know, there was to be a spot of audience participation.

As special guest Lesley Garrett cut the cake, theatre manager John Plews told the audience the man in charge of all the culture grants at City Hall was there in the back row. Garrett duly leapt on this joke and in her unstoppable tones told him: “There are young people who have cut their teeth here, who have learned their craft here and gone on to make spectacular careers. Without John and Katie [Plews] that wouldn’t have even happened. If that’s not worth a grant I don’t know what it is…. No pressure.”

The audience duly roared with approval, as if he was a panto baddie was up there at the back counting all our money

Of course, Mr Copley does not have control of such spending, but his power and influence could be about to get another upgrade. The former Camden council candidate is standing in safe territory to be a Labour councillor in Lewisham at May’s council elections.


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