Lucky Matthew...never bitten by a dog... yet

First published in News by

Instead of doing the same things in this election, I am keen to get out and meet as many people as possible in different places. As such, today we speak with shoppers in Edgware and hand out leaflets as they buy bread for dinner. The weather is sunny and that means one side of the road on Edgwarebury Lane is in warm sunshine while the other is in a cold shadow. We swap the warmth of the sunny side against the fantastic smell coming from Grodinski’s on the shaded side. When it is time for us to leave we head straight into the bakery to buy some of the bagels and also an almond croissant for breakfast.

Meeting my agent at a coffee house in Mill Hill, we complete the nomination forms to stand for Parliament after I update my blog. I like being out and about completing paperwork and admin as the election progresses because it means I can meet with local people and discuss issues they raise. One lady approaches us and talks about local schools. As a grandmother her daughter cannot get her children into a local school and she has to drive her grandchild to Parkfields school in Hendon (where I used to be a school governor). Consequently we discuss the Conservative Party’s policy on establishing new schools that will create a new generation of independently run state schools. My Party’s proposals will make it much easier for educational charities, groups of parents and teachers, cooperatives and others to start new Academies (independent, non-selective state schools). We will move to a national per pupil funding system, so that new schools get paid if they attract pupils, with extra funding for the poorest pupils (a pupil premium).

Moving outside onto Mill Hill Broadway, we speak with morning shoppers about a range of issues: Afghanistan, child care, the Leader’s Debate, phonetics in reading, MPs expenses – all manner of issues that people raise. If the press says that people are apathetic about politics they should visit here to hear for themselves that people in this constituency are not. After lunch I join the Mill Hill Conservative candidates to canvass. The afternoon seems to be characterized by dogs. I have been lucky never to have been bitten by a dog through the letter box (I know where several live and open the letterbox carefully) but some of my colleagues have not been as lucky. Former Edgware councilor Richard Weider did not like dogs but he certainly attracted them. On several occasions I saw Richard make a break for the gate when he heard a dog bark or was loose in the garden. During the canvass session I opened the letterbox as a dog launched itself against the door. When I carefully opened the letterbox for a second time I saw one dog sitting patiently and quietly in front of the door watching me and then a second taking another run down the hallway to throw itself at the door. As the dog dropped down after hitting the door with both paws I slipped the leaflet in and walked away. Further up the road I hear another dog through the door. As the guy opens the door a huge head tries to get out. The dog looks wolf-like with a large head and is grey and brown but it is immediately apparent that this is a friendly dog. I tell the guy to let him out and the dog runs out and playfully bites me on the arm and jumps up. He does this several times and even gets the back of my head carefully in his massive jaws before running away through a hole in the hedge to bark at my canvassers. I’m pretty keen to talk about the dog, called Wolfgang, but his owners says that yes, he is pretty sure that he is now going to vote Conservative. We call Wolfgang back and my team takes pictures as the dog jumps up again on his hind legs. It’s not just the people who are interesting canvassing it is also dogs like Wolfgang. In the evening we meet friends at the Jakarta restaurant in Colindale. This is a Thai restaurant that is a real hidden treasure locally. I eat my favourite Green Curry and the portions are incredibly generous. Tired, but content, we make our way home. After the first full week of campaigning, the dog days are not over yet.

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