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At City Matters we are always looking to find new ways to serve as the voice for the residents of the City of London. The Golden Lane Gazette is a new monthly column written by Billy Mann, who has lived in Basterfield House for more than 20 years. Published in the second edition...

At City Matters we are always looking to find new ways to serve as the voice for the residents of the City of London. The Golden Lane Gazette is a new monthly column written by Billy Mann, who has lived in Basterfield House for more than 20 years. Published in the second edition each month, Billy’s column will keep you informed on the big stories affecting the one of the City’s largest residential pockets.

Soccer special

There is a feeling on Golden Lane that after years of frustration and failed dialogue between residents and the Corporation, something new is happening.

Neighbours are talking to each other, swapping points of view in good spirit, and looking to hold out the hand of friendship.

This might just be blind optimism on my part, but I hope not. I like the idea that people who live together closely can find common ground.

The Corporation’s residents have for centuries been the poor relations of business, finance and the great god of Profit. The City has around 7,500 residents, but they are overshadowed by the 450,000 workers who toil daily in the Square Mile.

Nevertheless, we residents are determined to be heard.

A shake-up in the local elections in April was like an electric shock for the old guard of councillors as new faces marched through the ceremonial doors and into the seats of power.

Residents now expect change, but I warn them not to expect it instantly. This is just a window of opportunity. It is a chance to start a new relationship with City officials.

Here on Golden Lane, our new councillors made a good start by holding surgeries at which residents could share their concerns and ideas. It was at one of these sessions that I pitched my idea for an annual Barbican vs Golden Lane charity football match.

The two estates have, in the past, been rivals. In architecture, one is Brutalist, the other is Modernist. In ownership, one is private, the other is public. But we also share a lot – a love for plants and gardening, conversations about concrete, and marathon moaning about the state of Waitrose’s frozen food stock. So a football match is the obvious next step.

I was even cheeky enough to suggest to councillor William Pimlott the date (on or around the August anniversary of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre) and the venue (Bunhill Artillery Ground).

So let’s see if anything kicks off. It will be a test of the trust that can be forged between voters and politicians, not to mention a fantastic day of fun for families, friends and footie fans… even if a handsome victory for Golden Lane is a betting cert.

A hardware act to follow

Just looking in the window of City Hardware is scary.

What are all those tools and measuring instruments for? Peer through the always-open door and the full horror smacks you in the face… a sinister huddle of grown men muttering secretively about fixings and flanges.

Stick around long enough and you will soon get to hear the City Hardware brand of earthy banter. It’s not for the faint hearted.

Still, for Golden Lane residents, City Hardware is the shop that sells everything a well maintained home needs – a sort of Tiger for the DIY enthusiast.

The staff are eternally helpful and masterminds in their chosen subject (grout and bathroom sealant).

If they haven’t got what you want, they know a shop that does. Fifty-six different types of glue? No problem.

Frankly, my dear

Frank Godsmark is a local character here on the Golden Lane Estate, but he is not yet seven years old. He can often be seen in his Hull City football shirt running rings round his dad, Tim.

I got to know Frank best when he became an Elf’s Assistant at our indoor Christmas market last year. I was his Elf, his boss, and we jointly handed out Christmas goody bags to local children. Frank was a dream to work with. Santa was very pleased with us both.

There is a picture of Frank in the shed at the Golden Baggers allotment. It was taken by his mum, Anna, and won a judge’s award at the Corporation’s 2015 Residents’ Celebration Day at Guildhall.

Whenever I see it I think Frank is hiding in the shed. It is a cracking picture, and perfectly sums up Frank’s sense of fun and joy.

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famous face: young Frank Godsmark

Before you go

The first Sunday of every month is Social Sunday at the Golden Baggers allotment yard. Tea, cake and horticultural chat are always on the menu. All are welcome.

Squirrels were a topic at the last one, as one unhappy Hatfield House resident had seen his freshly planted courgettes decimated. Feel free to pass on any tips.

Billy Mann has lived in Basterfield House on the Golden Lane Estate for more than 20 years. He is membership secretary of the Golden Baggers allotment group, and earlier this year was made a Housing Hero by the City of London Corporation. He writes a blog about neighbourhood happenings at basterfieldbilly.blogspot.com

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