My Uncle Philip

I am a very lucky person. I have and have had many wonderful people in my life. The one person whom I am most proud of, who I miss more than words can say (along with my mother), is her brother, my Uncle Philip. He was a genius. He was one of the greatest sports photographers ever. He was voted Specialist Sports photographer of the Year by Sport England an unprecedented three times. In 2004, he was the first recipient of the Lawrence Levy Lifetime Achievement Award, to honour outstanding work in golf photography, which was presented in conjunction with Golf International magazine.

Sadly he passed away 11 years ago and it is often around the start of major golf tournaments I think about him more than ever – and shed a little tear. Today is the first day of the Masters which got me thinking and googling pictures of his. There are many wonderful ones ( and many that I am in!) but for some reason, this is my favourite.



Pictured is José María Olazábal. He had been out for a while, with from memory, arthritis in his arms. This picture was taken the first day he returned back from tour and my uncle persuaded him to do a handstand!

Sadly once more, whilst watching the Masters tonight, I can’t be sat there playing the game “Spot the Uncle Philip!”


Underhill By Election

12.00pm update – I am sure you will pleased to know this was just an April Fools! The next time I will be elected is as an MP! 

I am delighted to announce I am seeking to be the Tory Candidate in the up coming council by election in the Underhill seat.
Commenting Robert Rams said,

“Barnet politics has missed me. With all this talk of Library closures I feel the time is right for me to return. If I can’t close a library then who can.

“I pay tribute to the Labour Councillor who stood down (no I had not noticed she had been there in the first place either and had to google her picture to check who she was) and wish her all the best in her new role at Cambridge uni. I am sure she will be out on strike soon.

“I will be holding a press conference at 12pm today (1st April) outside the Conservative party offices. All welcome.”

A now for something a little different!

A now for something a little different! I’m going into the Blinds business. I like to do my research before buying something. When we had new blinds put into our house I searched around for the best quality and best price I could find … and discovered Andy. Andy did an amazing job and since then I have recommended him to friends and family who were all really impressed with his quality and price. He was looking to expand his business and improve his online and social media presence – so after a few chats and a few beers – we decided to work together. At the moment, you can visit his website easily by going to So if you need new blinds, or know anyone who is looking for new blinds please get in contact with me directly and I will be happy to come round and measure up!


Royal Ramblings are delighted to be working closely with TNA and two wrestling stars to present our biggest ever competition.

We have three amazing prizes to give away –

1) Two tickets for the show in Glasgow at the SSE Hydro on the 29th January

2) Two tickets for the show in Manchester at the Manchester Arena on the 30th January

3) Two tickets for the show in London at the SEE Wembley Arena on the 31st January PLUS a signed personalised picture by the beautiful SoCal Val and the break out star of British Bootcamp, Richard Parliament will record an answer phone message for you! Yeaaahhhh!!

How can you win one of these incredible prizes?

Well, we want to know, if you were a wrestler, what would be your wrestling name? The funnier, the stranger, the more wonderful the better! You can tweet at us @royal_ramblings with either #manchester #glasgow #london and your answer. You can also email us with your wrestling name to including which prize you would like to go for.

Closing date 5pm on Monday 26th January

Interview with Susannah Harker

Last week I was invited to the London Film and Comic Con by TNA wrestling – you can read about my day with the wrestlers here on my Royal Ramblings Blog.

Whilst I was there I got the chance to interview a few other people which I hope to post here in the next few days.

The first person I got to chat to was Susannah Harker. She played Mattie Storin in the original BBC version of House of Cards. As a big fan of the original and the Netflix version, I found it a little difficult to hide the fact that I was a fan!

Highlights of our chat include that this was her first ever comicon, she was star struck by Mark Gatiss and that she has not watched the new version of House of Cards on Netflix.

I was only allowed a few minutes with each star – so I hope you enjoy the short conversation!

RR – How has your experience at Comicon been going?

SH – This is my first ever Comicon! And I think it is going well. It’s quite overwhelming, wonderful and extraordinary. I was just talking to – oh I’ve forgotten his name as I was a little star struck – Mark Gatiss of Dr Who, talking about how I thought comicon was quite niche when I was younger but how now it is main stream and so huge. We were driving in on the coach from the hotel in Heathrow there were three lines of people waiting to get in – it’s so enormous and it really struck me how huge this all is.

RR – How are you finding the fans?

SH – Really really loving it – I love how people buy in to complete fantasy. That people are prepared to use their imagination and put their lives into it and to hand themselves over to it. I think that is a wonderful experience – I really really do, I really love it.

RR – so the first of many now?

SH – I don’t know, I might, I might come back! It interesting as I’ve only done a small bit of sci fi stuff with ultraviolet and Dr who and it’s been quite good to get my feet under the table here. So I might do.

RR – Have you watched the new series of House of Cards – what do you think of it?

SH – No I have not, I can’t believe I have said that! I keep intending to – but I have been moving but I intend to watch it – I have a great curiosity for it.

RR – So what does the future hold for you?

SH – I have been doing this thing called Ultraviolet and there is talk of it coming back. I am doing a lot of theatre at the moment, because I love doing that and I come from a theatre background.

RR – Thank you for this very quick chat!


Labour blunder cuts £1.9m of funding for disabled children in Barnet, but Council Leader averts crisis

An incredible blunder by Labour Group Deputy Leader Cllr Barry Rawlings has effectively cut all Short Breaks funding provided by the council to institutions across Barnet, along with a whole range of other support services for children with disabilities, to the value of £1.9m.

The Labour member ‘called in’ the Cabinet Resources Committee report that extended the contracts for these services to the Business Management Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday evening and then, with colleagues, voted that it be sent back to the administration. Without these contract extensions, the council is left without the legal power to pay its providers, meaning services would have to be stopped.

Council Leader Cllr Richard Cornelius said:

“This needs to be reversed. I am taking urgent action to avoid these services being wrecked.

“Cllr Rawlings and Labour have created a right constitutional mess and have effectively removed all funding from these organisations. In their attempts to make the funding of Short Breaks at Mapledown School a political football – never having highlighted or varied this particular saving in their budget amendment – they have recklessly made the situation much worse.

“Labour are faffing around calling for meetings, but what they’ve done needs urgent action and cannot wait for a committee meeting to be called. This is no longer just about Short Breaks, but also about children in care, mental health services and all sorts. I am ensuring that these services can continue.”

With no more Cabinet Resource Committee meetings able to take place before the election, the long term funding issue for Mapledown is to be reviewed by the new Education Committee under the new Council.

Council Leader Cllr Richard Cornelius continued:

“The Mapledown situation needs to be determined by the new committee and so I will ensure their funding, to maintain services at the existing level, for one year to give the school a chance to adjust and for alternate funding to be found.”

Mapledown School – open letter to the Barnet Times Newspaper

Published below is an open letter Cllr Reuben Thompstone has written to the Barnet Times Newspaper. In it he highlights how the council has been working with the school over its funding issues, how the Labour Party supported these cuts, how the Labour Party did not take part in the consultation on this matter and how much of the funding is actually protected.

Dear Sir,

I was surprised to read your article outlining the opposition apparent from the Labour party’s local council leader and parliamentary candidates with respect to the reduction in funding for short breaks at Mapledown School. My surprise stems from the fact that the Labour Group on Council put forward an alternative budget this year which mirrored precisely these reductions in funding despite being given the opportunity to participate in the consultation in this matter last year where not a word was heard from Cllr Moore or any of her colleagues.

This funding formula was temporary and as central government has now closed this funding stream, we are pleased that we were able to retain a significant service locally with the close support of Headteacher Steve Carroll and in consultation with local parents. Some reporting appears to mislead, to clarify, the school’s budget (through the dedicated schools grant) is and remains protected. Furthermore, with over £100,000 in Mapledown School’s reserve account, it is for the school to determine how best to use their resources for those they serve.

Perhaps the Labour group might work out how they could show they are ready to lead, instead of standing on the sidelines throwing stones. Instead, they appear determined to show that opposition is where they belong nationally and locally, as they continue to be part of the problem and not the solution.



Reuben Thompstone
Cabinet Member for Education, Children & Families,
Councillor for Golders Green