North London's Cultural Guide

Ich Bin: Natalie Bennett, 46, Green Party Leader

My most unappealing habit? Running on a schedule somewhere between "arriving with seconds to spare" and "15 minutes late"

Natalie Bennett was, until March, the editor of the Guardian Weekly newspaper. She was then planning to write a book about economics and the environment, but instead has been elected as leader of the Green Party of England and Wales. She’s Australian born, but British by choice, and started an agricultural science degree at age 17 for reasons she can no longer quite remember.

When were you happiest in Kentish Town?
In The Owl bookshop, browsing through their extensive collection of local history books, particularly those from the Camden History Society. (Although not happy when I have to look at the collection under my arm and decide which I discard as I can’t justify buying them all.)

What is your favourite sound or smell?
Can I do taste instead? I know a garden off Lady Margaret Road with a blackberry bush that runs wild and produces great berries. (I hope it’s still there – haven’t checked this year.)

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
Owning a dog again. I’ve lived with four in my life, an Australian sheep dog, a Thai street dog, a Staffie and a greyhound – and I’m trying to decide now if I can possibly square getting another Battersea hound with my lifestyle as leader of the Green Party. Throwing a ball and watching a dog bound after it with unalloyed joy is truly one of life’s great pleasures. (I do borrow a friend’s dog occasionally now when I need it, but it isn’t quite the same as having your own.)


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What is your most unappealing habit?
Running on a schedule somewhere between “arriving with seconds to spare” and “15 minutes late”. I have a bad habit of thinking I can just fit in one more job before I walk out the door.

What’s your best experience in NW5? Worst?
Best – enjoying a really good coffee and a scrumptious dessert in Café Rustique after a long session of delivering Green Party leaflets on Ospringe Road and environs – all those Victorian steps. Worst – see above!

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I wouldn’t say I have a complex about my nose, but I do generally prefer photos straight on rather than in profile.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere in London and why?
Where I live now – in Somers Town, between King’s Cross and Euston stations. You can walk or easily cycle to most places in central London, but it’s an unpretentious place with a wide range of people, and a great sense of community. I know lots of my neighbours by name, and many more by sight and to say hello to. (Although I’d like to do something about the air quality, which is dreadful.)

What has your career taught you?
Newspapers very seldom go out with a blank page – it all gets filled up somehow, although sometimes the panic shows!

What is your favourite dish and why?
Red lentil and courgette soup. Yes, I know that feeds stereotypes about Greens, but served with fresh bread covered in lashings of butter (or possibly cheese on toast for real decadence), it’s hard to beat for comfort food – and delightfully easy to cook.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Coming to understand that if no one has been killed or injured, whatever has gone wrong, it’s really not that important.

Words: Tim Sowula @timsowula

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