Boris Johnson scatters reds in Redbridge

By Cathy Forman, April 11, 2012
Taking their cue: Boris Johnson finds a supportive audience by the community centre snooker table

Taking their cue: Boris Johnson finds a supportive audience by the community centre snooker table

Boris Johnson travelled by bus - Jewish Care-style - to a mayoral election campaign stop at Redbridge Jewish Community Centre last Thursday morning.

Having taken the Central Line to Redbridge station, Mr Johnson was met by centre manager Richard Shone and local Tory MP Lee Scott, who offered him a ride in the centre's new care bus - the first of a fleet of 20 which will benefit Jewish Care clients in London.

At the community centre, his first stop was the Chabad Lubavitch Pesach Shop, stocked with 700 items, where Chabad's Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin presented him with a pack of Shemurah matzah.

Mr Johnson asked if the milk on sale "was from Redbridge cows", recalling that he "was brought up on a farm and enjoyed milking cows".

He went on to meet King Solomon High pupil and volunteer youth leader Ian Grant, 17, before being taken to task over his hairstyle by Nettie Keene a volunteer hairdresser at the centre for 40 years. "You need a haircut," she told him.

There was time for a spot of snooker with centre member Sid Green, who was unimpressed with the Mayor's potting skills. "He should stick to politics. But I wish him luck at the elections."

Ninety-one-year-old Anne Medalyer gave the mayor a grilling over recent local authority funding cuts. "When you are ill, you need carers," she told him. "Carers don't do their jobs, they are clock-watchers."

Artist Charlotte Posner, 25, who runs classes for the centre's elderly users, presented the Mayor with a framed pen-and-ink portrait of himself astride a bike.

"I look absolutely handsome - you have made me look like Brad Pitt," he responded.

Joining centre members for a demonstration Seder, he expressed admiration for "the wonderful centre. To enable me to reciprocate the welcome I have been given, you will all have to vote for me - then I can hang the painting on a City Hall wall."

Questioned afterwards about the potential for an attack in London similar to the one on the Toulouse Jewish school, Mr Johnson said he was "determined to clamp down on antisemitism. I work closely with the CST to stamp out hate crime. I also deprecate any attempt to build on tensions between minorities."

Last updated: 3:04pm, April 11 2012