Diary - Andrew Martin

"You polled 302 votes," the council officer told me. "And was that the lowest of any of the three Gr

I was about to write that I have been recuperating from my first foray into electoral politics, but that would imply that I actually did something in the local elections, as opposed to just lending my name as a nominal - or "paper" - candidate for the Greens in the Borough of Haringey. My position was that I was too busy to campaign but that I would give it my all in office if, by some miracle, I was returned as a councillor. As the campaign wore on, I began to fret that this nightmare scenario might actually be realised. Certainly Blair, Clarke and Prescott seemed to be doing their best to bring it about.

I was invited to the count but couldn't make it, so called in to the offices of Haringey Council the day after and asked at the reception whether they had a breakdown of the results. The receptionist dialled a number and put me through to a very polite young woman who had the results in front of her. "Mr Martin, you polled 302 votes," she told me. "And was that the lowest of any of the three Greens in the ward?" I asked, morbidly fascinated. "I'm afraid it was, Mr Martin."

But I like to think that I put in less effort than the other two, and the Green who polled most in the ward, with 482 votes, was a man actually called Green, which must have helped. The three Lib Dem incumbents held their seats, by the way.

A licensing committee of the above-mentioned Haringey Council has refused permission for two of the series of summer Saturday-night concerts that occur every year on Hampstead Heath. "It's important to give local residents a break from the noise," the chair of the committee said. Meanwhile, aeroplanes fly overhead at the rate of about one every 90 seconds for most of the time, trailing not just a horrible whining noise, but pollution as well. They're heading for Heathrow, which opened fully to civilian use 60 years ago, on 31 May 1946. The monster was built on a deception, Harold Balfour, the aviation minister, having led the cabinet to believe that it would be used solely for military purposes. As he wrote in his memoirs, "Almost the last thing I did at the Air Ministry of any importance was to hijack for Civil Aviation the land on which London Airport [Heathrow] stands . . ."

We now live in a city whose skies are far from clean, and never silent; which have in effect been colonised by private businesses. Go to London's theoretically most tranquil spots; stand still, listen to the birdsong. There will always be an aeroplane grinding away in the background, and this is Mr Balfour's memorial.

My latest novel is about safe-cracking in Edwardian York and the travails of a Methodist lost-luggage clerk. At publication I would have welcomed one-millionth of the publicity given to Wayne Rooney's metatarsal, but I must face the fact that I have gone into the wrong profession. I should have been something on the sidelines of football - perhaps literally, as a linesman. The most eminent graduate of my York alma mater, Nunthorpe Grammar School, is a soccer man: Steve McClaren. The school no longer exists, but I suppose its posthumous reputation will rise and fall with his fortunes as England coach.

Tom Cruise was talking on a mobile phone while waving to his adoring fans at the première of Mission: impossible III, which seemed a bit rude to the fans. But there are now very few circumstances in which it is inappropriate to make or take a call. I've often heard phones answered from within the cubicles of men's lavatories, and I once saw a man talking on a phone while engaged in a frenetic tennis rally. At a funfair on Hampstead Heath the other day I saw a woman making a mobile call while riding in a dodgem car. She was the passenger, and her partner, an evil-eyed Rooney lookalike, was the most sadistic crasher, veering about in determined pursuit of other cars' rear ends, knowing that it can really hurt if your dodgem is pranged unexpectedly from the back. The pair of them were perfectly happy, in their disparate ways.

Andrew Martin's novel The Lost Luggage Porter is published by Faber & Faber (£10.99)

This article first appeared in the 15 May 2006 issue of the New Statesman, The worst man in the world?