LOOKING back on my life, I have done some strange things, but thankfully I have never, as yet, gone as far as voting Conservative.

I did, however, in around 1968, stand for election to the old Newport Borough Council.

I stood for the Labour party in Mountjoy ward against a lovely man, John Rose, who I believe was involved with that old business in the High Street ­— of Avery Scales.

As I lived in the ward, I was permitted a vote ­— something my opponent couldn’t do ­— and after brief consideration I went in at one minute past eight o’clock and voted for myself.

Suddenly, I was one nil up and I felt quite pleased with myself ­— until five minutes later, when a troupe of 14 nuns from St Dominic’s Priory marched in and I went 14-1 down as my opponent was a Roman Catholic and he had obviously been promised their vote.

At the end of the day, however, I managed to win the contest.

I recall while canvassing, knocking on the door of a house in Elm Grove which had its glass held in with sticky tape and badly needed three coats of paint.

A dear old lady, by the name of Chambers came to the door, and after a while confided in me that she had many times in the past pushed me out in my pram.

Good for a vote here, I thought, until I asked if I might get her vote, and she told me she had been a Conservative all her life and would vote for my opponent.

The moral is, never judge a book by its cover.

They were good days, and although politics sometimes came to the fore, council business was normally conducted for the overall good of the town, and I have to say I made a few good friends.

Among them were Jack Kinchington, John McKeown, Laurie Say, Daisy Krishnamma, Mike Hodges, and ex-school pal, Morris Barton.

I also made a few true-blue friends, among whom was a man named Howard Harvey, of Newport restaurant fame.

His family had a long involvement with the borough council, with both Howard and his father being mayors on at least five occasions.

I kept in with Howard, as he kept pigs at his Carisbrooke home, so whenever I wanted some bags of manure I would descend upon him and fill the chair of my motor bike and sidecar up with them, remembering later to give it a cursory wipe out before taking my mother in law, wife and two boys on the Sunday family pilgrimage to Sandown beach, and later seeking out Browns ice creams and doughnuts.

A cup of tea and a doughnut for my mother in law was a cheap price to pay for her looking after my boys while I went off to play golf.

Sadly, in 1974, Newport ceased after hundreds of years to be a borough and we were merged with Cowes and Ryde to become part of Medina Borough.

This, I fear, was one big mistake ­— councillors voting and becoming so parochial I soon decided it was not for me.

It was so bad that at Ryde, they often voted en bloc, even calling their borough treasurer ‘Mr Councillor’.

However, one final act of the last mayor of Newport ­— the late, but oh so gentle Bert Chalmers, was to give the Freedom of the Borough to three individuals and a group for their service to the town.

The individuals were the aforementioned Howard Harvey, Jack Powell, who was another long servant of the council and their very first Labour mayor, and Mr Frank Cheverton, who was a stalwart of the local church for more than 40 years and a director of Upward and Rich.

The group so honoured were the 1st Newport Scout Group, who were formed in 1913, and whose band had won the national scout drum and bugle award three times.

On the day of the ceremony, each of the award winners was given a scroll that was encased in a beautiful wooden casket.

The casket had been made by Bill Freeman ­— an employee of local timber firm, H.W. Morey and Sons Ltd, who also happened to employ the mayor, Bert Chalmers.

The scrolls had been written by sister Mary Raymund, of the same St Dominic Priory who had tried so hard to see that I was not elected.

I have to say, I did enjoy those few years serving on the council.

The town clerk, Mr Wilks, was a wonderful man, and he was always so even-handed when dealing with council business, often giving me his time to explain both sides of the coin, should I fail to understand the finer points of a problem.

However, I soon learnt that if you wanted to get something done, it was advisable to say something outrageous, that the members of the press who were in attendance, could report.

I recall the time when council houses only came empty when a person died, and I was young enough to understand the problems of young couples who were not as fortunate as I to take out a mortgage and purchase one.

Their only hope was council accommodation.

However, it seemed every time one became available, it was given to a retiring prison officer ­— the Home Office having some cosy arrangement with the council.

I must say, I felt this a little unfair at the time, so when this next occurred I stood up and claimed I felt the Home Office were ‘putting the screws on our council’.

A nice play on words, reporters scribbling like mad and lots of publicity for what I considered an unjust act.

Today, I am mellowed, seeking only peace and tranquillity, and trying to avoid any controversy. Unless, of course, I meet a nun.