Chris Matheson has been the Labour MP for City of Chester since 2015
1. How are you ?
Not too bad, thanks. And you?
2. Do we need more hotels ?
A few years ago we were complaining about not having enough hotels! But yes we need a decent range of hotels. And developers coming here need to respect the city and how we do things. Not throw their weight around.
3. Describe your perfect day
Let’s say it’s a Saturday and I am not working. Start with some door knocking with my campaign team. I actually like talking to residents. Go home and have some of my favourite sausages from Hoptons. Then go to the football with Fethers, Reggie, Ray and Alan (it is ages since I have been to the match what with lockdown and with working most Saturdays.) The match is against Wrexham. We batter them 5-0. H-Block behave themselves. Everyone goes home happy. Except the Wrexham contingent. Back at home with the family for the evening, listen to the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show on Radio 6, watch a film together, or Strictly Come Dancing, have a take away. Beautiful.
4. Favourite place in Chester
I am tempted to say the railway station on a Thursday evening when my train from London pulls in! Anywhere by the river; down on the Roodee. At the Cathedral, which is the heart of our city in so many ways. Or atop the Agricola Tower in the castle – what a view.
5. Who/ what inspired you in life ?
My mum and dad for all the good things. And Margaret Thatcher for everything else. I don’t doubt from an academic point of view that she was a successful prime minister, but she thrived on division and conflict and disrespect. So as a teenager I would look at her and learn how not to do things.
6. If you could time travel, where/when would you go ?
I am quite intrigued with the idea of going back to the late 1960’s and early 70’s, to the time of my early childhood, and seeing that child’s world through adult eyes. The photos of historic Chester on Facebook really prompt that feeling.
7. .Which person , living or dead would you take for an independent coffee or drink
Sorry, I know it is a bit obvious, and unoriginal, but Nelson Mandela or MLK. For the strength and inspiration and sheer determination in the face of racism and injustice.
8. What was the last film you saw and was it any good ?
The Meg. Utter trash. But my daughter wanted to watch it and she enjoyed it. To be fair before that she had us watch Jumanji The Next Level and that was ace fun.
9. Fav album of all time , and why
The Smiths, The Queen is Dead. Bought it the day it came out. Saw them three times that year. I was 18. The best albums have to be more than a collection of great songs, they have to hang together with a cohesive theme and vision. This album still does it. Shame Morrissey has become such a …prat… in recent years, but back in 86 they were unstoppable.
If I had been a few years older I would have chosen one of The Clash’s first two albums. And a few years younger, Pills N Thrills N Bellyaches by Happy Mondays. But the timing was right and The Queen Is Dead gets the gong.
10. If you could choose one superpower what would it be
To speak any language. And understand it too, of course.
11. what is the greatest memory of your life ?
I have a wife and two daughters, whom I rarely talk about to protect their privacy, but I am sure it would involve them.
12. If you could change one thing about Chester what would it be
Be confident! Stop moaning! York doesn’t always do it better! We are so lucky to live in a beautiful and historic city, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Yes, we can make it better, yes the local council needs more money, yes we are living through an economic slump. But don’t take Chester for granted.
13. Where do you see Chester in 5 years time ?
There’s an awful lot of change coming. But we still have so much to offer and I am working with the council, the Local Enterprise Partnership and local businesses to help us not just ride the storm but enter a renaissance.
So: Northgate complete with the new market hall, Storyhouse going from strength to strength (and with the amazing Alex Clifton still winning national recognition for his productions.) A rejuvenated city centre with more independent shops, a renewed self-confidence based on recognising all our city has to offer, and sustainability at the heart of everything with Chester at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency.
14. Name 3 things you hate
Unfairness, Poverty, sausage rolls
15. and 3 you love
Football, Curry, Travel
16. What advice would you give to your younger self
Keep going. Don’t ever give up. And always try to treat people decently (I am sure I would but it’s always good advice.)
17. Who would play you in the movie of your life
It’s a toss-up between Brad Pitt or George Clooney.
18. What 3 items would you take to a deserted island
Toothbrush, phone and fast internet connection.
19. Name a famous person you have met
HM The Queen. Nobody tops The Queen.
Brian May shares with me a passionate opposition to hunting. I have met him a few times at Westminster. He once asked me for my business card. I didn’t have any on me. Fail. Steve Coogan is good and has been to Chester to campaign for me.
As shadow minister for the media and broadcasting I often meet well known media types. I always keep my cool of course. Mind you, fame is in the eye of the beholder. I am active in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Music and we had an event in support of live music venues, with lots of music industry figures in attendance. But I still had to explain to my brilliant but young parliamentary assistant just who Nick Mason, Sandie Shaw and Feargal Sharkey were.
20. How do you feel about the future
Compared to the recent past, it can’t be any worse! Brexit, climate change and a pandemic? Jinkies!!
We need to get through this crisis, then it’s up to us to build a better world. Not just accept things as they are. To take back the future for ordinary people. To value key workers and pay them properly, to value public services and fund them properly, and to address the climate crisis. The opportunity is there for a better Chester, a better UK, a better world. We just have to bold enough and imaginative to seize it. Personally I’m up for it.