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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 08:00 GMT 09:00 UK
My London: Steve Norris
Tory mayoral candidate Steve Norris
Norris says he moved to London in the late 1960s
Steve Norris, the Conservative's candidate for Mayor of London, tells us what he loves about the city, his admiration for Margaret Thatcher and what really inspires him to be mayor.

Why do you want to be the Mayor of London?

The attraction is very, very clear. You get to be able to do things, to manage things, to run things, to change things that you know have been screaming out for years to be changed.

It is actually, in many ways, the most attractive job in politics. A mayor can do more to change services in four years, far more than any minister could in 40.

Last time we came really close to beating Ken. This time it is the re-match. It's the rumble in the jungle and I know I can win.

1945: Born Steven John Norris in Liverpool
Educated at the Liverpool Institute and Worcester College, Oxford
1977-85: Member of Berkshire County Council, becoming deputy leader of the Tory group
1983-87: MP for Oxford East Parliamentary private secretary to Nicholas Ridley and Ken Baker
1988: Returned to Parliament in by-election at Epping Forest Junior transport minister with responsibility for London
1997: Retires from commons and becomes Tory candidate for Mayor of London
2000: Comes second in the London mayoral elections
2001: Government appoints him chair of the National Cycling Strategy Board
2004: Lives with second wife Emma, a housewife, in Streatham, south London
Has three sons - Tony, 24 and Edward 18 from his first marriage to Peta Veronica, and Harry, five, from his second marriage
What do you think of your competitors?

Everybody likes Ken Livingstone [Labour], they say, except the people who know him. Well I don't know him that well, but what I do know I like.

That's probably because, although there is a huge gulf between us in politics, we have shared a lot of common experience over 60 years. He and I both have young children, we are the same age and come from similar working class backgrounds.

And as far as Simon [Hughes - Lib Dems] is concerned, I've known him for more than 20 years and he has always been an extremely affable chap.

I like Darren Johnson [Green Party mayoral candidate] a lot. A nice guy, his politics are a bit weird, but he is a thoroughly nice chap.

Where have you lived in London?

I came to London immediately after leaving Oxford University in the late '60s. I had come from a city and I'm not comfortable sleeping unless there is a neon light outside the bedroom window.

I first lived in a basement flat in Kensington Park Gardens in Notting Hill. Like everyone I found the parts of the city I liked, and as far as I was concerned Notting Hill was London. I think it takes you 20 years, minimum, to really get to know London.

I started off by loving the atmosphere there. We went to the Pizza, Pizza, Pizza Express place and we used to go the Electric Cinema in Portobello London and watch Fulham play. This was my London and I absolutely adored it.

What was your first impression of the city?

My very first memory of London was coming to Wembley to watch Everton win the FA Cup in the mid-1960s.

That's what I thought London was, and it was only when I was at Oxford that I was invited by my rich metropolitan friends - I was a very rare grammar school boy - and they taught me all the things I've tried to avoid for the rest of my life.

They took me for a steak at Mirabelle - I'd never had a steak in my life. They opened up a sybaritic and wonderfully Bacchanalian world to me that I hugely enjoyed.

Tory mayoral candidate Steve Norris
Restaurant: L'Oranger in St James's
Bar/pub: The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz - because the nuts are great!
Museum: Science Museum
Park: Clapham Common
Romantic place: Waterloo Bridge
Common misconception about Londoners: People abroad still think we wear bowler hats and it's always foggy
What was your first job in London?

I worked in the City just by Moorgate station, selling the early version of computerised accounting equipment and I made a fortune.

I earned, in my first year, about 2,500 - which is equivalent to about 50,000 today. It was fabulous. I've never been as rich as I was then.

How do you find Londoners?

The vast majority of people are enormously generous and warm hearted. They are superb people and I could not wish to live amongst better.

Name one thing that you have seen improve in the city over time.

It's much cleaner. It's not clean enough and I'm talking about the buildings. Anyone who can remember back to the mid-60s virtually all the buildings like the Bank of England, Royal Exchange, Mansion House and St Paul's, were black.

About the only one that is still like that now is a club, of which I'm very proud to be a member, the Garrick. Cab drivers refer to it as the dirty club... because it is the only club in Garrick Street that hasn't been cleaned. That's because the quirky members don't want it cleaned. I'm one of the members that do.

My life is an open book to Londoners
Steve Norris
Name one thing that has become worse.

I think London is a much more edgy city. I think it has a rawness and meanness to it at times which it didn't have before.

What can London learn from other cities?

You can learn from Paris about investing in transport infrastructure. From New York, about not accepting that crime will always go up in big cities and that you can actually do something about it.

I think you can learn from Moscow, that if you build the most magnificent underground in the world and then you neglect it over the decades it will start to crumble.

From Tokyo, that the Tube will always be crowded and that just the fact that they are crowded in the rush-hour, probably doesn't mean the system is wrong.

From Amsterdam we can learn to have parking spaces for cycles - Amsterdam Centrale has 7,000 spaces. If you go to Euston you would be hard pressed to find one.

Who is your London hero?

Mrs Thatcher was the Finchley MP, so I'll pick her. I hugely admired Margaret. I wasn't one of her clique because I don't do sycophancy very well.

But you just had to admire her for the way she picked Britain up in the late '70s and really put it back on its feet.

I know she leaves all sorts of mixed emotions, London hates and loves her in equal measure, but history will say she absolutely saved us as a country. I'm very proud of her.

Tell us something about yourself that people might find surprising.

I am deaf, always have been. It's an adenoidal problem. But my life is an open book to Londoners.

You can read Simon Hughes' (Lib Dems) answers to these questions on Wednesday, Ken Livingstone's (Labour) on Thursday and Darren Johnson's (Green Party) on Friday.

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