Entries 22.9. – 19.10. 2008, Brighton

Sunday, 19.10.08

7 o’clock. The wounded of Saturday night are coming in! I meet a colleague who boards a girl with a bandaged leg – just as I drop my passenger off, a bloke who had been hit over the head and holds a towel to it, to stop the bleeding. I get him from First Avenue to the A&E in one go, with no red lights, thanks to me swerving in and out of lanes, an ambulance wouldn’t have been faster! Then a poor chap who looks as if he had been driving a cab for 30 years, terminal lung cancer or so, maybe, just hangs in my cab, with his arms on the head-rest, like someone who tries not to faint or throw up, doesn’t speak a word – to the A&E too.

Drive young German couple, I interfere in their conversation, “You speak German pretty well”, they tell me, in German. Yeah, right, how come?

I’m in the foulest of moods! Three years ago I’ve read in a German news magazine about the fact they couldn’t find any cab-drivers in England and had to search for them in eastern Europe, they’ve put up signs in Polish language at Dover for the invasion back then – now I’ve been told there are more Polish leaving the country than coming, the rats are leaving the sinking ship. Get up this morning at 3 am for some business, yet all there is, is darkness, coldness, grey plaster and hoards of cabbies trying to scratch a few fares out of that. I make a few and head back for bed. When I give it the next try, it’s even worse, it’s not dark anymore but the scarce autumn daylight only makes more visible cabs, not potential passengers.

Chris Killstroyer Gordon

However at one of these few fares I have the great pleasure to meet my new friend Chris Gordon, who is a professional comedian. (Look up his internet-site, he’s got the most amazing stuff there.) My car said “passenger on board”, like it always does when I turn the meter on, (a talking car!) and we had a chat like this: “Oh… how does your car know that I’m on board!?” “Yeah, once you get in it scans your iris and tells me anything about you, even the amount of your debts.” “Oh.” “No, I’m joking. But I can tell you the amount of my debts, if you like?” “Oh, no, I’m not interested.” “Thought so, no one is actually, except my debtees, perhaps… so, are you yourself someone interesting, do you want me to mention you in my blog?” (He sure looks interesting, his jeans do look like they’ve had a bit of short romantic tango with a harvester-thresher.) “Well, yes, sort of, I’m a comedian.” “Well, that doesn’t make me laugh.” “But I’m not anymore, I couldn’t stand people laughing at me.” I must admit, that is in truth and on the level really funny, I start laughing. “Then I tried to be a stand-up comedian, but I drank too much, so I fell down and couldn’t stand up anymore.” (This dude really is funny!) He tells me a few more jokes but I don’t want to repeat them here and put him out of business. We stop and his girl leaves the car first, so this stays between us: “Well, you can’t be that desperate, at least you have a girl!” Well, I don’t, as you well know, dear reader, I’ve told you often enough. See below for his website.

http://www.hilariouscomedian.com/

Now I know, they’ve cut our life-line! The train from London! People don’t do that, the cab-business lives on the Londoners, namely on that come by train and not all those that come by car (these are the ones the car-parks live on). Brighton is dead over the week-end without any Londoners! So, the train stops at Haywards Heath for some track-maintenance behind and people have to change for a bus, which they don’t because they can’t be bothered. So, Haywards Heath cabbies big day, Brighton cabbies not so big day. The worlds wealth never is equally spread.

A man boards me at Goldstone Villas rank after my tenth hours work, wants to go to Goldstone Crescent. I completely malfunction, go the wrong way, in the direction of The Drive, instead of Fonthill Road. He is in a bad mood before he enters me, which doesn’t improve hereby, in fact he’s quite pissed off with me now. Yet he then says, that 80% percent of the 202020 cabs go wrong! And I thought I’m the only dumb German. So, what do we learn from that? I mean, there are three possibilities, if we are that bad. 1. The drivers have to be trained better, although it took me one year for the license and no one paid me for that time. 2. The knowledge of Saltdean, Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Woodingdean, which took me 3 months to learn and which is completely useless, because no one ever wants to go there (I go more often to Heathrow then to that area), is to be dropped. 3. Or people just simply have to accept the fact that 80% of all Brighton cabbies are not as good as they could be, simply because the job is very tough and it takes years to come close to being perfect, people have to drive long shifts, at the end of which they can’t concentrate anymore and furthermore, for a job that is such poorly paid, you won’t find people, who are that superb, it’s quite simple.

Saturday, 18.10.08

Want to get up at 4 for some early work but can’t sleep, at 0.30. So I do 3 hours from 1 to 4 am and go to bed after that again, for 2 hours, have some breakfast and do some more work after that. So this is my first real Brighton Friday night in the cab! I’ve been warned not to do so, yet it’s good money and I’ve done many a weekend’s night in the cab before in Germany. So I spin round Brighton non stop, people waiting at ranks or flagging me down – not too bad… yet! In all those years in Germany it never happened to me, that people ran off on me without paying, everybody did pay, except two times, one woman with known mental health problems, from which I got the money later on and a bum who lived on the streets and told me to wait but never came back and now, and here I am in “Babylon” & Hove, voted both happiest and rowdiest place in the UK (so that means it makes the rowdies happy?), 4th fare on my first Friday night, it happens to me for the first time! Two blokes in their early twenties flag me down on Eastern Road town-centre-bound, at about Lewes Crescent. They want me to take them to the tall building in Grosvenor Street, wait for them and get them then back. They then lure me into Princes Terrace, which is a cul-de-sac, where they make me pull up, close to an alley-way. They then open the doors, tell me they are about to give me the money – and both start a sprint, like Ben Johnson, when he was still taking his “vitamins” and off they are into that alley-way, where I can’t follow them with the car, before I even realise what’s going on. The meter shows 10£, the streets are full of people hailing cabs and I never had a close look at the two punks’ faces. So, I just make a mental note for my blog and carry on. And you know what, they pull this off so routinely and professional, that I’m pretty certain they do this every week!

Here´s where they made me pull up

Later I witness a relationship-drama which ends she slams the door on him, that is to say, my, the cab’s door! The guy is obviously shaken about that (as much as I am) and hugs me for a good-buy, “give me some love!” Certainly, I might have stammered something about I sure do have trouble with women too.

“Originally I’m from Germany, why?”, a man says, early morning. Yeah, why, “warum”, I reply, and we both laugh.

Friday, 17.10.08

Alcohol units: none (as I don’t drink, usually) Cigarettes smoked: none (as I don’t smoke) Weight to lose: a stone or two, definitely (as I’m eating too much junk-food in the cab) Number of girl-friends: zero (as I’m not interested in any but… see below) Number of loves which are sad, complete hopeless and close to the brink of being obsessive and better seeking therapeutic advice about: one!

Thursday, 16.10.08

Heathrow again, can’t be too much of a depression. And it’s probably the best fare in these five months now, no waiting time 20 minutes in advance, no “go-to-the-office-pick-up-your-roader-slip” – the Gentleman just got in at the station as if it’s just one of those lousy* fares you get from there, to, Churchill Square 3£, the Hotels nearby at the seafront 4£, the “Sussex” (Royal Sussex Hospital) 6£ – so a 105£ is not too bad then, plus he pays in advance and gives me 5£ tip! The traffic back and forth is very, very smooth and we have a very, very nice chat – and he’s looking forward to meet me on my site, all in all it makes my eyes almost moist when we say good-bye – you are most welcome! (He also tells me that when the new Terminal 5 was launched, the Queen and all, it was a complete debacle. Everything had to be alright and perfect and that’s when things usually screw up badly all the time, isn’t it – so it was with my first time at Heathrow, I was so focused on doing everything right, that I completely forgot about my car – and got towed away!) And how I get this? I pick up a very, very nice Arab bloke at Western Road, to the station, where I am just having a little small chips and a cheeseburger from the good old Golden Arches, and he tells me that German people are the best in Europe, maybe he is just flattering me a little, but he then says that Germans are direct, you can tell if they like you or if they don’t like you. And that directness is a good thing, isn’t it? Well I’m very direct, even for German standards, I will always tell you straight away what my regards are upon things, if you like it or not. *lousy: Each customer who enters a cab at a rank is welcome and if it’s just round the corner, without the three cars ahead of me picking up those “lousy” fares I wouldn’t have gotten the good one, right? If it’s convenient for you take a cab for around a block and if the driver is complaining about it (“You could have walked that bit!”) make him give you a receipt and don’t hesitate to file a complaint, those drivers are ruining our business and make people use their own cars more, which will add to congestion and pollution – we’ve got to get rid of them!

I drive a museum curator and rattle on about how small a step it is to go to autobiographical books from any novel-writing, in everything you write your personality is visible, the dark stuff Ruth Rendell writes about? It’s all in her somehow. So I don’t mind writing a lot of personal stuff in this diary – the five novels so far reflect my personality pretty neatly anyway. She says she has to do a lot of writing too, but it’s about the objects she’s depicting – well it’s all subjective how you see things and objects and that too reflects your personality, doesn’t it?

The erotic flash for today: a nice girl carried piggy-back by her lover and that way flashed a turquoise slip, and that’s it for my love-life today. Yeah, I know, pathetic.

Tuesday, 14.10.08

7.00 o’clock: Two Americans to Heathrow – but I wonder if they catch their flight, would appreciate if they’d mail me about that! To make it to the terminals in one hour you’ve to leave Brighton at six at the latest, anything past that is critical, (we spend half an hour in congestion, so I drop them off there 10 minutes past their check-in time). It’s better again after 8.00 o’clock. The second time someone tries to flag me down at the terminal, people just come out of the building still hazed from the flight and wave at cabs, the rank is a little further ahead. But I’m only allowed to pick up someone within Brighton boundaries! Moreover, to protect people from bogus cab-drivers you have to get yourself, and the black London-cab you then there hire registered.

Monday, 13.10.08

Fell out of bed this morning, started work at 4.00 am. Clearly my bad conscience, for I’ve noticed tonight I’ve completely messed up the Internet already with my obsessive love, you’ll find my blog at Google with the following catch-words (separately!) alone: “Hasenschnecke”, “Poposchnecke” and “Dickpopohasenschnecke”! I laughed tears at “Hasenschnecke”, there you can read: “ganz alleine in einem fremden Land und niemand hat mich lieb, schnueff, und meine Hasenschnecke schon gar nicht”, meaning “I’m all alone in a foreign country, sob, sob, and no one loves me, least of all my “Hasenschnecke”. Am I not a cute little cuddly-bear sometimes?

Realise no traffic lights are turned off during the night as in Germany – English energy-wasters, you! There’s even a German word for it, but no English equivalent: “Ampelabschaltung” (Traffic-light-turn-off).

Lots of buses drive around, completely empty, at this time of the night. There’s another German word: “Anrufsammeltaxi”, which means a shared taxi that can be ordered by telephone-call. In Freiburg, trams, buses and taxis work together, in Brighton, they fight and hate each other.

Get a fare to Gatwick and five-pound tip because I wish their cutecutecute little daughter “nice flight, little rabbit!”, which touches father. (Hehe, do it out of cool calculation! Erm… no, leave it at this, would involve too much “Hasenschnecke” (…oh no, not again!))

Hannover-Terrace and milk-lorry, these two things don’t go together well in the morning, implies a lot of reversing and pulling-in at lay-bys and stressing oneself to death.

See cool new ad at Brighton Station, something about “clucking call-centres”, which people can now avoid with their fancy new product and beneath it a picture of a grilled chicken….

I’m so tired of people leaving their mobiles in my car. You think of nothing, or worse drive, thinking of nothing, there rings a strange mobile in your car, startles you! Then where’s the on-button on this bl… thing? And then you fuss around with the owner, who wants it back yesterday and of course delivered, five miles for free! This time it wasn’t so bad, she paid me the fare, thanks!

“Every Monday morning – the trains are late in this country!” a lady tells me. Well, I’m from Germany… where the trains run on time…

Scraped a waste-bin and thought this is it, all red on my rear wing, new car, I’m f… erm, ruined! But after twenty minutes with brush and some soap, all clean, no scrapes at all, phew!

See my first lady-busdriver with head-scarf!!!

Spencer is American, has lived and worked a year in Germany and brought… the heaviest suitcase ever! Loaded with books and “recorrrrds” (imagine a very strong and masculine American accent at the second r in record – not this English effeminate affectation…). Spencer answers my question if he is an interesting person with “I have no idea who I am” But surely, Spencer, you are full of secrets, I just know it.

11.10.08

Did another hike to Hassocks today, this time I knew the way and there was a train running from Brighton to Portslade, so this time no need for limping and swearing. But couldn’t see Gem, for he was in Brighton – the following text-dialogue is worth to pass on to ensuing ages. “Once more I follow the Holy-Hassocks-trail to kiss his Holiness’s feet – if he bestows upon me the favour to be in, noonish” Gem answered: “I’m in Brighton today, sorry, man.” I answered: “I mean, you can always come kiss his world-famousness’s feet, can’t you, so let me know next time.” Gem answered: “Ja”, which is German, means “yes” and should probably point out my German directness. But, Gem, for the future, I don’t want a simple “Ja”, I want a “Jawoll, Sturmbannfuehrer!” at the very least.

Speaking of German, I like to go shopping at Aldi’s, not because they’re German, but because it’s the closest and most cheapest shop around. And it’s always funny to watch how the English struggle with the Aldi-system which basically means to quicken up at the tills for a change. And this time I flirted a little with one of the till-girls, I said “Guten Tag, wie geht es Ihnen?” and she went “Hmm?” “I thought I could speak a little German in a German shop”, I told her and that it means nothing but “Hi, how are you?”

(Thank God it’s) Friday, 10.10.08

My flat-mate tells me he has a head-ache this morning and saying so he bounces it at some bit in the landing, for he’s so big. “A head-ache, how come?” I ask in mock innocence.

I have the great pleasure to meet my new friends “arash and kelly” – that is to say, I’ve met Kelly (if that is your name?) who is a designer and teaches it at Brighton Uni (if I’m not wrong, it’s sometimes not easy to get all information when turning, braking or dodging buses). So, Kelly talks my ear off anyway, it isn’t easy for me to throw an occasional word in, mostly about Teheran, (for her Iranian partner, that would probably be Arash), with its general chaos, and traffic-chaos in particular, (it sounded to me as if the latter is as bad to English eyes as its corresponding English problems are to German eyes… ups!). You are hereby invited to go to their website, (arashandkelly.com), where you can find an amazing amount of stuff! I just had a quick look, today after work, and found this: “C.U.L.T – The Centre for Universal Learning and Thought for the 21st Century – Arash and Kelly are proud to announce their vision for setting up an integrated, science, art and design, business and spiritually conscious school.” It’s “an inclusive global bauhaus for the 21st century”!!! (So, I should know something about Bauhaus, being German!)

Drive a gay airline-steward named Craig, who gives his lover-boy a very hearty good-bye-kiss in my cab, which makes me turn my eyes away respectfully (no, not in disgust, each to its own. Anyhow, I must say, Craig, you’re an attractive man, if I ever turn gay, I will have a look for you!) And Craig teaches me the word I was looking for all the time, road-rage!!! So, road-rage rules Brighton (and Hove, actually)!

Very nice but taken girl with toddler – here’s a hello for you. Remember my lame joke “Old Shoreham Road” should be renamed into “Old Congestion Road”?

Cab-rank “the Level”

“This place’s a fucking dust-bin”, says a nice Gentlemen from The Level. He means Brighton, by this charming expression, and, I mean, if the likes of him look down on Brighton (those who are looked down on by Brighton) that has to say something! “Look at all that wealth and at how it is spent!” And: “The worst bunch of fucking creeps I’ve ever met in my life and I’ve lived at places all over the world.” He probably meant the other Gentlemen who hang around at The Level. Well, stands for itself, right or not right?

View from the Level rank

Thursday, 9.10.08

Right, it’s official, turn-over has dropped tremendously since May, you could have made the same money then in six hours as you can now in ten. Needless to mention the weak pound – wherein my income lies, whereas my debts are in euros! Thank god I’m rich, famous and surrounded by flocks of women soon!

People don’t go to Canada, stay in the UK. It’s a nice place, Canada, but they don’t have cherry coke, a passenger tells me. I don’t allow him to bite heartily in his just unwrapped chocolate bar, for which he has been craving for. What the one has to do with the other I don’t get, but maybe it is like this, once he was back in the UK, he plunged for the nearest cherry-coke selling spot, but the other flight-passengers from that very Canada-flight, equally deprived, had just been faster and immediately it was sold out, so he bought the bar instead. And just when he gets in the cab and takes the first bite…

I have to drop of people, tourists, in the middle of the crossing in front of the station, and apologise to them – for Brighton! This town’s a mess, a nice girl tells me she spent 45 minutes on the bus yesterday, that’s what took him from London Road to Churchill Square! Well, it’s much more comfy in a cab with its competent German drivers anyway. When I’m in the wrong lane for a right turn I ask her if she couldn’t just for today work somewhere down there on the left instead of somewhere up there on the right, it would make it a lot easier for me, no? No. Hm. Why can’t people just be a little bit more flexible?

So I enter the petrol-station and there’s this cashier I’ve had a chat with once. He smiles at me, recognising and I smile back. Not too much, though, for I am utterly exhausted and fed up with everything, had three near accidents, – nervous breakdowns, – people run over, – fist-fights with white-van men… and am craving for (in the following order) the girl I love (if not available), a shoulder to cry on (if not available), the next, not to scruffed up and smelly teddy-bear to hug – so, just an ordinary end of an ordinary day, alright. While he serves the customer ahead of me he still smiles at me and that’s when it came to me, on my way out again, that there must be reason for this utterly-unlike-Brighton-friendliness, I’ve already mentioned my blog to that chap and probably he has even read in it! I’m getting famous, yikes, me, who has all these near autistic moments when tired! I’m becoming a celebrity, created out of pollution and congestion! So folks, I let you know, these days I can be quite a charming chatter-box as along my caffeine-level is decent enough, and completely ignore you the next day, feeling miserable and being all over the place – just don’t take it personal. (Weeks later, I realise I’m getting paranoid – I ask this very dude if he’s been on my site and he didn’t even remember me ever mentioning it to him, which I did! At least I’m still aware of my delusions, one good thing.)

Tuesday, 7.10.08

Crisis talk in the media and no end to it. Do they ever take responsibility in what they are doing? Why don’t we look at pictures of cute little babies in front of the Argus e.g., saying “look at this little healthy sunshine” and have headlines like “folks, we don’t need money anyway to be happy, all we need is someone we love and children, perhaps” (which I both don’t have, as you know, (well, actually, all three things I don’t have) but that’s beside the point now). I can’t help but have a creepy feeling someone is making a huge profit out of all this mess – we have bled for the banks and their record profits for the last decades – now they want 50 Billion Pounds from us tax-payers to help them from bankruptcy – if you con yourself to 50 quid you get punished, if you con yourself to 50 Billion quid, you get a medal and a seat in the parliament.

Drive nice girl with bass guitar – tell her that I’ve met so many bull-dog women in this country and she has the most heart-warming laugh I’ve heard for a while. I tell her she’s invited to write me a comment or a mail – and I mean it. (That goes for everybody – write comments, insult me if you like, but do it!)

Monday, 6.10.08

Early morning. “Are you in the mood for some humps?”, I ask my passenger. “Sure”, she says, I don’t have a hang-over!” I’m extra careful with another one, for he has strained his back!

“Today is my Arabic day”, I tell an Arab bloke, he’s the fourth Arabic fare (if you count Iranians too as Arabic, which he allows me to do so, as an European) There are so many Arabs in Brighton, maybe it’s because of the Pavilion, I joke to him about. And the Iranian guy tells me he was a designer and now runs a restaurant – he hates it! Yeah, we are all artists and creative and all and have to sell us out to some insensitive iconoclasts for bare survival, awful, isn’t it!

I have the great pleasure to meet my new friends… well, I’m a bit confused, for these are two blokes and I think only one of them is Ash or Rory… well, anyway these two blokes are musicians, studying at, erm, what was it, Brighton Music College? And one of them is doing a gig with another one, so it’ll be Ash and Rory doing a gig with acting and music at ATM, Access to Music in Brighton at around the 23rd of November!

Brighton buses are the natural enemy of Brighton cabs! They steal their food, they occupy their habitat, crowd them out of their trails and, for being bigger and stronger and far more ferocious, can endanger them very gravely, a fight between bus and cab always ends in favour of the bus! The bright red colour means: “stay away from me!” And check out their deafening beast-of-prey-roar!

“There must be credit crunch”, a colleague says to me, when he wants change for a twenty. I almost couldn’t give him such, for all the twenties I had. So, people, money is there, spend it! (“Credit crunch” is now a new chocolate bar, by the way – some resourceful guy will now make a fortune with it! See, always the profiteers!)

I have the great pleasure to meet my new friend Chris Miles! Chris is American, his father has been in (stationed?) in Germany 1947, where he had a relationship with a German babe, (wicked! Maybe that’s why his son finds German girls so attractive! (Well, they sure are, the most beautiful girl in the world, my little “Hasenschnecke”, is one of them, isn’t she!)) He was a sculpturist and now is a screenwriter and he was married to an English woman and now thinks English women are crazy! (Well, he’s not to far off about that, is my opinion) He will surely write the screen version of my autobiography one day!

I drive an energetic English lady – she wants to look up my blog, but I warn her, there’s a lot of “poor little German with four rabbits, in bull-dog country” on it! Maybe I’m just too sensitive for this world, sob, sob. Are the English to blame for my personal problems?

3.10.08

No job at all between 6.00 o’clock and 7! Then, round the corner, 3£. It’s seven in the morning, and the public toilet is closed. One of the most degrading aspects of this job is having to pee in public, (no I don’t get any kicks out of that, thank you). High-density built-up-area, as Brighton & Hove is, you have to be thankful for a decent enough shrubbery – which is only partially directly visible from the adjoining block of flats. I’m steaming!

Crisis talk in the media, I’m so cosmically sick of it, I’ve heard nothing else the last 16 years in Germany (since the reunification, which was too much for West-Germany to shoulder, for the “blooming gardens” the then-chancellor Kohl promised there would be in the East, they had to dig out the garden-flowers in the West). I mean, where is there a crisis, I ask, this world is so rich in economical wealth as it is poor in spirit and moral, for crying out loud, then just stop borrowing (once everybody finally realised that well-known fact that almost everybody is in debts), and get on with your lives! Do something, like me, show initiative and stop whining. With the money you then earned you can buy my books and make me rich, so I can pay back all the money I’ve borrowed.

Brighton’s poet laureate hasn’t contacted me yet as he had promised, but I have lost count of people who said they’d do something for me and didn’t in the end – it sounds like a nice little thing to say at the time, meaningless pleasantries as “pleasure to meet you”, etc., you name it. Yet I have the great pleasure to meet (ups, that was involuntary humour, I just realised) my new friend Lynton Guest! Lynton is quite a famous writer, yet for there are so many Lynton guest-houses on the net I couldn’t find more than two of his books at Amazon, where they are available, one a sort of biographical book about Michael Jackson and the other about English football – Lynton gives me his email-address, I will send this to him and he will surely fill me in more detailed, it sounds quite interesting and very critical and leftist intellectual, just my kind of book!

Drive a nice old lady to the station, she is a little nosy if I would be here for a woman and I tell her no, it’s the other way round, I’m no longer in Germany for a woman, because the best thing I could do about this mess, was to leave all that behind for a while and hope that time’s a healer. I tell her about her, that she has obtained an injunction against me not to contact her anymore and that she was such a “cool” woman on the outside and yet still a vulnerable and fearful, (though amazingly headstrong) little girl in the inside that didn’t find any other way of dealing with it and that I didn’t realise until it was too late. (She told me she could see us together at that time, but then there was a tragic misunderstanding and she began talking herself into some irrational fears. I told her to seek therapeutic advice about that, which was in that situation tremendously stupid of me, for to spite me she went to a solicitor instead, who made some quick money by telling false in-lieu-of-an-oath-statements and vile assumptions. I appealed against it but no judge in the world likes to admit he’s been duped into something and so from that point I couldn’t even apologise and explain to her, to make things right again. So all I can do about that now is to hope and to be patient, but I’m very optimistic, that it will work out very nicely between us, for there has been a lot promising signs lately. So, now you know all about it!) She gives me a little tip, “for you are such a sad man”. And it’s true, I am a sad man. I love that girl with all my heart and it’s that kind of love that makes you either very, very, very happy or very, very, very sad. And I can tell you, dear reader, happy I’m not. But sad people make the best writers, isn’t it so? Misery feeds their creativity, happy persons do not write about their happiness, they just simply enjoy it. And, surely you’ve figured it out by long, the girl I love will read this too, I don’t know when, but she will – this blog shall not only entertain you, dear reader, but it’s also one big declaration of love.

Whenever I meet German people in my cab – I mean, they don’t just get in and say “guten Tag” or, you know, speak German with me right away, for people would not generally assume someone driving a Brighton-cab would be German, right, it’s not the sort of thing you would expect, so the talk takes place in English at first – I then usually say “do I hear a German accent?” and then we switch to German. As it happens today when I meet Micha Hillmann, a young German chap, he has locked himself out of his flat. He says I would speak German with an English accent, says he! Ups.

“It’s an Englishman’s prerogative to grumble”, quotes an Englishman as he grumbles in my cab. J.B. Priestley would have said that, he answers my question to that effect, an English writer. Why I want to know that? Because I’m a writer too. Ahhh!

“Can you tell me just one thing, why did it take you fives minutes for that?” our always warm and kind-spirited dispatcher wants to know after my request to re-issue a job. “Because I’m a worthless little sh…?” No, I don’t say that. “Because I’m a poor confused little German with four rabbits, deprived of his “Hasenschnecke” (the girl I love and who’d rather see me dead in a ditch than in her arms), utterly lost in this grim bulldog-country?” No, I don’t say that. “Because I’m so f… annoyed with this traffic-mess and I can barely think anymore after 9 hours in it, and it’s impertinence enough to hassle with you, kind Sir, on the radio, whilst trying not to run over little children?” No, I don’t say that. “Sorry”, is what I say. Yeah, I know, pathetic.

After that I’m squeezed in between buses at Churchill Square, it’s all red around me (hardly visible yet, because of all the thick, black, heavy, carcinogenic diesel-vapour), between them the odd pedestrian peeking, trying to figure out the best way to get run over. Here I am, brooding moodily about is this actually the worst spot in the world being stuck at in, or could it be even more awful, terrifying and gruesome being on the bottom of an ocean and have just clearly stated that no, when this elderly lady, the reason why I’m in all this Dante-esk inferno, had the cheek to ask me if I could pop those two letters in the next mailbox for her, if I don’t mind? “What…what…what…”, I stammer, just to make the point that I’m utterly confused and irritated and that this simply is not the time for such a request while we have to fight for bare survival. She alights – and traffic on Churchill Square could finally move on.

I pick up a nurse from a nursing home. She’s doing this job for forty years now and she doesn’t want to hear about any taxi-trouble, as if being stressful and such. Every job is stressful (young man) in its own way. “But our job is as stressful as a pilots job and they retire them when they are 40 and that’s just the initiation age for an average Brighton-cabbie ( as it looks to me, some of those dudes are old, man). No, she doesn’t want to hear that. “Okay, some of my stress is self-inflicted”, I admit, after all I want to be nothing but rich and famous and surrounded by flocks of women. But on this ear, she’s definitely deaf, we are all special in our own ways (young man), she’s worked her butt off in a thankless job which yet requires all dedication one has and along comes this cheeky German cabby… no, she doesn’t want to know why I’m special and I’m not going to tell her, then. But, I got news for you, lady, I’ve done your job and mine you haven’t. I’m a trained masseur and have worked as a nurse-assistant in hospitals for three months. I tell you, lady, it’s a lot more relaxing to do arse-wiping then being stuck in traffic all day. After a good days share of arse-wiping, lady, you come home dead-tired and sleep. After a good days share of congestion and exhausts you come home dead-tired and can’t sleep!

2.10.08

Oh, what a day! Early morning lesbian drama, a great Brighton artist and a girl who works at a local radio station!

But first things first, though it may seem so, not everybody in my cab is a nutter, a troublemaker, a VIP or all at the same time, most of my passengers are just ordinary, quite nice people. They work, have great kids or they are nice little old ladies… I get them from A to B, we have a little chat or not, they pay, give a little tip or not… nothing spectacular. And, yeah, that’s what it’s about – nothing spectacular – and what would my books, what would this Blog be without all the interesting people!!! So, here’s to the nutters of Brighton, long they live!

Yesterday I’ve read this letter in the Argus: The councils line that a ‘road-narrowing’ scheme will reduce congestion in any way shows just how detached from the real world they are. I thought the last lot were as far up their rectal realms as conceivable, but things only seem to get worse… Little peaceful German with four rabbits wants to know: do people not like each other in this country?

Today: 9.30. Two devilish dykes, I see them running towards me in front of Brighton Centre, one seems to be running away, the other sort of chasing her, she turns and screams at her, I can’t hear it, only see it, the way she bends the upper part of her body forward and gesticulates, she screams on top of her lungs. My long year experience tells me those people will always take me, hire me, I know it, I feel it. Moreover I sense trouble, sort of a sixth cab-driver sense I’ve developed over the years. But, war zone correspondent, that’s what you’re here for, right, dodge bullets, interview the shooters! They rip open the doors, still shouting at each other, “get us to the A&E”, one commands. (She, her boobs are almost falling out, looks a bit like the french woman on that revolutionary painting, you know, one hand is holding a flag, the other a gun or something and one breast is out.) They both are drunk. The other screams, “okay, let’s marry right after this, okay”, and, “why do you do this to me, why do fuck with other people, do you love me?” (yes), “do you need me?” (hesitating pause, this is obviously the point of this whole mess, there’s an uneven balance in mutual needs, (to my male eye the less needy one looks a lot more pretty, too, than the more needy one, the one that shouts the loudest and did the more chasing bit, anyway). “I will stab myself right in front of everybody if you don’t love me anymore!” So, that was when I figured that this stark crazy woman has already cut herself with a cutting tool, a knife maybe, which she furthermore might keep on her and that this could inflict some direct danger to my physical intactness, which implies I better be careful, “could you please not yell”, why all the while she did… I drive to the A&E as it were an emergency and see to that I drop the two lesbian lunatic ladies off there, asap and without any further ado. (“Give him the fucking money!”) Let them deal with it!

Right after this the first gay (long haired, earring on both sides) postman I’ve seen, delivering his letters – jogging!

Dumb German realises it’s first week of the Uni – that’s why all the rich students are hailing cabs! That’s why there so many nice 20-year old girls are around, all of a sudden! One doesn’t know where to look anymore for all this young beauty! (Yet, a cabbie knows it’s place, looksies and drivesies – no feelsies) One doesn’t know where to look for all this mad Brighton traffic! (There’s a pop group called the Nervous Germans I tell one, yeah, rings a bell, he says. (Well, I’m German and I’m nervous.))

I have the great pleasure to meet my new friend Gary Turner, he boarded my cab and allowed me to mention him with full name, which I will expand, very much hopefully with his consent, to even copy this bit below, from his web-site, to put everybody in the picture about him. You sure have style, Gary (if you read this!) Dressed very sharp, with blazer, gold chain, a least one golden ring on each finger, golden earrings on each ear, that Spanish looking beard, and all the upper teeth in gold, wow, I say, you are an interesting looking person, are you worth being mentioned in my Blog – and sure you are! Looking like an 16th-century Spanish Gentleman!

home

Gary Turner, born in Brighton 17th of August 1943, spent many years as a part-time lecturer at Brighton School of Art / University and Reigate School of Art. In 1967 he, with a friend, started an art centre in one of Brighton’s seafront arches. It was known as Gallery 185, and held exhibitions, poetry readings, art filmshows installations, happenings, etc. It was the precursor of the Brighton Combination and the Zap Club and was instrumental in the forming of the Open Studios Group. During this period he was working as a sculptor with some success both here and abroad. By the end of the seventies his second love, music, came to the fore and creative energy was directed towards songwriting and performing with his band, The Dodgems. The band was quite successful and had a cult following thanks to John Peel, and achieved numbers one and two in the NME Charts. He also played bass guitar with The Piranahs new line up. In the 80s osteoporosis signalled the end for both performing and sculpture, so he became involved with two dimensional work, starting with pastel, then oil painting and for the last few years, digital.

An old lady who wants to go to that building on Cromwell Road which is quite similar looking to Brighton cabs, white, with blue bits on it. She says it bulges out like a carbuncle, between the two brick buildings it lies in between, but I quite like it.

A nice girl with alternative touch to Pool Valley, she’s going to India for a few weeks and works at a local radio station. I have to address the local media at some point, I tell her – but wish her a relaxing vacation.

30.9.08

Today and yesterday had been really good days, income-wise, and I’m feeling relieved, because I was sort of fearing it will stay that dead as it was for the past weeks, even two months. Probably by now everybody is about to return from their holidays.

This morning, 6.00 o’clock, first job going to Heathrow Terminal. Not too bad for a start, ey? Yet on my way back huge congestion northbound, only a few minutes later and my passenger would have missed her flight. I stop at Pease Pottage for a coffee – I just call it the piss-pot, for it’s the first service station or even lay-by, you can stop for those needs, after Heathrow, where you better not leave your car unattended, not for a sec. Yet no p…-pot there is to be found, the toilet was crammed with people waiting, so it’s the good old taxidriver-loo like always, the next shrubbery, namely. Then, a croissant, large latte and a sandwich, 8£ something, ups, I’m working myself poor, am I not? So much for the p…-pot next time.

I was hiking last Sunday, for it was such a nice day. I went from Portslade to Hassocks via Devil’s Dyke, and took a train from there back to Brighton. However there was no one further to Portslade from there and the buses weren’t either there or long queues were in front of them. So I marched all along the sea-front, from there to Portslade, the last bit limping and swearing. Wanted to visit Gem, but he wasn’t in or he was still moving, for he had been evicted from the place he had just moved into, since his landlord didn’t pay mortgage for the last six months. There seem to be a lot of crooks in this country! Speaking of, a guy on crutches, whom I drive to a pharmacy and back, tells me not to leave my purse lying in front of me on the dashboard, like I did for the last 23 years in Germany (that’s, with breaks in between the time I’ve been doing this job now), for it’s “crack-country here” and any low-life could just smack me in the teeth, grab the purse and make a run, you could get a dose of crack for just 10£, “I’ve seen it!” His mate had been attacked by two 13-year old teen girls, (“don’t fucking laugh!”) who held a knife to his throat. I know there’s something weird about English women! (Oh, now I know why you English are so mistrusting! I don’t feel secure here anymore – I want to go back to Germany, where people are nice!) “Keep it there”, he tells me and reaches between my legs, where there is supposed to be some kind of depository, (not between my legs, somewhere under the seat) but in fact is none. (Wicked him, that’s girls-only-guys-stay-out-area!)

“Guess who threw us out”, an old french Lady says, meaning her being deported from France when she was a child, erm, that would probably be “always ze Germans”. “Well, I didn’t do it”, I reply quickly, what doesn’t keep her from saying “Heil Hitler”, when she gets out of my cab, probably just to make digs at me. “Oh, please, don’t do this to me”. I guess there are far more right-wing people in England than in Germany these days, judging alone by the amount of tatooed skin-heads, wearing army clothes and dragging along their pitt-bulls.

29.9.08

“I have spent the night with a wriggler”, tells me a very nice girl this morning, and touches me lightly on the shoulder for a good-bye. She tells me too, she will read my Blog and if she does so, rest assured, very nice girl whose shoulder-touch felt so very, very pleasant this morning, I am not a wriggler! I am a very cuddly guy and you would feel very cosy next to me, promise! Just try it out, anytime.

“I hate England”, an English bloke tells me, not waiting for my reply whether I’d like it here or not. “Yeah, most English people do that”, I state, rather laconic. (Just as an example: a nice plump English girl, unfortunately in liaison with an Italian, mentioned what a “run down and scruffy shit-hole England is”, it always strikes her once she gets off the plane in Gatwick. Brighton would be a “tired place”, once it’s gotten aware of its own hype.)

“Now here are some interesting variations on a basic theme, how do I mess up Brighton’s traffic some more”, I say, as we pass a really mean looking machine specially designed for causing traffic-obstructions.

There’s a really nasty and still un-fixed pot-hole, just when you turn into Lewes Road, coming from The Avenue, rather fast, of course, to filter into the flow of traffic, which got me twice. These are the really bad ones, in curves, which do the most damage. To see the “world’s worst pot-hole have a look on Windows Messenger, on one of the videos there. I couldn’t believe my eyes, someone had filmed how car after car just jumped in the air – only to carry on driving after that, as if nothing had happened. Please, also watch “why trains are never late in Japan” – train-conductors pushing people into trains like cattle, I laughed tears! (I spoke to a Chinese passenger about that, they wouldn’t do this in China and they are still mad at the Japanese. I mean, as far as I know they still haven’t apologized for war crimes…!)

A Serbian girl “hates to be laid”. Erm, I take it was just bad pronunciation, surely she meant “to be late.”

Whenever I have to do some important inquiries on the phone I get a Scott! I have a hard time to understand English on the phone! (There should be a law against them! That would be “grahte”!)

Dumb German learns today why there are no waste-bins on Brighton Station, well, because of English paranoia, of course, stupid me.

“PCV-drivers wanted”, stands written on a bus ahead of us. What does that mean, stupid German wants to know. My woman passenger wouldn’t know either, but I can see how it’s nagging her, all the while she’s quiet – thinking! “It’s nagging you, isn’t it” I ask impishly. And it is! “Oh, it will nag me all day!”

I receive a four-pound-tip from very nice Indian-descended English people and, very touched, I promise to mention it in my Blog, which is hereby one! There are very nice people here – not only bulldogs!

22.9.08

I’ve read an article today, that London cabs are somehow likable to go up in flames (in only 45 seconds!), for some reasons, due to some fault. In such cases, dear passengers, have your fare ready and don’t make a fuss about any change back!

Met an Austrian lady who had been living here for 50 years! Her German was a bit rusty. (If you can call Austrian German anyway)

I’ve also had the pleasure today to meet a real Brighton poet, surely very known and famous! Yet I didn’t get his name, nor do I know if I have his okay to mention him here by it. But he wanted to have a look here anyway, so he’ll surely let me know!

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About Jochen Lembke

Europe's cab-driving writer
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