Entries 9.11. – 25.11.2008, Brighton

Tuesday, 25.11.08

A guy makes me have a laughing fit, I give him my card and he tells me just the day before he had another cabby who gave him his card, he would teach blind people (yeah, they have a total different sense of perception!) and people in wheel-chairs karate! I begin to laugh, and say “I’ll never make fun again of a guy in a wheel-chair, he might beat me up!” The absurdity of it! It just makes me laugh even more and then, hm, a little bit politically incorrect, he says, but where will this lead to, next he’s going to hospitals and teach karate to comatose people… That guy’s from Kuala Lumpur, would exactly look like this guy from Karate Kid, “he certainly looks the part, that’s what I thought!” I can’t stop laughing, he says and laughs, “hm, I better go now.”

Duelling cameras, what can you do when you are a Brighton cabby and tourists think it’s a good idea to take a picture of your cab against the pier as a back-ground? You shoot back!

(Cool dude after a “hefty” night out.) So, he enters my cab and says, “so, how has your night been, dude, okay?” “Dude!” I reply. “It’s 10 o’ clock, 2 hours to noon, I’m a bl… day-driver!” “Oh!” Tough case of selective perception, yeah, he just had a “hefty” night. I ask him where he wants to go on North Street, and he says “Oh, yeah, at that bus stop, there.” “Dude”, I say, again, “which one, there are loads of them, on North Street!” “Yeah, you know, the awkward one.” “Dude”, (last time), “all of North Street is just one big awkward bus stop!”

Monday, 24.11.08

Have to drop off a family opposite the station because it was gridlocked again. So, with suitcases, buggy, stuff and little baby-girl, they have to cross Terminus Road. Just because some “colleagues” block the entry, so that they can pick-up there, some when. I tell them that I will mention them as an individual example for the necessity of actions that have to be taken, to end that mess.

Well, if I go public now with my propositions – what lies ahead of me, how will reactions be, if even English people describe themselves as “aggressive, stubborn and arrogant” and believe me, at lot of people do that, I meet, and Germans sort of have the image as being now nice and peaceful, but on the other hand, still being more or less the old severe taskmasters of Europe, that tend to lecture everybody????? Well, well, can be quite interesting!

Alex, who earns his living as an aid for a blind guy, is a French guy who must have a certain impact on English ladies, anyway he has the idea to raise money for charity by letting cut his massive dread-locks off and sort of is good at presenting this – anyway this nice looking English girl rushes to his place all excited and to my question if he’s still got his superb head of hair on and if I could take a picture of him, then, to put it on my site, would be a nice idea, she says, he would be still in bed. Oops, how indiscreet of me!

See a guy who’s head is dangling down at a ridiculous 90-degree-angle from his shoulders, I’ve never ever seen this in my life, seen from behind he looks rather spooky, all you see are the shoulders and no head! Poor devil, and quite young too, for that.

“We English are actually not English”, someone tells me, “we are a mixture of Celts and Angles and Saxons and Vikings and Danes and Normans and Romans, the only true English would be the Welsh”. But how come they don’t speak English, then, dumb German wants to know? Yes, we’ve had migration in Europe for thousands of years now! So, why does this French woman told me the English are so bad, because they are inbred, being islanders? (Why, there’s a lot of French blood too, in the English!) Oh, yes, Europe is one big happy family, who has its quarrels from time to time.

A colleague makes me sign a petition about the ineffective way the new system is introduced, it doesn’t work to its full capacity yet and to my question, well, reasonable German as usual, why not just plainly ask them, before throwing a petition at them he says, they… well, anyway, they wouldn’t answer plain questions, no. As usual, people here seem to be quite hot-headed, by no-means the reserved, well-mannered English Gentleman-cliche! (Anyway, not all Germans eat “Sauerkraut” and wear “Lederhosen”)

I have sent my Hasenschnecke another text, for I could get an up-to-date photo of her from the Internet, completely virus-free. She has changed a lot since I’ve last seen her, almost two years ago, when she looked much, much younger than her age, much more maidenly, she is now a very grown-up looking, very beautiful woman, which I want to marry in about two years. But you know what! I’m not gonna sit and wait for her for another two years, which I did, being entirely on my own!!!! Nope, Sirree, I’m dumb, but not stupid. So, all you girls out there, strictly come dating!!!!

So, how about this very nice looking lady, who is writing a book and wants to know from me the best way to self-publish it. Well, I recommend on online-printer, which I should have done, back then, instead of printing all my books at a digital printer and getting them in local book-stores, for I would now have an ISBN-number for them and they so could be ordered at any book-store world-wide. She wants me to write her an email so that we could talk more about it. Shall I write her that I wouldn’t mind this taking place at some romantic dinner? But… I’m so shy! Well, we’ll see!

Thursday, 20.11.08

England has won against “old foe”, 2:1. And that was away, in Berlin. Well done, lads, one trauma less, and haven’t you done well at the Olympics, too! So, next stop moaning about economy and the weather (and the burden of being English) and spend some quids on taxis!

A guy told me there has been another strike at the station like the one in summer, for a driver has been fined because of the mess there. I can’t believe all of this. Why can’t drivers and council sit together and work this out? I have witnessed this mess with my own eyes for half a year now and nothing ever has changed since then.

Yeah, I know, “this guy can have a rather wicked tongue and his rabbit-side as in “nice German writer with four rabbits” is just disguise that he can stay a little while longer in this country, before being kicked out for his impertinence!” That’s what you think, I’ve just made up these rabbits as part of my sinister plans here, ey? Well, here are some more faked photos, of coooourse the guy doing them is me, that’s why you can’t see me, right? Haha!

And here’s a little story, faked, of course, too, along with it. “I’ve finally found the time to trim some twigs in the bushes in the garden, so they can have a little exercise, run out, for I wouldn’t been able to chase them from under that thicket that had been there, where rabbits just love to hide, don’t they. Shame on me, that it took so long, how can I make my Hasenschnecke talk to me again, when I neglect my rabbits so badly? (Well, well, how do you think the dear God had brought us two together in the first place? Of course, we’ve both got rabbits (and are extremely hardheaded, both of us).) My apologies for the poor quality of the pics, my hands were so shaking from using the trimming blades! Ten years ago I cycled 120 kilometers over the mountains of the black forest, on one day, the tallest of ’em 1500 meter, swam three hours in one go, hiked 30 kilometers over said mountains, gave 30 people a massage a day, lifted beer-cases four hours a day non-stop – or climbed level 8 along under the roof of a climbing-hall. Now I’m fat and weak as a baby, all I’m doing is driving a cab and writing. Blimey!”

Tuesday, 18.11.08

Begin very early today and finish soon. First fare a drunken, but very nice Scotsman at 4.30 am, who recommended not to say I’m a “fucking” German for the next week, because of the football-match on Wednesday, when a lot of drunken idiots will enjoy a little bit of manly rivalry. Well, lads, it will soon be over with it and you can enjoy driving around in your VW, Audi, BMW and Mercedes again, which you oh so love to do. (Can even remove the poppy that covered the Mercedes-star for the last weeks.)

Drive a black guy to Newhaven, to pick up his charming French girl-friend at the night-ferry from Dieppe. I take them back to Brighton for free (I hope this here will read no colleague, how I spoil the prices). She only speaks French and I have the opportunity to practise a little. And you know what, my French is rubbish! Guess I need to do a little polishing on that. Thank God, the French won’t be as stern on the taxi-knowledge as those guys over here! Phew!

There are so many nice people in this country, I feel sometimes guilty for slagging off the English so much. (Well, sometimes, most of the times I quite enjoy it. One of my standard answers, when being asked how long I will be here for, is “as long as until I’m getting kicked out of the country!”). This is Joanne, we have a very nice chat, and she is listening very patiently to my Germanic gibberish, which I inevitably produce when tired. (As soon, as my caffeine level drops, so about 10 hours a day) Endless ramblings as usual, about me being rich and famous soon, how embarrassing!

Monday, 17.11.08

Yesterday another woman was hit by a bus at Clock-Tower. Dumb German wants to know how long will this go on, until all of Brighton is dead, hit by buses? Or will they finally see that buses and pedestrians swarming around in busy places won’t go together and will look for alternatives? Someone’s not very reasonable, either the pedestrians or the persons responsible for traffic-planning (or both of them), if there ever exist such persons in Brighton – my impression is, all is pretty much left to itself, anyway.

No pictures today, for I feel miserable, can’t turn my head and live on pain-killers and hope for a better life in a few years. I will only work two days, this and the week after this week, for I have to sort a few things and to go public now, don’t want to sit around and earn nothing and be totally unknown. Also I will write a few things about some grievances that sort of leap to the mind and will speak my weight about that, to officials concerned with. Yesterday I spent two hours trying to get my music (mostly cover-songs, a lot of Cat Stevens) on mp3com, which has a site for musicians, yet they mustn’t be covered. Still, I don’t want to make money with them, for they are poorly recorded anyway, it’s just for show-off reasons, to make me even richer and popular than I’m now, (which is not a lot. You know, by the way, that “famous” and “cab-driver” go together like about “gourmet-guide” and “someone whose on a starvation diet”. Meaning, there certainly has been cab-drivers who has gotten quite famous, above all my famous recensionist Joschka Fischer, but that was after they have been driving a cab. For the first thing a cab-driver, who would be famous as such, would do is, he would park his cab forever and give the keys to some other poor sucker. (So of course the “worlds most famous cab-driver” is still someone ranking very low in the scheme of things. Yet it’s a fair start for real money and fame!))

Drive Dan, a computer nerd with a shop or office on Ditchling Road, who offers to give me a free quote. But that’s about it with free, I’m afraid. So, all my readers know, I’m thirty grands in debts! Oops, Dan.

I have to go to Belgium next, the drivers, mostly black immigrants, wouldn’t even know the main roads there, so you’ll basically pop in the office and get your licence, off you go. I spent one year of my life on Brighton knowledge. And my knowledge of Brighton is, that’s it’s a horrible place when it comes to driving!

Look at that, the economy is so bad there’s even a discussion to join the euro! Yeah, a family is where you can turn to in times of need! If you’re doing well, yet, maybe better than that stupid lot, you don’t want to waste your time with those dead-beats! But here’s a thought, maybe the recession wouldn’t have been so bad, when Britain had joined the euro earlier…? Juuuust a thought.

The most outstanding quality, which characterises a good cabby, is his ability to suffer and let everything wash over his head without being too much bothered about it, that, and patience like a donkey. Both qualities I don’t have the least bit of, I’m utterly impatient, especially with myself, and I’m not very good at taking. Moreover, I much rather want to be active and do things. Well, that’s my dilemma, another tragic touch to “Europe’s cab-driving writer”, isn’t it.

“Uncanny, genuinely bad and, basically, to be avoided in general”, I say to a passenger, in some sort of talk-to-myself-manner. “Hm?” he goes. “Oh… I was just thinking about suitable adjectives for North Street! Such as no good, evil, dangerous, worst place in the world, hair-rising… stuff like that.”

Thursday, 13.11.08

Nick is a very nice Hungarian, I pick him up at the station. He certainly is a man of the world, who has lots to tell.

Drive nice chubby girl who wants to go to nearest post-office on the way. I only know the one on North Road, which turns out to be one for parcels only. Yet she has to send the letter signed for, for the Council Tax office claimed they haven’t received four letters of her! Then we have a little adventure, she calls my office the time I speak to it on the radio, which makes me have to cancel my speech request. Then the office talks to me on her mobile, then the office rings again, saying that they were wrong, giving me the right place, then. I’m, stressed out, dodging cars and accidents, on my way to the post-office, fulfilling the task, like always an unsung hero of day-to-day life.

“I’m a pregnant woman, you have to hit me on the head with things”, an absent-minded woman says to me, to my delight.

Drive tired foreign guy with huge box, who tells me they were doing film work for a project with homeless people, means, they accompanied them with the camera, for quite some time, it was kind of a tough project. Tell him about me, cheeky me, if they are looking for a new project, I mean I work the streets too, don’t I. He ponders that and I give him my card. He doesn’t have a card, means he’s not important (only important guys have cards (like me)), tells me I should have a look under “walking the waves”, but I find only a surf school under that. Maybe he mails me about that.

Wednesday, 12.11.08

There are three articles in the Argus about youth crime at the same time, one saying that there has been more than 50 assaults on teachers in Sussex in a year, another one is saying that crime among young people is soaring in Sussex – despite it falling across the rest of the country. A higher percentage of young people in Brighton and Hove and East Sussex committed first offences last year than in any of the London boroughs except Islington and Lambeth. And check out the third article!

Bus is attacked by 30 yobs 1:10am Tuesday 11th November 2008By Richard Gurner » A gang of 30 yobs swarmed round a bus and started attacking the vehicle as terrified passengers looked on in horror. The youths targeted the number 12 Brighton and Hove bus, which was parked at Newhaven train station. The quick-thinking bus driver closed the doors to stop any of the yobs clambering on board. No one was injured during the incident. The driver then managed to get away from the yobs. The bus was damaged in the attack. Officers based at Newhaven police station were called to the incident but arrived soon after the bus had left. … This gang attack is the latest in a series of incidents in Newhaven. In July, The Argus reported how a gang tried to stamp its mark on the town by setting a car alight and throwing paint stripper over several others. Some were daubed with the lettering GUC, the initials of the gang God’s Unwanted Children. Sussex Police at the time said a group going by the same name was involved in a number of incidents last year but had not reared its head for about 12 months. It is not yet known if the bus attack on Saturday is connected to the July attacks. What a violent place this country is! I mean, I think it’s a world-wide phenomena that some kids just can’t be controlled anymore, forty years ago they were listening to love-and-peace-music, now they are listening to rhymes which are all about greed and violence and they are just carrying out what others exemplify to them through their own life, for that’s what kids do, always copying their idols.

Tuesday, 11.11.08

This day is “as dead as a dodo”, I give up after six hours, means another day with almost no income for me. Yet, make a lot of pictures!

202020 7474747. More and more cars with both numbers on their roof-signs are to be seen! I pull up to that guy, after I’ve taken the shot and say “you’ve got a large number on your roof!”

The zen art of driving in Brighton requires nerves of steel, ruthlessness and the ability to stretch a point. Between the two poles in the middle I’ve witnessed with my own eyes a van squeezing itself through, reversing!

Ripsi, I hope I got her name right, is from Armenia and I picked her up at the vet. Her cat, from which you can see the basket, is fifteen years old and Ripsi is a great animal lover. I told her my rabbits are seven years old now and I expect them to become well over ten!

John is sixty and had been through some rough times. He had had a good job, working “12 hours, seven days a week”, but then there had been some minor troubles and he had been made redundant, which makes him suspect it was because of his age and pensions. He has diabetes, wants to get his health back in shape and take it from there, step by step. I wish him good luck with it!

No end to the trouble at the rank inside Brighton station. Total gridlock again today, passengers have to alight on the middle of the crossing, whereas on the North side, there’s yawning void, even free parking, yes, you read right, f r e e parking! Now if that just doesn’t take the biscuit!

I would be doing my bit for the human race, I’m being told. And here’s why, I don’t mince my words. So, this guy gives me another example why I think there’s a lot of people profiting from this so-called recession, if not pulling the strings for it, for it is shamelessly enriching them. There would be someone, he tells me, who has connections to banks that give him money to buy properties (from those poor suckers who had gone bankrupt because the banks don’t give them money anymore), at knockdown prices. There’s so much money stored away, legally or somewhere off-shore, and once those people buy properties again it will make him a millionaire. To make your first million some people really have to break their backs for it, to make your first billion you just take that million and let it work for you, that’s called capitalism and means, some people have to work and some people let others work for them. (2011: wait what impression Zurich made on me!)

A nice girl working at the Sussex tells me that she used to cycle a lot in Brighton but gave up on it, for she had a constant cough because of the buses. I don’t know what’s going on in the minds of those people. There’s one very long axis in Brighton, going from Boundary Road in Portslade all the way to Arundel Road in Roedean/Whitehawk. Now, why do they let all the bus lines from everywhere, half or complete empty, run through this needle eye, through New Church Road, Church Road, Western Road, North Street, Edward Street and Eastern Road? Also, as I take it, the company is private, so I suspect someone is making a huge profit out of spending money on all these ads and not on filter systems. North Street, on a wind-still day, is one of the most polluted areas in the world! I have seen people holding hankies before their noses! Brighton is not just bus users, and it’s not just about getting them to the shops at Churchill Square as comfortable and convenient as possible, it’s about the quality of life in this town! So why are they allowed to do as they please and make live unbearable on the mentioned roads? The whole bus system as it is, is a disgrace for this town!

Monday, 10.11.08

Heavy rain this morning, no one picked the leaves up, or bothered to clean the drains and sewers, so it happens, what’s bound to happen, the roads are flooded. On the picture on the left there was a cameraman taking shots, so “Lake Preston” will be most likely in tonight’s TV.

What’s the matter with English girls? Some of them, when in packs and drunk, don’t hesitate to expose certain prominent parts of their body to “anybody who takes notice” (see Sunday) and some of them are so shy, they don’t even want to be on my web-site. I’ve asked two very pretty English girls so far and they could have competed with each other who had the even more determined head-shake when saying no. As if I would be some kind of fiend! And not a very nice German writer with four rabbits! So, the first girl on my site is this very enchanting Greek architecture student young lady here – what a pity my camera doesn’t work today, so that all my pictures are out of focus, but, dear readers, can’t I be prouder to have driven such a beautiful lady? “Erm, what kind of web-site is this?” So, you see, it’s a fully-dressed-people-site, from a very nice German writer with four rabbits!

I have the great pleasure to meet my new friend Arran D’Aubigny, who’s manager of Mind Orchard and who will do my new web-site (when I’m rich and famous, erm, the stress is on the former). Check out this! Mind Orchard is a digital design media agency. This means we are an all-encompassing digital and advertising agency, web-design company and a producer of bespoke creative content… So, it’s all quite professional, he’s been doing jobs for Nickelodeon, lately! Anyway, Arran tells me, he’d been doing a training as a bar-mixer in his “years of travel” and told me a nice little episode what can happen to you in those jobs you meet all kind of characters – he’d been befriended with a regular who was a professional gambler and when he was out with him one day he could see this guy making 45000 in an hour or so. He then lost a fortune again, but got home with 10000 anyway.

Nice chap to a legal company. He says, when being told by me, I want to be the most famous… (you know what), probably am by now already, “That’s a bold statement!” “You like bold statements, here’s another one! I don’t need Brighton, Brighton needs me!” “Wow!” is all he can say to this.

My English lesson today “as dead as a dodo”, nice English saying, erm, wasn’t it English sailors who made those birds extinct? The dodo is commonly used as the archetype of an extinct species because its extinction occurred during recorded human history, and was directly attributable to human activity. The adjective phrase “as dead as a dodo” means undoubtedly and unquestionably dead. The phrase “to go the way of the dodo” means to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past.

Sunday, 9.11.08

The Argus: About 1,800 students from Brighton and Sussex universities took part in a pub crawl. Reporter Andy Whelan and photographer Sam Stephenson followed… The boy thinks he’s on to a good thing but little does he know the girl he is kissing was moments earlier vomiting round the corner. Further down the street, a pack of drunken lads chant the name of their friend while crudely complimenting scantily clad women. Welcome to Carnage, dubbed “the country’s biggest student bar crawl”, which encouraged youngsters, many aged 18, to dress as porn stars. Monday night’s controversial pub crawl for 1,800 Sussex and Brighton University students went ahead despite opposition from student unions and anti-drink charities. The event has become a regular fixture on the student calendar in university towns and cities across Bournemouth University were told not to attend by Dorset Police. Students paid £10 for a T-shirt which gave them entry to six Brighton venues. They started in Varsity before moving to the Pitcher and Piano, Kulture, Pasha and Walkabout and ended up at Tru nightclub in West Street. Everyone who attended the “porn star” themed event wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a checklist of activities. Revellers could tick a box when they had “pulled ten people”, “stripped an item of clothing” and “snogged a steward.” One boasted of drinking 12 pints and a load of shots and another said it was “the best night of the year to pull”. Some girls had pained arrows on their chests pointing down their tops with words which advertised free sexual services. Students praised Carnage for being “well organised” and said the goings-on were no different from a typical night out. Many said they did not believe Carnage encouraged binge drinking more than any other student event. Brian Lewin, 18, said: “Everyone knows this is the easiest place to pull because everyone gets wasted. “I’m here with all my mates and we are having a great laugh. This is the type of night I came to university for. “I haven’t got a clue how much I’ve drunk, 12 pints and a load of shots, maybe. We started on campus. I’m feeling OK and the night is young.”Another student, who said his name was Neil Large, 21, said: “It’s the best night of the year to pull for sure. How can you not have a good time when there are so many up-for-it students? “I drink sensibly but of course you see loads of people who get hammered. But you see that on every night out and this is no different. “If anything, there are lots of people to help you if you get too drunk.” By 8.30pm, an hour and a half into the pub crawl, the first casualties were being carried towards taxis. An hour later, drunk teenagers ran down side streets to urinate against the walls and others keeled over in shop doorways to vomit. Third-year English student Lucy Burton, 20, said there was a drinking culture at university. She said: “It isn’t any different from most nights out at uni. “For example, in sports societies you have to do initiations. The teams fine people if they do something stupid and you have to drink. But we feel a bit old here. We are fed up with drinking with freshers.” Her friend, anthropology student Izzy Dracup, 21, said she was struggling to get into the Carnage vibe. She said: “I have nothing against freshers, it is just that we’ve done it for three years and have got a bit bored. “It is just one of many events. If you are having a go at binge drinking, you cannot just blame one event or organisation. They are making money because they know what students want.” Well, that’s what I’m here for, isn’t it? To learn about habit and culture of this strange tribe called the English… There were comments like, female, “people were urinating in public and girls showing their boobs to everybody who took notice, what is the world coming to” and, male, “Great! I wish I was 30 years younger and still can take part in that…” Right, all I can say, first, some more public toilets would take care of that, wouldn’t it, and second, the ability to have a certain lack of inhibition, concerning urinating in public, qualifies well, in a sense, for the job as a cab-driver (so, well done, lads, you know what you can do, if you keep on killing brain cells), and, me too, I wish I were 30 years younger and that my life wouldn’t be just hard work, no fun, going to bed early to be fit for another day just like that. (And, definitely, no one shows their boobs to me, least of all my Hasenschnecke. So, some prospects keep you going…)


About Jochen Lembke

Europe's cab-driving writer
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