I´ve just posted this on the English cab-forum:

Okay, so you have me on your back again, it seems, the room is handed in, the flight is booked…
I´m bringing a little bit of money, a tent, some fat I can live on and I am hoping for the best and prepared for the worst!
I sent this letter to the superior of Brighton HCO yesterday, we´ll see how this will work put, I keep you posted about it!
Alright, mates, hopefully I´ll be, one way or another, an English cabby again, soon, I am looking very much forward to it!
“14.3.12 Dear Madam

I am writing you now to tell you that I will arrive in England by the end of this month.

I have booked a flight on the 28th and by that time I will have cleared out my room here and so come as an immigrant, for another time.

This also means that you have me on your back, sort of, what ever will happen to me, whether I will have success with what I am doing or land in the gutter, because of HCO´s strictness, it will be an English problem, I am not going back to Germany until this is sorted.

I would very much appreciate if you´d allow me, Madam, to finally talk about all this in person and would therefor give me an appointment, from the 29th of March on.
I will then also be ready to give you a demonstration of my knowledge so far, so perhaps, hopefully, although you couldn´t do it the first time I´ve asked you about, you would be able to give me a provisional license now, as you might look upon this as proof that I can and actually will do what I have said I will – so that I can support myself until I am ready to show you the full knowledge, as I intend to have learned in about one or two months, from now on, because otherwise I am not so sure how I ever could.

To my situation now: for I am 50, already (and burnt out from years of writing, being bullied by neighbours who have a great time when I am sitting there trying to finish my newest not-going-to-be-published-novel, and not knowing where to get any money to make it through the next month) it is not likely I´d be able to find work, for there is only little anyway now, so obviously I will apply for any benefits I could get and if I would indeed get them it would help a lot, but I am not so optimistic, for I haven´t lived here long and not since Feb. 2009.

I still have (for I had only spent what I needed for rent and food in the last ten years as an unknown writer, who has driven a cab in three countries and lived like a dog) some money saved, which I kept, instead of giving it back to my debtors, I am bringing my tent and will be able to pay for the flight, the fees and to keep me alive for three months living in my tent illegally somewhere in the bushes or maybe, if some kind soul will have mercy with me and allow me to put it up in the garden for free or just some little money. (I surely can cut down my food rations a bit because I am slightly overweight anyway or maybe I can come begging for food at the office from time to time.) By no means this money would be enough to pay the ridiculously high rents in the Brighton area, let alone a hotel or camping-ground!

See, the thing is, I might actually get another loan from somewhere, bank or my future employer, yet how am I supposed to pay it back? Last time, in 2008/9, I was working full time, but wasn´t even able to put enough money away, so that I could pay taxes, when they were due, just because of the high rents and costs of living and because the job doesn´t pay anymore. Moreover, from what I have heard it is even worse now and is not likely to get any better, because England is run now by a bunch of millionaires, who just don´t have any clue about real life of ordinary people whatsoever.

When I have arrived I will of course apply for the English driver´s license and also as a first time applicant just in case. (For, in the end, it would also be a possibility to just spare me some parts of the requirements, such as the two tests that require a car.
I might actually be able to buy a very cheap car, but it´s rather unlikely, last time I bought one for 500 Pounds and it broke down practically the very moment I signed the contract, bought as seen and test-driven, with head gasket, about which the guy in the garage told me I was clearly ripped off, because there were old stains of cooling liquid all over, so they basically looked for some dumb foreigner stupid enough to buy it just before it breaks down on them.

About the DSA-test, I wouldn´t complain that much about it, if they would be fair, which they are not, because last time they failed me, me, who had been ten times around the globe, for two times and also it wouldn´t be so bad, if it´d be about showing driving skills you really need in a cab, such as the ability to drive whilst talking to passenger or into the mike or still be able to focus on the road whilst arguing or simply communicating with passengers, instead of driving like being back in driving school. This is not in any way helping, especially while all the while people are speeding and driving really aggressively all over the UK! I was shocked about this, how children are endangered here and I´d strongly recommend a speed control system like in Switzerland, where people drive real slow! (Except the people from Italy or the Balkan living in Switzerland, obviously.))

About the knowledge: by the time I will arrive I will be able to pass the two knowledge tests, by at least 80%, it is not more now mainly because of my alcoholic half Russian neighbour bullying me (there was police in the house already, but he and his drinking mates told them a bunch of lies about me and so they said they can´t do a thing). Yet, last time when I passed the tests I had the beginning and end of the roads in my head, but by now already I will be able to draw a sketch from it and the adjoining roads, which is of much more practical use than the former, because it helps you much more to actually find your way in the respective area, than just the knowledge of where that road begins and ends.

Yet, by then, the time of my arrival, I will also have already written every tiny little spot from the AZ street-atlas list on cards, which makes it altogether about 3000 roads, streets, crescents, places, paths, mews, and tiny little alleyways no one hardly even knows they exist, that I am offering to you to actually learn within the next months, to present you that unheard-of, super knowledge, that will stand for all time and will make me a herald for Brighton & Hove´s knowledge standards all over the world!!!!

I am not saying, that all of this is actually of practical use and should be used as standard requirement, oh no, I think there are many more skills a cab-driver should be, and most of the time actually is, an expert in, especially dealing with all kinds of situations and passengers, but it is something I like to give to you in return, so that you would be in the position to make an exception for me, without having just any other guy coming next demanding the same.

There might be a point on me being cross and feeling discriminated, because I just simply couldn´t meet the requirements for an annual renewal, being a cab-driver in Switzerland at that time, but I am ready to meet this in a positive way and turn the situation into something outstanding and unique, this will be the best knowledge HCO ever had, even more I will hand this in at Guinness, as a world-record attempt “best cab-knowledge world-wide” (per square mile and in a major city) and will too at “Wetten Dass”, (which will run now with a new guy) and it doesn´t matter one speck if they ignore me or not, I will be the Herald of Brighton´s Knowledge Standards!

This is, if you let me, Madam.

If you still say no – then, as soon as I have the license again, I might just turn into a grim fighter against the annual license renewal practice as long as there is breath in my body.

It is entirely up to you, and I am saying this with all due respect, with no hard feelings whatsoever, just as a simple matter of fact, it is either one or the other, grim fighter or cheerful herald of Brighton knowledge! Let´s hope for the latter, I´d enjoy that much more. I would and I am sure we all would.

Yours sincerely, Jochen Lembke”


About Jochen Lembke

Europe's cab-driving writer
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