The whole thing is beginning to annoy me.
I´ve sent this new letter down there to the superior of B&H HCO´s superior per email, practically begging them to renew my license and I´ve just get this spine-tingling feeling there will be no reply!
I mean how can they have the world´s strictest licensing if later on the job doesn´t earn a living!
Just for illustration, Germany is doing just fine now, I could lead a much better life even just living on benefits than I could as a full-time cabby in Brighton, I would just have a little less money left to live yet a much better place to live in. This whole license-thing took me one year of my time, 15000 Euros and all I could achieve by doing it another time would be another round of full-time work to barely keep me alive, living in a rat-hole, getting abuse for free!
I´d be out of my frickin mind to do this another time!
Here´s the letter:
“First of all let me introduce myself, My name is Jochen Lembke, I’m German, 50 years old, I´m a writer and cab-driver. I have done the license for Brighton & Hove in 2008 and then worked as a cab-driver in Brighton during 2008/9. Before that I had driven a cab in Germany in two major cities roughly the same size of Brighton and after that in Zurich (Switzerland).
So, this makes it a kind of a world-record, which I will apply for officially. (I applied previously, the first time they turned it down as it involved writing about it and that was just too complicatedly described for them), a cab-driver who has worked as a licensed driver in three countries so far and I am intending to expand it in the future to as many countries as I am able to achieve, my next step would probably be France.
About this I keep a blog since 2008 and wrote a book about each country, according to this project I call myself “Europe´s cab-driving writer”.
I am writing to you now because I would like to ask for an exception of the general practice in licensing. Regarding this I had already contacted Mr. … last October via letter from Germany and also in person, I had come to Brighton for a week just for this. Regrettably he turned down my request, but we agreed on that I should contact you about this, dear Mrs. …, as his superior.
The thing is, I wasn´t able to renew my license in 2010, because at that time I didn´t hold a UK-driving license, only a Swiss one. (The year before I could manage to renew it, though I was no longer a UK-resident, but kept the UK-license in order to do a renewal and exchanged it afterward.)
My project “Europe´s cab-driving writer“ requires me to go on from country to country. I´d really love to come back to Brighton yet (for another year in between or an even shorter period like only three months of a year), partly because of the standards in knowledge, that make me certainly more attached to Brighton than to Zurich, where I still by far don´t know all the roads by name, partly because of my undying love for it. I found out about the minute I left Brighton. Funny enough but only human.
The only problem is the license, with the required annual renewal, linked with UK-residency and driving license.
Therefore, I´d like to ask you to consider an exception to that general rule for me.
In a sense this would be meeting only EU-standards. (In France for example, one gets a lot of credit with a valid EU-cab-license. I was in Colmar at the office and I had to show my German cab-license and a certificate of my employer stating 2 years of employment minimum in full time and for that they are willing to free me from the first two parts of the exam out of four.
In Germany one can renew their license for 5 years and don’t even have to show a valid driving license, in Zurich the license even lasts for life without renewal.)
I am more than willing to pay the annual administration fee since 2010 and to show proof of my knowledge, which I have spent last year almost three months refreshing it, yet I can´t go through the whole process of renewing.
So let me please explain my personal situation to make this plausible to you why I can´t do this anymore, why a refusal of my request could at the worst result in me not coming back to Brighton ever again.
The whole process of coming to England and getting the license ended up costing me about 15000 Euros, which I had to put up myself, there was no support such as grants from any side, Germany or England, I wasn´t entitled to any benefits so I had to borrow the full amount from a close friend of mine (who is no friend anymore, in fact he doesn´t talk to me anymore because I was completely unable to pay him any money back due to the recession mainly). When I came over to Brighton I still could see passengers queuing for taxis in the station, by the time I finished the license it was the other way round, due to the recession there were now just queues of taxis, no passengers anymore. So, due to the high costs of living and low income I was completely unable to put any money aside for all of the 9 months I was working there, I was even unable to pay the aprox £900 tax, I had no other choice than to leave England without paying them, I had no money left at all except what I had to use for moving back and to support myself for the first month back in Germany.
As it stands I am still 30000 Euros in debts and I am not able to finance another licensing procedure again this time. I may not be able to do this at all, like I said.
So, practically I am begging you to make an exception for me.
I would be really, really glad if I could go back to Brighton for another time, I still remember perfectly well what we were being told back then that we should be ambassadors of Brighton and what better ambassador can you think of than me blogging about it!
If you´d have a look on my blog you´d see that I wasn´t in a really cheerful mood when I left in early 2009, but that was mainly because of the recession and the really gloomy atmosphere at that time, also because I had serious problems at the place I stayed and furthermore I had high expectations in some private matter, about someone, which didn´t turn out the way I was hoping, which resulted in me regretting I had left England right from that moment on.
Of course there are big cultural differences between our two countries and I am sometimes amused or tend to look at England in a satirical way, but that´s because I am a writer and it certainly helped to put this all into a much better perspective when I left chaotic England and came to well organised Switzerland, where everything is perfect but somehow lifeless, so I really began to miss the English and the way they always manage to stay on top of chaos.
Though I think even more exchange of thoughts and ideas would do Brighton good as it would to England, which is about to become more isolated than ever. Not only as a writer but in general I´m a very considerate, responsible and caring person and I had a lot of thoughts about problems I could observe in Brighton, for example I very much miss in the city with the oldest tram in the world a tram, actually, in Freiburg (Germany), where I spent most of my life or in Zurich, where I drove a cab for 16 months, public transport rely mostly on trams and it´s just perfect.
So, for example I was speaking in favor of running a tram along the sea-front, as many people in Brighton would like, and it would keep the buses away from the main taxis, which should be pedestrianised as in Worthing (where I lived for half a year), I have written a huge article about day-to-day problems in Brighton and how they could be solved (you´d find the whole article on my blog) and sent letters to officials (but they were ignored.)
I´d also very much like to do my small part to make some kind of an impact on the cab-trade in general, according to my plans all throughout Europe, to help wherever I can with my knowledge and experience to improve this job, I am I enlisted in cab-forums in four countries at the moment and I hope I can do a lot more constructive work within the next decade. In general, I am very much a supporter of the strict licensing procedure in Brighton, it sets the standards of how it generally should be anywhere and I am willing to point that out to everybody, yes, all over the world.
So by helping me and making an exception to the strict rules in licensing you might actually add to make Brighton influence the cab-world a tiny bit and make rules more strict. A contradiction, but then again, no rule without exception, isn´t it?
Last but not least, of course, I´d like to point out my literature work not only in the field of cab-driving (to which I have dedicated four novels so far), but also Douglas Adams, too, the Hitch-Hiker´s Guide to the Galaxy, where I have done another translation of all the five books and even written a sixth volume in both German and English, of course all of it was not authorised yet it made quite an impression, I´ve even had personal contact to the deceased author´s own brother about it. Obviously I am not giving up on it to be another official version along the one of Eoin Colfer, which is surely more suitable for young readers.
I’d like to end now, apologise for having written a lot of stuff which is not really relevant for the licensing, I hope you don´t mind, I just wanted to give you a short impression of me and what I am doing that perhaps could influence you to think that I would be worthy to make an exception. According to what Mr. … said, there had never been someone else in my situation and I don´t think that this would do any harm to anything, yet would help me and my project tremendously.”