UK

The Brixton Hill laughing man

I saw the laughing man this morning as I went to the shop. I used to see him a lot but haven’t seen him for quite a while, though I’ve been away. He’s an old Jamaican guy who is always laughing his head off, muttering something to himself and just laughing. He was walking down St. Saviours Road. I crossed the road to avoid him, fearing that if I got too close I might start laughing as well and not be able to stop.

Ritzy Cafe, Brixton

Listening to some people on the other side of the cafe talking about cycling: cyclists breathe in less pollution than car passengers apparently, according to a woman who sounds like she knows what she’s talking about, though often the people who sound like they know what they’re talking about are the ones who don’t. It’s because of the height, she says. Cyclists are higher up, unless they’re children or recumbants, so the air they take in is better quality, whereas cars take in air from lower down which is where the pollution hangs.

Grudge Monkey

Discovered the Parfitt brothers’ new band on MySpace and listened to some before getting cut off, perhaps for having too slow an internet connection.

Brixton, London

There is a hole in the roof of the house I am living in and people are coming in, down a ladder. I don’t know where they’re coming from but there are loads of them. Some of them I know but most of them are strangers. They’re making themselves at home. I’m not sure if this is my house or not. Maybe it isn’t. Most of these people are quite friendly. I don’t really want to kick them out, and I think if I asked them to leave they would just be baffled.

Brixton, London

Back after almost a year away. Things don’t seem to have changed much. Getting the train up here from Eastbourne, where I’ve been staying for the past week, took about 3 hours since no trains were running between Lewes and Three Bridges, and then the Victoria Line wasn’t running so there was another replacement bus, though taking the bus gave me a chance to look at London. After Paris it looked quite chaotic, a lot more messy, though a woman from Hong Kong I met in Paris last February was telling me she thought London was much cleaner than Paris….

Email to Gordon Brown

Re: Government response to petition ‘NoVATonBikes’ Dear Gordon Thanks for the reply. It’s good of you to get back to me. Tony never did. However, I’m a bit disappointed you don’t want to go for this, and your response that you can’t because the EU won’t let you sounds a bit lame, and plays into the hands of Eurosceptics (you’re not a Eurosceptic are you?). If Europe is a democratic institution, which it’s supposed to be, then surely the British government could campaign to abolish VAT on bikes and bike parts as part of a Europe-wide kind of thing. Climate…

Message from Gordon Brown

You recently signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to “Encourage people to cycle by removing VAT on bicycles, tricycles and human powered vehicles and on all cycling parts and spares.” The Prime Minister’s Office has responded to that petition and you can view it here:

Coffee Republic, Soho Square, London, UK

Back in London after a couple of weeks in Eastbourne, now staying in Peckham Rye, but probably only for a few more days. I’ve been looking into getting a boat to Cuba, which seems to be possible but not so easy. There was a freighter going there from Lisbon, which took passengers and charged 90 Euros a day, but that’s fallen through, so now I’m looking into cruise ships, which aren’t as expensive as I’d thought they might be, about £500 to £700 for trans-Atlantic.

Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK

Standing outside Eastbourne station. It’s about half past eight. People get into taxis, the taxis drive away, new taxis pull in to take their places. A guy in a white shirt, late teens or early twenties with gel in his hair, walks up to the leading taxi. He looks at me as he opens the door. Are you a tramp? I don’t say anything. I just look at him. He says it again. My rucksack is standing next to me and I haven’t had a shave for a few days. Are you a tramp? Another guy, same age, also in…

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