A good funeral

In 2007 I started to work in the offices of a not for profit social enterprise company called Bugbugs, who operate a small fleet of rickshaws in London.

The company was setup to offer zero emission transport and advertising and all of our riders were young guys and girls, who rented the rickshaw and then went out to make their own money with tips from giving rides on the rickshaw. I myself worked in this way, for what turned into 6 years plus, even though it was only supposed to be for the summer. The job is a huge amount of fun, thanks to the passengers, the other riders and the type of group spirit it gives you, most riders feel this way.

We had shifts to cover the office and this entailed signing riders up or off, so it was not much of a surprise that a young rider aged around 23 came in and said that he was coming to give back the locker key and kit.
As Bugbugs always aimed to understand why we were about to lose a rider, I asked him why he was leaving. His answer was an utter shock, as he replied that he was dying from lung disease. At first I thought he was making a very bad joke but his face and colour told a different story, said to him that he should not give up hope, as death is not always that certain. He smiled and then actually donated his £100 security money to the company, even when I protested. The whole thing stayed in my memory for months and that we all will one day pass and what will be left behind.

Around one year later, was now running the company and operating from a new base in our underground cave next to St Andrew. I had a call from a soft spoken gentleman, asking if we offered a service to transport at funerals, to which I replied, that we could. The gentleman made an appointment to come by our office, later that day and to look over our rickshaws.

On arriving it was obvious that it was a rather solemn request he was trying to fulfil, as he started to try and measure the length and hight of the rickshaw. It was, as if he was trying to fit a rather long board down the middle. I explained that this would not work and started looking around for an old rickshaw which was now a cargo platform and which we converted to move to our new base. It seamed perfect in length and hight, so we arranged details of location and timing for the day.

As the morning came, I had not managed to get any of our young riders to take the cargo rickshaw to location, as most had worked through the night giving lifts and so I opted to do it myself.

The 8 miles of ridding, were caped by a rather steep hill which goes by the name of Muswell Hill and rightfully deserves that name, the weather was grey and wet. It took me the best part of 30 minutes to slowly inch my way up the road and my determination to be on time was the only thing stronger then the stitch in my side.

Arrived on time at the location and was greeted by the solemn gentleman and what I took to be the son of the deceits. We proceeded to load a wicker coffin onto the platform and as the mourners gathered slowly proceeded through the park which would take us to the crematorium. The weather did only briefly try to bring the sun but this was not to be.

On arriving, many flowers were added to the coffin, the mix of wicker and simple blue corn flower was uplifting and simple. Personally like the simple things in life and the mix of slight rain, the smell of wicker, the vibrant blue colour of the small flowers create a fair-well from the heart. The four men lined up and lifted the wicker, then slowly walked it to the podium.

The funeral commenced and I staid to pay my respects. As the service finished, meet the young man again and he thanked me for coming and for full filling his brothers last wish, of going by rickshaw. Instantly had a lump in my throat, as the memory of his brother came back to me.

He explained that he had ridden the rickshaw first and then later his brother did so too. Both had the best few months working together and that this was the last happy memory he could share with his brother. I’m deeply moved that we did this for him, as he was one of us. I’m happy it was myself who was part of his fair-well, as it closed a sad memory and it underlines the need to allow us to share a last time. I also know that one day I to will pass and that this is the way I’d like to say goodbye. I’m happy that this place exists to tell this story and hope that you understand why I feel this was a good funeral. Since that time we’ve had the honour of being part of two funerals per year, people who felt that the last journey by bike summons up a philosophy of their life.


Bugbugs Internet battle

I’m spending a Saturday looking through http://www.bugbugs.com web site ranking, as we noticed, that even though we have been around the longest and spend the most on our company operations, our social enterprise kudos aren’t transplanting into our rankings.

So finally a day to see if our web updates have had any real actions on our rankings, I was pleased to note that the new content took us from 19mil to 6mil ( we are aiming to be a little ahead of our genuine competitors, who currently rank 3mil) but got quite a shock when reading through the pages of our ‘other’ competitors and it was like finding man with a race car at the cycle race.

The ‘less’ likeable company ranks in the 500k and on doing a little research have found that they have used ‘underhanded systems’ (just like in real life, with illegal motors & loud sound systems) by using web booster services that spam you to the top of the rankings.

So I’ll continue our slow crawl through the ranking fight but it’s a bit of a red flag for any one trying to move up by playing the game straight. My beliefs is that we will out live these competitors like so many of the previous slash and burn boys, just got to keep my eyes on the long term goal. So to any others out there in the good guy role, keep the faith, as I think it’s the better stratagem to win, build strong and build real.


When a project makes a difference

The last few weeks have been spent getting ready a Rickshaw for the Children in Need. This years challenge is for them to travel an even greater distance then they did last year and this new team will earn the respect of every one watching.

I’ve been luck to meet a general giant, who goes by the name of Martin. Martin has a great sense of humour and a great spirit. It’s been fantastic helping him get ready for this challenge and enabling him to be able to take part.

Our part is quite small but will hopefully mean that others will be inspired to over come life’s challenges and to be the best one can be.

Please look carefully and make sure you watch the event when it starts and then donate as much as you can 😉