Craftsman at work – new school
Today was looking through all my back log on social media and was happy to see a project we helped with in 2010.
The story started on a Tuesday afternoon when a nice lady popped in to try and find her husband some work. I explained our riders were all self-employed, so yes he would be welcome to work with us.
A few days later Lourival Cuquinha, her husband came for the training, he was a thin build, very smily but spoke mostly pidgin English. We managed to get through the days training and he launched himself into the westend with a huge grin.
On his first day came back with just over £12, which was low but he was grinning from ear to ear. Over the next few days he improved greatly and finally started to earn enough to pay rental for his families flat.
On speaking with him, it turned out he was an artist and from this we started to just chat about his work, in part to improve his English but also to start thinking on an art project he had in mind.
I think it took two years before he finally had a strong project in mind. The first was a flag which would be made from the money he earned as a rider, which became the ‘union jack pound flag’.
The 2nd was a more elaborate installation which involved 3x scrap pedicabs which had been dumped by the owner on us at Bugbugs.
The flag project went slowly but surely and was only disrupted when he had a big bill to pay. To make up the loss of flag material he sold parts of the flag as shares to fellow riders, like myself and used the ‘investment’ to complete the flag. The flag was entered in an arts festival and became the top selling item at £17,000. The story’s which were attached to the flag were also amazing, as the £1000 he had sown it together with, took months of work.
The 2nd project, was in my view the most empowering, as it involved recycling which I’m very fond of.
The three front loading trikes had been dumped, along with a number of others, which in a large part we managed to give to schools as engineering projects, a world record attempt by Tim Moss and this art project by Lourival.
As a rider he spent many days cycling looking for customers and he was amused at how for the most part the work was a form of entertainment.
So one day he approached me and asked wether I would help him to assemble three trikes in a circle and if we could power a mirror or projector to rotate an image.
After much work, cleaning, fixing and welding, we found a way to secure and get operational three trikes.
By peddling the viewer would creat power to get a motor to run a mirror mounted on a wheel, which would project an image, which would in turn be of a camera on a wheel traveling in a Rickshaw.
I’ve now sean this project reach it’s goal of having traveled to Brasil and on show at one of the galleries. Amazing what a dream can do, with a little help and opportunity.
@londoncyclist: Car pollution, noise and accidents “cost every EU citizen £600 a year” http://t.co/pG4HQJyw – The next time someone mentions road tax!
So why is cycling not more promoted and green businesses like the pedicab industry under such attacks?
But both sides must play this game, when voting for the next council leader look at if they use a bike or a 4×4, do they walk, take a bus or drive a car. Who supports them, what do they support?
Vote for safer roads, with less speed and more room for bikes and pedestrians.
So the storm kicked in and the job, which was due to be booked. With all lines down in NY, payment for the booking of 40x rickshaws in London could not be done, that is until the very last day before, i’m thanking a lucky star that has kept us above the waterline.
With the Olympics having been a let down we needed the big job and when this booking came in from NY, could not believe my luck.
So with the order placed and paid for the hard work began, getting 40x riders to come together and to follow instructions. The best description is ‘herding cats’, they drift in as they feel and at times to my rather stressed and angered face 🙂 but such is the knuckle ride of a big job.
With my usual huddle, of team leaders and trusted, we finally moved every rider to location. Our guest came trotting out in pairs and Vanessa our ‘meet and greet’ did a fan job of tucking them in with a smile and a wave goodby.
The job went so smooth and our clients just kept on adding smaller jobs through out the two days, as they were over the moon with the service.
We finished the whole event with a huge smile and new friends who will always have a nice word of rickshaws 🙂 One rider was given a £100 tip and another just over £50 …… That’s happy!!!
So finally managed to finish the BBC trike for ‘Children in Need 2012‘ and now get to watch it hit the streets. It took months for us to perfect the prototype and now to see her sister on TV, my fingers are crossed that the kids make more cash then Matt did and that all the hard work will pay off.
I’m a father and proud of my kids, I hope that the parents of these kids are going to be over the moon at the guts those kids have. Long life to Rickshaws and a happy life to kids!!!
So we get an order by email from an events company for a wedding rickshaw. This is not unusual as it sounds because compared to a short limo trip the whole thing remains closer to the traditional horse and carriage style of transporting of bride and groom. Lot’s of interacting with guests and street based well wishers.
Now this Autum seams to have been in particular very busy but it’s good planning in my book, as you get some one to snuggle for the winter .
Now the events company usually are suitably vague as to what will happen, so the hapless rider can have anything ranging from a climb to mount Olympus to a film shoot, in this case it was transport booked for 1am on Sunday morning just near Richmond. The style was to be of a traditional Indian rickshaw. So my first task was to head off to find decorations, which were authentic, Bethnal green turned out to be the best spot for shopping and a swarm if friendly ladies advised me on colour schemes and patterns.
Then back to the base and ways to make it fit to our amazing little beast, 5 hours all carpets, seat covers and roof netting secured and made to sparkle.
The next step was booking a van, as the distance for this job was over 15 miles and a 3hr return trip at 2am on a Sunday morning, along a dual carriage way, is not advised with a 130kg rickshaw.
After using the van to pickup up a number of other items, to ensure we got our money’s worth, it came to trying to fit the wedding trike into the van.
To my horror, after having used a similar van a number of time, I discovered that the rickshaw on this occasion with this van, did not fit.
Not the best thing to know, two hours to the starting line.
I quick think and I chose not to take off the wheels to get it in but chose the obvious easy route by getting a friend with a bigger van. New van loaded, myself and said friend raced off to meet a newly married couple. We followed the satnav to our hidden spot on a private road fenced off from the world.
The street, was populated with multi million pound mansions and was surprisingly unlit. The best man popped out just as we unloaded, with around 30 mins to go. Happy that the last of his plan had arrived he looked us over smiled and then asked me the killer question ‘do you have lots if lights in it?’
Looking at the dark road in the middle of the night, I understood what he meant but when we were booked no mention is made that we have things like hills, 1000 kids or an unlit road, so it’s hard to find the right mix of things to bring for ever possible dice role of Lady Luck.
So, again a bit of thinking later we had a mix of bike lights and tape holding in place enough of a spot light to light the newly weds.
Then just to make it interesting the best man brings out a meter square neon sign and a battery to weigh me down.
After more stringing and hanging it’s all done, wedding special ready to role.
The actual pickup, photoshoot and cycle ride to the end if the road is nothing but spectacular with myself grinning as if I got the bride. All the work was worth it in the end.
Well, with over 8000sq ft of rickshaw storage and over 212 riders roaming our dark caves beneath the feet of London, life is interesting. So it’s no surprise, when we discovered another group of dwellers had joined us. Not as welcome as our rent paying riders or at least, not unless I can think of a way to create the worlds first mouse economy which pays rent. So then a new task, how to move these new guests out.
Suggestions have been abound regarding our none rent paying new members, from building the world next mouse drawn rickshaw, to making small gloves and coats with hammers.
Our first approach was rather more pragmatic, 30x mouse traps and peanut butter. This reduced our invasion by around 12x visitors in the first week and by 8x in the 2nd, then 3x by the 3rd and after that none worth mentioning.
The reason was not down to eradication but rather a selection process which created an allergy to peanut butter in the many mice left.
We then moved to poison but found the uptake even less enthusiastic. So our mouse problem looked to be here to stay …….. That was till a lively lady suggested ferrets, I kid you not – Yes, ferrets! Not as friendly as kittens, nor as big.
So being an optimist we sent a young man off to purchase two ferrets. As the two furry gents arrived, I straight away could see, that this was going to be very different from cats. The two looked like little thugs and greeted me with an unfriendly chomp to the fingers.
I must admit, they appealed to me straight away, nothing quite like a small fur covered thug.
Both were introduced to office staff and riders, then set lose to do a bit of work.
The action was first greeted by contempt by mice, who had already bested us twice. Then to my surprise, within a week, our two thugs had managed to reduce the natural enthusiasm of mouse and rat to lurk.
Now three weeks into our exploration, both ferrets have proved their worth and are even happy to play without taking a chunk out of my fingers.
So now we have signs up – ‘Go Slow, Ferrets at work’. What a strange life I lead.