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By the Power of the Burger

A while back I was fruitlessly wringing my hands about the seemingly insurmountable problem of getting a replacement driving licence, when I had no idea where I had lived in the past and no record of my driver’s number.

The only answer, it seemed was to go the Big Smoke and physically retrace my residential steps in London, noting down all the addresses I had lived at in my 15 years there (7 separate flats). Then, by the Power of the Blog came Daftburger to the Rescue. Daftburger, as far as I can gather, is a Stoke-on-Trent Sinophile, a fellow sufferer of chest infections, a devoted canary owner, a sucker for a canine sob story and, most importantly On Wishes and Horses: a free thinker. Daftburger always shoots from the hip.

Kindly, and by the Power of Google Maps and some impressive Powers of Inquisition of the flake that writes this blog he ascertained my previous address in Stoke Newington for me which meant, that after months in the Pending pile, my driving licence could be sent off \o/

And guess what? Burger actually got the door number right and, instead of getting back a flea in my ear letter from the DVLA for my crass incompetence and impertinence, I now, for the first time ever, have a photo driving licence. I can hire cars if I want. And I can put some points on my licence which I’ve also acquired in the intervening period – snapped doing 38 mph in a 30 mph zone. Those would be my first ever points, which I consider to be quite an achievement, especially as half of those speed trap cameras aren’t meant to be bloody working. Fate works in mysterious ways…

Anyway, thank you for your help Burger and have a good holiday. When you come back I’ll need to sort out my lost contracted out SERPS pension…

Happy Hanukkah

The festival of light started at sundown on December the 1st this year and lasts for eight days. It celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration and, something this blog is quite keen on, of spirituality over materiality.

Today, being Saturday, is also Shabbat (sabbath). I used to work for an Orthdox Jewish family in North London and the holy day starts on Friday at sunset, so the December Fridays were the shortest working days of the year, the sun setting at about 3.30 pm and my having to be well off the premises by then.

I lived right in the middle of the Hasidic Orthodox community, my employers were Orthodox but not quite as Orthdox as most. If they had been I, a gentile, would not have been working for them. Once Shabbat starts there are all kinds of rules about what you can and can’t do e.g. no key carrying or using, no driving, no touching of electrical things like light switches, ovens or thermostats. Many of the families had these things on timing devices to get round the rules but back in the day a friend of mine made a few quid going round the Jewish houses turning lights and ovens on and off. I used to get roped in too occasionally, if a neighbouring family couldn’t afford such things or something had gone awry.

Then there were the kids. Large families are the norm, usually into double figures. The boys all wore these ringlets called payot in Hebrew. The family I worked for were Lubavitch Hasidim which meant they did not wear the full archaic Hasidic outfit of black fur hat, black silk coat, black breeches tucked into long white stockings and slip on shoes (it is forbidden to make a knot or touch shoes on Shabbat). My employer just wore a regular suit and black fedora. He always carried hundreds of pounds in his inside pocket. Rent collections I think. They were quite well off, some of the Orthodox families were absolutely stony broke. They don’t generally work outside the community so jobs can be hard to come by and with the big families… I knew of one family whose 13th child slept in a chest-of-drawers in a hallway.

One week I was required to take a kid a bit like this to school and into lessons in Finchley (from Stoke Newington). We listened to The Pasadenas in the car on the way there, in the car when we were excluded from class for his barking like a dog or hitting things with a ruler, and in the car when we weren’t even allowed in the class for my being a gentile (and a woman) – I never worked out which was the worse. From my point of view, it was all good because I preferred being in the car with The Pasadenas anyway. I am not sure how the erstwhile student felt about it.

My Driving Licence

I have had a full one for about twenty years now and it is a clean as a whistle, despite my being stopped doing in excess of 110 mph on the M4 once. I have never collected a single point which, considering some of the driving I have gone in for, is a minor miracle. This is by no means a boast though, it is actually more of a Thank God For That because if they wanted to put points on my licence I have no idea where it has got to.

I don’t think I have seen the tattered piece of pink and green paper since the last Tory government, but as I never hire cars or collect points it doesn’t seem to have mattered.
Now though, it does. I have some other government form that needs to know if I have a licence and what the driver number is. I know I wrote that number down once as a precaution in the event of the paper licence being lost, but I can’t remember where I wrote it and anyway I have probably lost that too. I do have a vague awareness of the formula the DVLA use to produce driver numbers and that gets me nearly all the way there to producing the right number for the form barring the last two letters/numbers. I forget which.

So now I have ruled out concocting the right driver’s number for the form, I have a problem. The DVLA are cool though. On their online form they say, don’t worry, just tell us the last address that the licence was registered at. And I can’t remember. Well I can guess and I think it was Allerton Road N16, but I can’t remember the number. And I can’t get it off Google Maps so far. The only way I can really nail the right number is to go to Stoke Newington and go down the road and check the houses opposite and work it out that way. I think it’s forty-something, like me.

Now, how in the hell have I managed to get so damn disorganised? And whilst I faff about thinking about going to Stoke Newington the official form I need to send off molders on the mantlepiece. I have had two eminently sensible and organised people tell me to call the DVLA but there is never going to be the right day to invite that kind of stress into my life. Any volunteers?

Somewhere near here: Clissold Park

For the London Sorority: Ian Shaw does Joni Mitchell

Here you two, remember the trips to see Ian @ the Vortex? And were either of you in da house when Seal popped in in that big old ankle-length ethnic knit? Not much by Ian on the old You Tubester, so this will have to do. Oh and don’t forget all that Heavy Metal and Folk Vinyl over the road in that second-hand record shop (what was it called?), notwithstanding the fact I found it cheaper to borrow it from the library and forget to take it back. Ever…