Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Introduction of the Cardboard Box

In 1989 Berlin was European City of Culture, and Paul who plays sax with Helen and the Horns, and myself were invited to play a gig at The Loft in Berlin and also to do some recording.
We made friends with out engineer, Sylvester, and the next winter he came to stay with me in Camberwell, where I lived at the time with my then partner.
Sylvester was hugely excited to be in London and sang the praises of Margaret Thatcher, who he said was a leader of great vision and personality, unlike the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who was often to be seen looking glum and boring in a large grey mackintosh.
Sylvester set off to see the sights on London, buzzing with delight.
On his return, he seemed a little deflated.
'Who are these people living in boxes at Waterloo?' he asked. 'What are they doing there?'
'They are the result of our leader of vision and great personality', I replied.
'Before Thatcher, there was nobody living in Britain in cardboard boxes; there were hardly any beggars at all'.
(I told him about tramps, just to be fair).
'But how can one of the wealthiest countries in the world allow its people to become so poor that they have no roofs over their heads and they are reduced to living in boxes?'.
How indeed.

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