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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



[real life] – no more car?

May 24th, 2008 | 7 Comments | Categories: Random Catchup · travel |

Question: could you live without a car? (DO you live without a car?)
Ancillary Question: could you live without a car as a gigging musician?

This blog may end up being the ongoing forum for me answering those two questions after my car died this morning… It’s been problematic for a while (frustratingly, only last week I spent £130 on a new exhaust!), but today I took it in for an oil change and saw that the head gasket has gone. Water in the engine. For the second time. I’ll call my garage who did the repair last time and see if there’s any warrantee on the parts, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s a known issue with Rover cars.

Anyway, I REALLY can’t afford to either get it fixed or replace it right now, so unless something magical happens, it looks like for a while we’re going to be car-less. Will be interesting to see how that works, given that we’ve got a few gigs coming up that look like they’ll need a car for sure… or will they? We’ll find out. This part of London isn’t a-wash with decent cheap car hire firms, but there are car-clubs springing up all over the place, so that might be an option…

Either way, I now need to find out where I can sell my car for scrap – it still just about drives (though it did cut out four times on the way home yesterday from a gig at the design museum – more on that later…)

So, sans-car in London. How’s that going to work?

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Steve

    I wish I could get by without a car, but living in a village, we actually need two. If I could work from home most of the time, then I could use the train for the odd trip to the office. The problem for now is that the train costs a lot more than driving.

    SO I wish you good luck with your car-free lifestyle. I hope it works out.

  • Liz Hamill

    Dear Steve,

    When I read on Twitter about your car dying this morning, I just kind of went “ugh.”

    When I worked gigging in the New England scene, I had a car. Really difficult not too, working late at night with heavy and expensive gear. One becomes an expert in used vehicles and I had a car mechanic friend who taught me how to change the oil and “car” really became part of the daily life.

    Now I live in a community, it’s buddhist, but it could be a co-housing community I suppose. I don’t gig much so the issue is not pressing. But maybe some of what we do might be useful to your life.

    We have 2 community cars which have a scheduling routine so getting down the grocery store or dvd store, you can hop a ride, but those places are getting tight, so we started to reserve them. These cars carry our workers and kids to and fro and do some delivery work for materials.

    But because we are a community, we found a local car rental that gave us a discount and it is reasonable to take a car for the day or two. They even bring the car to us.

    Other people who own cars will loan as a gift to people they trust or in exchange for some of the maintenance costs as an offering. This is kind of nice because if they need something in town and don’t want to drive, then they call you to see if you would like to drive the car.

    Managing the finances are a lot easier and getting to know people in the carpools is too and not needing to be the driver all the time is a relief too sometimes.

    I’m wishing you find the best for your life.

    Best best,
    Liz

  • John Larkin

    Hi Steve,

    My wife and I lived without a car for five years in Singapore. We could sit together and talk, watch the world go by, look out the window. Wonderful. The public transport was excellent. Many buses, comprehensive rail network, great interchanges and cheap taxis. Small city state granted but if a city with a population of 4 million people can achieve this without any natural resources other than its people than I am sure other cities can do the same. It needs tough leadership admittedly, like that afforded by Lee Kuan Yew.

    Here in Australia I live about 20 kilometres from the school where I work. Public transport is abysmal. I would need to take two buses and a train to get to the school. Probably about 2 hours in all. Pathetic. Takes about 20 minutes in the car. I am in a car pool with two other colleagues so I only drive one week out of three. We listen to such a variety of music en route.

    Would love to work in Sydney, 90km distant, but the mind-numbing commute either by train or car would probably kill me one way or another.

    Cheers, John.

  • James Stewart

    I’m increasingly addicted to cycling to work. As an 8-mile roundtrip it’s very manageable, it’s much faster than on the bus, and there are a surprising number of other cyclists on the London roads in the summer.

    But I guess that wouldn’t be so practical with a couple of basses and a looperlative to transport… are there any ways you can minimise the amount of gear you need to haul around?

  • steve

    Thanks for feedback – car sharing is a great idea, Liz, and fab for building community – will be looking into that. And cycling too – will look into getting bikes for sure… We didn’t use the car that much anyway, but when we do, it’s pretty intensive use…

    There’s an interesting thread on the same subject over in the forum – http://www.stevelawson.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=834&p=4554#p4554 – let’s see if I can post URLs on my own comments… :)

  • Greg

    Steve

    Real bummer about the car. Will light a candle for you.

    I gigged and rehearsed using public transport to from and in London for 18 months. It can be done but you need the ‘right’ gear, and if you’re skint buying gear isn’t an option.

    Acoustic Image amp and cab – though there were many times I wished I’d bought a combo – and a gig bag with lots of pockets, and a rucksack of cables, spares etc., did it for me. Couple of times it was me a bass and a SansAmp and the house PA.

    Cycling with a bass around london can be done – been there too; get something with a fairly upright riding position (I used a brompton to and from a few gigs). A bike and a bob yak carries more than my Fiat does anyway. But again if you are brassic…..

    If I can lend you my AI Clarus and Contra EX gear for a while just ask OK? I can always go direct at Church and as church is the only gig I’m playing these days….

  • Dave Emmerson

    Steve

    Worth checking out SIXTI.com website if looking for cheap one day hire. I recently needed car for 24 hours and booked it to pick up in Battersea – cost £15 plus petrol – probably cheaper than a taxi. A tip though is not to get confused with the SIXT website owned by same company – as the same car from the same place can cost 3 times as much!

    Dave