Diary of an asylum seeker in London

August 2, 2006 at 11:31 am (Freshly squeezed orange juice)

Ali Mashangian writes:

10 pm Today I will look for a cash-in-hand job. But with The Albion B&B as my address my chances are slim. I share a room with Mo, a Muslim from Eastern Europe who recites verse from the Koran every afternoon and dialogue from an Albanian soap opera in his sleep. Yesterday he spent several hours with his face in his pillow after learning that his pet goat Abel had died. It was the first time a human suffocated a pillow. Mo is a slim, good-looking blond chap with designer stubble. He is a little glum, but he does spend hours of his youth stuck in a room with a 53-year-old who snores.

2 pm I go to Best Bagel Bakery and ask for a job. They say ‘Have you got experience?’ I say ‘For £2.50 an hour! You wouldn’t ask a slave “Have you experience of chain and balls?” I’ve eaten bagels — is that not enough?’ They show me the door. Perhaps I should be more humble next time. What the hell, they probably pay with those old coins with a hole in them. Bagel money.

3 pm I bump into Mo outside McDonalds on a bench munching a Big Mac. He says ‘I know a man who can make your large meal extra large without extra cost‘. It’s good to have connections, I say. I am reading a book, I tell him, which says burgers are likely to contain body parts of low-paid workers. They fall into vats and their arms are torn off. ‘I know the book,’ he says. ‘But that’s America. The UK has better labour laws. And fewer Mexicans.’ We get talking, he’s still hung up about his goat. Apparently an uncle of his left it to him in his will. His brother got the camcorder.

4 pm Mo and I go window shopping in the job centre — what can you do with no work permit? “Forklift truck driver with experience, trainee cleaner, inserter of jam into doughnuts, warehouse assistant — enthusiasm a must.” We are spoilt for choice. How could you express your enthusiasm for working in a warehouse? “I come from a family of crate-lifters. My father was crate-lifting champion of Azerbaijan. I like to break my back.”

Mo says when we can finally work his friend can get me a job in McDonald’s. I’ll remember to wear a suit for the interview. Why don’t you go for the job, I say. It’ll take your mind off the goat. He looks at me angrily and leaves.

4:30 p.m. It turns out the goat was a decoy for worse news. Apparently Mo’s great aunt has testicular cancer. An incorrect translation, I hope.

5 p.m. Back in the room I try to cheer Mo up by reminding him he is twenty years younger than me and has a great future. But I am not sure he appreciated me as a gauge for his achievements. After all, the boy has dreams. Maybe one day he’ll make it to Hollywood. They are always looking to fill those crowd scenes.

I suggest this to him. He punches my nose.



  1. shannon said,

    Hiii i read ur storii. its our skool project to understand the life u live. please write back. luv n hugs shannonxx

  2. becca said,

    This is really interesting. Can you tell me more about why you came here? Good luck in the future, Becca xox

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