When Lonnie was 9 years old, his father moved from Jamaica to Great Britain and Lonnie has lived in England since. He remembers that when he was young, he looked quite different from the crowd – there were maybe 5 black kids in the centre of Birmingham altogether. The situation is much different today – there’s a large population of both black and muslim in Birmingham. Lonnie likes Birmingham and he lives in Moseley village (some 4 km from the city centre), which has a very good reputation.
In the beginning of 80’s Lonnie quit his job and started his own business – selling sound and light systems for discotheques, bars, pubs and even to individuals. He named the business “Sound&Light 2007” – after the year when he was to get 60 and retire. Now, in 2011, he still has not retired. He says that it is because a lot of his investments to bank stocks such as Santander were wiped out during the recent recession and he had to keep on working to earn living. Of course we all know that even at the end of 2007 Santander (and most other banks) were still trading at their all-time-highs. So my bet is that he actually likes the business he is in and the people involved so this must be the reason he is still in business.
And what a business it has been. When he was younger, he got to meet lot of famous people in the music business. He made friends with Rod Stewart, Robert Palmer, Maxi Priest, band called Loose Ends and a couple of other celebrities. UB40 even visited Lonnie’s house where he used to have a small bar in the cellar rooms (with all the sound and light systems, of course). Now, decades later, Lonnie still lives in the same house and sometimes rents his rooms out for some extra money.
Thanks to his work Lonnie met now-his-best-friend Patrick 10 years ago. Patrick works as interior designer for night clubs and wine bars. At least once a week Lonnie and Patrick play cards at Lonnie’s house. On Tuesdays Lonnie and Patrick go to a local Weatherspoon’s in Moseley for a stake night. In the Stake Night you get two large steaks and a bottle of wine for just £15.
When England is playing football, Lonnie always watches the game. No matter who England is playing against, Lonnie supports the other team. Spain is Lonnie’s favourite team, because they play football like Brazil did when Lonnie was young. He argues: “Spain plays beautiful football, not like England where players just put the long ball forward and hope that something comes out of it”. There’s one thing more that Lonnie does not like about English football: “Why does England have to have 4 teams (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern-Ireland) when every other country has one?”.
Lonnie goes to gym 4 times a week. He works out on cross-trainer for an hour and then drives back home. Not bad for the 64-year old?! The funny thing is, despite of his gym regime, Lonnie thinks he is too old or weak to walk too much. Although his shop is only some 300 meters from home he drives there. When he goes to the stake night (which is 10-minute walk from his home), he always goes by bus or car.
Each Sunday he invites his son with his family over and they have a sunday lunch together. After the lunch his grandson and -daughter play with his cat called Domino and a rabbit called Bunty. Lonnie has had Domino for years but Bunty he got just a couple of weeks before we got to know him. “He was there in the middle of the road, staring at me. I amost hit him with my car”. Bunty is the most human-friendly rabbit I’ve ever seen. When you go close to his cage, he will come near, stand on his feet you and start sniffing you. In the beginning Lonnie was trying to find the owner but now he has decided to keep Bunty.
Lonnie is almost always in a good mood. He has a great sense of humor and he enjoys his life. We have been living at Lonnie’s house in Moseley for almost three months now. And we’ve joined the experience!