London Temporary Shelter Request

American seeks floor and roof.

Prehistoric fish fossil, collected by my grandfather.


I will be in London from October 11 to October 17, and would like to find a place to stay in or near the city. I have never been before. This trip to the UK is not a hoax like the last one.

If you live around London, could you provide me with shelter for 1-3 nights? I'd like to spread my time among different people so as not to be a burden. Ideally, I could use an area of floor 3-4 feet (91-121 cm) wide and 7-8 feet (213-243 cm) long. A pillow and a sheet would be wonderful, but are not expected. The floor would preferably be ratless.

It can be dirty, messy, and crowded, and in an unsafe neighborhood. It can be one room shared by several souls. I'll use public transportation to get about, but I'm happy to walk 2 or 3 km to find a train or bus. I like walking.

It could also be a nice private room - I'm not committed to sleeping on a floor. But I assume that some people who read Ftrain live in crowded, inexpensive places, and I worry they might think, “it would be nice to meet him, but only I have one room, and the shower's down the hall.” Please - I am used to spare accommodations.

Flowers from my grandmother's garden.

I am not looking to be a tourist, nor am I looking for a guide; I know you have a job, or classes to attend, and things to do with your time. I want more to wander the streets, eavesdrop, think, and talk, ask questions.

I'll be coming from Tel Aviv, and leaving for New York, between two mental spaces, with no real plans. I am looking to smell and hear, not just see. So I want to sniff the sea-tar-grime of the Thames, pick up the sounds of voices, feel jumbled cobblestones beneath my black leather shoes, observe the faces of dogs, run my fingers along walls, listen for the punchlines of the jokes.

(Here's my new favorite joke: How do you titillate an ocelot? You oscillate its tit a lot!)

As for the basics - I seem to be an okay person. I am fond of animals and nice to children. I am respectful towards all ladies. I am not as serious as my Web site. I help with the dishes and will undertake small carpentry jobs when directed. I have an uneven baritone voice, verging on bass. I will buy you drinks, pick up dinner, and be a good guest. We won't have enough contact to get too annoyed.

I don't need to be back in the States at any given time, so if you have any good projects or ideas towards which you'd like me to contribute, I can bump my flight around. My life is fairly formless; I can do some writing or Web thing, or build homes for the poor, or hitchike through the Hebrides.

Basically, I'll be there, and I'd like to be useful.

What would be best is if 6 or more different people wrote me, and I could stay in a different place each night, interviewing each stranger to fulfill my Studs Terkel fantasies. I could introduce each of them to one another over the week, building a temporary network which could cohere or fall apart depending on the desires of its members.

Of course they'd each have a place to stay, nasty and unprivate and odd as it may be, in my tiny apartment in Brooklyn, or wherever I end up.

Also, on rare occasions, I can drink a pint of Guinness in 3.7 seconds, and then repeat that several times. I'm told it's interesting to see.

Please contact me at ford@ftrain.com with any ideas.

Thank you,

Paul Ford




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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