The son of a Romany gypsy mother and a French travelling salesman, the young John Lee was regarded as an outcast because of his mixed blood. He would never be able to marry a gypsy girl, or live on a gypsy site after the death of his grandparents who brought him up.
His much-loved Italian grandmother taught him to cane chairs and at thirteen earn a living from them on the streets of London. At seventeen, and after his one and only day at school, he became a waiter on a cruise ship. Unable to read or write until he was thirty five, John succeeded in running a successful building company and, later, seven fruit and vegetable shops. Then came the Lloyd's of London crash and he lost everything.
Caning chairs on London's King's Road one day, he met Jennifer, a wealthy woman who changed his life.
This is a story full of humour, of sadness and one man's feisty loyalty to his Romany traditions.
There is not an extensive literature on street sweeping. Much of the research that has been completed exists in the "gray" area of technical reports and government documents. Furthermore, a great deal of this research is locally based, and has not been widely published. Indeed, our review of the scientific literature, revealed that, while storm water quality has received a lot of attention, few academicians have been involved in street sweeping research per se. Thus, throughout our research into street we sweeper effectiveness, sweeping protocols, and sweeping practices, wished that there had been a book summarizing some of the important issues associated with street sweeping. As our frustration grew, we realized that we were uniquely poised to write such a book as our research had encompassed a variety of different projects including sweeper testing, waste management, and related storm water quality. Also, early on in this exercise, we recognized that there was a growing demand for information about street sweeping policies and management, especially for studies focusing on the effectiveness of different sweeping schedules, on waste management operations, and on non-point, pollution reduction practices associated with storm water runoff. It was abundantly clear that there was a profound lack of research on street sweeping that could assist with developing local, regional, or national policies. There was, in effect, little guidance for city managers on these issues.