Wednesday, 17 December 2008

'Danny', Hadleigh

There are some places where you know you won’t get a cab, but urban Suffolk, I’d argue, isn’t one of them, even though it’s said the residents still point when they see a car, and my 7-year-old thinks that ‘Suff-uck’ is a rude word.

I gave up trying on the outward journey, and called my appointment to embarrassedly ask him to collect me from the station, like some prep-school returning ten-year-old by Daddy, or a ‘uni’-based trustafarian, by Mummy.

So on the way back, and unprepared to shame myself further (it hadn’t been a great meeting, either), I waded through 11 phone numbers to secure myself a ride back to the station and civilisation.

Eleven. Three of them twice, and 'Danny' three times, before I found a driver that wasn't an ansaphone or on his way to Stanstead.

I think he either must have taken pity on me or simply gave up trying to excuse himself from my fare. Either way, as I was becoming increasingly hacked off by the absence of a hackney carriage, his view of the world was absolutely the tonic I needed, even if the four lavender ambi-purs stuck to his dashboard weren’t.

‘I’m from Lahndun, too. Rovver’ive. Used to drive the vans at Mahnt Pleasant. Then my missus tried to top ‘erself, when she got arseholed, (again), and I buggered off up ‘ere. Got custody too – nah that’s not something ‘appens much to us blokes these days – so nah me an’ my littl’un – well, she’s twenny one nah – she’s profahnly deff. ‘Ad a cock lear (he said it as two words) implant at 3, after she’d got a bout of meningitis at one and a half. Anyway. She went to this deaf school place in Brighton, and I ended up marrying ‘er best mate’s mum. Jacked in the job, and came up ‘ere to a ready made job, with me new father-in-law. So that’s me, me missus an our two girls, both profoundly deaf, livin it up in the c*nt ree. Tell you what though. Driving up ‘ere’s a sight better than Lahndun.’ he said, with a huge grin.

He made his happy judgement as we sat, stationary for ten minutes, on a country lane blocked by a bus and a bin lorry. Personally, I’d have said it was just like driving in ‘Lahndun’, but for the tractor that made it slightly worse than the South Circular on a Monday morning.

But then, I don’t have Danny’s outlook on life. I live in a world that’s grey and smells of smoke. He lives in a world that’s green and smells of lavender. And he’s one ‘appy chappie, even though he's been dealt substantially more than his fair share of shite.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

'Felix', Herne Hill

Alright, already! I know that a cab journey of under a mile doesn't do great things for the environment, but it was cold, and I was both late and drunk. I sobered up pretty quickly, though, as within seconds and as we waited at the first set of lights, the quite frankly vast chauffeur-cum-body-builder was into his sales pitch.

'Don't suppose you ever need security, do you?'

OK. So I accept he was considering my own susbstantial frame, and couldn't have known that I do on occasion have that particular need, but before affirmative words were out of my mouth, he continued...

'Because I run my own firm. We do all sorts. Gigs. Pubs. Clubs. Got my licence, too, so the Old Bill are happy. Not like the scum punters, though. I tell you. Anyone gives us grief, we sort 'em right out.'

The second lights were red, too. He looked at me, and stared a moment.

'If you get my drift?'

I breathed a sigh of relief as we pulled away, and his threat was redirected toward the VW driver that had tried to 'burn' him from the lights.

'Here. Take my card,' he said. 'And give us a call. I'll do you a job', he commanded on arrival.

And now he knows my name, my number, and my address.

Oh good.

'Andy', Dorchester

No real surprise I suppose, given your authors predilections, that this, the first installment, featured in a trip to one of Her Majesty's Prisons...

''Fraid I can't pick you up tomorrow, mate. I've got to go do my other job, at the speedway, looking after St Johns', he'd said the day before, as I wondered exactly where he'd learnt to drive, and my first clue had narrowed it down to off road biking or ambulance.

'How was it?', I asked the next day.

'Yeah. it was alright, I s'pose', replied the bizarrely Cockney-accented Dorset cabbie, flatly.

'At least they all stayed on this time.'