I went on a road trip to Manchester yesterday with my daughter, my sister and my niece.
My uncle, Joe Silmon, who lives there, was celebrating his 70th birthday and family members from all parts of the country converged on his flat in the Longsight area of the city. He has been a jazz musician most of his life and is quite well known in the North West and although I’m not a jazz lover I did enjoy the two hour set he played with his band mates. After an early start and an evening of celebration I then had to drive for another four hours back to London and never hit the pillow until 5am this Sunday morning.
These last few weeks have seen me working away as normal trying to get money together for my forthcoming holiday in Spain.
Whilst sitting on the South Kensington rank recently an elderly lady slowly approached me and asked to be taken to the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on the Fulham Road. As the rank is positioned in the middle of the road there is no kerb so it is harder for some people to climb into the cab. This lady was having some trouble and I offered to give her a hand, which she accepted. I got in to the back through the other door and suggested that I pull her in but she said it would be easier if I got behind her and pushed her up by her backside. Reluctant to do this, I checked with her that it was ok to “touch her there” to which she consented. Nothing for it but to place my hands on her mushy butt-cheeks and give her a gentle shove. The seat of her leggings were soaking wet and as I turned away I had a sniff to make sure it wasn’t piss. Well, wouldn’t anyone? I couldn’t decide whether it was piss or whether she’d been sitting on a wet bench somewhere but as soon as I got back in my seat I took a couple of wet-wipes and washed my hands. Her exit from the cab was much easier and she gave me a two-pound tip. Once away from there I pulled over and wiped the seat with some McDonald's tissues and sprayed a bit of air freshener and nobody was any the wiser.
It’s Thursday night and I’m number two on the rank at Victoria. An enormous bloke accompanied by a little old lady approach the front cab. The guy has to bend down to speak to the driver. The driver then shakes his head and roars off. I’m next. “How much to Highbury mate?” he says to me. “About twenty to twenty five” I reply. This guy is massive and he has an enormous belly. His T-shirt has ridden up over his belly and he made no attempt to pull it back down. He looks in-bred and above all like a complete loser. The old dear with him looks like she’s had a hard life but keeps quiet. My Spidey-sense says “No, don’t do it”. My mouth says “OK mate jump in” but my brain is saying “don’t be a cunt, drive off like the other bloke did”. And off we go. All the way there this guy is telling this women to “shut the fuck up” and calling her a “stupid bitch”. From what I could gather they are looking for something in one of their bags, perhaps keys, maybe money. Anyway, we arrive at one of the side streets next to the old Arsenal stadium. He gets out leaving her to deal with the money. The meter reads £23.40. She places a hand full of shrapnel into my cupped hands and I start to count. There were eight pound coins, four Euros and a few cents. “There’s not enough here love” I tell her. “That’s all I have,” she replies in a near to tears voice. I just knew they were going to be trouble. For all I knew the guy at Victoria probably had them in his cab before. “I’ll see if there’s any money inside,” suggested the old girl. I knew there wouldn’t be so taking a small amount of pity on her I said to her “D’you know what? Just go, OK?” And then as if she’d been expecting me to say that she said, “Thank you, may the Lord bless you and bring you good luck” I couldn’t help but think it was a tried and tested way of them getting home for under a tenner but as long as it only happens once or twice a year I can live with that.
It’s now almost eight in the evening and I’m off to work.
23 days left until my holiday.
Check back soon.