Wednesday, 15 February 2012
yet more stories
Geoff is retired. But he feels cheated. He has been driving taxis, on and off, for forty years now. He started off in the early sixties with a Wolseley Sovereign but got rid of it when the oil seal on a wheel hub went. He remembers giving Henry Cooper a ride to the Thomas A'Beckett on Old Kent Road circa 1962. Sadly, this was the highlight of his driving career to date. He'd love to say that he once took Ringo Starr to the pictures, or collected Nelson Mandella from Heathrow but none of this is true. The highlight of his driving career, it appears, was taking a second-rate British boxer whose claim to fame was being chinned by Muhammad Ali to a gym full of criminals. For a brief period in the seventies he toyed with the idea of becoming involved in rally driving, but despite his vast road experience he found that his skill did not translate well to the world of gravel tracks and pitch black icy roads. And his co-driver proved somewhat stupid. Slowly the notion of driving superstardom turned into a more obtainable but less lucrative one of running his own firm. Taxi firm that is. The firm still runs to this day, but it never seemed to provide the security Geoff required. Despite running for twenty years, his drivers still call him names and turn up late. One even put dust in his coffee. He has tried both the carrot and the stick approach, but both are met with scorn. It was his secret hope that his firm would pay the way for his family when, as happened last week, he retired. All he asked for in exchange for his graft was enough money to eat, travel, heat his home and send his kids to school. Whilst he met these targets, it would be a lie to say that his life of work has lined his pockets. It seems so unfair to Geoff. Footballers are payed much more than him for poncing around with fashionable haircuts for a few minutes a week. City gents spend all day on the phone and earn hundreds of thousands per year. Plumbers bend pipes and get £15 per hour. Geoff knows that the way he feels is part & parcel of life in Britain, but it doesn't make him feel any better.