Taxi

Dear London

Yesterday, I got a taxi through your streets, a glamorous little expense, but necessary, all the same. Driving, being driven connects me to you in a different way than the daily commute. I can see you stretching out from my home in the south east to my destination in the south west. See how you put yourself together. Through tinted windows, back seat chatter.

I make idle banter, unlike me, but I’m back to collecting the everyday, being active, making moments count, catching snapshots of you while I can.

Cabbie knows his way, no sat nav, trust instinct, use the best of his knowledge. Used to be a courier, motorcycle, got too old, you know? Knows his way around. Most of them others they rely on the sat nav. Not him. Gotta use your common sense, can’t turn down a dead end road just cos it tells you.

Let’s avoid Peckham, traffic in Peckham, up through old Kent road, easy peasy.

Join in, make the right noises, like I know my driving, but I’m used to being driven. I am a passenger, always a passenger.Infamous for my confident incompetence when it comes to navigation. The ‘Oh I’ve been here before, yeah I’m sure I know here’. And I probably haven’t and I probably don’t, but your streets all look familiar when viewed from the window of a car.

This is a quick route, they way he’s taking me. Not the train, tube, tube, walk or the train, train, bus or train, tube, bus. Like I’m used to.

Cabbie usually drives through the year, as much as he can, saves up, single man spends the winter months in Thailand.

Past boarded up flats, awaiting demolition, graffetied. The elephant and castle, pat myself on the back as I knew where I was before the road sign confirmed it. Proper Londoner, briefly.

‘oh the jamicans they all come out here on a Friday night, set up their stalls, sell their food, waddja call it?’

‘Just going to swing up over that bridge’

Chelsea bridge, no not Chelsea, no classic lamps lining the walkway. Vauxhall bridge? No? My proper Londoner status disperses.

‘Shut this all down news years eve, that’s why I don’t bother working can’t bloody get anywhere’

A lull in the chat, Capital Gold on the radio. The sun comes out as we cross over the mystery bridge. West to the left of me..MI5?no too far. East to the right of me, plunger in the distance, new addition to the skyline, the shard.

Freddy Mercury sings
‘I want to break free. I want to break from your lies, your so self satisfied, I don’t neeeeeeeed you’

That’s about you, London. And its like splitting up, where every word said and every song sung, resonates around you in coincidence. And I’ve not left you yet.

There’s Chelsea bridge, those nice street lamps.

‘Thats where they’d always film, you know if you wanted a shot of London they’d always use that bridge in the 60’s that’s where they’d go’

Driving, being driven in you, makes me think of recent memories. Comfortable in car, trying different turnings, recent happenings, almost events, past Chelsea pensioners, more empty than when I saw it last, remember the rain. We’re following fast cars, the cabbie and me, it’s the area we’re in now. Arab number plate, he says a little darkly. Tell him stories that I know, car stories, our stories.

Back past the house boats that could make me stay and on, back to worlds end.

I’ve reached my destination. End of the road. He refuses my tip, makes me take the change.

‘You have nice day, love’ and you, and you.

Walk. And work, another reason to leave.

On the way home there’s no cab its walk, tube, tube, bus all the while distracting myself from leaving you by writing to you.

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