Hello there, a little announcement on this hear neglected blog space to let you know I now have a book of my Rear View Mirror columns available for the Kindle on Amazon.
Somewhat unsurprisingly I’ve called it “Rear View Mirror” and you can find it here .
Why did I write it? Let me tell you…
About six years ago my life was going swimmingly. I had the lot. I had the wife, the son, the house, the career, the car and even the trendy dog.
Today? Well I haven’t got the house, the car, the job, the son, or the career. I’ve still got the dog mind, although sometimes, I wonder if he has me.
Let me explain; I was a Policeman. I wasn’t an ordinary policeman, I was the type who did a bit of stand up comedy on the side. My life was filled basically with moments of fear, fighting, arguing and adrenaline, and that was just the comedy.
In the police I was a response officer, I basically used to drive around Liverpool with blue lights flashing answering 999 calls. I’ve kicked in more doors than Jack Regan and turned over more bodies than Quincy. It was messy, bloody, dangerous and at times, desperate. And I loved it.
I loved my colleagues, I loved the charging around shouting, I loved the challenge and I loved the thrills. I loved my life.
I honestly used to pull up at my house of a night, in my quiet cul-de-sac, and sit for moment and think about how lucky I was. I know that sounds crazy when you say it out loud, but I did. I was that happy.
Or at least I thought I was.
Six years later, sitting here writing this, it seems like someone else’s life I’m writing about, I’m not sure of I’d recognise the bloke who used sit smugly in his car looking at his house with his gorgeous wife waving through the window. To be honest, if I met him, I’d probably think he was a bit of a kn*b.
That bloke’s life finally fell apart when he found out his son wasn’t his. In fairness, although he’d not noticed it, his life had been in trouble for a while but, like a carrier bag that splits at the bottom and drops your spuds on the floor all at once, I/he just hadn’t noticed it going.
I’ll not bore you with the details, that’s another story for another day but, six months after my carrier bag split, I found myself without a job (never write a resignation letter when you are crying) and sitting in a rented house I couldn’t afford with a designer dog that was, quite frankly, disappointed in me.
I had to do something, so when a mate suggested getting a cab drivers licence to “tide you over till you get your head straight” I decided to do that, if only to get out of the house that had become a prison, and to start talking to people again.
It was the best thing I’ve ever done. Because amongst the drunks, the drug addicts, the lager, the lovers, the lost and the lonely… I found myself.
It happened at about four am, sitting in a park, eating a lonely service station sandwich and staring at a cat getting beat up by a bird, that I decided to write.
And that cat, and that bird, led to my book Rear View Mirror being released about two weeks ago for the Amazon Kindle and if I ever meet them again I’ll shake them by the paw/claw.
I’d never written anything before, so I was surprised at how good I felt when I wrote that first story. I didn’t just feel happy, I felt different, like something had happened in my head and my heart, like a place had been found and that I’d come home. I remember reading it a few times and smiling to myself. I even printed it off and stuck it by my bed to read when I woke up, just in case in the morning, after the shine had worn off, I found it was rubbish. I’ve still got that original story upstairs, and I still don’t think it’s rubbish. I created a blog, and posted the story up there, and told what remained of my friends on facebook. Some of them read it, a few of them commented, and I felt good for the first time in years, so I wrote another one, and another one, and another one.
And I felt better; little by little, I felt better.
A few months later a lady got in the cab and we chatted and she told me she edited a local magazine. I told her I wrote a blog about the cab and she promised to read it. I didn’t believe her. A few weeks later I got an email, and she said some nice things and offered me a column in the magazine and said she would pay me for the stories.
I still didn’t believe her, but it turned out she was telling the truth. I’d become a writer, and I was happier than I’d been in years, and it wasn’t money, it wasn’t a house and it wasn’t a car that was making me happy… it was my heart.
Which was finally fixed.
Hello there, I’ve moved house years ago and I forgot all about this lovely and lonely wordpress blog stuck in the cupboard. If you want me I’ll be either at:
Assuming of course…. anybody actually cares!
I would have thought, what with the amount of snow we have had this year, that there may have been a bit more interest in the Winter Olympics displayed in the car. Normally any major sporting event is seized upon as a temporary topic of conversation to while away our moments together.
For instance, I’ll never forget the irony of discussing Jenson Button with an old lady who was clutching an old Lidl bag full of cat food as we sat in a traffic jam on West Derby Rd,
“I’m made up for the lad, he deserves it after what he has been through”
She sad this as she counted out, in five pence pieces, the fare. A sudden image of Jenson Button, toiling against the odds, spiralling fuel prices, a traffic planning department organised by a council that digs more holes than a mole that has lost his keys sprung into my mind… “poor old Jenson” I thought ” it must be murder when someone throws up in the back of your Ferrari on a Saturday night.”
But, as a night worker with easy access to a radio I am normally excited by the prospect of any event that will fill the small hours and drag me away from local radio . Even if it features sports that quite frankly, verge on the insane.
So I tuned in the first night of Radio Five Lives coverage, the normally excellent Monday to Thursdays “Up All Night” programme promised to flit back and forth to Vancouver with coverage of all the key moments… what could go wrong?
Initially I was a little confused, as all the commentators seemed to talk about was that there was a lack of snow,
“They should have held it in Bootle last week” one passenger muttered
And then, I wondered, who was this mysterious “Team GB” they spoke of? Over and over I heard “Team GB are really looking forward to this event” or “Hopes are high for Team GB”
When did we start putting words in the wrong order? I don’t order a “Pizza to Out Take”, or a “Curry Indian”. Woe betide the first person who declares that they support “Team Everton” in my cab… they are out, and I’m not stopping whilst they go!
But leaving that aside, I was impressed as the BBC told me they had sent a team (Team BBC?) of over seventy to cover the event… I was impressed until I had a look at the Team GB (its catching) Winter Olympics website where it told me, and I quote
” approximately 50 athletes across six sports” would be attending… erm, “approximately”? Shouldn’t someone check exactly how many are going? I mean any loser could bunk in. All you need to do is get an old shell suit, a posh name and jump on the plane… although judging by the medal table that appears to be what has happened!
We are standing (or maybe that should be lolling), as I type, in joint twenty fourth! (makes you proud doesn’t it!) only seven places behind Australia! Now leaving aside the facts that the table only goes up to twenty four and Australia doesn’t have any snow it makes me proud to be from Country GB! Sorry I mean Great Britain. Although, thinking about it, maybe we should have asked the BBC to represent us, seeing as there were more of them than there was athletes. Good to know my licence fee is being well spent.
Our sole medal winner is Amy Williams, she won Gold in something called the skeleton… which, and I am only guessing, involves sliding down a hill on something. Apparently, according to the Olympics website, Amy’s friends call her Curly Wurly, her father is a Dr of Chemistry and she attends Bath University studying Sports Science (although in view of her event I would have thought Medicine or Archaeology might be more apt).
I’m pleased for Amy, it must be great to work towards something for years and then to be told you are the best in the world for it, I’m really pleased for her. Although… and I don’t want to sound a bit churlish, it made me wonder exactly how many people do the “Skeleton”? I’ll wager there are thousands around the country who would love to have a go of it (whatever it is, I could look on Google but I’m not sure I want to, for all I know it involves a spade and a grave yard or even worse… Tony Robinson).
You see maybe that’s what is wrong with the Winter Olympics, if you aren’t middle class or above, you’ve no chance of ever taking part. A quick audit of Team GB’s (aaaaarrrggghhh) website reveals host of names that wouldn’t sound out of place in a St Trinians film, Chemmy, Lorna, Eleanor and Elise aren’t likely to be seen dead buying a pasty from Sayers, and the blokes? Well Kristan, Benjamin and Edward wouldn’t be caught dead climbing over the gates at Creamfields either.
So maybe that’s why nobody in the cab has cared about the Winter Olympics, its not that Vancouver is too far away, its maybe the chances of competing in them is a world away.
Finally… I get a blog just as everyone else buggers off to twitter (I’ve got twitter as well, not that anyone is bothered!)
I should maybe explain what this is all about and who I am, so I’ll start at the beginning… I’m a forty two year old single bloke, who lives with his dog. All the neighbours think I am weird (which I may well be, I’m not sure you know if you are weird when its you who is weird!) I live with my dog Boo and I often find myself wandering country lanes with him wondering why my life is less than productive (it might be something to do with the fact that I am always walking the dog when I should be working).
So… on the advice of a friend, I’ve started a blog. its not going to be about my infrequent ventures in stand up, writing or acting, although hopefully they will pop up occasionally.
This is going to be about what happens in my cab when I am working of a night, which tends to be a lot more interesting than the rest of my life… hopefully!
For instance, take Friday night, a ten minute soap opera played out en route to Aintree (you can keep your live editions of eastenders… this blew that out of the water!)
I picked up at a social club in Childwall. An attractive forty something lady came to the car, well spoken, slightly drunk and apologising in advance for her husband who was, as she so delicately put it, “pissed”.
Husband showed up and to be honest, he was drunk, but not too bad. A bit loud but he seemed in good spirits and also apologised for being a bit tipsy (I’m guessing drunk people will feature frequently in these stories!)
Off we set, initially they seemed happy, wife up front with me and him sprawled on the back seat. They did the usual, which is slag off the other people who had been at the party (apparently it was a wedding and Aunty Marie had made a “show of herself”) but very quickly, and I don’t know why, the mood became very dark between them.
Husband asked why wife had sat up front with me. Now this is always a worry as a cabby, some women like to have a flirt, and this can be awkward when a drunken husband is sitting less than three feet away! But I honestly didn’t feel that this lady was flirting with me, I just think she didn’t want to sit next to her drunken husband! I often am quite chatty with passengers, but I’d made a decision to let these two keep the conversation to themselves and I was sitting firmly on the sidelines as the storm clouds grew. I’d noticed that wife was scrolling through messages on a mobile phone she was holding. I’d assumed it was hers and she’d called the cab on it. Hubby suddenly asked “where’s me phone?” wife replied “here”
At this husband suddenly burst into life, he jumped forward and frantically started to grab the phone off his wife, who wasn’t going to hand it over, no matter what he tried!
“Give it here! Give it here! I only gave it to you to ring the cab!”
“No! I’m looking at it, whats your problem? Why don’t you want me to look at it?”
This went on for a moment with husband reaching across, in the end I had to tell him to “sit the f**k down or I’ll have to stop and you’ll get out”
He apologised and they sat in silence, wife put the phone back into her handbag and an awkward truce developed, or that’s what I thought,
“why are you pushing the back of my seat?” said wife
“I’m not” said husband
I glanced at husband who nodded to me in a “its okay mate I’ll not cause any problems” kind of way.
By now I was thinking “I’m going to end up fighting here” and getting that flight or fight feeling but the moment seemed to pass and the car quietened down. We arrived at their home address and the lady reached across and squeezed my knee before getting out ( doesn’t happen often and gave me a bit of a start!). Husband got out and quickly caught up to her and whispered in her ear, she ignored him and went into the house as he returned to the car to pay me.
“Sorry mate” he said “she was taking the piss”
“I’m not sure mate, its fourteen quid”
“there is nothing on my phone” (a little to forcibly)
“whatever mate, nothing to do with me, fourteen quid please”
“she just wanted to wind me up”
“thinks i’m having an affair”
“How much was that?”
And he paid me and I watched him walk back into the house. I’m guessing they had a real ding dong domestic that night, about the phone, the journey, the “affair” and possibly even the cab driver, maybe even Aunty Marie.
As I drove away, I couldn’t help wondering, how a nice night out had turned so quickly into a full blown fight, how a couple who are probably quite nice people would wash their dirty laundry in front of a total stranger and, more importantly, how thick the walls where in their house… because I’m guessing the neighbours had to listen to an awful lot of shouting before dawn!