'There's madness in my family you know, but I think I deal with it fairly well. I always have this strange compulsion to talk to taxi drivers- you don't mind if I ask you a few questions do you? I'm not sure if it'll flow tonight though... are you married?'
It's nearly 2a.m. and I'm in a taxi cab somewhere in Hillingdon. I don't know the guy in the front- I met him a few minutes ago in the queue, he heard where I was wanting to go and offered to share his cab with me. He's doing a very good job of unsettling the cab driver, and, now that I think about it, me.
'Taxi driving's a dangerous job really isn't it? I mean, anything could happen to you really couldn't it? So- are you married?'
Well yes I suppose it could, especially as we're now travelling at approximately 150 miles per hour. Let's hope it doesn't though eh? Its been a long enough day as it is.
After a busy day in the shop there was just time for a bag of chips before heading into London to join (should that be rejoin?) my Blues Brothers buddies for a gig at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel at Chancery Court. Tonight we're playing our 'party' set (which you won't be surprised to hear consists of mostly Blues Brothers and Commitments numbers) under the name of Heart and Soul. The nearest tube station to the venue is Holborn which is on the Central line so I decide to walk up to West Ruislip station which, on a hot day with a guitar on your back is far enough I can tell you (imagine the moaning if I had a real job!). There's sign's saying that there's been a disrupted service but the ticket man assures me it's all running ok.
He lied. The journey took ages, and the train then didn't go any further than Marble Arch. I was reduced to getting a bus from there to Tottenham Court Road and then walking to Holborn which, on a hot day with a guitar on your back is far enough I can tell you (stop me if you've heard this one before). By the magic of the mobile phone I discover the lads are in The George on Old Queen Street (should that be Old Queeeeen Street?) and get there halfway through the first half of the England vs. Brazil game. There's much hello-ing and general jollity all round which was a bit of a relief, at least from my point of view. At half time it's a walk back to the venue which isn't too far away-as we pass Holborn station we meet Tracy who's just asking someone if they know where the hotel is. We're playing in the basement at the 60th anniversary of the Werth company who, I'm told, make hearing aids. They might be handy people to know in a few years... and it's a good gig with a fair reaction for a corporate event and not too many mistakes from your humble narrator- well, none that I'm going to mention here anyway.
As the corporate world is one where last buses and trains are rarely a consideration ( most of the people attending will be staying at the hotel) I was half expecting to have to attempt the night bus back from Marble Arch- but we finished just in time for me to get the last train back to West Ruislip. Now if I'd been at all organised I'd have taken the number of the cab office in Ickenham and then called them when on my way back to have a cab waiting for me at the station. But that would have been too easy- so I walked back to Ickenham from the station which didn't seem quite as far as it did earlier but was still far enough (etc etc). And then the fun began...
You know there's always a little window that you look through when you're talking to the cab controller? Well I could see and hear the woman in there- and she was NOT HAPPY. She was screaming down a mobile phone about how this was ruining her birthday and if she catches hold of them they'd be sorry and I'll give them a piece of my mind when I see him... and one of the two guys waiting for cabs is saying how he's just got back from Bulgaria, he's bought a house there 'cos this country's finished and the people there are friendly not like over here... when suddenly the door next to the little window opened and a young lady (not the one on the mobile phone) came out to ask me where I wanted to go. When I said 'Uxbridge' the guy who hadn't just got back from Bulgaria said something like 'that's where I'm going' and offered to share a cab with me. Seemed like a good idea...
'You are married? Good! Let me tell you my theory about what makes a woman happy'.
We're sitting at the traffic lights. I can see the driver's eyes in the rear view mirror.
'You have to keep surprising them. And you have to give 'em stability. How about you in the back- are you married?'
The driver's just raised his eyebrows at me. I knew I should have walked. Or got a house nearer to the station. I did the only thing I could do under the circumstances.
'Just on the corner here's fine mate'
Well it's not that far really is it, even on a hot day with a guitar on your back...