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Taxi!

The instructive bus ride kind of reminded me of another late-night journey a couple of years ago.

We were trying to hail a cab on London's Oxford Street at two in the morning. A chunky off-roader pulled up and the driver shouted “Taxi?”. Liam said afterwards that the reason he chose to get in was that, the car being pretty solid, we’d be fairly safe if the driver decided to hurl it through HMV’s front window. And cornfedpig couldn’t be bothered to stand around waiting for a black cab. So we got in, cornfedpig and me in the back.

“Thank you!” shouted the driver—a black guy, clearly originally African but also a London veteran—and we shot off.

Immediately: “WHAT ABOUT JEFFREY ARCHER?” began the driver, gleefully. (You have to imagine a high-octane London/Ghana accent, complete with staring eyes and shit-eating grin. Kind of an African Richard Pryor.) “I DON’T ENVY THAT MOTHERFUCKER! THREE YEARS AGO, I HAD TO SPEND SOME TIME INSIDE, AND ONE GUY SAID TO ME ‘HEY, YOU, DO YOU WANT TO BE MAMA OR PAPA?’ HEH HEH, OKAY? SO I SAID, ‘IF YOU DON’T MIND, I’D LIKE TO BE PAPA!’ AND HE SAID, ‘OKAY, PAPA, COME AND SUCK MAMA’S DICK!’ HA HA HA HA HA!! I TELL YOU, THAT MOTHERFUCKER BETTER WATCH HIMSELF IN THE SHOWER! I USED TO DRIVE HIM AROUND, THOUGH, I USED TO WORK FOR ADDISON LEE, AND I DROVE HIM A LOT, AND HE TALKED A LOT OF SHIT! YOU THINK I TALK SHIT, YOU SHOULD HEAR HIM! HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

Liam told me afterwards that within ten seconds he was concerned enough to be eyeing up the handbrake and working out the best way to grab the steering wheel. cornfedpig—already four hours later setting off home than he had intended, after a long day—was too shellshocked to speak.

“I SURE WOULD LIKE SOME OF THAT VAGINA!” the driver yelled, indicating a young lady walking past.

The thing was, as we quickly realised, that no matter how loud and startlingly animated the driver got, his driving was superb. Every corner taken carefully, speed limits faithfully observed, the works. It was scant compensation for Liam, who was cowering in the front seat and visibly scared.

“AND JOHN MAJOR! FUCKING THAT EDWINA CURRIE! YOU CAN'T BLAME HIM, THOUGH, SHE’S ALWAYS HAD A FINE BODY! I WOULDN'T HAVE MINDED HAVING A GO MYSELF! I WOULDN’T FUCK HER NOW, THOUGH! I TELL YOU, ONCE THEY GET TO FORTY, DON'T BOTHER! THEIR VAGINAS DRY UP! I FUCKED THIS OLDER WOMAN IN MY CAR THREE WEEKS AGO, AND I TELL YOU, IT WAS LIKE SANDPAPER!”

“In this car?” I asked.

“YES!” he shouted back.

“What, back here?” I said, shifting uncomfortably. The driver laughed.

“NO, YOU’RE ALL RIGHT, MY FRIEND, YOU ARE WHERE I WAS SITTING!” I looked over at cornfedpig. His head was buried in his hands.

"I TELL YOU, OVER FORTY, A WOMAN’S VAGINA IS DRY! IT STARTS TO GO ROTTEN IN THERE! SHE PUT ME OFF WOMEN FOR THREE WEEKS! IN FACT I HAVEN'T HAD A FUCK SINCE! HA HA HA! IF I MEET A GIRL I WANT TO MARRY, I WILL TELL HER, ‘I WILL MARRY YOU SO LONG AS WHEN YOU GET TO FORTY YOUR VAGINA DOES NOT GO DRY AND START TO STINK’! HA HA HA HA!”

Then he introduced his interactive feature. “SO WHICH CLUB HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN TO TONIGHT?” I misheard him. “Which company have we been to...?” The driver, predictably, laughed. “NO, MOTHERFUCKER, NOT WHICH FUCKING COMPANY, WHICH CLUB?” I told him. “’MILK AND HONEY’? I LIKE THE SOUND OF THAT! HA HA HA HA! I LIKE THAT NAME! I LIKE IT! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

We were close to my flat by now. Liam turned to cornfedpig and said “Do you want to get out here with us?” cornfedpig resignedly replied “No no, I’ll be fine”. When L and I got out, cornfedpig muttered to me “I’ll call you when I get in”. And off they sped.

Liam and I sat there waiting for the phone to ring. cornfedpig sent a text en route. It simply said: “You chose this cab”.

He got in okay. He simply said that he felt like he’d been assaulted, and that he was going to bed.

Liam says it’s the worst cab ride he’s ever had. In many ways I’d rate it as one of my best.

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