Do you drive the latest model of black cab I see around the city these days?
No, I drive a rented cab. I heard those new cabs are nice to drive, but they are expensive. About the cost of renting one for seven years, after you include tax, insurance and maintenance, and then you get a few years more.
The anarchists are in town, intent on two weeks of indiscriminate disruption. Save the planet, man. People are too stupid to vote for the Green Party, and they need to wake up. Screw the disabled Welsh family, here for three days staying at Premier Inn, who weren't able to go on their sightseeing tour. Screw the mother and son who wanted to get from St. Thomas's hospital to Victoria station after visiting dad who's just had a heart attack. They're too stupid to know whom to vote for so **** them.
Yeah, I sometimes forget that 95% of the population has no clue and anything they say is usually wrong or worthless. That's way I usually forget about carrying a gun- you never have enough bullets : even if you are an accurate shot.
The first thing you learn in mathematics is how to count, which is to memorize an ordering of symbols. One symbol follows another. Symbols are meaningless marks on a page, and it doesn't matter much what they look like, as long as they are different from one another. For example:
£, T, @, *, &, #, ?, %
Given this ordering, you next learn addition. To do @ + *, you count forwards * from @, like this:
£, T, @, *, &, #, ?, %
_, _, £, T, @, *, &, #, ?, %
and @ + * = #. Then you learn to subtract, which is counting backwards. To do * - @, you count backwards @ from *, like this:
_, _, _, _, £, T, @, *, &, #, ?, %
%, ?, #, &, *, @, T, £
and * - @ = T.
The most important symbol is £, which is where counting begins, and it is called zero. Putting the symbols in order makes them numbers, and leads, by itself, to prime numbers, Goldbach's conjecture, Godel's theorem, and the basis of civilization as we know it. The concept of one thing following another is fundamental and profound.
People who turn into a different person when they've had a drink. It's probably not their fault. They're addicts who aren't built to be able to handle a drink, right? It's not their fault that they're destructive, abusive, narcissistic, out of control and impossible to reason or even communicate with.
"Just give me five minutes... give me five minutes... give me five minutes..."
"I'm giving you five minutes."
"I know... don't worry... just give me five minutes, yeah?"
And all in this over-privileged, generic, thirty-something voice. I end up outside the door of her flat, because she can't remember her PIN and is unable to pay me and needs the toilet. She owes me thirty pounds and is off her head. She actually invites me inside. Yeah, that's a good idea. Maybe I should go, and let this middle class **** get away with theft.
We end up outside the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill. Maybe her friend can pay me, but she only deals with modern payment methods which are too technologically advanced for me. She finds it unreasonable that I want to be paid now, rather than by bank transfer tomorrow or whenever.
"I'm a barrister. You can google me. Listen to me, I'm trying to help you."
Out of the blue, an older couple whom they know come strolling along the street. Lovely to see you. And one of them has a card that works.
Saturday afternoon. The day has started well. I am driving back from Golders Green, and I am reminded that there is a decent pie and mash shop in Camden. Castles, on Royal College Street, away from the market. Near Camden Square, where Wamy Einehouse lived and died. But nowhere much to park, so I have to get a takeaway, dousing it in chilli vinegar and salt and white pepper from the counter. Although it doesn't work and becomes gloop in a polystyrene box, and I don't find anywhere to eat it out in the fresh air. No matter. I get in the queue at King's Cross, and drive a polite, young American woman to Hackney Road.
Royal College Street is interesting for the blue plaque on the wall of No. 8 marking the three tumultuous months during the 1870s that poets Rimbaud and Verlaine spent there, where some of the former's Illuminations were written and where the pair embarked upon Rimbaud's envisioned "systematic disordering of the senses", which usually meant laudanum and alcohol and daily pub crawls around the whole area.
I wikied Amy Winehouse, and she was born in the same hospital as me.
Laudanum, huh. I like it. It's got a bohemian, Victorian, Dr Crippen ring to it.
It's all very well being self-employed, and not being lectured on targets and the team ethic by washed-up neurotics, but it's still work and you still have to find the inner strength to put the hours in, when really you should be eating ice cream in Southend.
You seem to dash about the spiffy part of London quite a bit...
I happen to live in a spiffy part. Although not technically Chelsea, it could certainly pass for it in an emergency.
The Duke of York's HQ is now the Saatchi gallery, and Chelsea barracks is a long ongoing property development. The area retains its military connection with the Royal Hospital: a fine Wren building, and excellent propaganda that the nation treats its war veterans with dignity. Home to the premier horticultural event in the world, which begins on Monday. Towards the end of the week, Middle England thinks it can come swanning down, loading up on Pimm's, and being rude to the local pub landlords. I go every year.
Today was perfect. I get in the queue at Victoria station.
"Can you take me to Heathrow?"
Can I? It's a nice drive on a low-traffic Saturday morning, the city unwinding in the direction of time and entropy.
Freed from all fear of man,
England in Spring.
-- Kyoshi Takahama
Indisposition prevented one from being present is an awesome excuse.
I blabbed about Chelsea to some English couple that I meant in Paris in a pizza joint. Seems odd I know, but they seemed to imply that unless you were a millionaire it was difficult to even live near there. I quickly did the polite thing and said I was only visiting friends and that was where we met etc. Strange that a redneck American could be vaulted into high society so easily. But that happens occasionally.
People from the country are not like people from London. I don't encounter them often. Perhaps there is an analogy to be made with wild flowers and manicured gardens. Except I'm not sure whether people, given more room and less cultivation, grow into self-caricature. I tried living there twenty years ago. What got me was the lack of modernity, which originates from city centres, and some flotsam and jetsam arrives years later. The vacuum is filled with class obsession and petty snobbery. That **** is real. (I am talking about England, not elsewhere.)
Flower growers tend to be old, and grow (or at least exhibit) one type of flower, which they are able to discuss indefinitely. They don't grow begonias and carnations and peonies, they grow only all varieties of begonia, and explore only the possibilities of that type of flower. Like dog breeders who breed one type of dog. That was their moment of amazement, and that's how they apprehend the Buddha.
A well-dressed, sleek, 74-year old, world-class concert pianist gets in at Euston. Frank Something, I forgot his surname.
"Queen Elizabeth Hall, please. On the Southbank. Do you know where that is?"
"Yeah, it's near the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall. All that."
I have improved slightly at eliciting information from people. "You're not playing there, are you, sir?", I ask jocularly. No, he's judging a music contest. "You must be a professor of music." Etc. It's funny, you start talking to people in a cab driver way. That's the rhythm of it. I know that he knows that I get to talk to him like probably few others can. I ask a bunch of stupid questions, and he tells me what it's like. But how come your life is sprinkled with stardust, and I'm driving a cab? That's what I'm trying to get at.