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Why won't they let me go home?

Well yesterday was interesting, in a why the hell did anyone ever invent rugby kind of way. First me and Sandy got stuck in a bus behind 67500 rugby fans. They actually left the traffic lights on red for twenty minutes while they all filed past - how can a game be worth that! Also many of them were wearing bad nurse drag and orange wigs and stuff, which should be illegal.

Then we went to HMV and got classical music for Sandy and Waterstones where I got the first two Lemony Snicket books (love 'em) and had a coffee and a bun. And guess what? The 67500 fans weren't there - and they weren't to be seen when we came out either. They certainly managed to disperse into pubs and burger bars fast.

In the evening I did more BiCon stuff and then went to the Holyrood to see Nik, who's got a job that he wants after a long time getting a lot of hassle from the dole. So I felt I owed it to him to turn up and buy him a pint. This may have been a mistake. I was feeling low and tired from the various discussions I've been having with other people who are feeling low, and I worried about how I was going to get home given the rugby fans. In the end I left the pub at midnight and went to the High Street to queue for a cab.



Oh look, there's a bus that would take me somewhere near my home, but it goes to Fountainbridge and I'd have to walk through the foot tunnel. Oh, and it's in the process of arguing with a very drunk woman with a lot of shopping bags. I'll avoid that and join the queue. The queue is not so very long. The cabs are arriving relatively frequently, the people in the queue are not unfriendly. Good.

Ten minutes later the bus is still there. The queue has got a lot lot longer: I'm glad I joined it when I did. Another cab arrives and collects four well behaved rugby fans. We all move on up. Someone is eating a garlic bread and cheese pizza right next to me. A whole one. Bastards. The bus manages to kick the drunk woman off with the help of a minicab driver. She looks like someone has flushed he blond head down the toilet at some point in the evening. This doesn't seem impossible. She joins the queue - or at least collapses on the pavement near the other end. Fine.

Now another cab arrives. The drunk woman attempts to stop it with her foot, but that's OK. Cabs are used to kamikaze drunks and usually manage to avoid hitting them. The cab avoids the drunk woman's foot and successfully picks up a party of women in unsuitable shoes from the correct end of the queue who between them seem to have lost the address they're going to. The cab turns off its light, turns on its meter and is patient. Eventually they seem to make a decision and move on. Perhaps they worked out where they were going. Or perhaps they just saw the drunk woman rise up out of the pavement like a zombie who's just bought a *lot* of shopping and decided to head for some random destination before she attached herself to their rear bumper. Good idea.

The zombie woman veers across the road, complete with shopping, and accosts a minicab driver who's waiting outside The Royal Mile pub. Not a bright move. Minicab drivers are less patient men than black cab drivers. He block the door to his people carrier, legs akimbo and arms folded, and shouts abuse in her face. Oblivious, she tries to reach past him for the door handle. She may have forgotten that she's carrying three bags of heavy shopping in that hand, but he hasn't. He pushes her back into the road where she narrowly avoids being run over, in turn, by a small green sports car being driven by someone who is trying to read a map without stopping, another minicab with three cross dressed fans in the back, one of whom is trowing up out of the window, and the next black cab to arrive at the stand. She attempts to stop all these cars, which is possibly why the minicab doesn't stop to eject its vomiting passenger. Stay in the car, charge him for cleaning later - if you break down remain in the car and await assistance. That's my advice.

The garlic bread eater gives up and decides to walk. Possibly a good idea, but I've waited this long, surely it must be my turn soon. I count the queue. The next cab is at the stand and away with two silent men in suits before I finish counting and now there are only five people in front of me. I wait. A party of French students fill the space behind me left by the garlic bread eater. They are talking about fascism, but my French isn't good enough to tell whether they think it's a good thing or not. They seem very animated about it, either way.

The next cab shows foresight. It sees the three men in white shirts and beer bellies, it sees the shambling wreck with the shopping bags and the toilet watered hair, and it signals to the men to move beyond the end of the queue and hop in. Unfortunately this lures the woman to the front of the queue where she proceeds to hassle everyone. She tells us all that it's her cab next and we tell her that it isn't. The two rugby shirts next in line abuse her in Geordie and she abuses them in Scots. This could be a wonderful example of cross-cultural communication - or possibly not. Drunken abuse is the same in any dialect, but I am not drunk enough to understand what they're calling her. I need that Geordie dictionary I once saw, with the section marked "starting an altercation". I understand putain de merde from the other side of me better, and I agree - fucking hell!

The next cab arrives in the middle of a fully fledged altercation, so ten out of ten for cross-cultural communication. The driver joins the two big lads in prising the woman off the side of the cab and they shut the door in her face. Now it's my turn. Fab. I try to step around her in order to make it clear that I'm the front of the queue, but she's a moving target and hard to navigate around. One of her bags appears to contain a lot of lose broken bread. You could feed all the ducks in Hyde park with it and still have some over. The next cab arrives, and, momentarily distracted by her bread, I manage to let her get into it first. Damn! Why am I always the one to get walked over? I am *not* going to get walked over this time, I get in the cab after her.

Then follows a surreal conversation where she's trying to tell the driver to go to South Queensferry, he's trying politely to work out whether she has any money, and I'm repeatedly saying, "this isn't her cab, it's my cab, she wasn't first in the queue, she got kicked off a bus ten minutes after I started queuing. Because we're both speaking at once it seems to take the driver a long time to grasp this, but once he gets it he immediately tells her to get out. Fortunately she's too drunk to realise it might be a good idea to argue the facts. If she'd just said "no, I was first" I don't know what would have happened, but instead she carries on with the abuse and the driver has no trouble deciding who's a) telling the truth, b) soberer, and c) likely to have any money.

While this is going on another cab draws up and picks up the French students, so now I have thoroughly lost my place in the queue. I can't back down now. Their cab hangs about, either because it can't understand where they want to go or because it sees another cab in trouble. My driver threatens to call the police, she threatens something I don't understand and called me a fat English cow. He calls to another cab driver "Hey Jim, would you call the pollis for me, I cannae get this woman outae ma cab." She swears, Jim makes big theatrical movement towards his radio, and the twin of Jim comes out of yet another cab which has been stood by the hotel for ages and offers to help move her. She is eventually removed, while I sit tight and my adrenaline levels go through the roof. Wow.

I had a good chat with the driver about similar incidents on the way home. It's never happened to me before, though - I am impressed and rather surprised that I stood up for myself. I tipped the driver, which isn't usual for Edinburgh and he didn't seem to expect it, but he deserved it.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sibelian
28th Apr, 2002 04:54 (UTC)
Taxi Rank Adventures

phew!

Well done, my love.

Actually, I've been thinking of given up taxis as they are an expenxive pain...
Also it's ridiculous getting a taxi in Edinburgh...
jinxremoving
28th Apr, 2002 05:11 (UTC)
augh! nightmare.

what's lemony snicket, btw?
purplerabbits
28th Apr, 2002 05:43 (UTC)
Lemony Snicket
Author of A Series of Unfortunate Events. And this web page.
lovingboth
28th Apr, 2002 08:39 (UTC)
Fabulous.

He's the author of childrens books that are wasted on children who do not realise just how good they are. (Presumably it's a pseudonym, but I don't know whose.) "Lots of nasty things happen to some nice children" is the basic plot.

Have you finished the first two, Alison?
lovingboth
28th Apr, 2002 08:53 (UTC)
Ah ha - it's Daniel Handler who did the comic novel about incest, Watch Your Mouth.

Doesn't surprise me at all...
(Deleted comment)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )