Wednesday, 25 January 2012

More reasons why I love London* (*not you, Mayfair)

After 27 years of living in London, there are still some things I can't quite get my head around.

One of those things is the sheer volume of slow moving tourists constantly migrating through Leicester Square.

And another is Mayfair on a Friday night. 

For those who aren't familiar, Mayfair is an area of London where bare legs are a winter standard, all hair swings with Middleton gloss, a pout is the entirely un-ironic pose of choice, and £14 is a perfectly reasonable amount to pay for a G&T. 

But it was here that I found myself on Friday, after The Actress secured a table at one of the area's better known clubs for her birthday. The table came with complimentary entry, a thorough once-over, rigorous clipboard consultation, and a free bottle of vodka. Not my usual crowd, not my usual choice of club - but as the saying goes: if it's good enough for Prince Harry, it's good enough for me. 

It was from the comfort of our square foot of table space, where we got reprimanded by the club's very own Bride of Chucky every time we breached our allotted seating quota, that I watched - slightly baffled - as a sea of shimmering dresses, bare legs and straightened locks started writhing about on the dance floor.

It was a little bit like the arrivals area at Terminal 3, what with all the expectant eyes scanning the room, desperately searching for something. Their next millionaire, perhaps, or more likely, their own reflections in the mirrored walls and ceiling of the club. 

And that, in a nutshell, is why I found myself escaping into a black cab, having "lost" everyone else after a trip to the toilet.

"Back to normality, please, driver" I didn't say, directing him to Tottenham Court Road. It would cost too much to go the whole way home, so I planned to get a bus from there.

Having ranted about my night the whole way and racked up a modest £4.50 fare, we drew up at the bus stop, and I proffered a tenner.

"Sorry love, have you got anything smaller? I've got absolutely no change."

"Ah, no, this is all I've got. But, in that case" I continued, all nice and warm in the cab, "you could take me as far as you can for a tenner?"

He thought for a few seconds. "Where are you headed?"

I told him my nearest tube station, which would easily bring the fare up to over £20.

"Oh, I'll just take you all the way there."

"Are you sure? It's quite a way?"

"Yeah, it's my fault not having the change. Plus it's late, and it doesn't exactly sound like you've had a good night. The least I can do is get you home safe."

And with that, the cabby took me all the way home for half of what he should have charged, refusing to drop me anywhere else apart from right outside my front door.

Which brings me to the third thing about London I'm yet to understand: its propensity for being really quite nice, right at the moment when you least expect it.


Breeza said...

That's a nice cabbie. Cab drivers in the US aren't like that. Ever.
Sorry you had a bummer night but glad it ended well!

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Okay. So. Here's my London cab story. I was in the back of black cab when a very fine song from my youth came from the speakers. It was a lot of crunchy guitars and 4/4 time signatures. And then another! I asked the driver if he wouldn't mind turning up the volume. It was one great song after another. As it turned out, it was a cassette mix tape the diver had made for himself. (Remember those? No, I don't suppose you do, actually.) When the ride ended, I paid the fare and complimented him on his great taste in music. When he gave me the change, he popped the tape out and GAVE IT TO ME! I still have it!

My father-in-law was an ex-pat AT&T executive living in London. They put him up in a spectacular flat in Mayfair on Park Lane. I'm not kidding! Their housemate was a football player form Croatia. It's how I aspire to live but never will.

modelofamodernmajorgeneral said...

Nice, still not convinced about london in toto though.

treacle said...

Nice guy. In spite of its expanse and coldness, I find London and the people there really warm and welcoming.

Dominic said...

Heh. Ever encountered the taxi drivers in Paris? :)

London-Lass said...

Good Guy Cab Driver:)

Although still wondering how a black cab driver could not have had change of a tenner on a Friday night ...

Not much to share in the way of black cab journeys, but did once have a minicab driver take me to the destination of one of my blind dates. And when we arrived and I went to pay he said, dont worry love, no fare, enjoy your evening. My mum, when I told her after, suspected the mini cab driver wanted to get in my knickers. Either that, or he took one look at me, felt sorry for my blind date and, assuming my evening wasnt going to go well, let me off from paying the fare so at least I'd have had something nice to look back on. The g-i-t.

Ellie said...

That is absolutely, fucking brilliant.

London cabbies are heros! (Except for that really bad one who did really bad things to women that I will only allude to here because it's not in line with the whole tone of this post).

Absolutely, fucking brilliant.


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