If I’m at a party and someone asks me what I do for a living I normally roll my eyes, take a sip of whatever I’m drinking, look around the room for a moment and then say,
“Erm... well you see, I’m sort of a taxi driver sort of writer sort of stand up comedian who sort of does a bit of acting and stuff.”
This normally causes great excitement (at the sort of parties I go to, sausages on sticks cause excitement) and people want to talk about either the writing or the stand up. It usually goes along the lines of “What’s your favourite joke?” or “What sort of stuff do you write?”
I normally waffle for a bit and people “ooh” and “aaah” at my showbiz anecdotes which mostly involve me spilling drinks on people you’ve never heard of, in places you wouldn’t want to go to. It is safe to say, if Parky was still on the telly interviewing people he wouldn’t be saving me a place on his show next to Peter Ustinov and Kenneth Williams. Truth is, I’m not much more interesting than those adverts he makes selling life insurance to coffin dodgers.
I always think it’s a shame people only want to talk about the “glamorous stuff”. I understand why they do of course, they don’t know that writing mostly involves coffee and looking out the window, followed by more coffee, more window staring and then a visit to the toilet before putting the kettle on. And how would they know that stand up mostly involves motorways, dingy pubs, flat diet coke and flatter tyres in the rain? They see Michael McIntyre in shiny suits; I see Donal McIntyre in that documentary he made about football hooligans.
Glamorous it is not.
I first started writing about these people as I figured that one day I might use them as characters, in stories or plays
Many people find it weird that the most interesting facet of my life is the one that appears to be the most “normal”... taxi driving. Granted, my nine to five is mostly nine in the evening to five in the morning, but it’s the only revenue stream I have that constantly stimulates me, constantly introduces me to new people, and constantly pays for dog food.
There must be something of the confessional about being a driver, maybe it’s because they can’t see your face (unless you are reversing) or maybe it’s the “no names no pack drill” nature of the transaction. I tend to think it might also be the ten pints of lager and tequila slammers myself, but people open up to you when you are driving. It doesn’t take much to get them telling you their life story and often the hardest part is remembering the details so that when they get out I can scribble it all down in the notebook that is always waiting, shoved in the door pocket, like an aged paper iPad.
I first started writing about these people as I figured that one day I might use them as characters, in stories or plays. But then one night I realised that real life can sometimes be more interesting than imagined life, and that night, Rear View Mirror was born.
Initially it was going to be a series of blogs, until a local magazine editor got in and asked to read them, they then became a series of columns, telling the stories of love, laughter, lager louts and the loneliness of those who pass through the night.
Those columns have now become an ebook and the irony is I hope it sells well enough so that I can stop driving the one thing that has enabled me to say, “I’m an author.”
Click here to read our Confessions of a Cab Driver series by a Hastings cabbie...
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