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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Driving me crazy

Today I finally met someone with a worse sense of direction than me. On one hand, this was excellent as it proved that there is at least one person in the world who has more trouble finding places than I do. On the other hand, it wasn't so great... as the person in question was my taxi driver.

I needed to be in Colliers Wood, South Wimbledon for 9 a.m. There was no tube from Bethnal Green. A cab was the obvious option, and duly turned up, bang on 8 a.m.

I marvelled at the lack of traffic as we arrived at Embankment by about 8.15. Westminster was resplendent in the sunlight. Through Wimbledon we went... and then things went a bit pear shaped.

Suddenly we appeared to be in a residential estate. And then on a main road, heading to Merton. The driver pulled over at traffic lights to check his map. He didn't seem to be very good at reading his map. He stopped at the next traffic lights to check his map again. Then he pulled over at a petrol station to ask for directions. I asked him to stop the meter. He said he'd sort it out when we got there.

I said I needed to be at Colliers Wood in ten minutes. This just made him drive more recklessly... in the wrong direction.

He pulled over again and asked a French girl where Colliers Wood was. She told him, and then asked for a lift. She got in the cab too. A few hundred metres down the road, she asked to get out. He asked her again where the tube station was. She pointed vaguely, said it was straight on and then right. The cab driver then said to me, "I couldn't understand a word she said. Where shall I go?"

I suggested following the (very big) sign to Colliers Wood.

We made it, eventually, after about an extra £20 on the meter. He apologised a lot, said he was embarrased and he'd deduct £10 from the bill (as the cab was on account). Said he hadn't been in the area for a long time.

I rather suspect he never found his way home. If anyone sees a London cabbie driving round in circles and crying, whilst randomly picking up French girls, could you please point him in the direction of Central London? Ta.

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