Driving Miss Daisy…Crazy

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I hopped in a taxi the other day, the same firm that I have used consistently for the past year so.

My parents never drove and this sort of had a domino effect to me, I’ve never really felt the desire or urgency to learn how- although I suspect this may change when I have my little one at the end of the year. I like to walk- I mainly walk everywhere as I loathe to the get public transport. I just hate buses. The smell, the feel of the rough fabric in summer, the awkward ‘Can I sit here’s and the conversations you overhear (Honestly, is nothing sacred?!).

The point being that if I don’t walk, on occasion I will spare the extra few pounds to be able to sit in comfortable peace. I’ve always sort of quietly enjoyed this luxury and the polite chatter with the driver. I’ve had some excellent conversations in the past as a result. I’ve met a self proclaimed reiki healing master who assured me he could cure me of my lifelong migraine condition, a man who had the most amazing tales from his travels in India, a gentleman who did the job as extra income to fund his charity works and many more. I’ve heard great stories on these short journeys of mine- all of which have left me feeling intrigued and generally much happier than I would have been if I had been instead stood on the number 20 with someones armpit in my face.

I had never really had a problem as such until the other day. I was on my way to my grandmothers house to have Sunday lunch with her and my father armed with my 20 week scan photos and in full blooming proud mother mode. The sun was shining (a rarity in these parts). I was ready to enjoy a lazy family Sunday.

Then, it happened.

‘You alright, love?’

‘Yes, I’m fine thank you. How are you?’

‘Not feeling too well today.’

‘That’s a shame.’

‘I called the council the other day, I wanted to go on the sick. They wouldn’t give me nothing. I said to her I should change my *insert expletive here* name to Mohammed, then I’d get everything.’

Oh no. It’s happened. I am stuck in a car with one of them. This was problematic at best. What on earth are you supposed to do when you fall victim to an opinion that you highly oppose when you are trapped in the offenders car? I ran through the options in my head as I sat in stoic silence, as the driver marched endlessly on into the usual tirade of hate.

‘I used to be proud to be British, nothing left for us anymore. They get everything…’ and so on and so forth.

I ran through the options in my head. There was about another ten minutes left on the journey. I could make a stand, ask him to stop and get out of the car. Give him a piece of my mind and tell him that in fact, I’m very proud to be British and part of a country that helps others in need, a country that is a better place for it’s diversity in many way. I could tell him that in fact, they don’t get everything and he should stop reading hoax emails whilst taking them as gospel truth. After all, if it says it on Facebook it must be true. Right?

There were a few problems with this heroic option, one being that I am five months pregnant, it’s a hot day and I was still a couple of miles away from my destination, but the main being- you just don’t know how someone could react and let’s face it, he’s got the upper hand here. He might lock the doors and take me away Nazi Germany with him.

As a woman- and a pregnant one- in that situation, I was highly uncomfortable. I thought it more sensible to bite my tongue and make a note of his taxi number, knowing next time I book to ask for any cab but. The whole situation was extremely awkward, the driver not taking my non responsive attitude as any hint to simply stop speaking or change the subject. He withered on and on with his hate speech for the entire journey, even at one point having the audacity to predict my unborn child’s fate.

‘That baby, that won’t have a future. Won’t be able to get a job.’

I mean really, where do some people get off. At the risk of sounding like a snob- has the line between a taxi being a private hire service and the driver doing you a paid favor blurred? Where has the formality gone? I wouldn’t in a million years ever consider it appropriate to give my store customers an earful of such a controversial and personal nature, neither would I expect it from anyone I didn’t know well enough out of any service industries.

On the subject of immigration itself – to me, it seems a much worse problem to have ignorance plaguing our streets, sowing the seeds of unjustified and uneducated hate.

The most ironic thing of it all, the real icing on top of the callowness cake, was the final thing the driver said to me.

‘Well, if it get’s much worse I’ll be out of here. I’ll move to another country.’

 

 

A little slice of paradise

This time two years ago I was dipping my feet into these crystal clear waters and escaping the rat race of UK life.

Well. That’s not entirely true. I went to work a summer season for a small sailing company on the Greek island of Lefkada…never having set foot on a boat, unless you count one moored up to Bristol Habour with a bar in it which brought about a whole new meaning to sea legs.

I applied for the administrators position after finding it advertised on an internet website, on the back of yet another argument with my boyfriend at the time. Two days and an awkward phone interview later I had been offered the position and had packed my bags. My parents and friends and family thought I was insane…in retrospect insane is a kind word.

The advertisement stated that the small but expanding English run family business was looking for an administrator to the principal of the sea school. Someone to help design websites, organize files and generally be the office dogsbody. Fantastic. Sign me up and call me Popeye. If I can be an office dogsbody in the UK sure as hell I can do it in 30 degree heat.

Oh, I thought my life was going to be a sea breeze.

The reality was quite different.

Do you know what they don’t tell you about working in the tourist sector abroad? It’s that you work ten times harder, do ten times the work and get paid ten times less. The luxury is the weather and…well. The weather and the cheap wine, which I can tell you is a lethal combination and was ultimately my downfall.

I have never been able to handle my drink well. Combine that with heat, with unlimited bar tabs and the holiday atmosphere, I was a catastrophic mess. I’d like to look back and think I was a brooding, dark and mysterious drunk genius, likened to Edgar Allen Poe. Spending hours alone at secluded table at the yacht club, whispering to myself. In reality however, I was a cross between Lindsay Lohan and Anna Nicole Smith, with probably less grace.

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See figure above. This was the beginning of the end. This particular night, I got so drunk on a mixture of Jaeger bombs and wine that I fell down concrete stairs, tried to sleep with my boss, adamantly refused to be taken home or subdued and tried to climb out of the car window, flashed my boobs and ordered a drink with such gusto that even Paula Abdul would be left red-faced. Rinse, repeat and puke again several more times in the next few months.

It really was the ultimate car crash of a holiday season that lead to a circling depression that eventually saw me running back to the UK on the next plane with my tail between my legs and a still ever present hangover.

I suppose on the two year anniversary of my Greek Island Dream Death it has left me feeling a little nostalgic and a little bit…entirely baffled by the whole experience. Especially now, with my own little girl rapidly growing in my buddha belly…I can only think one thing.

I wish I’d stayed at bloody home and just spent the summer reading Homer’s Odyssey instead.