The Crackhead

day 352

The crackhead approached me with a look of sheer indifference. “Chelsea mate”. Glaswegian. Cool.

“Whereabouts mate?” broad Liverpool accent, just so he knows…

“Lucan Place Po-lice Station”

I spotted the can of Super-Loopy-KKK-fighting fizz in his bag.

“No drinking in my car, mate sorry”

He fixed me once more with the dead eyes only a junkie could see through…

“Listen big man” he began..”I just need tae get tae Chelsea so I can sign for my parole conditions, get back in your car, come back to the Grove. I know I’ve got a drink, but I’m not going to spill it, I’m going to drink it. I’m not going to pish myself, throw up, or abuse you. in fact, I’ll be the model customer, – Chelsea wait and return that’s about £18…here’s twenty, now can we go please?”

I was already driving.

He talked all the way there and back. He was intelligent and funny but damaged. hence the drugs. ‘Two whites and a brown’ was what he was going to buy the moment he got back to Ladbroke Grove. £15 for a night of pure ecstasy and oblivion. He reckoned it was a bargain and he was probably right. Trouble is the price is way more than that £15….

Next job is delivering some quail eggs to a house on Cheyne Walk. Suffice to say it’s 5 storeys and directly facing the river. Oh, – and get this, – there’s ONE bell.

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Love this one, The Christian…

day 351

The Christian lives on Bramley Road. I’ve only picked her up twice. she goes local (£5) to a caring place…she’s a carer. the first time I took her to work she approached the car with a knowing grin, jumped in the front, – (this is unusual), took my hand (this is also, virtually unheard of) and said, in a booming, amazing Caribbean, West London voice: “TELL ME WHAT YOUR WORRIES ARE BOY”

Naturally I didn’t want to disappoint her, so, I blurted out “my car and money”.

In an instant, her eyes closed, her grip on my hand tightened (it’s an automatic, relax already) and she prayed for me. Yes. She prayed for me right there, reader, on the Golborne Road “DEAR LORD BLESS THIS BOY AND LOOK AFTER HIS CAR AND GIVE HIM SOME MONEY FROM THE TOP OF HIS HEAD TO THE SOLES OF HIS FEET DEAR JESUS LORD…” – you get the idea.

I found this profoundly moving. Notwithstanding one’s religious stance, the fact that someone, – a complete stranger, no less, – would be bothered to take my hand and give me about 45 seconds of their day in such a giving and spontaneous way was so nice to experience.

Believe it or not, the next job i got was a lady who always goes round the corner and habitually gives £20 for a £5 job. As she was getting out my phone went. It was Jose…

“Don’t ask how but your car passed the MOT…”

From 2009…

Recently I found an old blog of mine, quite by accident from when I was living in London. I was, at this stage, still on the fringes of the Music Business but making ends meet by Minicabbing in Ladbroke Grove/Notting Hill, where I lived. It was great to rediscover and I thought it might be nice to reproduce some of the entries here:

Day 350

The architect likes the clunk. The clunk is the noise my car makes on level ground when the automatic gearbox shifts gear from first to second (if i’m not braking). When he first heard it he looked up from his drawings with a delighted smile (i’m assuming the smile from the tone of the “whoop” he let out on hearing the clunk, naturally my eyes were firmly fixed on my fellow road users and pedestrians at the time).

“It’s a clunk!…why’s it making that clunking sound Mike!?”

“Not sure, Peter, I’ll ask Jose” (the mechanic, obviously).

Since the debut appearance by the clunk, it’s been heard by several mechanics; Jose just said “Time for a new car, Mike” as did the man from the RAC, so further opinions were necessary, none of which, to date has managed satisfactory diagnosis. The clunk has also been heard by many dozens of the fine people of Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove and North Kensington who have jumped with fright, ignored completely, tittered, or asked what that noise was.

Recently I’ve discovered that I can drive a certain way, when I’m P.O.B. (that’s cabbie talk for ‘passenger on board’, although to date I haven’t found anyone else with my fondness for its use within the industry). i take my foot off the gas a split second before the gears change automatically between first and second (on level ground, as I’m sure you recall) then the clunk doesn’t, clunk. I try to just let it clunk when I’m not P.O.B.

Anyway, Peter the architect finds it endlessly amusing and always asks after the clunk. Sometimes I let it clunk just to cheer him up if he’s particularly stressed.

It’s a sunny september evening in London, the quality of the light shining through the autumn coloured trees is particularly catching and I’ve been driving a cab for almost a year.

The music is picking up though. A breakthrough is coming, of that there is no doubt…

Amy

I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary and found it extremely upsetting. I had been a great admirer of her as a singer – I had no idea she was such an accomplished Jazz guitarist. The most poignant part for me was Tony Bennett’s tribute to her, comparing her, as a Jazz singer to the very best, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday etc…this after we had seen her duetting with him. This was probably a lifetime ambition fulfilled for Amy – Bennett was her musical hero. Such a talent and such a heartbreaking, tragic waste of a young life.

 

That’s the trouble with writing…

It’s been 2 years since I bothered.
During that time I’ve been working. Now I’m not.
Hang on – there’s a pattern here…
Perhaps…ooh, it’s on the tip of my mind…

Aha! Got it. When one is gainfully employed – in my case this meant driving wagons all over the UK delivering pub furniture – one just doesn’t have the time to write.

Now I’m back on Jobseeker’s Allowance (it’s still catchy, isn’t it?) – I seem to have the time. So here I am.

I’m applying for lots of jobs but am very excited about one application I have ‘out there’ but I won’t jinx it (yet) by actually writing about it, because then, when it doesn’t happen, it will be too depressing to read about that time I had *hope*.

No seriously, I’m fine and even if I don’t get *the* job, then something will turn up.

The other day I came across a previous blog I started when I was minicabbing in Thatlondon in 2009. I was quite impressed with the writing and thought it might be an idea to merge this place and that place under one online roof in an effort to encourage myself to write more.

Ah, so in 2009 I was working *and* writing at the same time. Hmmm Bang goes another theory…

More soon, – promise.

get up and go go go

A week is a long time in politics and in Southport.

Last week, despite feeling generally positive about life, there were a few lingering worries. I have my mum to thank for this, – she maintains that she’s from a long line of worriers and has apologised for passing this trait on to me. I told her not to worry about it.

Like her, I worry about the things that I have absolutely no control over as well as the things that I can actually influence. A standard worry list from last week:

Will I be single for ever?

Will I be entitled to benefits despite having been sacked for Gross Misconduct (I don’t want to talk about it)?

Will I ever get a job?

Will my medical be ok at the new Doctor’s?

If I arrange to go to Liverpool, will anyone want to meet me for a drink.

Well, dear reader, I can report the following:

I write to you with a rather fuzzy head, having been on an actual DATE last night with a very, very nice lady who I met on Match.com… I’m pretty sure that this will be the first of, at least, several dates with this particular lady. And lady, dear reader, she most certainly is.

The other day I had a call from an old contact who owns a HUGE on and offline Directory for Film & Television and has offices in Pinewood and Manchester, who, having heard I was no longer employed, was falling over himself to arrange for me to come and meet him and discuss my options. His exact words were ‘I wasn’t planning on employing anyone else just yet, but as you’re available we need to talk…’ – meeting scheduled for 27th

I received a text from the JSA this morning (they’re so damn funky and WITH IT– sending texts like excitable schoolkids) informing me that my claim for benefits had been successful and any moment now, free money was going to start dropping into my bank account. It was all I could do to stop myself texting back a thumbs up emoticon.

Tomorrow I’ll be in the most bohemian street in the world, – Liverpool’s Lark Lane, meeting friends I literally  haven’t seen for 30 years, as well as musician mates ranging from the former guitarist of the Stairs (uh-may-zing band), Paul Weller’s Drummer (I asked if he would mind that there would be a few old fogies present but he assured me that old fogies don’t worry him as he works with them), John Head and Pete Wylie (hopefully, – mood swings allowing). We will meet in the Albert – a legendary place, we will drink copious amounts of fizzy non-specific European Lager and all will be right with the world.

Oh, I sailed through my medical this morning. 127/70…!? I ask you. This is what tuna sandwiches on brown bread and daily 3 mile walks gets you. And as for my urine sample, – the nurse testing it looked over at me with such admiration, I thought for a minute she was going to take a sip…(naturally the sample was provided before last night’s festivities had begun)…

So all in all, I am pleased to report that things are good at the moment. I’ve bounced back with aplomb.

What worries me is whether it will last…

So…here we are then…

Image

On 4th December 2013 I lost my job. It’s a long story, which I won’t thrill you with. Suffice to say that by the time the New Year had started, I had ‘relocated’ back to the North West of England to lick my wounds, consider my options, and start again.

Luckily for me, my parents had the generosity (and space) to invite me to stay with them for a while until I could sort myself out (ie find a new job and somewhere to live) so that’s where I am…in their house, in Southport, Merseyside, having left home about 30 years ago. Interesting times. As a friend pointed out: ‘Returning to live with your parents at the age of 48 is not the same as still living with them at 48′. I’m holding on to that thought.

Undoubtedly the best thing about this enforced change in circumstances is that I get to be closer to my daughter and consequently get to see her much more often than I did during the monthly visits we had both had to put up with for the last three years, since her mum and I split up. I was living 238 miles from where she lives (but who’s counting?) and could only really manage to visit her monthly due to pressure of work and the cost of petrol. It’s such a relief for us both to be closer to each other and see each other at least weekly and for a few days at a time.

There are other benefits as well: I no longer have to work in a stressful job, with people I don’t like, living an isolated and what was becoming an increasingly miserable life. My home in the South was a room in a shared house, which, whilst functional, could certainly not be described as comfortable. I was consumed by my job which seemed to overtake every aspect of my life to the point that I could no longer focus on the important things such as relationships with friends and family and living a healthy life, – all of which consequently suffered.

It’s only been a matter of weeks but I already feel immeasurably better within myself. I’m eating better food, drinking less alcohol, smoking fewer cigarettes and have rediscovered my love of walking. I’m also reading more (it would have been almost impossible to read less than I was) and as you can no doubt testify, writing again.

I’ve decided to record my thoughts here as I negotiate the pitfalls and pleasures of my new life here in Southport. I am probably only doing it for my own selfish benefit, but I can live with that if you can.

I’ve started taking long walks every day; the surrounding area is wonderful for this. I’ve discovered a footpath that tracks where the old sea wall was, and now runs through the middle of one of the area’s several golf courses, as well as through part of a huge bird sanctuary here in ‘Marshside’. I downloaded a pedometer to track my progress, and as soon as I can work out how to operate it, will begin to monitor my progress on a daily basis. There’s a slim chance that the photograph I took during this morning’s walk has successfully uploaded and is therefore available to view on this page, but if not, you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s a very pleasant walk.

I’ve registered with a GP (there are some lingering health issues from my previous life caused, no doubt, by work related stress) and have also applied to receive something called JSA. This is an allowance that is paid to you if you are seeking a job (which I am) and is short for ‘Jobseeker’s Allowance’. Simple, but catchy.

I’m unsure whether I’ll be entitled to JSA due to the nature and circumstances of the departure from my previous job, but we shall see. It’s currently Thursday 9th January and my ‘interview’ at the local Jobcentre Plus (again: catchy and effective) is scheduled for next Tuesday at 9am when no doubt my eligibility (or otherwise) will become clear.

I’ve applied for some jobs already, although my good friend C has advised the following caution: ‘It’s essential that you get your head together first, recover with walks etc and once January is over you should have your mojo back and a job will come to you. You need to work out what is sustainable for you and then go for it.’ Oh such wise words, as ever, from lovely C.

I’m also keeping in touch with friends on Facebook as well as surfing Match.com – an internet dating website that hasn’t quite lived up to its name and found me a match yet, although I’m ever hopeful that it will…

I am feeling positive about things – this is a novelty in itself, and aside from a few twinges of anxiety am optimistic about the future, whatever it may hold. I feel sure that I’ve been through the worst of this chapter and have emerged stronger, happier and healthier for it. I’m extremely grateful to my Mum and Dad, who, having been in their own cocoon for the last 25 years or so, must be finding it challenging to once again be sharing their home with their youngest son, although you would never think it was in any way anything other than an absolute pleasure to do so if you were in my shoes.

I just wish this rain would stop so that I could pop into the garden for a cigarette…