Celtic Illumination, part 344, Gizza job! I can do that!
I was wondering if I said the word ‘Nimrod’ how many of you would react? The Illuminati are a fine bunch of people, all ready to back me up in my attempt to take over the world and the known universe, but each of us is an individual. Some of you, if I was to mention the word ‘Nimrod’ would immediately think of an aircraft and, in order to prove that you had read this blog, properly, and would want to curry favour with me especially when I take up the throne of Ireland, would say that it was the aircraft that I started out on in the air force. Some of you might think of Elgar, and hope that I had a deep love of classical music. Well; I do love classical music anything from Johnny Cash to Ronnie Drew, with a little side step toward the Pet Shop Boys, when drink has been taken. You seem to forget that I’m really a good ol boy at heart.
Then there are those among you who know that I am a chronic book nerd and might suggest the answer that Nimrod was the King of Shinar, renowned for being a mighty hunter, but no, and you all did very well for trying, when I mention Nimrod I refer to another taxi driver in Skelmersdale who just happened to be a playwright. I felt daft when gathering together with other taxi drivers who would ask ‘what do you do?’ and I would say, ‘I’m a writer,’ most of them couldn’t count, never mind read and I don’t mean that in a nasty way. It wasn’t long before various forms and all sorts of paperwork were being presented to me, asking if I could check that they had filled it out correctly. Once they discovered that I was a maths nerd, who had loads of experience filling out tax return forms, shoe boxes full of receipts started making their way toward me, like something from a Walt Disney movie.
Nimrod and I, although involved in different aspects of writing, got on very well together, normally during quiet periods I would read through some of my work and edit it, but I have to say that it was nice to have a fellow writer alongside. Nimrod was very close to having one of his plays produced in a theatre in Liverpool so was on the verge of success. It was a great time for drama as people like Alan Bleasdale, a writer who had produced such wonderful social realist dramas such as Boys from the Blackstuff or GBH were all the rage. Compared to the absolute drivel that is produced these days it is no wonder the people, or sheeple as they should be known, believe anything Cameron or his cronies tell them. Nimrod was a great character and we had many a fine discussion before we metaphorically lined them all up against the wall.
It may have been great fun having a like mind to occasionally interact with but the main thrust of the job was to earn money. Once you had worked for the company for a while and shown that you could be trusted, you could be given one of the routine jobs that came from the local council. Normally the disruptive children, like the little thug who lived next door to us, would have to be picked up and taken to and from their school each day, sometimes it wasn’t even a special school, but it was too disruptive to allow the individual to travel on a bus. I only ever did it once, to cover for someone, and I can tell you, having an eleven year old Tasmanian Devil whizzing around your back seat demanding that you give him a cigarette is not the most pleasant way to spent twenty minutes each morning.
The most coveted job, and best paying, would have been an airport run either to Manchester airport or Liverpool airport. Having said that there was another type of job that was so rare it was even more coveted and that would have a been a factory job. The factory job would be when one of the local factories would ask for a box to be taken somewhere, normally a good two or three hundred miles away, but as with many of the airport jobs these were given to the stalwarts of the company, the guys who had been there the longest. I was quite happy driving around meeting all sorts of interesting people. I remember one evening, approaching midnight; I took four fellows who had asked to go to a club but needed a small detour to a block of flats.
As we came to the flats one of the group got out of the cab and walked away, the others informed me that I could now continue and take them to the club, their friend was off to work. I would have made some remark about how strange it was to be starting work at midnight when I was told that he started his job at that time every night as he was a burglar. Thing is these guys were not joking, initially I thought they were fooling around with me but they insisted that whatever I wanted, cheap, their friend could get, he was one of the most successful burglars around. I really felt like contacting the police and giving them all the information I knew about the fellow I had dropped off. But by the next day I had pretty much forgotten about the incident and felt rather foolish as I didn’t know his name, couldn’t really give a good physical description of him and only thought I knew where he lived, not really a lot for a detective to work on.
I think I only ever got one run to Manchester airport and that was when some fellow totalled his car on the motorway, as I was the nearest car I was dispatched to pick him and his wife up and make sure they arrived at the airport in time for their flight. Definitely the sort of job for a good ol boy, although with passengers in the car I had to put some normal music on and keep the whooping and hollering to a minimum. Some of the things that happened I really couldn’t believe, like unemployed people who would run out of beer at midnight and a call would come out asking if anyone was interested in finding some beer for these people and probably twenty cigarettes. As you had to buy the beer and cigarettes, with your own money, then go to wherever they were and hope to get paid for your troubles, not many people responded to these jobs. I had always thought using a taxi was a bit of an extravagance but to have a taxi pick you up twenty cigs and a loaf of bread was wastefulness in the extreme.
The easiest night club to get to was the Paradox in Liverpool which was on the site of the old Vernon’s football pools factory. It was right at the end of the motorway with a huge car park so was a favourite of us all, with it being easy to get to and easy to park up. On my first call to the Paradox I got as close to the front door as I possibly could so that the passenger, who had booked me over the telephone, could easily see me. Despite the fact that I was five yards away from the main door to the Paradox and bathed in good clean electric light, I doubt very much if the punter could have seen me as the bonnet of my car was covered in bodies. And I don’t mean lying side by side, it was like a rugby scrum had erupted from the main doors of the Paradox and was now using the bonnet of my car as a practise mat. I know I pulled away and parked up in the main car park hoping that one of the drunks wandering around the parked cars would be mine.
Some fellow fell in to the rear of my car and asked me to drive off quickly as certain people were looking for him. Given what had just happened at the main doors I drove off and quickly settled down at seventy miles per hour on the motorway. “Whereabouts are you going?” I asked, surprised that I didn’t recognise the street name the fellow gave me. “ Whereabouts in Skelmersdale is that?” I asked, to which he replied. “It’s not in Skelmersdale, it’s in Wigan.” It’s not that easy to turn around on a motorway, especially when travelling at seventy miles per hour, so when the controller began asking me where I was I had to tell him that I had been duped and was in fact on my way to Wigan. Luckily it was a common occurrence so a replacement was put in place and we all carried on as normal.
Some people we were warned about and I don’t mean the great ex-police now license officer would come around with wanted posters and warn us of dangers. But word of mouth between taxi drivers spread the warnings especially to the new guys like myself of certain people who needed to be treated carefully, or avoided. There was one girl who would expose herself to you and then call the police claiming that you had interfered with her. Needless to say she found it very difficult to get a taxi anywhere in the town. Another person was the local crime boss, understandably people wanted to stay away from him and his family. They ran various gambling and drinking dens in Skelmersdale and the rumours of the violence they used to control their criminal empire were legendary. I unfortunately one night found myself with the crime boss himself in my cab. He wasn’t sitting on the back seat eyeing me up and picking his teeth with a flick knife, he was sitting beside me in the passenger seat trying to sing some stupid song. I found the area where he lived, which was a rather run down trailer park, and found his caravan. Not I thought the type of place I would live if I were a crime boss, but each to their own I suppose. He paid me the fare I requested but remained in his seat. This is where things got scary. I was learning a lot of things and learning very quickly I might add, but tell me what do you do when the local crime boss, is drunk as a skunk on your passenger seat asking you for a kiss?