Inspired by the following Decamot items: trainers, garrotte, festival, wedding ring, school, mobile phone, Judge, taxi rank, sack of potatoes, John
“The Royal Albert Hall, please” said Judge Johnson walking up to the first black cab he saw by the taxi rank at Waterloo Station. He was followed by a vivacious thirty’s something female with a mobile phone clamped to her ear, into which she continued to bellow instructions as the black cab driver opened his near side rear door, ushering them in by waving his arm with exaggerated courtesy, almost bowing.
“I said a sack of potatoes and some smart new trainers – and we need them there in thirty minutes!!” the female shouted into her Galaxy J3, albeit in a controlled cultivated Bedales School sort of way.
“Ignore my daughter’s cacophonous babble driver, but we do need to be there ASAP”
“I will do my best” replied the cabbie “but there are road closures around Buckingham Palace and heightened security in Parliament Square which would be my normal route. So, don’t be alarmed if I appear not to be going the most direct way”
“My dear fellow, we are in your hands - you are the expert … I won’t hold you to it but … as a matter of interest, what do you think will be our ETA from now”
Richard Pible thought for a moment as he turned left out of the station passing St Thomas’ Hospital on his right before heading towards Lambeth Palace and Lambeth Bridge where he planned to cross the Thames and run westerly along the embankment towards Pimlico.
“With no traffic problems, the direct route through Parliament Square, the Mall and Hyde Park corner takes 10 – 15 minutes max. My proposed alternative could add up to 10 minutes to that given reasonable traffic.”
Judge Johnson laughed out loud. “Good heavens” he said “We might even beat the sack of potatoes and the smart new trainers to the venue!” His daughter was not amused.
“Mock as much as you like Daddy, but I need this show to succeed and little details like this count with the London based critics as well you know. The Aberdeen International Youth Festival was OK but we now need to go up to the next level”
Richard Pible found himself joining in … he couldn’t resist it.
“Duke of York or King Edwards?” he enquired innocently.
“Pardon?” replied the Judge.
“The sack of potatoes” said Richard “What variety does it have to be or doesn’t it matter?”
“When Jenny gets off the phone I will ask her” he said, intrigued by the question, as they turned right off Lupus Street on to the A3213 which runs through Pimlico, parallel to Vauxhall Bridge Road. “That’s HM Passport Office over to your right” added Richard by way of conversation “It always makes me smile when I pass the building. Passport to Pimlico was a classic Ealing comedy as I am sure you know”
“It was indeed!” exclaimed Judge Johnson instinctively using his right hand to roll his wedding ring around on the 4th digit of his left hand. “My late wife worked on it – she was wardrobe mistress to Hermione Baddeley. I fear my daughter has inherited a particularly virulent strain of the theatrical gene.”
“King Edwards’s potatoes would really make a statement!” exclaimed Jenny Johnson suddenly
“Why didn’t I think of that?”
Richard Pible picked up the vibe and suggested a stop at Natoora in Sloane Square would not delay their arrival by more than five minutes but Judge Johnson had a better idea. In a flash he was on the phone to Harrods Food Hall where he had an account. Within seconds he had made the necessary arrangements.
“Detour to Harrods driver” he ordered “Basil Street entrance, door 3a! Their man will have a sack of King Edwards’s potatoes and a pair of Balenciaga speed woven lace-up mid top trainers ready to put in your boot without you having to park”
“And if he doesn’t?” enquired Richard Pible laughing out loud
“Then I will personally garrotte him!” replied the Judge now in genuinely upbeat mode for the first time that morning.
The journey from Waterloo Station to the Royal Albert Hall via Harrods Basil Street entrance took 25 minutes. The cast of “Waiting for Godot – the Musical” adapted from Beckett’s original by one Jenny Johnson, were mightily impressed.
“Very well done driver” said Judge Johnson “How much do I owe you?”
“Nothing at all” was Richard Pible’s reply. “I’m not a taxi. This is a 2008 Daihatsu Materia with blacked out rear windows. It was a present from my wife. You are not the first to make the mistake but this is the first time I’ve actually responded by accepting the challenge. It makes a change from being hailed by women peering through the letter boxes of their burkhas and asking the way to Mecca.”
“About as much fun as Waiting for Godot” said Judge Johnson with a wink and a nod towards his daughter who was bellowing more instructions into her mobile phone.