Tip

I was nervous. I wasn’t thinking straight. The fare was more than she’d promised. I fumbled in my purse for some change, handing it to him and saying – ‘Just give me two pounds back.’ As I walked to her door I heard a loud fart. The taxi driver was saying something. Had he farted at will? At me? Was it a gesture of anger, irritation at what (once I’d worked it out, and too late) was a measly tip? I didn’t have time to find out for she’d opened her door. I heard the taxi, she said. There was so much to adjust too. A culture shock coming from where I live these days, I’m not used to such vibrancy, such buzz and such a hotchpotch of culture – symbolised by his constant switching of radio stations in his cab. One minute a throbbing Asian beat, then Radio 1 and a DJ talking about picking noses followed by a woman singing a ballad and then to Radio Leicester for the traffic update and what the female presenter called a mixed tape before finally cutting to a disco tune. It was exhausting. And then I was reeled about in the back of the cab as he climbed pavements and jostled with the traffic. Do you know where you are going? I asked at one point. It’s the one way system, he said in reply.

A frenetic day and I was made weary by the journey. Too many full carriages with nowhere to sit and rest. A flame-haired Irish woman asked me where I was going. When I told her she said: Oh, isn’t that the place where that disaster happened, where all those children were killed? I tried to explain that that was Aberfan but I don’t think she was listening. Terrible, she continued, how many died? Then she got into conversation with a man standing beside me. I’d zoned out by the time he got off. So sad, she said to the woman sitting next to her, that he lost his wife.

Why does tiredness make me so tetchy? I can feel it coming on but I can’t reign it in. I feel like a five-year-old sometimes. I want someone to take charge, make me a bowl of porridge, hot water bottles and tuck me up in bed. For all this it was a good day. The sun shone. People sweltered in the trains. I had a good cup of coffee, read, finished my book, and drew. It is enough. And now to the real work.