Hi Folks

Lock-down isn’t going to get me down. I’ve got myself into a nice wee routine that stops me getting too bored.

I start my days with the lovely Lorraine. Normally, I only get a sneaky peak of the Queen of Morning Telly by streaming her on my phone when I’m waiting at a rank. Watching Lorraine in my boxers whilst eating a bowl of muesli still feels like a bit of a treat. If I really want to indulge I have Coco Pops instead and deliberately put in too much milk.

After lunch, I re-visit some old favourites from the comfort of my sofa. I’m a big Harry Potter fan and I’ve been re-reading all the books on my lock-down sofa sessions. The books are magical and I love them all, even the one with more than 800 pages. I usually have a rule about the number of pages in a good book. A good book must be able to fit into my taxi cab glove compartment. Harry Potter has been the exception to my good book rule. I had to pimp my ride with a book shelf when I was reading them.

Then in the evening, it’s lock-down board game time. I’ve been playing solo scrabble which I’m getting good at. The other night I got an eight letter word: lenticel. I dredged that one up from high school biology and got it on a double word score. I was well chuffed. And I’ve also been playing my favourite game which lets me Sound Off to friends and family on Zoom (usual privacy settings applied…)

“Where to, folks?”

“Yes. It is me, mum.”

“No. I’m not a Zoom party crasher, dad.”

“It is me. It must be my lock-down haircut.”

“Okay If I have to. It won’t help my cabbie fever but I’ll turn around.”

“Make sure he puts money in the swear box for that mum. I gave myself a haircut.”

“No. I didn’t use garden shears, dad. I used a pair of nail scissors.”

“Okay, it’s more Dumb and Dumber Jim Carrey than Vidal Sassoon but it is not easy cutting your own hair with nail scissors.”

“Yeah. How could I forget? Those haircuts traumatised my school days.”

“Well it was you that made me go there, mum. Why do you keep that photo of me with one of Bobby’s Barbers specials on the mantel piece?”

“No I don’t look cute, mum. I look like Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber.”

“Well you know what they say, dad. Like father like son.”

“Do you think? Well we’ll soon find out who’s dumb and who’s dumber.”

“No, we won’t get silly mum. And I was 12 when I stabbed dad with the Cluedo dagger.”

“No dad, I wasn’t aiming for your eye. It was an accident.”

“It was. How many times do I have to say sorry. I was only 12. What was your excuse when you demolished my houses on Mayfair? We never did find the wee Scottie dog after that outburst.”

“OK. mum. Sorry. I promise no board game bust ups.”

“We’re playing my favourite game tonight – The Taxi Board Game. It was invented by a fellow cabbie whilst he was sitting at ranks waiting on fares.”

“I read Harry Potter and watch Lorraine.”

“Yeah. Thanks mum, I will ignore him. Watching Lorraine is lightly entertaining and educational. Anyway, the rules are simple. You start at the Taxi Rank with £20 and whoever has most money at the end of the shift wins. You earn money by picking up fares, answering questions correctly and, most importantly, by using key words or phrases in a Sound Off.”

“Yep, you can lose money too if you get stuck in a diversion or you might have to pay something out on a Give or Take card.”

“Don’t worry. it’s dead easy and lots of fun. We’re playing the Great Britain Edition tonight. Have you got your dice?”

“Good. You roll and I’ll move your counter around my board.”

“That’s rich coming from the man who ram raided houses on Mayfair. Of course I’ll count them out properly.”

“We’ll play for half an hour. That’s all the time we’ve got left now after you giving me a hard time for my haircut. Roll to see who goes first.”

“Ocht! Only a one for me. You’re first then mum. Roll your dice.”

“1-2-3-4. off to a good start mum. You’ve got a £6 fare to Brighton I’ll add that to your stash. Right dad you roll now.”

“1-2-3-4-passing mum on the way to Brighton -5.You landed on a ‘Give or Take’ space dad.”

“You pick up a card and you can earn or lose money depending on the card. I’ll pick for you… unlucky dad…your punter has run off without paying. You lose £10. I’ll pay that to the bank for you.”

“Only a couple of times. Hazard of the job though. Right, my turn. A 2 for me. 1-2. I have a £2 question. I’ll hold the card to the screen and one of you can read it out.”

“No I won’t look at the answer, dad.”

“I know that. Paul Daniel’s assistant was Debbie. That’ll be a £2 tip for me, thank you very much.”

“Daniels. Obviously.”

“How can it be McGee? You said wife as well.”

“That may have been her stage name but her real name would have been Daniels after they got married. I should still get my tip.”

“Oh. Okay then, if that’s the answer on the card. I’ll put my tip back. Your turn mum.”

“1-2-3. a question for a £4 tip, mum. You ready.”

“Guess where I got a fare to? The Battle of Culloden took place outside this Scottish city in 1746.”

“Yep. Well done mum. The Battle of Culloden took place outside Inverness. That’s another £4 in your takings. Right, dad, roll.”

“C’mon Dumber. You have to tell me what you throw.”

“1-2-3-4. my speciality. Sound Off. Dad, you have 30 seconds to Sound Off about football officials and you’ll get £4 for every key word or phrase you say.”

“I’ll check the key words and phrases on the card as you go. Start your Sound Off…now.”

“Well. That was all a bit incoherent. You managed to blurt out ‘Referee’ and ‘Card’ so you get £8.”

“No specs isn’t listed as a key word.”

“No neither was that phrase. Mum, make sure you get the swear box donation for dad questioning the parentage of football officials. Right, my go again.”

“1-2-3-4-5. another question for me. I get a £4 tip if I get it right this time. I’ll hold up the card to the camera again.”

“1970s motorcycle stunt riders are a wee bit before my time but can I check you said he was born in London in 1959?”

“Right, I reckon I know. Just to clarify though. Do you want his real name or stage name?”

“’we want the answer on the card’. Is that your new catchphrase, dad?”

“It’s not the catchiest catchphrase for a quiz.”

“Has to be Roy Walker’s on Catchphrase.‘It’s good but it’s not right’. You also need to practice your delivery.”

“Nope. Try again with a wee sideways look to camera and a wink.”

“Looks like you were having a stroke, dad. Still needs a bit more work.”

“No mum the teachers were wrong. I wasn’t easily distracted. I just had an enquiring mind.”

“Okay. Okay.I’ll give you both names to make sure I give you the answer on the card…the 1970’s motorcycle stunt rider born in London in 1959 was Evil Knievel also known as Barry Sheen.”

“What’s so funny dad?”

“Oh. Eddie Kidd. Never heard of him. Is dad alright mum? I think he might be choking.”

“I’m glad I brought a little light relief to your lock-down. Can we continue please? Your go mum,”

“Six. Your zooming round the board, mum. You have another question. For a £4 tip, mum:Guess who I’ve had in my cab? This London-born actor starred as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter film series.”

“Yep. Alan Rickman. Another £4 for you.”

“I still do mm. I’ve been re-reading all the Harry Potter books.”

“Actually, I do. I still bring out my quidditch stick and put on the Harry Potter glasses and scarf for fancy dress parties.”

“I can’t do it as well as you used to mum. Drawing a lightning scar on your forehead with a red felt tip pen is almost as hard as giving yourself a haircut.”

“No. I still carry it off. People say I do resemble an older Harry Potter.”

“Yeah, okay dad, you have to imagine he’s let himself go a bit but remember I did appear on TV as a Harry Potter look-a-like.”

“When I was picked out the bookshop queue for an interview when Deathly Hallows was released. It’s my claim to fame.”

“It is. They did an action shot of me too.”

“Riding my quidditch stick and shouting ‘Expelliarmus’. I signed a couple of autographs after that. I was briefly as famous as Howard from the Bank of Scotland ads.”

“No. It was those kids who were too young dad. It was midnight. They should have all been in bed. Anyway it’s your turn.”

“Unlucky dad. You’ve landed on ‘Re-fuel’. You lose £6.”

“To the bank and now to mum’s swear box.Oh. That’s the end of meeting warning popped up. You’ve spent so much time taking the mickey out of me we’ve only got time to finish this round. I’ll take my last go.”

“Dad’s nearly bankrupt but I could still beat you mum. I rolled a two. 1-2. Excellent. I get to finish with a Sound Off! I’ll show you the card so you can take a note of the key words and tick them off as I say them.”

“No. I didn’t see mum. Is that you getting competitive now?”

“No need to defend yourself, mum.Just pointing out. Have you got a note of the words and phrases?”

“Yep. Read out the subject then.”

“Banking. Okay. Let me turn around to face away from you first. Oh! and let me grab my wok lid. Talk between yourselves.”

“I’m back. My Sound Off will flow better from my natural cabbie-punter position.”

“You’re just trying to psych me out mum. I’m not going to let another mocking comment disturb my focus. I’m ready for Sound Off.”

“Right. Here I go…Banking’s changed a lot and it’s not been for the better, in my opinion. Yeah, it’s convenient to do some things online but as a cabbie a lot of my transactions are still in cash. I still need access to a branch to bank my takings but they’re all closing down and when you go to one there’s hardly anybody there to talk to. The personal touch has gone. In my line of work as a Personal Transport Professional I know how important the personal touch is. The banks have lost sight of that. They talk about customer service but they just want you to do all the work for them. It’s a bit like me sitting in the back seat whilst the punter drives and I still charge them for the privilege.”

“Yes. I do feel better. How much did my Sound Off earn me?”

“Nothing? Can’t be…my natural eloquence surely earned me something. Let me look…did I not say any of those words.”

“Yeah. I guess I did stray a bit from the core subject but that’s how my Sound Off flow goes sometimes. I’m never quite sure where my free form sounding off will take me or the punter. It’s a taxi ride to the unknown for both of us.”

“Let me cash up. Okay. Mum, you won with £32, I had a quiet night and finished with £20 and you managed to lose money dad.”

“You had only £12 left which makes mum smart, me dumb and you dumber.”

“Temper! Temper! Was that the dice he threw, mum?”

“Get him to look for the Scottie dog whilst he’s at it. Speak soon.”

“You look after yourself too. Stay Healthy.”