Just before Christmas, the fellow who was sat in the neighbouring chair to me in an Abingdon town centre barber worked in the music industry. As the Christmas tunes were being reeled off quite loudly, one after the other on the radio, we learned how much money each well known Christmas hit makes for the writers. "This one's £300,000, that one's £400,000. Every year".
“The old is past, there's a new beginning,” goes one of the tunes played each holiday season as if there were no new Christmas songs being written. It is by one of my hitherto favourite artists, probably maligned and beloved in equal measure for his changing genres. But I have seen him play in London and in Oxford a few times, once with just the artist and his guitar on stage and he is someone who is clearly a proper musician.
After three weeks of disruption to routine and wondering which day it is, we are finally back at work in the taxi, on the long slog of school runs twice a day, five days a week, from now until the next break. As a middle aged man with no children, I never envisaged that my life would be ruled by school term dates, but thus it is and I am dependent upon it for my livelihood.
Fickle and unpredictable though the world of the self employed taxi driver in a small provincial town is, there is some comfort in this return of the familiar ritual of doing a school run in the morning, competing for taxi rank space all day in a rain sodden Oxfordshire town with nothing moving and then doing another school run in the afternoon.
There is barely any time for creative pursuits, but this last bank holiday, thanks to the collaborative and gracious efforts of an already established local artist, I was delighted to be able to submit the necessary forms to take part in a joint exhibition at ArtWeeks, which takes place at various eclectic venues all over Oxfordshire in May 2017. Many of these venues are in the artists' homes, but our venue is somewhere special.
In the official parlance, we are called "a pair of artists". As a licensed taxi driver who has to ply for hire on the streets of Oxfordshire in order to earn my living, I don’t even think of myself as an artist, nor even of my photography as art, per se. However, it is indubitably exciting and indeed as the months leading up to the exhibition in May approach, it is trepidatious to have such a joint endeavour to look forward to and work hard towards during these dark winter months.
It is still necessary to drive a taxi to earn a living, but as the A board outside Barns Café in Abingdon this week puts it: “The old has gone and the new has come.”