On the first Thursday night back in my taxi after Easter, a job randomly materialised, to take two passengers to the theatre at a local independent school, where Abingdon Operatic Society were performing.
There had been an upturn in weather, with the temperature peaking at about 14°C, which usually means a downturn in town centre taxi business. So it was on this almost balmy evening, when I had to wait for an hour, in between each job.
It is better for taxi business when it is changeable, alternating between sun and rain. In the summer months, many customers will go out to the pub for the long Summer nights when it is warm and get a taxi on the way home, when the temperature starts to dip.
Jobs to the theatre are always good value, even when at the minimum fare of £4.60 for up to one mile, as the passengers are invariably in a happy mood, excited about what they are about to see and eager to share their cultural interests in lively conversation.
Several minutes early for the return journey on a quiet night in Abingdon, I waited outside the theatre, where a steward on the front door flung open the doors, ready for the expected flow of people at the end of the show. Instantly recognisable, out came the gloriously loud sound of the encore from Annie "The sun'll come out tomorrow".
My passengers emerged, visibly excited at the show they had just been part of, so much so that they insisted on singing part of the final song to me. It was fun and they told me animatedly on the short journey home all about the show.
It was a vivid example of theatre and the arts in general to not only make people’s lives tolerable, but to make them better.
This May, I have the great good fortune to be exhibiting a small selection of my photography – six pairs of prints - in a collaboration with a long established local artist, as part of Oxfordshire Art Weeks. It is a fabulous festival of art, which I have enjoyed for years as a visitor, originating in Oxford, but now in its 35th year and expanded to 500 sites all over the great county of Oxfordshire.
Never did I think I would be a part of it. But I am working with a genial and talented artist, who once kindly gave me some advice on photographing baptisms in a church where a red shadow was cast by the church's heating system.
I don't even think of myself as an artist. I am not even sure that I think of photography as art, per se. Like John Henry Brookes, who has some angels in a modest tympanum above the entrance to the church in which we are we are exhibiting, I simply record what I see.
But I do enjoy the juxtaposition of being a working class taxi driver exhibiting his work amongst all of these proper artists.
As published in the Abingdon Herald, Wednesday 26 April 2017. Updated 28 April 2017, to correct typographical error.
- Artweeks' history, Oxfordshire Art Weeks web site, as consulted 24 April 2017