“Anyone driving a Hackney Carriage in Vale of White Horse must have been granted a licence under the provisions of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.” So begins the regulatory section on the district council’s web site, where the ever growing list of requirements includes a medical examination by the holder’s own registered general medical practitioner every five years, or annually after the age of sixty-five.
It is always gratifying to attend such an examination, together with a separate eye test by an optician, and for them not to raise any issues. At the heart of proper taxi driving is helping people. This includes all manner of things like transporting sound desks for a local band, someone holding on to my arm as they walk into the doctor’s surgery, or even loading a person’s entire worldly possessions into my taxi after they have suffered a traumatic relationship break up in the middle of the night.
As one of my favourite Bob Dylan songs succinctly puts it “may you always do for others.” But equally as important is the next line “And let others do for you.” By chance, the Barb Jungr version of this song was playing as my Dad’s coffin was carried for the last time out of the house we had shared together for twenty-one years. “I like to hear your music playing, Son” he had said to me many times during the years we lived together after my mother had passed away unexpectedly, in middle age, younger than I am now.
Living on my own for more than six years and working mostly on my own as a sole proprietor for well over half my working lifetime has induced an attitude of dogged and stubborn independence. It is not easy to accept the help of others, even when it is offered in love and in good faith.
This was made clear to me these last two weekends, when someone who I have known for a short period of time and some brothers and sisters from church rolled up, to help clear a garage which had been piled high with the chattels of many of my closest relatives.
Damp and dirty rubbish in some instances, but nonetheless symbols of lives well lived and cherished physical links to those who had given me life and who are no longer with us.
Put there as the most cost-effective solution when I moved from a larger house to a much smaller one, there they stayed until this year, when I was galvanised into action, by a landlord who took four months to repair the garage door.
Among the many books recovered from the garage were some study bibles, in which the words of Jesus are printed in red. He did say “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Or put another way, that they would turn up on a Sunday afternoon to help a brother clear out a damp ridden old garage
As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday, 21 November 2018