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Sound Off Sam 5 – The One with the Taxi Driver Challenge

Hi folks


Welcome back to Sound off Sam. It’s good to have you as a passenger on my online journey although I’d much rather be sharing banter with you as a punter in the back of Queen Lorraine II, my cab named after the lovely Lorraine Kelly, Queen of Morning telly.


My online Sound Offs are helping flatten the curve of my cabbie fever. I’m only feeling mild symptoms so far – cramps in my pedal foot and itchiness in my indicator finger. I also dream about being on the road again. I think I even miss the red lights and road works that blight a cabbie’s life.


Being a Personal Transport Professional is in my blood. I could honk like a car horn before I could talk which worried my mum enough for her to take me to the doctor. My dad likes to remind me the GP described me as an unusual case.  As it turns it out, both were worrying needlessly about my speech development. I’m never stuck for words now.


When I was a kid I remember playing with toy cars for hours in my bedroom. Even at that young age, the writing was on the wall or, as I prefer to think of it these days, the fare was on the meter. I spent my time fashioning speed bumps out of Lego bricks placed under my rug and making long traffic jams from my big box of miniature cars that snaked out my bedroom door and into the hall.  My mum’s charity swear box received plenty of donations from my dad treading on my gridlocked Matchbox replicas. Funnily enough, my mum wished my skills at that age to quickly pick up language and proudly repeat new words were not so developed.


I’m not the only family member born to be a cabbie. My cousin Vinny also drives a taxi.  Vinny was born and brought up in America but we built a special relationship playing at traffic jams and roadworks on our family visits which would alternate between the US and the UK. We still chat and the transatlantic culture clash gives us lots of scope to Sound Off.


Here’s my Transatlantic Zoom with my cousin (usual privacy settings switched on)…


“Where to Vinny?”


“Sorry, can’t take you there. My hair stylist has a very select clientele.”


“Salon de Sam. I did it myself.”


“I’ve heard all the jokes already from my dad. Granted, it is more cutting hedge than cutting edge styling but it’s growing on me”


“Yeah, fortunately my hair does grow quickly. Wait and see though. This will be one of two hot hair trends this summer.”


“Like yours. Big hair will be making a big comeback, you know like in the 70s. You’ll end up looking like our dads did back in their day.”


“Yeah. Thought so. I used nail scissors. How’s life in The Big Apple?”


“Impressive sounding off. Good flow. You sound a bit like Ticked Off Vic. Have you seen him on YouTube?”


“Yeah, literally spitting mad. I prefer to use a gentler tone in my Sound Offs.  Do you remember Frank Bruno?”


“Big Frank was a British boxer who fought Mike Tyson for the undisputed Heavyweight Championship.”


“1989 I think. I remember getting up in the middle of the night to listen on the radio with my dad.”


“Yeah that was a big deal. It was a big fight at the time.”


“Certainly not on the telly in our house. My dad was still excited to have Breakfast television but to be fair to him Morning TV still is the best thing on the box.”


“Oh. Sorry. I was miles away there what were we talking about?”


“Oh. Yeah. The fight. Bruno was knocked out but he went down fighting.”


“No, it probably made him even more popular.”


“No. No. Brits don’t love a loser. We we love a trier. Especially a nice, polite one.”


“And what’s wrong with liking a cup of tea? You Yanks have it all wrong with your winning is everything, second is nothing approach. You know the best way to judge a person?”


“Nope. Not teeth. That’s another very American thing, by the way. No. You have to ask yourself one very important question.”


“No, not that but as you’ve asked –  my favourite was Baby Spice.”


“Because she had really nice teeth. But that doesn’t say anything about me. Listen, I’m trying to make a serious point about a key guiding principle I use to live my life.”


“You could learn from it.”


“It’s simple. All you need to do is ask yourself one really important question about people you meet.”


“Would I want them to drive me home in a taxi?”


“No. It’s a fail-safe life tool, never lets me down. And I think you’ll find it proves us polite. tea drinking Brits are best and you in-your-face, burger eating Yanks are nowhere.”


“I can prove it with a quick test.”


“By asking the question.”


“My question. Have you even been listening?”


“Just go with me. First up in the Brit v Yank Taxi Driver challenge:  Who would you want to drive you home in a Taxi? Y – Mike Tyson or B – Frank Bruno.”


“No, you definitely wouldn’t. You’d have to go with B. Okay. Number 2: Who would you want to drive you home in a Taxi? Y – Ticked Off Vic or B – Sound Off Sam?”


“Yep, agreed. I’m like Frank Bruno and Ticked Off Vic is like an even angrier Mike Tyson.”


“No contest. Vic would definitely take me in a fight.”


“It wouldn’t even last that long. I’d pick up the towel and throw it in myself. I’d be back in the changing room drinking a cup of tea before the bell for the end of the first round.”


“I’m a thinker not a fighter. Right, I’ve got one for Number 3. Who would you want to drive you home in a Taxi? Y – Robert De Niro or B – Hugh Grant.”


“Really? Are you sure?”


“So, it’s late at night. You’re in a place you don’t know. The streets are quiet. You stop a cab to take you back to your hotel on the outskirts of town. Who do you want to be your Taxi Driver: Travis Bickle or the bloke from Four Weddings and a funeral?”


“Okay, Okay. Look at it another way. De Niro does comedy, right?”


“And Hugh Grant can play the villain too.”


“Yes he can. He won awards a couple of years ago for playing Phoenix Buchanan.”


“The baddie in Paddington 2. “


“Yes it is. He framed a bear. Paddington was sent down because of him.”


“Yep, a really nasty character. So, back to the question. Who would you want to drive you home in a Taxi? Y – The dad from Meet the Parents or B – Phoenix Buchanan?”


“That’s okay. Changing your mind when new information becomes available is a sign of strength. Some politicians should learn that.”


“The problem is he’s out of his mind. That’s given me another idea for our Taxi Driver Challenge: Who would you want to drive you home in a taxi? Y – Donald Trump or B – The Queen?”


“Yep. I’d prefer Queenie too. So another Brit picked.”


“It would be but she’d get you home safely, And boring is good in a crisis. I bet you’d be feeling safer if Trump was reading out what he was told and looking a bit bored by it?”


“Yep. Unbelievable. You couldn’t make it up. You know who he reminds me of?”


“Did you ever meet Uncle Hamish?”


“Our dads’ Uncle. So would that make him our Grand Uncle?”


“Comb-over and always wore a Star Trek tie,”


“That wedding was an eye-opener. You know the free bar has been abused when the chief bridesmaid is throwing up into a plant pot.”


“Oh yeah. So they were, that’s the first time I saw my dad doing his Rod Stewart sing-along.”


“It was. He was wailing rather than sailing.”


“I still cringe and I still can’t listen to Rod Stewart now.”


“Your dad’s New York New York was passable.”


“No. Uncle Hamish was a shyer sort but Trump’s daily ramblings remind me of Uncle Hamish.”


“Did you never speak to him?”


“No, Uncle Hamish.”


“You’ve missed out. His answers to all the world’s problems come from Star Trek.”


“Like, food replicators to end famine in Africa and Transporters to reduce carbon emissions.”


“Yep, he would have a Star Trek cure for Coronavirus – his phaser would be set to kill.”


“Yep, much less dangerous than any of Trump’s remedies. The difference is Uncle Hamish worked in a basement looking after big computers and only talked about his ideas after a couple of whiskies at a wedding. Trump is leader of a world superpower.”


“I bet you would. Uncle H would do a much better job. Right, It’s 4-0 to the Brits. Any ideas to give you Yanks a consolation?”


“No contest. Lorraine every time. Which makes it 5-zip to the Brits.”


“Actually, The Taxi Driver Challenge does make a good game. Not as good as The Taxi Board Game though.”


“You’re a Taxi Driver collecting fares by answering questions and Sounding Off. There’s a New York edition.”


“Yeah I do. I’ll test you with a couple of questions.”


“Let me have a look. I don’t want to make them too easy for a New Yorker.”


“Give me a minute.”


“Right. I’m back. I’m looking for good ones”


“Sorry. I’ve found two questions. Let’s see how you do. You ready?”


“First question:  De Niro, Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel and Cybil Shepherd all starred in which 1976 film.”


“Mine too. Taxi Driver is correct. We’re running out of time. Second Question:  1970’s Serial Killer, David Berkowitz is better known by what nickname?”


“Come on. I need an answer New York.”


“No. He was a Stock Broker. David Berkowitz is better known as ‘Son of Sam’. Which leads to the obvious question.”


“Who would you want to drive you home in a taxi? Y – Son of Sam or B – Sound Off Sam?”


“No, Vinny, That’s not a question from the Taxi Board Game. Stay healthy.”


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