I’m back in my cab but the relaunch party for a pristine Queen Lorraine II was not the lavish affair I had imagined to celebrate our release from lockdown. Driving my cab to meet my mum and dad in a local park would not ordinarily be considered the social event of the summer.
Our Phase 1 Party in the Park felt like an occasion though so we agreed to make an effort. I ironed my shirt and my dad pulled on his favourite Pringle sweater. I didn’t like to say but I think my mum was a little overdressed. She looked like the mother of the bride at a high society wedding. Her choice of head wear may have been stylish but it wasn’t practical for an outdoor meeting on a windy day. I maintain stepping on her Fascinator after a particularly strong gust of wind had blown it from her head towards other groups meeting in the park was the only way for me to catch it whilst maintaining a safe physical distance. It’s the first time I’ve heard my mum swear. These are extraordinary times.
And extraordinary times call for the purchase of replacement hats online and additional hygiene measures in Queen Lorraine II. Hand sanitiser gels have replaced Magic Tree Air Fresheners in the punter cabin and after every fare I clean all surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes. My punter bunter hasn’t changed though and cabbie-punter privilege still applies – what you say in the cab stays in the cab.
Here’s my first Phase 1 Sound Off…
“Good afternoon, sir. Help yourself to a squirt of hand gel. Where to today?”
“Okay. Hampden here we come. Won’t take long. The roads are still quiet.”
“Definitely getting busier. I’m just back on the road myself. I thought I should lock up Queen Lorraine for lockdown – Stay at Home, Save Lives, Protect the NHS and all that important pandemic stuff.”
“Yeah, unless you are a senior government adviser. They were making more dangerous journeys than Lisa Kelly.”
“One of the Ice Road Truckers. You know, the guys who drive articulated lorries across frozen lakes.”
“No, not really a fan. I’m devoted to her namesake.”
“No, he’s gone to the big musical in the sky.”
“Not him either. But funnily enough my dancing has been compared to his.”
“Yeah, he did present quizzes. I’m not sure where the dancing comparisons came from.”
“The lovely Lorraine Kelly.”
“Yes, I did. I figured planes and ships get named so why not my taxi. And who better to name her after than the very lovely Queen of Morning Telly.”
“Never missed it during lockdown. A bowl of Muesli and a half hour in Lorraine’s company is a great start to the day. Were you working during lockdown?”
“Who do you work for?”
“Crikey. No wonder you were busy then. What exactly happened with Dundee’s vote?”
“Don’t worry. You’re covered by cabbie-punter privilege. What you say in the cab stays in the cab. I’ve had loads of people sharing relationship troubles. Feel free to get it off your chest.”
“Did they really?”
“He never did!”
“What was he thinking!”
“I have sympathy for you. It’s an impossible situation. There’s not a right answer. People talk about upholding sporting integrity but that was lost as soon as Coronavirus forced the suspension of all Scottish football for at least three months. A fracture as severe as that could never fully heal. I think Clubs and fans have to accept their fate decreed by pandemic. For the good of the game, and their club, they should forget the legal distractions and get on with preparing for next season.”
“Thanks, I take pride in my Sound Offs. I think punters expect it as part of their personal transport experience. There is one good thing to come out of the situation.”
“It’s given my taxi sponsors some interesting questions for updated editions of Taxi! The Board Game. Actually, could you help with answers to a couple of new questions for the Celtic edition?”
“Great. First one. How were Celtic finally declared Scottish Premiership champions for the 2019/20 season?”
“I’ll need to run it by the guy in charge of questions but I’m sure we can fit ‘by unanimous agreement’ into the answer. Can I run another one by you?”
“By how many points did Celtic finish ahead of second placed Rangers in the final league standings of the 2019/20 season?”
“Oh! Very precise. Could we round that to 0.4 points per game? Or should we use thirteen as the difference in total points when the league was suspended?”
“Yeah, we could accept both.“
“No thanks. I’m not so sure many questions will be asked about this season in any updates to the Hearts edition.”
“Yep. Probably best forgotten for Hearts fans.”.
“Here we are, sir. That’ll be £4”