Talking to Strangers: An unused car and a flying mobile phone

A redundant Land Rover Defender Tomb Raider and a telecommunications incident on the Westway feature in our columnist's highly eventful week

October 13, 2022 13:46

Monday 2pm
I’m on my Vespa at the roundabout by Lord’s cricket ground.
It reminds me of the time 30 years ago when my parents were running late for a friend’s funeral —so when they spotted the hearse at this roundabout, my father followed it.

Thirty minutes later they rushed into the packed chapel and sat down at the back.
Ten minutes into the service my mother whispered to my father: “I think the rabbi is a Catholic. And he just said ‘Patrick was a grand chap… not Maurice!’”
They were at the wrong funeral.

My mother, a very polite woman, said: “We must stay. It would be rude to get up and go.”
They sat through the entire service, sang the hymns and afterwards queued to pay their respects to the widow.

“A wonderful man,” my father said.

“We will miss him greatly,” my mother added, giving the widow a hug.

They went to the wake afterwards and had a great time. Mum kept in touch for years afterwards.

Tuesday morning
l I do own a car — a Land Rover Defender Tomb Raider. Don’t ask.

It looks like a tank and has been almost permanently parked outside the house since I bought it 20 years ago.

“Why don’t you rent it out as an AirBnB?” Goldsobel asked at supper last night.
“There’s more than enough room in the back for a double bed. They could use the loo in the pub on the corner.”

I manage to haul myself up into it — I really need a ladder — and take it for its annual MOT.

“You’ve only done 42 miles in the last year,” the mechanic says.

A confession: I’m a bad driver. How many men admit to that?

Once I scooped up a man as he was crossing Charlotte Street. I only noticed him when he was spreadeagled on my windscreen.

He got up, brushed himself down and said, “Sorry, guv, my fault. I wasn’t looking,” and walked off.

Wednesday 8am
I have a routine check-up this afternoon. It’s a colonoscopy so I can’t eat anything beforehand and I have to drink 20 litres of water.

I am watching my breakfast guest eating his scrambled eggs and smoked salmon as I drink my 15th glass of water.

“Not eating anything?” he asks.

“Just not very hungry this morning,” I say. I’m not going to go around telling everyone I’m having a colonoscopy.

I get up so many times to go to the loo and back that the people at the other tables think I’m a waiter and keep asking me where their breakfast is.

Thursday 10am
At the doctor’s surgery for my annual blood test results.

“Good news,” he says. “Your iron level is excellent. You’ve got plenty of iron to spare.”

“Great!” I say. “Maybe I’ll open a scrapyard.”

The doctor has just turned 39.

“Many thanks for your advice, Peter, that I should now tell everyone I’m 40 — so that way I won’t have any mid-life trauma when I really am 40.”

I’m giving prescriptions to my own doctor.

Thursday 11.35pm
I’m on the Vespa heading home shooting along Marylebone Road and onto the flyover, when I suddenly hear a big “whoosh”.

My Hawaiian shirt has blown open. I feel for my phone in my shirt breast pocket — it’s gone!

My phone has flown over the flyover.

Sunday midday
I’m going to my cousin’s golden wedding anniversary lunch party at a country house hotel near Rickmansworth.

“Where’s Rickmansworth?” I’d asked him. “I’m a Londoner, I panic when I see trees at Chiswick.”

“Take the Tube to Chorleywood and take a taxi from there,” he said.
Taxi driver Amir picks me up.

We chat non-stop and by the time we arrive I not only know how he managed to get here from Iraq but how many GCSEs he’s got (four more than me), what he studied at university and how his kids are doing at school — and why he’s now driving this minicab.

He drops me off at the hotel entrance.

“Good morning. I’m here for the party. Where do I go?”

The woman behind the desk looks at me blankly.

“What party?”

“David and Tricia’s golden wedding party — you know, the big lunch party.”

“We’ve only got a christening at 3pm.”

I am at the wrong hotel.

I didn’t stay for the service.

October 13, 2022 13:46

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