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Posted on 22 Jun 2018 in The Godfather: Peter Corris | 1 comment

The Godfather: Peter Corris on taxi drivers #2

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I’ve written before about conversations with taxi drivers, and I happened to meet a couple of interesting ones recently.

On my way home in a taxi after one of my multifarious medical appointments, I began chatting about nothing in particular as is my wont.

The driver commented that I seemed stronger on one side than another. I said this is true of foot, leg and eye. He slapped the steering wheel. ‘Right! We’re lucky to have two of everything.’ He chuckled and he was so adamant and amused that I wondered where this was going.

He told me that he had been a professional cyclist in his youth (he was Swiss) and had crashed badly in a race.

‘I went off the road, down the side of a mountain. My jaw was smashed, I had broken ribs, a broken leg and I lost a testicle.’

He laughed again. ‘But I have children. You see – I was lucky to have had two balls.’

We kept talking and he said that when he recovered from his injuries after a long time in hospital he took up tennis and played pretty well.

‘And do you know,’ he said, ‘I was born n the same hospital as Roger Federer, 25 years earlier.’

His name was Emile, he spoke English as well as the tennis luminary does, and I gave him a handsome tip.

A more recent exchange filled me with shame. On the Friday before the Queen’s Birthday long weekend I caught a cab from Camperdown to Earlwood. The driver, an Anglo, said he was due to knock off at noon and would have a really long weekend.

‘Going fishing or playing golf?’ I asked.

There was a short beat before he said, ‘I’ll be reading books.’

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe I’ve ever blushed but this was an occasion when I should have. Because he was a taxi driver I made the stupid assumption that he’d be involved in non-intellectual pursuits. I was ashamed.

He asked me if I was a reader. I said I was and that I was also a writer. He shot a look across at me, perhaps trying to discount the grey hairs and the white cane, and said, ‘I thought I recognised you – Peter Corris.’ He pronounced it to rhyme with chorus but close enough. He said he’d picked me up a few times when I’d lived in Leichhardt. Remarkable memory – that had to be 30 years ago.

He passed me the book he was reading – Martin Amis’s The Zone of Interest and we fell to talking about Martin, his dad Kingsley, and books in general. The driver said he read mainly history and biography along with literary fiction but not a lot of crime (though he had read a couple of my books) – much like me.

His name was Neil and I would have been happy to go on chatting but for a taxi driver time is literally money. We shook hands and he said he hoped to see me again. The tip I gave him was for the enjoyable experience and as a sop to my shame.

1 Comment

  1. I have often made assumptions about people based on their appearance or job even speech and I always remind myself not to do it but sadly I still fall into that familiar trap again and again.