“All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies. Sick, venal. Some day a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”
Those weren’t quite the words that sprang to mind last Tuesday evening as I ferried my nephew and nieces hither and thither – to dancing, to Guides, back to dancing, then home – but the thoughts of Travis Bickle burbled faintly in the background. Existing solely to transport other humans through the rain and darkness can do queer things to a man.
Before I go any further, it should be noted that none of my sister’s offspring is a nocturnal creature of the kind Robert de Niro’s disturbed Vietnam vet-turned-cab driver looks down upon from the driver’s seat of his yellow Checker A11. They are variously a doctor in waiting, a little cherub with the world at her stockinged feet, an aspiring danseur and the future head of production at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Now that’s been cleared up, back to being a dutiful uncle. Having reached my fifth decade without once feeling the need to add to the seething mass of humankind suckling on the wizened teat of Planet Earth, I’ve been mostly spared the humdrum aspects of rearing children.
Not for me the all-night mewling of an infant; instead, a couple of minutes of oohing and aahing at the vision of swaddled innocence during a brief head-wetting – nothing to lose sleep over. Not for me the relentless bickering of ungrateful teenagers; in its place, happiness at hearing news of success academic or otherwise. And, crucially, not for me the demotion of self to a state of mere functionality – until now.
But rather than wallow in my relegation from commander-in-chief of my own life to supply taxi driver to Lila, Adam, Emma and Mia, I zealously embraced my new role.
The Killing Joke Peel Sessions CD was ejected and replaced by the cream of soft rock and yuppie soul courtesy of Smooth Radio. A “whoops!” sausage roll was bought for a mere 19p during a brief supermarket sweep for beer and nuts in between jaunts. And I nearly knocked a cyclist over (in my defence it was dark and wet and he didn’t have lights, proceeding recklessly through a red light on to a busy Pollokshaws Road, thereafter presumably causing further near-misses).
Shoddy tunes, an appetite for bad food and a death wish for other road users: Travis Bickle or private hire driver – you decide.
The thing is, I have to do it all over again next week, meaning this was just a (wet) dry run. Watch out, scum.
Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.