CRAIG BROWN: ‘I’m not lost, guv — I’m Getting Things Done!’
The taxi driver was one of the cheery sort. ‘Hop in! Beautiful day!’ he said.
‘In fact, there’s no doubt about it — it’s the driest, warmest, sunniest day in years!’ With hindsight, I now think this was a curious thing to say, since it was pouring with rain.
But at the time, I welcomed his quality of cheery optimism, a virtue rare in a taxi driver.
I told him my destination, which was close to the town centre, and asked if he knew how to get there.
‘Easy-peasy!’ he said. ‘No need for directions! They’re for swots! I’d know the way blindfolded!’ Taxi drivers are sometimes surly and standoffish, so I felt in good hands and sat back in my seat, ready for a relaxing and enjoyable journey.
Asign attached to the back of his seat read: ‘Licensed To Carry As Many People As Need Be And To Make A Huge Amount Progress In Any Direction.’
It struck me at the time that it was unusually worded, lacking the formal wording of conventional accreditation, but I thought no more about it.
When the taxi came to the first crossroads, I noticed a road sign signalling the town centre was to the left.
To my surprise, the cheery taxi driver turned right rather than left. This surprised me, but I imagined he knew a short cut. We then came to a set of traffic lights.
‘I can never remember whether green means ‘stop’ or ‘go’,’ he laughed, genially. ‘But let’s not worry about that. It’s all much of a muchness.
The important thing is to stay alert.’ We then went all the way around and around a roundabout, and then around again.
‘Anything wrong?’ I said. ‘Not at all! This is the most FANTASTIC way to go! Only by going in circles can we go forward!
‘I always make it a rule to go at least two or three times round every roundabout, just to be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN I’m going in the right direction!
‘Let’s GET THIS THING DONE!’ Something about the way he said that last sentence rang a bell.
Sitting behind him, his unruly mop of blond hair and cheery devil-may-care manner reminded me of someone, but I couldn’t for the life of me think who.
‘Aha! Top hole! This is definitely the right exit!’ he exclaimed. Looking around, I noticed we were going back along the same road we had just come down.
But I didn’t like to say anything. I was convinced that, being a local man, he must know what he was doing.
It was only when he took a sharp turn right, and we found ourselves inching along a muddy farm track, that I ventured to suggest this might not be the best way to the town centre.
‘Are you sure you know where you’re going?’ I asked.
‘Absolutely! We’ve made a huge amount of progress! Make no bones about it! This taxi ride is the most tremendous success!’
‘B-b-but …’ I said, cautiously, as the car hit a patch of mud, and the wheels started to spin.
‘Are you sure we’re going in the right direction? Might it be worth consulting a road map?’ ‘If you want to know the way anywhere, it’s a wellknown fact that maps are to be avoided!’ he replied.
‘The people who make them may be the bee’s knees at drawing, but they simply haven’t the foggiest how to get from A to B. For that, you need to rely on good old tried-and trusted British common sense with a capital K!’
He had begun to rev hard on the accelerator. But the more he revved, the deeper the car went into the mud.
‘So,’ I said, as politely as possible, ‘is it possible you took a wrong turning?’
‘I am delighted you raised that point’, he replied, ‘and you’re quite right to draw attention to it. So let me level with you.
‘Under exceptionally difficult circumstances, I want to stress the very real efforts we have all been making towards taking steps in the right direction.
‘I am delighted to say that we are making a huge amount of progress in very difficult circumstances,’ he continued, as the car wheels span round and round, splattering the mud all over the place.
‘It’s all very encouraging! And, furthermore, we are now in a position to initiate a five-point action plan.
‘Luckily, I have one that’s oven-ready. First, why don’t you get out and push! Excellent! Let’s get this done!’
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