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Issue 46 - Call me a cab

Whisky Magazine Issue 46
March 2005

 

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Call me a cab

Michael Jackson goes a few rounds by taxi

At dinner with Suntory recently, I was pleased to be seated next to John McLaren, who is always good for an entertaining story. I was keen to hear about his more recent career as a novelist.

His first novel, Black Cabs, was published in 1999. It hinges on the notion that some passengers in cabs are so arrogant as to talk loudly with one another as though the driver were insufficiently intelligent to comprehend their confidences.

The story has a group of London cabbies working the city and overhearing discussions about planned takeovers. Armed with this information, they start to play the market to great advantage.

Arrogance has been known to manifest itself among writers and journalists, but this rarely happens in cabs. Laptop poised, we arrive in a faraway country of which we know little, take a cab from the airport, ask the driver his opinion on the forthcoming war, election or whiskytasting, and arrive at the hotel ready to file a story.

“Bowmore, Islay, Tuesday: This windswept island nation will within the week invade the seccessionist colony of Jura, according to informed sources. Islay's President Jimbo has reportedly lost his patience with the rebel band of deer that currently control Jura,” etc, etc.

On such an assignment, I flew into Wick to find only one taxi at the airport. I hired it for the weekend. As we drove off, the cabbie introduced herself: “They call me Mad Cathie.” I wondered why. “Maybe it's because they think I'm a terrible driver.”

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