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7:33pm on Monday, 3rd March, 2008:

Close-Run Thing


I spent a very agreeable Saturday evening in London, showing around Brian Green (who is visiting the UK for the first time, and was therefore unable to challenge any of my wild assertions as to the streets and buildings I pointed out).

Anyway, on the way back to Liverpool Street station I took a taxi. It was actually a double trip, because first we went to Brian's hotel, so I was expecting it to work out at about £20 in total. That was fine, because I had a £20 note in my wallet.

Yes. Well with about £11.50 on the meter, I checked my wallet and found that the £20 was actually a £10. "You do take credit cards, don't you?" I asked the driver, innocently.

He laughed.

"OK, well in that case, if you see a cash machine can you stop and let me get some money out?" I said. He nodded a reply, but didn't say anything.

He subsequently drove past at least 4 cash machines without stopping. I started examining my loose change... I had 2 £2 coins, 5 £1 coins, 3 50ps and a mix of 20ps, 10ps and coppers. "OK, I have £20 in coins", I said, "so there's no need to stop unless it's going to cost more than £20".

He nodded and kept on driving.

The meter continued to rise, but I could tell we were getting close to Liverpool Street. Then, the instant it clocked over to £20, he stopped. It was almost as if it was attached to his brakes somehow. "Liverpool Street is just over there", he said. As he said it, the meter went over to £20.20.

So, I got out, gave him my £10 note and £10 in coins, then figured I needed another £2 for a tip. Except, I didn't know if I had £2 as everything was in little coins. I therefore just handed him the entire contents of my pocket, and walked the 50 yards to Liverpool Street Station with no cash on me whatsoever.

I don't know whether it was standing up having been sitting in the taxi, or the cold night air, or a combination of both, but I was suddenly struck by a need to go to the toilet. The toilets in Liverpool Street Station cost 20p to use. I didn't have 20p. I could get notes from a cash machine, and did so, but I couldn't get 20ps. The only way I was likely to get a 20p would be if I bought something, but that would mean I could miss my train, which was due to go in about 7 minutes. Augh!

So I held on, boarded the train, found a seat, then waited the 15 minutes it took before the driver got around to leaving the station.

Oh well, at least I know my sphincter muscles are still in good shape.

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).