Tonight I worked late and had to get the staff taxi home.

As per usual I lurked outside the station and watched the p-way guys come and go while I was waiting. The taxi was about ten minutes late but sometimes that happens if it has had to pick up a lot of people. Hang on though…there’s only one other guy in there…how comes it’s late….?

The driver seemed slightly confused about my surname but we eventually established that he was driving north and that it was my cab. I got in and we drove off and turned south. The other inhabitant of the cab exchanged a puzzled look with me. “I forgot to pick someone up I think”, said the taxi driver “Do you think I’ll need to go back and get him?”. Ideally I’d prefer to just be driven home and leave him to sort himself out but that’s a rather churlish attitude at 1am so we sat back as we were driven to a station southwards.

Aside from getting slightly lost on the way the journey didn’t take too long. “My phone’s broken”, announced the taxi driver. “They said something about a cancellation but I didn’t catch it. Do you think that it’s this guy?”

“I don’t know”.

“Well how do I find out?”.

“um….you’ll have to go and phone…”

“But my phone is broken”.

“Well you’ll have to go ask at the station. As the station supervisor who would have arranged any cancellation”.

“Who is that guy? Is he the station supervisor? Or just the cleaner?” (For the record, it was a guy in white overalls hanging around outside the station. He might have been a cleaner or a contractor or he might just have been a guy in white overalls hanging around outside the station. Either way, neither of us knew what the station supervisor looked like which is surprising when you consider that LUL has only a few thousand employees and most of them never meet anyone else).

So after whining a little the taxi driver eventually got out and asked and happily for everyone the person waiting for the taxi was inside (having rather sensibly gone in out of the cold given that his taxi was 25 minutes late). So off we went. We were all heading northwards.

The taxi went north for a bit and then headed west. This was expected as only individuals in trains can drive straight north. Then it made a few turns and travelled very slowly through a series of unfamiliar streets. We three in the back shared an uncertain glance but kept quiet. Somehow after all this we ended up at a point incredibly far east. OK, that was weird but it’s easy enough to get home from here. We travelled north for about two streets and then headed west again. This driver really liked the concept of west.

More unfamiliar streets and a growing anxiety from the back of the taxi. Were we being kidnapped to be held to ransom? Would LUL pay up? Could we three manage to fight off an elderly taxi driver? OK yes, we could, panic over. But where the hell were we? The taxi took a few more turns and again I recognised where we were. Back east again. Clearly the government were testing some anti-taxi repellant forcefields in case of attack by a disorganised yet wealthy army and we were the hapless victims. I didn’t mind though. They have to test this stuff at some time and 1am (actually it was closer to half past by this time) seems reasonable.

We headed north for a bit. I knew this area and worked out what the driver was doing. He’d go north and follow the road until it reached almost my street. Then he’d turn west down a side-road and drop me off before returning to the main road and continuing even further north two drop off the others.

We turned south.

The shared looks were becoming increasingly puzzled. Why in hell’s name had we just turned south? Admittedly it was a different road to the one we came north on but still! Oh wait, now we are taking a westerly turn. So instead of going north then west we’ve gone south then west. OK, I can just about work that one out and hurrah for I am nearly home!

That was the oddest and possibly the longest taxi ride I’ve ever had and as I got out I noticed that the meter was at £40 for a journey that should have taken ten minutes max but so far had taken much, much longer. I waved goodbye to the others and wished them luck. Then they headed off in a westerly direction…