It's late October 1972. The sun has just started to set and a fourteen year-old boy sits on his mobile-home doorstep with his friend from down the road. They are both learning japanese and testing each other on what they've learned. The page is folded over on to the beginning of Chapter IV when one of them points with an outstretched fore-finger toward the lounge, uttering loudly: "Asoko ni hon ga arimasu ka?".
Before his friend has time to think about the question, a short, fat, man with a ripped T-shirt and toussled hair appears before them. "Cut that out!"
"Cut what out?" comes the exasperated reply.
The short, fat man begins to lose his temper. "You're talking about me! And you you can take that book back to the library! This is my house and you'll do what you're told!". Mum was there but said nothing.
Yes. It was me; young, blond, Thorolf on the receiving end of this childish invective. No amount of pleading could have convinced the fat man that he'd been sorely mistaken but I did try. I mean - how much japanese can one learn after three chapters? We'd only just got past the imitated pronunciation.
Just what was this foul, slanderous, remark which the fat man had so abruptly objected to? If he'd studied japanese - or just politely asked - then he'd have discovered that the offending words were simply: "Is there a book over there?"
From this point onward, here endeth lesson in paranoia. And japanese.
I've always considered myself to be humane, courteous to others and polite at all times. There are exceptions and they most definitely arise when I have cause to throw an 'eppy'. That's a cornish expression for those who haven't heard it and means 'to lose one's temper'. Having to work with half-witted taxi-drivers like I do; the ones who can't tell 'left' from 'right' and can't even read a map, send me into a frenzy. I tend to throw at least six or seven eppies over a busy weekend and I can assure the reader that it's not much fun having your blood-pressure suddenly shoot skyward. Promptness is vital in my occupation and if a customer has a meal booked at a restaurant, or a flight scheduled at a certain time, then in my book they should bloody well be there! Ultimately, the responsibility of time-keeping boils down to me and any good base-operator worth their salt will have this down to a fine art. It can be very stressful and it's the base-operator who has to take the flak if anything goes awry.
Ok, so lets now cue Mr. Thicko Taxi Driver.
Mr. Thicko Taxi Driver is the know-it-all. He's seen it, done it and even spilt coffee over the T-shirt. He reckons he's a wow with the birds and pulls a different one every week. In essence, a real man - notwithstanding the massive, unsightly, gut he's accumulated through years of constant neglect and the twice-nightly scoffing of mad-cow-diseased-ridden burgers. He's the king of the road. The fastest, the meanest and the toughest. It is only the bald head which stops him from preening himself in the cab's mirror. This is all self-agrandisement and delusional grandeur at it's height. Nothing can surpass it in tone.
Au contraire, Mr. Thicko Taxi Driver always seems to forget that he has to be guided almost around every bend and is absolutely clueless when it comes to door numbers. After years of driving - he still hasn't got it through his thick, neanderthal, skull that odd numbers begin on the left and even numbers are on the right - in sequence. This is explained to him, exasperatingly I might add, on numerous occasions but the pea-sized brain refuses to acknowledge any information. The next time a TV interviewer asks a taxi driver their opinion on current events, bear the above in mind. It never fails to crack me up.