The Balcony Room at Shakespeare’s Globe has become very familiar to me over the years. I’m here frequently enough to be greeted affectionately by the security staff, the waiters and the managers, but not frequently enough to have a 100% hit rate with the “Can I get a staff discount on my drinks? I’m here all the time but I haven’t got an official card.” routine. They have a reasonably quick staff turnaround in the Swan Bar. Too quick.
But here I am again, overlooking the river, watching the boats go by. Today I’m going to introduce myself as a Shakespearean actor and history lecturer. The client wanted both so I’ll be wearing multiple hats. But essentially it’s just me being charming, knowledgeable and deft for a few hours.
They’re spinal doctors and researchers, the clients. A very smart attentive lot. I stream of consciousnessed a load of facts, shapes and opinions about the journey through time that has led to this current season at The Globe, including a very felt and positive slant on Michelle Terry’s first season. It feels like a good safe playing space at the moment – good work and good thinking together despite recent politicking. Oh how lovely it would be to take off this corporate hat and put on that main house one. But this’ll do for now.
Even if they are eating unbelievably slowly. We were supposed to be out of here by 9.30 and it’s past ten. They’re communing with their food. Can’t complain though. We had some of theirs, although no wine. Beef Wellington. A brick of it drowning in gravy and minted peas. It was lovely. I took my time over it too. Now work.
And now I’m done. Finished. Long finished and have seen multiple friends, some who heal, some who party. And I’ve been waiting for ubers in the centre of London for over 20 minutes. Drivers keep cancelling to the extent that Golfo just googled “terror in London” because the last time it took this long for her to get an Uber was on the day of the haphazard idiots running around London bridge with their shit knives, sparking 12 million tons of xenophobia and the opportunity for loads more radicalism.
Uber used to be a viable option, back when they were deeply undercutting the black cab lot. I vowed never to take another black cab shortly after leaving Guildhall in 2002. There was a good decade when i learnt the buses because wheels were a pisstake and i stuck with my vow. Now I know the buses at least But then Uber came and seemed to be effectively priced to be affordable to people outside of businessmen and rich tourists.
Problem is, you get charged for cancelling but they don’t. My first uber cancelled on me after I watched him fucking around on GPS for ages. My second uber made me watch for 14 minutes while he completed a trip, and then he fannied about and eventually cancelled himself too. I stupidly then cancelled out, thinking it was something to do with my phone or my rating. Now my friend has booked a third one, but it’s on a surge now at 1.4% price, and in fucking London Bridge, which is about as central as we can get, and it’s been another 10 minutes. I’ve aged while waiting for these vacuous shits who were ignoring me because I got in before the surge. We have watched so many black cabs and a fair few buses going by, winsomely, wondering. Black cabs are overpriced, sadly. And in a world of “adapt or die” they’ve mostly spent their time going “When I was a lad, these app things didn’t exist.” But if these grasping clueless American numbercrunchers leave the cab industry at the mercy of a million idiots who would all be totally lost as soon as there was an EMP then we lose a bit more of the London that makes us London. I’m going to try to get more black cabs. If only they didn’t cost the earth. I don’t mind a middle aged white dude driving me for money. I’ve been that dude.
This has been half an hour of standing here watching one greedy bastard after another cancelling for surges. One of the passengers is 5 foot tall and female. They don’t know how many of us there are and who, but we’ve been standing half an hour unable to cancel because if we do it costs us. So we watch them accept, drive and eventually cancel with impunity.
Having considered driving for the buggers, this experience is enough to make me want to go back to night buses exclusively. The bus network is excellent in London guys. So worth learning. Wheels like uber are a luxury. And if a luxury starts treating you like you’re second class it’s time to drop it…
Rant over. We got home. Toyota. Monosyllables.