Saturday, 12 February 2011

The low-life and angels of Shepherd's Bush

Black cab drivers, an aged zimmer frame user and a woman shopper combined to create an experience for me today that summed up the absolute best and worst of the Bush this evening.

Coming out of the W12 Centre, sweating away after a session at the gym, I came across an old bloke with shaking arms clutching a zimmer shuffling impossibly slowly across the three lane road. The lights were turning to amber and he was only a metre into his shuffle. A young school girl was trying to help so I joined in not realising quite how slowly the guy was going.

Cue standing in front of the traffic and waving lines through only when was safe and holding others in my impression of a policeman which in most cases was accepted by the drivers who were good natured - it was obvious the old fella wasn't going anywhere fast. All except for one prat in a souped up wannabe sports car who beeped his horn. He got a special glare.

Eventually we got across the road, and then the other side too to the tube station side. The old bloke had an address scribbled on a piece of paper, and needed to get a cab. So with old bloke now on side of road, and school girl relieved of her duties, I tried hailing a black cab. Two went past without wanting to stop but then one did. I ran over to him, who assured me he'd wait even though the old guy was slow on his zimmer. Having run back to the old bloke who started his slow journey I saw the self same cab driver take on a passenger and drive away anyway.

At this point a woman shopper came over, apologising profusely - she'd tried to make him wait, she said, but he was having none of it. She offered to hail another one while we carried on our super-slow shuffle to the layby opposite the cafe. She found one, hailed him, and then I saw her hand something over. Yes, the cab driver had said he'd only wait if he could run the meter. So she gave him a £10 note.

Never have I seen low-life motives so contrasted with good ones than then. The cabby saw the slowly shuffling pensioner as a cash-cow - she had seen him as an old and vulnerable person who needed help and so she gave it willingly.

Eventually we made it to the cab and in he got. And off they went. And that's the end of the story, really. Just a little snapshot of life in the Bush, probably replicated a thousand times across London. The low-lifes and the angels all mingling together but on completely different levels. If there's a middle ground, like most people, I fall into that - but it's reassuring people like that woman are around - if only to counteract the sort of people that obviously drive black cabs and souped up sports cars.


  1. You tell it like it is. All human life and possibility is in abundance here in Bush.


  2. Black cabs - the best possible advertisement for minicabs!