My phone beeped, notifying me of a new text message. It was from the taxi company, alerting me to the fact that my taxi had arrived. This was hardly news to me since I had been sitting in the taxi for the last five minutes. A couple of minutes later the phone beeped again, notifying me of another text message. It was from the taxi company. This time they were informing me that my taxi had been dispatched. How did we survive before mobile phones?
I was having a particularly stressful day. I had a headache which wasn’t being improved by the overly talkative taxi driver. Perhaps a more useful service than the taxi company’s text alert service would be to allow the customer to choose the type of driver they would like. If you were feeling in the mood for a chat then you could mention this when booking your taxi, and the taxi company would send you one of their more garrulous drivers. Similarly, if you had a headache, you could opt for one of their more reserved drivers.
“I’d like a taxi from the centre of Gateshead into the centre of Newcastle please. Oh, and could I have one of your overly opinionated, narrow-minded, bigoted taxi drivers please? Also, I’m really interested in hearing a litany of ill-considered thoughts about why this country is going to the dogs. Someone with very strong and misguided views on immigration would be most welcome. Oh, and if possible, send me a driver who’s had lots of c-list celebrities in the back of their cab. That ought to make for an entertaining journey.”
“I’m sorry sir, I’m afraid we don’t have any drivers like that working for us.”
“What? Call yourself a taxi company? I’ll take my custom elsewhere thank you very much.”
Because I am blind, my phone speaks what’s on the screen. I therefore have no need to look at the screen and so the screen is turned off which saves battery power and gives me extra privacy. I often wonder therefore what it must look like to people when they see me texting. There would be nothing on the screen; the phone would look like it was switched off. It would look like I was just tapping a phone that wasn’t turned on. Perhaps they think that a kindly adult has given me their broken phone as a toy to play with so that I can pretend to be a normal grownup with a real grownup phone. “Oh, bless him. Look at that blind man playing with the broken phone. He’s tapping away on it just as if he was actually texting. Still, it’s keeping him out of mischief, and I suppose it helps take his mind off his disability.”
Sometimes, if I’m typing a long document, I’ll use the bluetooth keyboard. Again, because I can’t see, I have no need to look at the screen. Also, because I can touch type, I don’t need to hear the speech since I know exactly what I’m typing; therefore, I will often leave the phone in my pocket and just have the keyboard on my knee. Because I’m using bluetooth there are no wires, meaning that people will just see a man pressing buttons on a keyboard that looks like it isn’t connected to anything. So people probably think I am playing at being a business man, pretending to be a grownup.
“Eee,” said the taxi driver. He had a habit of starting his sentences by saying “eee”. I will illustrate this by frequently writing “eee,” at the start of his sentences. How do I think of these amazingly clever writing devices?
“Eee,” said the taxi driver, “is that a special phone son?” I explained to him that it was just a standard IPhone which has an in-built screen reader. “Eee,” said the driver.
If you are a director who is perhaps putting on a stage performance of the blog posts of David Eagle, perhaps it would be helpful for me to give you some direction regarding the taxi driver’s “eee,” in order to help give your dramatisation extra authenticity. The rest of you can skip this section if you’d prefer.
Direct your actor playing the part of the taxi driver to start the “eee,” roughly around the F above middle C on a piano. Then slide down over the course of about one second to end on–let’s say–the A below middle C. Feel free of course to extemporise around this. This is just a guideline. Too much rigidity in the “eee” can make the performance seem stilted and unnatural. Oh and well done by the way for choosing to put on such a challenging and important work such as this. Many directors shy away from putting on productions of my blog through fear of failing to do it justice. Obviously you are going to fail to capture the full breadth and sentiment of my blog (you are only human), but I am happy that you are at least trying. I just hope you’ve got someone skilled and dextrous enough to play the part of David Eagle. It is not at all an easy role to play, and only the very best of the acting world will be able to come anywhere close to playing the role with the reverence and gravitas that it requires. And please, please, please, don’t get an American to play me. The character of David Eagle is not to be Americanised (and certainly not Americanized); I am not to be dumbed down. Be warned: if you medal with the script too much, then you may be sued by my estate. Other than that though, just enjoy it. The blog of David Eagle is a fun piece. That’s what’s important at the end of the day. Just have fun with it. But don’t forget everything else that I’ve just mentioned or I’ll soo your arse (note: that’s arse, not ass; don’t you dare Americanise me!).
Anyway, sorry, where were we? Oh yes. “Eee,” said the taxi driver, “so you can do anything on that phone can you?” I nodded. “Eee, great. So you can view your photos?” I pointed out that while I could of course open the photos folder, my phone was unable to miraculously enable me to see my photos. “Eee,” said the taxi driver, “but it’ll get there won’t it? Technology. You mark my words son.” I wasn’t overly heartened by this prediction, since the driver didn’t seem to me to be the kind of man who would have any unique insight into such a subject.
I decided that what this taxi driver really could do with right now was an anecdote.
It would mean that I wouldn’t have to endure any more of his opinions about politicians, which had been his preferred topic of conversation until his diversion on to the subject of my phone.
I suppose it would be rude of me not to share the anecdote with you too. Plus, failing to include the anecdote at this specific moment in the blog post would impair the sense of continuity, and I certainly don’t want to be getting a reputation as a sense of continuity impairer; that wouldn’t do at all.
A few years ago I bought a new phone. My friend was adding her phone number to my contacts. “you’ve taken a surprising amount of photos for someone who can’t see,” she said. I wasn’t aware that I had taken any photos, but she said that my photo folder was full of photos. She started to browse through the folder to see what the photos were. She gasped. “There’s about 50 photos on here of you naked,” she said, understandably sounding shocked. I’d like to think that her gasp was one of reverent wonder at the majesty of what she was seeing, but to be honest I think it was simply a gasp of surprise, and probably also horror and disgust. I too was surprised, as I couldn’t understand why my phone would be full of naked photos of me, or anyone for that matter.
Eventually I deduced what must have happened. I must have taken the photos by accident when I had just got out of the shower. I remembered that I was drying myself when I received a text message. Having never used the phone before I was trying to work out how to reply to the message. I recalled hearing a clicking noise while I was searching for the reply option. I must have been inadvertently pressing the camera button, and the clicking noise was the sound of me accidentally taking pictures of my naked self.
I would like to say that my friend then continued to spend time flicking through all the photos in the collection, perusing them, admiring my various poses, and making exclamations of delight and excitement, but obviously she didn’t. Nor did she activate bluetooth on her phone so as to send the pictures to herself. Nor did she suddenly become extremely amorous towards me and cry, “take me, take me in your manly arms David.”
I’m sure though that the photos didn’t do me justice, after all, they had been taken by a blind man. Otherwise, if the angle and the lighting had been better, I’m sure that things would have been very different. But sadly they weren’t, which is a shame because if she had cried “take me in your manly arms,” then this anecdote might become a lot more exciting. But sadly, this is all the excitement this anecdote has to offer, and so we may as well return to the taxi.
“Eee,” chuckled the taxi driver, when I had finished my story. “Eee, it’s like they say isn’t it? People do the funniest things sometimes, don’t they?”
What on earth does that mean? “People do the funniest things?” As opposed to? … cats? dogs? chimpanzees? Also, what does he mean when he says “it’s like they say isn’t it?” It’s like who says? The couple next door? The owners of the local chippy? the butcher? the baker? uncle Tom Cobley? An ancient prophet?
The taxi driver had seemingly enjoyed my story, but he was also aware that we had strayed a way from politics, and he was seemingly keen to get back on to this subject and impart some more of his opinions.
I got out my netbook, hoping that the driver might take it as a sign that I was busy, saving me from enduring further narrow-minded drivel.
“Eee,” said the taxi driver, unsurprisingly. “Is that a computer?” I nodded. “Eee, that’s the way forward isn’t it? Computers? Everything’s computers nowadays, isn’t it? It’s like this car, it’s all computers. They’re taking over the world, aren’t they? Computers. You can’t even go to the toilet nowadays without computers, can you?”
I assume that this was yet another example of the driver talking utter nonsense. Unless the driver’s house was so hi-tech that he had a computerised toilet. Or maybe he is in the habit of using a computer to document his toilet visits. Perhaps he inputs the information into a spreadsheet or a database; I have no idea what the best system would be for detailing your toilet habits. There’s bound to be at least one website on the Internet that deals in the sharing of people’s toilet habits. Perhaps he’d just admitted to having a fetish which involves toilets and webcams. Maybe he shares his toilet visits with his friends on E-mail (or in this driver’s case, Eee-mail). Though I think it’s more likely that he was simply making another of his meaningless statements.
My pontificating was interrupted by the commencement of a beeping sound which repeated itself at one second intervals. The driver was confused as to where it was coming from. He couldn’t see any visual cues as to what it might be.
“Is that you?” asked the driver. I was becoming increasingly concerned about this man’s sanity. Did he honestly think that I was emitting a repetitious beeping sound?
“Beeep, ah yes, beeep, sorry, I’ve got a, beeep, rare form of schizophrenia, beeep. I’m currently under the, beeep, elution that I’m a, beeep, reversing vehicle, beeep.” Obviously this was not my response. I simply informed him that it was not me who was emitting the repetitious beeping sound.
After five minutes he pulled over, got out, and checked the car. He re-entered the car having been unable to identify the cause of the beeping. He had just started a ten hour shift and potentially would have to endure the beeping for the whole of his working day. That would be enough to drive anyone mad, which in this man’s case could be extremely dangerous, given his current level of sanity.
The driver was starting to become irritated by the beeping and his inability to fix the issue. Naturally, I decided that what the taxi driver could really do with at this exact moment was a little joke to help temper his irritation.
“You obviously weren’t in the scouts,” I said.
“Er, no I wasn’t,” the man responded, sounding a bit taken aback by my remark. I too was taken aback because the driver had not started his sentence with an “eee.” He had said “er.” “I went to Boy’s brigade,” the driver added.
“Ah, well if you’d have been a scout then I’m sure you’d have that”–I paused to give the punchline some extra punch (something which it would certainly need)– “beep repaired.” I left a little pause and then added, “beep, repaired,” leaving space between the two words to help him understand the punchline. I apologise to you, dear reader, for such a poor joke, but in fairness I did have a headache, and I was being driven insane by an unstable taxi driver and a repetitious beeping sound.
“no mate,” came the driver’s response, “I think you’re getting confused between knots and beeps.” He chuckled. I had no idea what on earth he was going on about, and so I asked him what on earth he was going on about; a shrewd move I thought, given that I was wanting to ascertain what on earth he was going on about. As you can see, I’m a pretty effective conversationalist. “Well,” explained the driver, “scouts repair knots, they don’t repair beeps.” This nonsensical remark, on top of everything else the driver had come out with, caused me to burst into laughter. At this exact moment we reached our destination and I didn’t manage to stop laughing in time to explain the joke. So I left the driver with his mysterious beep to remain bemused. I’m sure that he’ll probably see this episode as yet another event to corroborate his statement that “people do the funniest things sometimes, don’t they?”
As I walked away from the taxi and entered the place I had been dropped off at (which I shall keep a mystery in order to make me seem aloof and enigmatic), I received another text message. It was from the taxi company. They asked me to give them my thoughts about my journey. Apparently I will be entered into a cash prize draw simply for telling them about my journey. You have just read my reply to the taxi company. Well, they did ask. I’ll let you know if I win. Perhaps I should attach some naked photos of myself to the message to bolster my chances of winning the prize.
I’ll be back with the second David Eagle’s Pick and Mix at the start of February.