‘Course, I realise this isn’t really about motorists or driving at all. It’s merely the thoughts that occur to me in my capacity as a driver. I wonder if they would be the same if I was sitting on a horse or riding a bicycle. You are probably wondering what I do for a living. I drive for a courier firm, delivering letters and packages around the Capital. (though I could use a horse or an elephant for all the difference it would make, seeing as traffic now moves slower through the streets than it did in the era of the horse-drawn carriage more than a hundred years ago) When I was young I wanted to be a fireman, but something stunted my growth. All that puffing behind the bike shed probably. But the biggest drawback was that eighteen months I spent in Wandsworth for arson…
The things people do to motorists! Look at this in my morning paper. A Mr Murphy had just driven his van into the courtyard of the block of flats where he lived, whereupon he was shot in the leg and relieved of his van and the takings from his shop. He managed to hobble outside and stopped a passing police car, which took him to the nearby Hospital. His wife, meanwhile, had seen his van arrive in the courtyard and began putting his dinner on the table. When he didn’t appear she decided to call him on his mobile phone. Imagine her surprise when the voice at the other end said; ‘I’ve just shot him so he’s probably gone to the hospital.’ Afterwards she said; ‘I was very annoyed with my husband and wanted to tell him his dinner was getting cold’…..

Yesterday afternoon I arrived home to a crescendo of banging. It was coming from the bottom of my garden. It was my neighbour, trying to demolish the tree that had taken over a corner of his patch. His method of felling it was certainly original; he was hacking away at it with a hammer and chisel. Perhaps this was how they felled trees in India. Nevertheless, I offered him the loan of my saw.
It seemed to me that my shed was directly in the line of fire, but he assured me there was no danger, and indicated the rope attached to his tree. I left him to his devices and went to fix myself a cup of coffee. I could see him through my window, squatting up the tree, about six feet above ground, sawing away. (I know, but don’t ask why…) Suddenly the tree began to topple…straight for the shed. I could see the guy-rope fluttering uselessly in the breeze. Fleet of foot, the intrepid lumberjack leapt on to the roof of the shed and diverted the tree into the garden instead. When I got outside he was dancing a jig of delight on the roof; ‘see, I am telling you it will miss the shed’. I looked at my flattened rosebushes and hardy annuals, and could only shake my head in disbelief…

This morning is a pleasant one for a change. The view from the top of Highgate Hill is wonderful, almost invigorating. What is it about high ground that lifts the depression and sets the senses tingling? Whatever it is it must be what seperates the brain-boxes from the mutton-heads. The intellectuals seek the high ground – moral and otherwise – of Hampstead, Highgate and Greenwich, while the proles are dumped in dives like Leyton, Poplar and Kensal Green.
There is a weak sun poking through the clouds, bathing Alexandria Palace in a soft glow, and a gentle breeze is rustling the fallen leaves. When I reach Acton I will see neither; just consumptive chimney-stacks belching their shite into the sky.
North Circular Road…Neasden…Stonebridge Park…Hangar Lane…Nightmare Avenue.Concrete above me, concrete below me, concrete to either side of me. Wembley Stadium in the distance; another concrete blob on the horizon. Regiments of cones guard acres of empty lanes. Whilst silent machines stare at gaping holes and mounds of battered tarmacadam. Unmoved, unmoving, I study this scene of desolation. One day all roads will look like this. Soon.
Nowhere man, that’s me. Slowly going nowhere. Even if there were no jams I would still be going there. Maybe that’s what I should call this … Thoughts Of A Nowhere Man. No ambition you see…least not until I began writing this.
Those boxes and packages, wonder what’s in them? Not that there’s anything valuable…nothing worth doing a runner for. Remember that guy a few years back, cab driver, who picked the fare with all that money in his briefcase? Hundreds of thousands there was. The guy needed a smoke so bad he asked the driver to stop at a newsagents. When he came back the cab had gone. Must be the most expensive pack of ciggies in history…
By the way, I have found out who Tiresias was. I thought he might have been some obscure Greek philosopher but the librarian thought it was the name of a poem by Tennyson. That is why she is a librarian and I am a courier. Tiresias was a blind seer – made that way as a punishment for seeing the Goddess of Wisdom naked – and in the poem is urging his son to commit suicide. The blind leading the blind? Probably an accurate description of British Rail.






We had a party the other night. A kind of fancy-dress do, where everybody came dressed as a pub. There were several Red Cows, three Spotted Dogs, a Lord Nelson, a Duke Of Wellington, several Queen Victorias and a Pig And Whistle. And of course a Black Lion. This, naturally, being the guvner himself.
Then John The Butcher arrived. He was carrying a placard which read, ‘repent all ye who enter here for the end of the world is neigh’. He was also carrying a bloodied parcel, which he slapped on the counter in front of the guvner.
‘There you are. Five pound of the best tee-bone.. Tender as a baby’s bottom’.
‘What would you know about babies?’, someone in the crowd piped up. John was a confirmed bachelor.
‘Plenty’, he said, without averting his eyes from the pint that was being poured by one of the Red Cows. ‘I was one once’.
The guvner, meantime ,was dividing his time between sniffing at the parcel and studying the placard. Eventually, satisfied with the meat, he shoved it out of sight and rescued a tenner from the till. This he shoved grudgingly in John’s direction, indicating the placard as he did so.
‘Am I missing something?’
John waited until he had lowered the froth on his pint to below the half-way line before answering. ‘Ha, ha. Got ya there, haven’t I?’ He flicked a hand at the sign. ‘It’s the world’s end’.
‘Is it? Not right this minute I trust? Not in the middle of my busy time’. He looked closely at John. ‘You gone religious or sumthin’?’
‘You berk. The World’s End. It’s a pub.’
‘Never heard of it’
‘It’s a pub I tell ya. Down the Kings Road’.
‘He is right. I myself have been there many times’. This was Artic Alice. ‘I can vouch for its existence’.
Alice always spoke in a clipped, formal way. A legacy of her upbringing undoubtably, which, it was rumoured, included some of the best finishing schools in the land. Alice herself never confirmed (or denied) these stories, but there was no doubt she was well-educated, and, from the way she conducted herself in company, well-bred.
Alice never got drunk. She was content to sip Martinis in her favourite corner, poring over a crossword or a book, being polite to everyone, never opening her heart to a soul. She participated in the occasional pub quiz ( at which she excelled), but she was still as much a mystery woman as the day she first appeared about five years ago. Hence her nickname.
‘There. If Alice says it exists that should be good enough for you’. John finished his pint and signalled for another.
‘Not so fast’. The guvner wasn’t going to concede as easily as that. ‘Anyone can invent a pub. How do I know it exists?’
I forgot to mention that the reason for dressing up is this competition the guvner dreamed up, in which the winner can drink as much as he or she is capable of over the weekend. It occurs to me he might have a good reason for not wanting John to participate. With his capacity for unlimited guzzling he might easily drink the place dry.
Alice, who was to be the judge, wouldn’t be denied. ‘Of course it exists.’
‘That may well be. But it still isn’t proof’.
‘Proof you want, is it?’ It was the first time I had heard Alice raise her voice. ‘I’ll give you proof’. She snatched her handbag from the counter and rummaged through it for a few moments. Eventually, she produced a cutting, dog-eared, and yellowing ,and spread it out before us on the counter.
‘Hey, that’s Georgie Best’. The guvner poked a finger at the picture staring up at us. A look of something approaching awe appeared on his face. ‘Is that you pulling him a pint?’
‘It certainly is me. I was much younger then of course. What does it say on that banner behind me?’
We could all see it now, in letters that must have been a foot high. WORLDS END PUB …GRAND OPENING BY GEORGE BEST…FREE BEER ALL DAY
‘I knew I could rely on you Alice’. John clapped her on the shoulder. ‘You deserve a large drink after all that’.
‘Thank you John. My usual will suffice’. Alice carefully folded her cutting and placed it in her bag between the pages of a loose-leaf note-book that looked filled with notes. ‘By the way, the word is nigh’.
‘The end of the world is nigh, John, not neigh’.

More tales from the Black Lion soon…