Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful about Getting Old - Pt. 823: not ever having to get home from Peckham at five in the morning

One of my son's friends had their birthday on Saturday, so a bunch of them went out to help him celebrate. The evening started with a nice restaurant meal in a civilised part of central London - and ended many hours later at a club in Peckham. Yes, Peckham! My son bowed out around 5am - and then realised he had no idea where he was...

He promptly discovered that his phone had run out of juice, so he couldn't phone Uber. And he'd used up all the credit on his Oyster card and had no way of topping it up, so he couldn't catch a night bus. And there wasn't a black cab to be had for love nor money. And the early morning streets were deserted apart from occasional groups of "vibrant" young men. It reminded my wife and I of After Hours, an odd little film made by Martin Scorsese in 1985 when the funding for The Last Temptation of Christ fell through. In it, a young New Yorker finds himself stranded in the middle of the night without any money on the other side of the city from his apartment - and absolutely desperate to get home to safety:

The critics liked it, but audiences didn't. It has now become a "cult" movie - deservedly. Recommended, if you haven't seen it. Here's the subway scene:

As far as we know, our son didn't encounter any dead bodies along the way, and nobody tried to kill him - but he was mighty relieved to finally happen upon a passing black cab (he practically threw himself in front of it to get it to stop). Because he had to negotiate the fare - i.e. everything he had on him - to get across town, the driver dropped him outside our local underground station, rather than go to the bother of driving another 600 yards to our house. That's what living in London's all about, I guess - the way we look out for each other. 


  1. By "negotiate the fare" do you mean the meter was turned off?If so a bit of a liberty for a licensed taxi.5 am phew..It reminds me of one of your reader's stories about a strung out cabbie in NYC.who offered him a "deal" or a "crazy deal"ie off meter,cash straight in the sky rocket.At least that way you don't go the scenic route.

    1. Indeed - the fare was agreed before the journey started. Uber (my son and his pals use nothing else, and even the Telegraph's Charles Moore revealed himself to be a customer the other day!) has made a severe dent in black cab takings. Given how much it cost us to get from the Albert Hall to Chiswick last time we took a proper cab (the scenic route and with fucking pop music music blaring away in the front until we asked him to turn it down - I mean, at those prices?), I'm really not surprised. And not particularly sorry for them, either.