Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Taxi Drivers


I often find myself in taxis, to and from stations and schools.

I enjoy chatting to taxi drivers: they can be really interesting people, who have lots of time to think, and have often done all manner of other jobs previously.

I had a lovely journey across Sheffield last Monday, on my way to St Giles Primary. The driver recognised me from a previous pick-up, so I sat in the front and we chin-wagged all the way to Killimarsh.

He had given up a sales job for an international oil company, for what he thought would be a less stressful life. Unfortunately he finds taxi driving even more stressful!

I assumed it was because of the traffic, or dodgy, Saturday night pick-ups, but he said it's the uncertainty that gets him: not knowing if you have 2 minutes or 4 hours to kill between jobs, and not having the faintest idea what you will earn.

We also discussed an interesting novel I'm reading right now, Thirteen, written by ex taxi driver, Sebastian Beaumont. It's set against the strange experience of driving the night shift: the way the night and over-tiredness can blur reality; the oddly intimate way that passengers feel able to discuss not the weather, but their nervous breakdown or their unrealised dreams. But as it's progressing, even more surreal things are starting to happen... intriguing.

It's a shame taxi drivers tend to have a bit of a bad image. There are of course some bores, some miseries and some bigots, but mostly they seem pretty nice guys (I've only ever had one woman driver).

The two bottom drawings were done in my sketchbook on the way to school visits. The top image is a rare occasional when I broke my normal rule of never sketching from a photograph. All three were originally ordinary pencil drawings, but have been tinted digitally in Photoshop, using a different technique for each.

8 comments:

Jessie said...

The nicest taxi drivers I've come across are in Devon. Maybe it's living in that beautiful place that makes them so cheerful?! By the way, I learnt to drive many years ago but other drivers terrify me so I don't drive any more. :)

Lynne Chapman said...

That's a shame, but I know what you mean - it all looks very scary to me for sure!

Perhaps we should start a survey on the locations of the nicest / most annoying taxi drivers...

Gillian said...

I enjoy the story behind your lovely sketches. The book sounds worth a look too. Thanks.

Tomás Serrano said...

I like your mix of pencil and digital colours. Lynne, a question: have you any new children´s book project?

Lynne Chapman said...

Not now I've finished the Bears book. I still have my baby book project though, that I want to work on and show new publishers in Jan.

Ellis Nadler said...

http://ellisnadler.blogspot.com/2007/01/i-had-that-nad-in-back-of-my-cab-once.html
also, the ultimate taxi book is "The Book of Dave" by Will Self

Lynne Chapman said...

Like the sketches Ellis, especailly the old geezer.

Veronica said...

Thanks for the reading tips (and Ellis), both books sound mysteriously compelling(currently reading Sunset Song again and subsequently talking in an [even more!] pronounced Scots immediately afterwards!).
Love the bumpy taxi sketches - I can't even read in a car or I get sick, let alone draw!
Intrigued to see your new baby book, keep us posted...