The Cab and the Cat
I suffer from intermittent attacks of sciatica and as I grow older they seem to be getting worse. Want to know when it all went wrong for my once broad strong back?
Thirty odd years ago I owned a spacious well appointed detached home standing at the top of a hill in an aptly named part in the English world: Belvedere, and it was a beautiful view that I had to gaze upon. I had tangible money as well as capital wealth and I had an enthusiasm for more to satiate my never decreasing desires of spending it. Prudence was never foremost in my mind but creativity in endeavours was. So much so that it lead to me abusing what God had intended me to be capable of.
I had a large Garage built at the end of my landscaped garden big enough for my Taxi and the gymnasium that I planned to facilitate there, already having the equipment, needlessly filling a spare bedroom so my wife often told me. If I could have built it myself I would have but somethings, not many, were beyond even the strong muscular fit person that Danny Kemp was in those far away days of hedonism. Not however the installation of the electric power. I had installed the fuse box for the required lighting circuits and the one ring main which was needed and had the armored cable at the ready for the final connection to the house, now I waited for the opportune time for the installation mission.
One gloriously sunny afternoon I arrived home and set about the operation. I opened the trap door in the cupboard under the stairs, where the mains were located, and sat facing the control box with my legs dangling into the crevice below fitting the connection box needed for that armored cable. I was in control of my world and master of all my destiny.
“Knock knock” A timid enquiring tap on the front door. The sort often heard as mail would pass through the letter box and the flap would close, but it wasn’t mail nor was it the porch door. This was closer, inside and personal!
“Knock knock knock” yet another. Again I chose to forget but now having my annoyance firmly affixed in its direction but not as yet my verbal instructions.
“KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.” No longer was it a polite request now it was a demand!
“What the….I’m on my way. This had better be important.” Without trying to hide my anger I stomped heavily towards the offending interruption.
“HELLO” I shouted on opening the door to a fast retreating figure making towards the garden gate.
“Sorry Danny but it’s your cab” he said as he turned to face my wrath before escape and his virtue could be saved. “What about the Cab George” I asked my now composed neighbour. “Has something happened?”
“It’s on my wall Danny.” He diffidently answered.
I would normally park my Cab beside the wooden Garage Gates prior to driving it down the slope and inside that newly built home but for some unknown reason, other than my innate impetuousness, I had left it on the hill outside the front facing towards the safety of the higher level ground. It was then that it struck me; it had gone! My pristine shiny black icon of the London Taxi vocation had found its refuge nestled snugly against the pebble dashing of the low garden wall of next door. All ten yards away from where I had neglectfully left her.
“I was in my front garden and saw it all. Ever so slowly it stared to move and came over my drive then stopped. It looks well and truly wedged there Danny, but thankfully there doesn’t appear to be any damage.” Somewhat sneeringly he commented as I followed in shame.
He meant of course that there was no damage to his wall but had not considered my desolated pride which now lay shattered for the want of judiciousness. Something had to be done and quickly least it was seen my more, and the once proud man at the top of the hill was found wanting for common sense. I tried driving her off, but the tyre found no purchase simply shredding rubber and stones in a flurry of acrid smoke and dust in a northerly direction without movement in the desired upward travel. A more robust approach was needed.
I braced myself, legs bent, hands firmly clasped the rear bumper, bulging biceps tightened and the curvature of those prize neck muscles took the strain as I set about the lift of the century. It moved. Encouraged, I went for a finale to beat anything seen at an Olympic medal celebration, the repositioning of whole chassis on to a more drivable location. This time it didn’t budge but something in my back did, ping it went and down the mighty fell as though stricken by Brutus’s sword.
Physical pain and discomfort were to the fallen Sansom secondary considerations, pride went first in the procession followed by that job in hand that needed his expertise of refinement that no living professional could supply. A self-obsessed perfectionist Danny Kemp you ask? Never would be the lie.
There is more so don’t go, the fun has not quite finished.
Cab securely ensconced inside the brick structure which a more sensible soul would have first used, back he dragged his aching torso and set about reclaiming that battered ego so badly destroyed in neighbouring eyes. The sanctity of a job well done beckoned to boast the levels of self-esteem. The plan was to pass that outside cable through a hole already drilled in the side of the house then along the three-foot gap below the floorboards rising up at that cupboard under the stairs. Simple enough, but now superman had been injured and needed help to traverse under and along those nether regions away from sight.
The cat would become the electricians apprentice!
There was another trap door in the dining room near to the entry point of said cable and within my reach if laid flat and stretched as far as I could. In some pain I did this and tied some string to its end. ‘Puss‘ the innovative name we had called the ginger stray that had made his home with us some months before this episode of ingenuity was summoned. He was cajoled, stroked and when not paying attention attached to the string much to his annoyance but in a manner that caused no discomfort other than curiosity and slight agitation, then gently lowered down through the trap door.
My idea was based on sound judgement which by now you will grant I was deceiving myself in belief of possessing, but nevertheless had merit in its originality. I would sit in some degree of comfort over the hole where the cable was needed with the favored delights of ‘Puss‘ and entice him over. Lift him out and after releasing him from his duties, pull the cable through. Brilliant you say, pure genius you acclaim but wait all is not told, you may wish to add more superlatives.
No sign of ‘Puss.’ No amount of calling or the blowing of kisses, or wafting of ‘Caesars Tuna‘ under floorboards would do it for him, and other than a faint meow nothing was seen or heard. Once again a prone position was called for and this time in the somewhat confined area of the cupboard space I lay peering as best I could into that dark crevice where I had subjected my feline friend. The pain in my back was increasing.
Head first I lowered myself supported by one braced arm whilst the other held the torch in search for my apprentice. I saw the problem immediately and sighed in disbelief. There was a wall between us that some stupid builder had deemed necessary to place there in support of the floor. How ridiculous was that? A sprung floor would have been far better! Luckily for my project there were open spaces between some of the brickwork but insufficient in width for ‘Puss‘ who now would not be tempted back towards that small opening that I had deposited him through. I had no choice but to clamber down and rescue him. The pain in my back was fast approaching agony.
Superman was many things but never cruel always backing the good against the oppressor so what else could I do. Down I ventured, feet first but finding, as my bum touched the ground, that I couldn’t follow being unable to bend my upper half. A hands first approach I decided to adopt being the method of flight more adequately used by my alter-ego. This time I succeeded, scurrying along the dusted floor until I could turn and gently lower my legs then awkwardly crawl towards my mystified accomplice. I untied him and lifted him to safety then pulled the cable through and poked it in the direction of whence this operation began. Then went about my own repatriation to the outside world.
I had succeeded in part of my quest and all lost dignity now could be restored. Except one; my back was excruciatingly painful.
Trying to drag the bottom half of your body whilst the connecting part in the middle is not in working order is not to be recommended and indeed has never been so, but I had no option. Superman had kryptonite poisoning it would pass.
My wife arrived home some three hours later and found superman spresdeagled on her dining room floor she took one look and summed up the situation in a few succinct words: “Come down to earth have we?” She recognized the value in me.
The pain eased and after physiotherapy and ultra violet lamp treatment disappeared for a while but not forever and never will. All caused by a moment of foolishness that delusion can bring upon us all. The kryptonite took its toll that day and I have paid the price ever since.
If there is a moral in this story it is this; London Taxis are for picking people up not for being picked up. So the next time you inadvertently say “I’ll pick up a Taxi” be aware of what that innocent phrase means to me and the now deceased Superman.
Tags: armored cable, beautiful view, belvedere, capital wealth, crevice, cupboard, endeavours, flap, fuse box, hedonism, kemp, lighting circuits, mail, opportune time, prudence, sciatica, spare bedroom, sunny afternoon, tangible money, trap door