Saturday, February 26, 2005


So I passed my test for the taxi driver's licence on Monday - sweaty palms and racing heartbeat along with the knowledge that the crusty old guy with tatts who was my examiner would pass me whatever, because I spoke English as a first language and probably hardly anyone else he sees does. Afterwards I went to Parramatta Station to catch the train back to Summer Hill and there was this young man on the platform pacing back and forth, with a reflexive half smile on his face, repeating certain words over and over out loud to himself: My birth family is Vietnamese! I am Australian! City I live in, Sydney! State, New South Wales! Country, Australia! Over and over, as if learning his lines for some other kind of test. The odd thing was, considering what he was saying, is that he was almost certainly a speaker of English as a second - or third, or fourth - language. He was wearing institution black shoes, institution grey trousers, a green shirt, a back pack ... no way I could catch his eye, though I tried. Crazy, perhaps. Anyway. The MoT will post me my Authority to Drive this week sometime but my producer(s) have asked me not to go out on the streets yet. They feel it will ruin my concentration upon the screenplay I'm going to be writing over the next two months and are drip-feeding me money to avert the distraction of taxi-driving. I want some security of income, while at the same time dreading (is this too strong a word?) the consequences of doing what must be done to attain that. Cab-driving, every cent passes through your hands two times, once when you get it, twice when you spend it. There's a peculiar satisfaction in that. But it does have a levelling effect. You are down there where the cash exchanges take place. No substitutes will do. You are on the street with everybody else, dealing with the necessities of journeys which you usually do not know the reasons for. You feel a need for assertion. My family is _____! I am _____! City I live in _____! State _____! Country _____! You're lucky if someone catches your eye. You're even luckier if you can catch it back.