Wednesday, January 10, 2007


(pic- busker's on St Charles' bridge- Czech Blues Band)

Lubos was the name of our Puffa jacket clad taxi driver in his early forties who picked Lisa and I up from the airport in Prague. He approached us as I was persusing a map of the city trying to locate where our Hotel was. Naturally both Lisa and I were extremely dubious as we clearly looked like tourists and felt especially vulnerable to be hoodwinked by such crafty local types. He seemed genuine enough to me though and more importantly Lisa thought so too. We shrugged our shoulders and let him push our luggage trolley to his taxi.

Despite everything appearing Kosha with Lubos, as we drove towards the city I felt increasingly uncomfortable. This anxiety was heightened when his mobile phone started to ring. His ringtone was the theme to Kill Bill (the whistled tune) and he laughed heavily as he conversed via his speaker phone in Czech. Despite learning some key phrases in Czech, these proved useless in trying to ascertain what he was talking about. I convinced myself that he was explaining that he had two stupid English types in the back of his cab and he was on route to ritualistically rape and violate us, or sell us as meat or sex slaves perhaps on the black market. I mulled over the idea of being a sex slave for several minutes- and decided it would be a poor career choice.

After his conversation he apologised for having to take the call. Nervously and perhaps foolishly I whistled his ringtone theme (I have always excelled in whistling like an old man) and he went to answer it and realised the rouse. He proceeded to look back at us both with his phone in his hand and play the irritating theme back to us- raising his eyebrows and smiling inanely as if we should be impressed- a little like jangling keys to an infant or early American settlers giving the Native Americans shiny objects to pacify them. We politiely pretended we found it amusing- raising our eyebrows in feigned interest. He then continued to play his other theme song, some dodgy Czech White Metal nodding his head from side to side in time with the music. At that moment the rape and violation seemed a decent alternative.

Lubos, kept the conversation going throughout the journey pointing out key buildings in the city and explaining the historical significance to boot- I started to relax. No sooner as I had begun to lighten up Lubos stopped the car down some dimly lit back street on the city's outskirts. My sphincter closed as tight as a drum. I contemplated fleeing the car and leaving him and Lisa- of course this would mean sacrificing Lisa, but I figured she would distract him and this would give me a nifty head start.
He kept the engine running and leaned back and asked us what time our return flight was- offering to collect us should we wish.
"what no rape" I thought to myself somewhat disappointed.

I felt it rude to decline him and proceeded to give him my phone number and arrange a time for him to pick us up from the hotel but again I was dubious of his motive. I figured that if it had transpired that he'd overcharged us- which I would ascertain once in the safety of our Hotel, I'd give him one of my patented bad lies/excuses and then destroy my phone to prevent any threatening phone calls. He insited on calling me then- to see if I had given him a false number no doubt.

After him telling us about his love for Ice Hockey and his pride that his son played in the 2nd Division National league we soon arrived at our Hotel. Like a pro, he insited on lifting the bags into the Hotel for us and shook both of our hands before driving off into the busy traffic. After asking around it transpired that he'd charged us fairly and I felt a modicum of guilt as I thought of the way I was fairly cautious- but at least my sphincter opened up again.
I thought about Lubos quite a lot over the next few days. Not in a sexual manner of course- why would you even think that? but rather in an inquisitive way. I knew little about him except he loved to play Ice Hockey and his English was way better than he thought it was. Also he said to us that "Budvar" was his favourite beer.

When it came for us to go home and the end of the week, a weary Lisa and I waited with our luggage in the Hotel reception chatting to hairy lipped but thoroughly pleasant receptionist. We made small talk and she clarified some of our observations on the Russian WAGS we'd seen and both she and her colleagues had both commended me on my Czech- notably my pronunciation. Granted I only learned several polite phrases but showed them off to her as if I was the first Englishman to ever try his hand at the lingo. As ever,during our conversation I spoke to her in a Allo Allo-Czech accent, and as ever was ridiculed by my better half. I was slightly worried that Lubos may not collect us, but Lubos seemed a man of his word. Our rendez vous with him was at 6.30pm and low and behold he called me at 6.35pm- no doubt wanting to double check to see if we were actually there.

I was in a far better mood to converse with Lubos this time around, and infact received several nudges from Lisa in a way that would make me believe that I was talking to him a bit too much. I asked him about his games of ice hockey, the weather and driving conditions and rules of the road over there. He seemed distant this time round. It was clear to me that he hadn't pondered my existence as i had with him, this, pragmatically speaking, was fair enough I thought. On route to the airport he pointed out his home town- a set of lights on the horizon. It looked fairly industrial and fairly unpleasant- no doubt he was happy with it as long as he has his ice hockey and Budvar.

Once again, arriving at our destination he insisted on taking our luggage out of his car's boot and I noticed an ice hockey stick was there and his full name was written on his car's door proudly. Once more he shook our hands and felt like giving him a hug. I didn't though- we had a plane to catch.

Oddly enough once we'd collected our baggage from the respective carousel in Manchester airport we were due to be picked up by a taxi that I'd pre- arranged. I couldn't see him anywhere, and wasn't sure how he'd identify me? I called the taxi company- simply noted as 'Taxi' in my phone and asked embarrassingly what the name of the taxi company was. "Penny Lane Taxis? really?". I spotted a silver Astra sporting this company logo and the driver was on his phone having a fag. He watched Lisa and I struggle in the heavy rain getting our bags in the car and didn't help. This made me think of Lubos- king of the taxi drivers. A small tear was shed in his honour.

This cabbie turned out to be a decent chap though, and it wasn't long before I'd forgotten about Lubos and his Puffa Jacket, however every time I see my tattoo declaring my love for him that I got whilst over in Prague, and the subsequent treatment for hepatitis I got whilst having it done will always somehow remind me of him. sigh.

Anyway, my job interview (the one which I don't know what the job's for) is in a few hours. I must mentally prepare myself. Adieu!

Pavement - Transport is Arranged (live)
Pearl Jam -Rearviewmirror

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