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Rear View Mirror

Introducing actor, stand-up comic and Liverpool taxi driver Tony Schumacher - and his take on life on the streets after dark

Published on June 11th 2010.

Rear View Mirror

GEORGE Formby (one for the kids, this) once sang a song called “Leaning on a Lamp-post” (I’m guessing he sang it more than once, but you get the point).In it he sings:

She hugged the lamp-post for a moment and had a little cry. The lamp-post did that British thing of pretending not to notice. Had it possessed hands I’m guessing it would have almost patted her back and then thought better of it and just stood there staring into the distance while its shoulder got wet

“I'm leaning on a lamp-post at the corner of the street, In case a certain little lady comes by.

Oh me, oh my, I hope the little lady comes by.

I don't know if she'll get away, She doesn't always get away, But anyhow I know that she'll try.

Oh me, oh my, I hope the little lady comes by.

There's no other girl I would wait for, But this one I'd break any date for...”

Now, looking at this today, 70-odd years on, I think it’s fair to say this would be considered tantamount to harassment. At the very least sufficient evidence to present to a court as grounds for an injunction.

Poor old George would be signing the register for the next 18 months under the strict warning that if found loitering near any street furniture in the future, he, and his little stick of Blackpool rock, would be slammed into Walton pending reports.

That is, of course, if he hadn’t already been questioned at the scene and ordered to open his ukulele case and empty his pockets on the bonnet of a patrol car.

“We need your name for the stop and search form”

“Oooh, mother! Turned out nice again!”

“Just your name, sir”

“Hey, hey! Never touched me!”

“Are you alleging we have assaulted you sir?”

Why the hell am I writing about George Formby? It’s just that the other night I saw someone leaning on a lamp-post (it was halfway down a street); it wasn’t George, although it was a little lady.

She and a male friend had walked past the cab while I was doing the crossword in the paper. It was a warm night and I had the windows open and the radio off.

Sitting in town inside a darkened cab is a unique experience, the world passes you by and plays out a million scenes and sometimes it’s hard not to feel a bit like a bird watcher in his hide. This was one of those occasions.

The young couple, who sounded like they were from out of town, maybe students, were having a domestic. They were both drunk, and I mean drunk, and it sounded like one of those pointless arguments drunk people have,

“Leave me alone!”

“I haven’t done anything”

“Leave me alone, just go away!”

“Okay, suit yourself!”

“Where are you going?”

“You told me to...”

“I don’t want to talk about it! Why did you do it?”

“I thought...”

“Leave me alone.”

The young lad was truly exasperated, his flopping hands and confused sighs made him sound like an Ivor The Engine tribute act (“Tonight, Matthew, I am going to pull Jones the steam out of a hole!”) and the poor girl truly did not know which way to turn. She spun and pirouetted, torn between walking away and carrying on the fight.

Now I don’t know what had taken place, for all I knew the young lad had been playing trouser trumpet with her best mate, or maybe it was just a case of the vodka shots doing the adding up for her:

Vodka shot: “So two and two makes eight.”

Girl: “Are you sure?”

Vodka shot: “Yep”

Girl: “It’s just that I seem to recall...”

Vodka shot: “Look, do you want me to do your adding up for you or not?”

Girl: “Er...”

Vodka shot: “Listen love, I don’t have to do this you know? I could be getting on with making you sick.”

Girl: “I’m sorry, so it’s eight then?”

Vodka shot: “Eight it is, you don’t want to let him get away with it. I’d have a fight if I was you. Would you like me to look after your emotions and tear ducts?”

Girl “Do you mind?”

Vodka shot: “It’s all part of the service! That’s what you are paying £1.50 for!”

Finally, our young lad had enough, he flopped his hands one last time, let out an almighty sigh and said those words we have all said at some point in a relationship:

“I give up!”

He turned and wobbled off back to whence he had come.

Poor drunken girl let out a little whine, not Lambrini, the plaintive kind that comes from confusion and desperation.

She did that Hollywood thing of putting the back of her hand against her forehead and looked up and down the road for answers (or maybe a hackney cab) and then flopped against a lamp-post.

She hugged the lamp-post for a moment and had a little cry, the lamp-post did that British thing of pretending not to notice. Had it possessed hands I’m guessing it would have almost patted her back and then thought better of it and just stood there staring into the distance while its shoulder got wet (if lamp-posts had shoulders).

The girl realised how daft she looked and pushed herself away from the lamp-post and gave it a little slap. She took a few paces, then turned to look down the road in the direction her friend had gone (the lad, not the lamp-post) and gave another plaintive little whimper.

Young lad was nowhere to be seen. He’d headed off towards the bombed-out church, no doubt muttering to himself about how unfair life was and whether he should get a burger or a kebab.

Drunken girl stood forlornly, rested her hand on the lamp-post again and then wobbled off in the opposite direction to her erstwhile boyfriend.

As she weaved her way she cast the odd glance over her shoulder and it struck me that she actually just wanted a hug. Not from the lamp-post but from her drunken lad.

She stopped a couple of times, just her and her reflection in empty shop windows, both watching to see if he would come. And he didn’t. She looked at herself in the window a couple of times, but a hug wasn’t forthcoming from that direction either.

Eventually, she turned a final time and off she went, homeward bound to a wet pillow and a hangover.

I shook my head (I do a lot of that) and returned to the crossword as peace returned. I’m a firm believer that “quick crossword” is actually short for “quicksand crossword” because I usually get stuck and end up needing help. So, as I chewed my pen and settled into deep short-sighted concentration, I got quite a fright as young drunken lad jogged past my window.

Drunken girl was long gone, I’d managed two answers so at least 10 minutes had passed, but he jogged on in what appeared to be a lost cause of catching her.

He didn’t have his burger, his arms were empty.

I hope he caught her up and filled them.

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The OneJune 16th 2010.

Astonishing writing here, you should all read it now.

NortherngeezerJune 16th 2010.

People watching is one of my fave pastimes. Whoever said 'all the worlds a stage' got that right!.

Tricky WooJune 16th 2010.

Couldn't agree more@The One. Tony is a real find.

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