An old acquaintance operates a successful Paddington art gallery and has a reputation for fostering budding artists who go on to greater heights. Don't ask me who they are, it's not really my world.
Last night some passengers requested his gallery. A hot young South American artist was exhibiting and the gallery was packed and spilling onto the pavement where 'ol mate had thoughtfully installed a bar. Champion.
Bugger it, I thought, I'll stop and say hello, it's been a couple of years, give him a real surprise! With parking space at a premium I gingerly inched into the corner spot, careful not to brush any of the noisy, well-oiled throng of art lovers bordering the gutter...
Then came the alarming sound of screeching metal on metal. It was a friggin' unseen bicycle chained to a pole, on the road side. All hell broke lose. The punters started yelling as one, some even screaming in protest, others banging on the rear of the cab.
A middle-aged women charged to the door and yanked it open yelling incoherently, all raging indignation. “Relax,” I told her, “I ain't going nowhere.” She slammed the door shut. Sheesh. Had I hit a baby or something?
I started estimating how much I was willing to be extorted by some righteous, aggrieved bicycle owner, to find only the derailer was damaged, bent off track after being squeezed against the pole.
Fortunately the owner was a sheepish young South American dude and really relaxed, eh. He shrugged his shoulders and scratched his head, not knowing what to say or do. I told him to turn the bike over.
Yet the door-slammer wouldn't let it go and seized the opportunity to perform in front of the milling crowd. “It's the derailer,” she yelled at me, waving her arms theatrically whilst backing away defensively. Surely she didn't think I was going to hit her?
She continued, “I know what I'm talking about. I'm a bike owner, too!” Ha, a clear connection to the damaged derailer. She, too, was a victim. After responding that I owned two bikes and knew how to fix them, I grabbed a set of pliers from the cab and bent the item back into place.
A young woman wandered over and loudly remarked how 'cab drivers are such bad drivers'. I stood up from the bike. “Lady, please..,” I said, and she back-pedalled furiously, earnestly insisting she wasn't referring to me. I turned back to the bike. Others returned to the party.
Some middle-aged blokes, clearly enjoying the free grog, thought it was all hilarious. “Wow, a cab driver who also fixes bikes! That's amazing.” This was some welcome relief and I joined them in recalling the famous Monty Python skit, Bicycle Repairman...