Just before I moved from London to Lewes, I was in a taxi, and the driver was talking about roadworks. The bloody roadworks, he said. They’re digging up the bleeding road. There’s these bloody holes in the road. It’s hard enough, what with the traffic, but now this – these bloody holes in the road.
People often ask me what the difference is between London and Lewes. Well, this was it. This guy was whining on about these two things. The bleeding holes in the road. The bleeding traffic. He wouldn’t stop.
It was dark. We were approaching King’s Cross. There was a flashing blue light ahead: an accident. We slowed right down.
The driver was telling me about a complicated diversion up ahead, and how the people who had organised it had no bleeding idea. We went slowly past the ambulance, past the emergency workers. There was a body. Parts of it were crushed, and the leg twisted away at a dreadful angle. We both looked at the body, and both looked away.
For about ten seconds, I wondered if either of us would mention the body. Then I knew that neither of us would.
The driver said, ‘Look at that!’
I looked.
We had drawn level with the roadworks.
He said, ‘What did I tell you?’
He said, ‘Now that’s not helpful.’
I sat in the traffic. I listened. I was certain, absolutely certain, that Lewes was going to be different.


Taxi Drivers: London turns them all Robert De Niro