I believe the saying goes; ‘as graceful as a Gazelle,’ but having never seen one live I cannot vouch for the authenticity of that. I will, however, accept its truism. I wonder though if a Gazelle ever looked around, if he, or she, might see gracefulness elsewhere, other than in themselves?
I am a licensed London taxi driver, plying my trade on the busy congested streets of our capital city and don’t get me wrong, I do look where I’m driving, but spending most of the day staring at the back end of a bus, or another cab, does not inspire me in the slightest way. What does though are the fashionable women and girls that grace our pavements and thoroughfares.
It always amazes me just how elegant and stylish some women carry themselves even in the most trying of conditions that London can present. We are a naturally adaptable but ‘hurrying’ race the British, rushing around either to keep warm during our colder months, or ducking in and out of rain showers and, on occasions, keeping cool in the oppressive heat that affects us during those halcyon summer days appearing when we are least prepared for them.
Men tend to dress in the sombre colours of black or grey, practical for their business perhaps, but leaving it to the women to lighten the mood with a bright sprightliness that powers through the gloom of any winters day.
It is the colourless men in the hurry, whilst our female compatriots glide through the crowded streets; and more importantly, the shops!
A month or so back, in the cold and wet, I stopped the cab for a very well presented lady, wearing a cream fly fronted Burberry raincoat matching her umbrella, in a street just off Belgrave Square. She was going to lunch at a newly opened restaurant near Savile Row she explained, but first asked if I would mind if she did a little shopping with two friends. I of course agreed and her two friends were summoned from the open door behind her and, oblivious to the rain, flowed down the three steps in a blaze of electric blue and tangerine, onto the pavement and into the warmth of the rear of my cab.
The mingling aromas of sweet perfumes were a welcome divergence from the accustomed stench of car fumes.
Our first stop was at a French perfumery establishment, a short distance away in Halkin Street, where they stayed for ten minutes or so. Next came a similar journey in length to a bespoke milliners where they alighted, laughing in an unpretentious manner enjoying the day despite the chill that all around seemed to be suffering from.
I waited contentedly with the heater going, watching the world go past and the meter gleefully clicking over.
They hadn’t spoken to me whilst we traveled, they had no need, nor did I expect it, but the giggles and general feeling of wellbeing that they shared affected me in a positive way, bring forth a smile now and again for no obvious reason to anyone catching sight of an old haggard cab driver such as me.
“Could we just go around the corner to ‘Chanel’s’ driver?” The lady who had hailed me requested, as three happy shoppers drifted effortlessly into the back again.
After some twenty to thirty minutes of this exhausting labour, and with a couple of lightweight shopping bags, the three climbed back in and off I went, taking them to their lunch reservation.
Why is shopping such a tiring thing for men, but a pleasure for women!
By Danny Kemp