Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is it me?

Yesterday morning I was en route to see my doctor in a taxi driven by a large distinguished-looking Nigerian man, possibly in his late 50's. The radio was playing, and on the news they announced that Jade Goody's family were finalising her funeral arrangements.

This prompted my driver to comment on how sad it was, and I agreed saying that the disease had taken her quickly. He nodded and added but what had really shocked him, was the death of Natasha Richardson. I agreed that that was indeed a shocking and sudden tragedy. And, of course I had to add, 'And on a nursery slope of all places!' I have long rationalised my fear of skiing by pointing out that you can actually die from it, although personally until poor Natasha Richardson, I have only ever heard of one other person, namely that unfortunate Kennedy cousin who was skiing backwards while trying to catch a football.

My driver, not to be outdone by my Kennedy story, went on to name every person he has known personally, as well as sports people and celebrities, that have died suddenly and unexpectedly. Including an aunt of his that came to the UK for a visit, had a routine medical, and was told her body was riddled with cancer, despite exhibiting no symptoms or experiencing any pain. "Just like that! She never got to go home again, " he said somberly.

At this point, on my way to an internal exam by my gynaecologist, I had had about enough death and cancer talk for a lifetime, and attempted to change the subject by asking my driver if he missed Nigeria.

He told me he missed the weather, the people, the life he had there. He said that people over here don't give a damn about anyone, whereas at home they take time to enquire as to your health and the health of your family pretty much every time they see you.

"Here," he said, "a friend of mine was dead in his flat for four days before they found him. Four days! What kind of place is it to live when people don't even know you are missing? And the neighbours? Forget it! Here you don't even know them. Back home if you were missing even for a day someone would come and knock on your door to see if you were OK."

So we were back to talking about death again, and I did wonder to myself, what the hell is it with me and depressing taxi drivers? Another person I have encountered, not once, but twice from the same cab company, is a thin cynical man from Afghanistan who is full of doom and gloom. OK, so he's probably entitled to his depression what with things back home being as they are. But sometimes, you know, at the end of a long day when you are on your way to see your girlfriends for a glass of wine to help you unwind, you just don't want to hear about how the Americans are getting their targets wrong and killing and entire 200 strong wedding party, including babies, children and the bride and groom.

Our new nanny started yesterday. She's Italian, and a nanny by day and artist by night. And not just 'an artist,' in the sense that everyone who owns Photoshop calls themselves one, but someone who actually exhibits and sells stuff. I happen to like her work a lot, although I tell myself this had nothing to do with my decision to hire her. But yes, I did take a look at her website to try and spot any homicidal tendencies in her paintings. I think I detected a bit of heartache and angst in and amongst some of it, but nothing psychotic, which is always a relief when the person in question is going to be caring for your small child.

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