March 11th 2012

Filmwise: Once again, the only time resource I have for working on the film – the weekend – has had to be diverted away to a different undertaking. On this occasion, however, the diversion has been most welcome.

A tale of two cabbies..

With the working week out of the way, I strolled leisurely on the South Bank, looking for a place to take a well-earned pit stop from the daily rituals of office, home, office, home. As I was marvelling at the dramatic effect of a sky filled with moon-lit clouds, it suddenly occurred to me that a dear friend had left me a message earlier in the day.

“Hello, sit Sajidah”, I talked into my mobile.

This was the lady, as I have related in the past, that was responsible for the London-wide search for the purse that appears in our film.

“We’re holding a celebration of International Women’s Day, and we would like you to film it for us.”

Realising immediately that I don’t have the camera, sound and lighting kit to undertake such a task, I nevertheless asked about the location where the event was to be held.

“It will be at the events centre, in Hammersmith.”

“Is it at the theatre of the centre?”

“The conference room on the second floor.”

Having attended an event at the said location, the first thought I had was “we need lights!”

So, it was without further ado that I got in touch with my usual kit-hire friends to assemble the suitable gear for the adventure.

The move of the camera hire company to Hackney,  and my decision to include three Redhead lights in my wish list, all meant that  a cab was necessary to haul the equipment back to central London.

The gentleman driving the people carrier had the calm and wariness of someone who’d experienced large doses of life’s ups and downs.

“May I ask where you come from; like me, you have an accent!”

He came from Afghanistan. We compared our respective experiences as immigrants living in this great metropolis.

At the events centre in West London, I was met with my filmmaking comrade, and Meso family member, sayyid Kawa Rasul. Huffing and puffing, we managed to get the kit through to the second floor.

To my surprise, not only the audience was already beginning to assemble, but there were a couple of one-man camera news channels who had reserved the best spots for filming the podium.

Sayyid Kawa and I got to work unpacking the kit, with the first port of call being placing the three Redheads where they would not cause a health and safety concern, as well as providing the extra level of illumination.

While attempting to set the camera, finding the recording media, setting the level on the tripod and making sure that the empty bags and cases for the gear stayed in one place, I was surprised to find the event was already getting underway.

I think I missed the first introductory speech. On the plus side, most of the other camera operators were happy with our lighting.

By the time we conducted the final interviews, it was past midnight.

Sayyid Kawa helped me load the kit to a bus that would take us half way to my place. We alighted, and he took the next bus to complete his journey.

I hopped into the first London cab that came into view.

“All this kit and there is still space for me to stretch my legs; I love London Taxis!”

The driver had been a cabby for over 40 years.

“In my day, there were no Tom Toms; if you didn’t know your way, you got the map out!”

We started reminiscing about London of the 1980s and how my first encounter with a London Cabby had revealed to me the honesty, thrift and understated pride of which I’ve become more aware over the years about a cross section of Londoners.

“Life was simple then; you had three channels, no mobile phones or internet; we just talked to each other.”

With the conversation still flowing, we stopped outside my front door.

The first thing the driver did was to stop the meter so as not to charge me for the remainder of the chat.

Peace and love,

Ja’far

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