I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days, that all these memories come flooding back to me.
The Missing Years
There was a period of four years in my life when, for some reason, I could not find work within the oil industry. The industry was still ongoing but in a much smaller way than before, and I was one of the unfortunate ones who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was during this time that I lost both my parents within a few months of each other. The family property had been handed down between my sister and I, and it was in a bad state of repair. I took it upon myself to spend this time away from the oil game, as I called it, to renovate this property and move into it on completion.
At the time I was living in a two story flat above the three shops that I had bought from my father just before his death. My father needed money in a rush, as his creditors were closing in on him. He had basically turned his back on his businesses and turned to the church, where he was ordained as a priest after several years of study. So, in order to help my father out and to move my family into a larger house, I bought the complete property from my father at the going rate price.
This, however, backfired on me when I found myself facing a large tax bill for what they called inheritance tax. My sister had no part to play other than swan over to Scotland from overseas and pick up my cheque for her half of the property which I paid to her for half of the house value. She would not even consider helping me out despite the fact that I had paid all the bills for this house during the two years it took our lawyer to settle our parent's estates.
So this meant that I had to sell the three shops first in order to pay for the renovation work which I was doing - mostly by myself. I opened up the shop part of the house and started a second hand furniture business which kept us financially viable at the time. I also took to driving a taxi most evenings and weekends to help make ends meet.
So it was a really hectic time for me, with hardly any time to myself - infact the work was harder than when I was in the oil game!
It was while driving this taxi that I learned a lot about human nature and inverted snobbery. For example, one couple who I had picked up from the airport at Inverness treated me like dirt as I loaded their luggage into my taxi cab. A few days later, they came into my shop to buy some furniture and tried their level best to beat me down on the price. However, when I mentioned the taxi ride to them, they said they had no recollection of me at all. Needless to say they paid the asking price!
Having said that the opposite happened to me a few months later when I was asked to pick up a fare from our railway station. It turned out that the chap was really friendly and during small talk on the trip to his house my shop was mentioned. He seemed really interested and asked me for my card, which I gave him. A few days later he appeared in my shop and indeed bought quite a few items. When he asked if I could deliver them I told him I would do that for free, as he had been a good customer. As we unloaded all the furniture at his house, he showed me around, and we talked about how close his house was to the golf course. He went on to explain that he ran an agency in London and commuted back once every couple of weeks. He was, infact, a very wealthy man yet it seemed just normal for us to be on the first tee of the local golf club two days later and enjoying a round of golf together. Far from looking down on someone who drove a cab for a living, he actually admired my determination. He gave me a list of other antiques that he wanted me to find for his house, which both he and his wife were delighted with once I had gone to several different auctions and bought them for them.
During this time of my life I met some very intolerant people whom I was glad to get away from and also some really pleasant people. One was a poor expectant father-to-be, who jumped out in front of my taxi on a deserted quiet country road at three in the morning!
What actually happened was what you could call perfect timing. He had phoned for an ambulance to take his pregnant wife to hospital and I was racing along making my way to a remote farm for a pick up. Suddenly he jumped out in front of me from behind a bush, causing me to swerve and brake suddenly. Before I could gather my angry reaction he was banging on the window of my cab shouting for help. My mood soon changed, as did my plans for the farm pick up, and it was not long before we were racing back down the country road again, while informing my disgruntled boss of the events over the radio. We hit a few bumps, and flew over a few humped back bridges which I believe helped the baby along, as it was not long before I was parked at a field entrance in the back of my taxi delivering a baby! Needless to say I had to return to base afterwards to clean out my taxi, which was a loss really as I was on commission that night which meant the more I drove the more money I made. This, however, was soon forgotten when, the day after, the proud father came into my shop wearing a grin which filled his happy face and handed me a cigar! I just wonder how many children there are who are named after the taxi driver that took the mother to be into hospital.
So, I suppose, looking back on it now and weighing up all the worry and stressful times I had over that period as opposed to the good times, they were not really the missing years.