Sunday, September 02, 2012

Dupe by Liza Cody (Charles Scribner's Sons 1980)

'I don't know that thieving's ever classy,' Anna said. It was wonderful to be able to talk without feeling her lips puff flatulently in thin air.

'All I'm saying is that London had to be a better place to live in when even the villains had style,' the driver said looking disgustedly at the Knightsbridge clutter. 'Look at it now. I ask you. It's all sand in your shoes and out for the easy bunce. No wonder there's no standards no more.'

'You can't blame foreigners for that.'

'Don't get me wrong,' the driver said, 'I'm not saying they ain't colourful. Me, I wouldn't give a monkey's who came here as long as they went home again after. But they don't, see? Makes you feel a tourist in your own home. Some of 'em spend money like there was no tomorrow and buy up property or what-not. And there's others just live on the state. I mean, what does it look like to a young bloke just married and can't get a council house?'

It sounded like a favourite grudge, a well-rehearsed routine that the driver liked to launch into at the slightest opportunity.

'It's what the young people see as worries me,' he went on. 'Other people getting what should be theirs by rights. And without lifting a finger. That's what gets me. It's a wrong example. Makes 'em think they should have a bit of the cream, too, without having to work for it.

'Makes 'em want to take advantage,' he added elliptically. 'That's why there's so much crime about today.'

Anna didn't want to argue, although most of what he said offended her own creed of self-determination. He was obviously well-practised in his own argument, and besides, taxi-drivers, she thought, were all too dogmatic. It was something about the nature of their jobs that led them to half-cocked theories. They saw too much out of the front window and too little of the people they were talking to behind them.