Follow that taxi. Just don't shoot me

March 2013

Last year I moved my main office to a big estate a few miles from my house. It’s a good arrangement I’ve got. I share it with another company who pay rent on the building and, instead of me paying them a share of rent, I do the equivalent amount of hours in work. I then invoice them for any hours that exceed that amount.

It works well for both parties. I have the pretence of a big flashy office, I effectively don’t pay for the privilege, I earn a little extra money from it and I get to share some of their resources. They, in turn, were able to sack their full time developer which means that they get the same amount of work from me for considerably less money. It also has the added advantage that we are working more closely together which leaves the door open for long term ventures.

The office is located within the grounds of an old country estate. There is a big house that is mostly used as a wedding venue. There is a huge pond with ducks, geese and swans, a fishing lake and a golf course. There are also several acres of land which often contains a large group of upper-class twits in suede jackets, shooting a wide range of animals. The huge fields and bridleways are good for me because I like walking. I have to go out for a walk at lunch otherwise I go completely nuts.

So I marked out a nice walk that takes me across a couple of fields and all the way around the outside of the grounds. It takes me almost exactly an hour which is perfect because my lunch break is half an hour.

So one day I was walking through a field when a farmer came steaming up behind me in his tractor. In more comedy fashion than he probably intended, he jumped out and told me, in true clichéd farmer style, to “get off my land”. Now, I don’t take kindly to being told what to do at the best of times but being rudely interrupted by a character from The Good Life when I’m enjoying a bit of alone time and talking to myself really sets me off.

He started by telling me I was walking across private land which I knew was bollocks because, not only was it owned by the estate, there were signs half a mile further back that were quite clearly marked “public footpath”. I may have strayed slightly off the path but, unless he could point me in the direction of a sign saying “private property” or “keep out” I would continue to walk here, thank you very much.

Well, farmer John didn’t take too kindly to that and informed me he had been the grounds keeper for 20 years and had never seen any signs denoting a public footpath. I forgave him for that because, as I pointed out, he is a farmer and was probably incapable of reading and writing. Driving tractors and sleeping with his sister was obviously his forte. I also questioned how much authority he had to tell me where I could walk given that he was essentially just the gardener. He obviously realised he was dealing with someone with a combination of superior intellect and colossal sarcasm because he then changed tack and tried appealing to my sensible nature by informing me that there are deer hunters around and if I was to get shot by one of them I would inevitably sue the estate. This didn’t work on me either. I kindly pointed out that if I was to get hit by a bullet fired from a shotgun I wouldn’t be suing anyone on the grounds that I’d be dead. In any case, if someone is stupid enough to get me mixed up with Bambi then they probably deserve to get sued on the grounds that they are too incompetent to own a gun.

Guns are a source of constant media attention these days. Despite the best efforts of the youth in the London area, Britain is pretty useless when it comes to guns and gun culture. It just doesn't suit us. It's not like in America where 5 year olds can walk into their local convenience store and buy a gun. It's not like South Africa where shooting people is the national sport. Everyone ignores traffic lights over there because if you ever become stationary in a car, someone will shoot you in the neck. Newly married men who have been forced into an arranged marriage can apparently hire taxi drivers to murder their new brides to cover up the fact they could be secretly gay. Oscar Pistorius, a man with no legs, can apparently and accidentally shoot his girlfriend several times through a bathroom door because he apparently and accidentally mistook her for a burglar.

It turns out this was not the first time he’d been arrested for getting confused with doors and women. In 2009 he apparently slammed some poor women in a door. Perhaps he has anger management issues, which isn’t surprising when you consider the amount of taunting he must have received as a child due to his lack of appendages. Or perhaps he has a drinking problem and gets violent when he’s legless.

Certainly the evidence is against him and he doesn’t really have a leg to stand on. For a murder that is being described as “premeditated”, he certainly didn’t think things through well enough. I mean this is South Africa; he could have blackened her up with shoe polish and would have got away with it. Of course that may not have stood up in court either because the prosecutor would have questioned what he needed shoe polish for. He could have borrowed some shoes from a neighbour and made footprints outside. No one would have suspected him.

Now, it has to be said that South Africa – or anywhere in Africa – is only third on my list of places never to visit behind the Middle East and anywhere within 100 feet of Nicki Minaj. However, if I ever had to go there, I’d find my own method of transport. It’s bad enough taxi drivers are also hired bride assassins but after hearing the news that the chief prosecutor in the Oscar Pistorius case was arrested for shooting people whilst getting in a taxi, that just took the biscuit.