19 March 2020 | Blog

Did I Ever Tell You The One About Me And Orson Wells?

30 January 2020

It was in the early 1970s and I was in Soho, no doubt trying to set-up some ill-starred music project or other, and probably looking like a weekend hippy. It was pouring with rain and I was trying to get a cab to go home…
(This fact alone shows just how long ago this was. In those days I could actually afford to hail a black cab in central London. Only last year, a train cancellation meant that I was forced to take a taxi from London Bridge Station to get to a mixing session I had booked in a recording studio near Chrystal Palace. My fare ended up costing more than the studio session.)

Anyway, back to the early 70s; there were precious few cabs about in Dean Street, and I became aware that someone was standing next to me in the rain, also trying for a cab. Under these circumstances the two rivals for hailing rights ignore each other’s presence (‘Oh, were you there before me? I didn’t know…’) so I cast not so much as a sideways glance at him. I knew it was a ‘him’ as I could hear deep rumbles of discontent at my side.
Then, coming out of a side street, I saw the longed for lit-up orange taxi sign. I waved, he saw me; me, not the other fellow, and pulled over on the opposite side of the street. As I hared over to the cab I heard an explosion of rage behind me. I reached the taxi and risked a look back across the road. My competitor was Orson Wells, looking like someone dressed up as Orson Wells, with huge beard, long black overcoat with astrakhan collar and black homburg hat.

I thought for a moment, opened the cab door and gestured to the great man. He lumbered across the road, as I held the door for him and he climbed in. Not a word was spoken, but he bared his teeth at me in a scary smile, and in his fierce eyes I read the message, ‘I’m Orson Wells, of course I get the cab!’