Victor – I didn’t want to. I don’t know. I never dreamed I would be a taxi driver. It’s not something people aspire to. But I became one, and you know what, I pretty much loved it right off the bat. Absolutely so. I know I was putting off life when I started – the dreams I had! – but after a while I settled in and realised that my dreams had changed.
Georges – For the better?
Victor – For the different. Easy as that. I thought I was a complex man but in reality I am a simple man. Wait. Stop. I don’t mean to say that taxi drivers are simple. I’m getting muddled. What I mean is that I thought I wanted a life of the mind. And I had it, for a while. I still have a hard-bound copy of my PhD thesis. It contrasts the pacifist writings of Rolland, Tagore, Russell and Hesse against the popular and prevailing tendency of the mainstream press and public intellectuals to rabidly welcome the onset of war. I think I did some really good work. Even now, listening to Beethoven takes me back to those endless nights of research and reading and annotating. I listened to nothing but Beethoven while I studied, primarily because of Rolland’s connection to the writer, and my connection to him. But it’s all gone. Not Rolland – he speaks to my intellect and my soul in a manner which has never been equalled or approached by any other writer – but the need to operate in that sphere. That’s gone. Instead, I want to enjoy the fruits of other people’s minds, and to use my hands and feet and body to make a living. So, I drive taxis. I talk to people. I open doors for ladies and I pour drunks out of the back seat. I make cabinets on the weekend, and I sell them for a small amount. I restore furniture. And I’m happier than I have ever been.
Georges – For a long time I played the cello. I still do, but not as much. I was very good. Very good. I wanted to play in front of kings and presidents, and it seemed that for a short time I might have even been good enough for that. I wanted my work to be discussed in newspapers, and my name to be known. God help me, it almost happened, and that ‘almost’ haunts me. Now? I busk. And nobody cares. And I live on the edge of financial ruin at all times, and I am so egotistical that because I cannot command presidents or kings in my audience, then I will not perform for anyone but the common man, for free, or for what they will offer me.
Victor – And it’s glorious?
Georges – Oh, yes.
Part of the Railroad Perfection series
Site Note – Due to circumstances outside of my control (Thanks, TPG!), I was without internet for several weeks. I apologise, and the posts will resume from today.