Fares 1

The cabby has his point of view. It is more single-minded, perhaps, than that of a follower of any other calling. From the high, swaying seat of his hansom, he looks upon his fellow-men as nomadic particles, of no account except when possessed of migratory desires. He is Jehu, and you are goods in transit. He cracks his whip, joggles your vertebrae and sets you down.

Firbank, Ronald (1886-1926)

Firbank, Ronald 1

[Firbank was the eccentric author of "slight but innovative" novels, including Valmouth and Prancing Nigger, which he wrote out on stacks of blue postcards.]

Firbank very much wanted to have his portrait painted by Augustus John, but was overcome by dismay at the idea of having to introduce himself to John and explain what he wanted. He summoned a cab to take him to the great artist's studio, but on the way again lost his nerve. Augustus John recorded his mild astonishment when the cab driver was sent up to introduce his fare and explain his business, while Firbank himself sat blushing in the vehicle.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1896-1940)

Fitzgerald, F. Scott 1

[Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald did a lot of travelling by taxi. Andrew Turnbull wrote of "Scott and Zelda going to a party, one of them on the roof of the taxi and the other on the hood," and Van Wyck Brooks recalled Fitzgerald falling asleep at a party, only to wake up suddenly and telephone for two cases of champagne and "a fleet of taxis" to take him and his friends to a nightclub. But the strangest taxi tale occurred in Paris:]

In France they were friends with Sara and Gerald Murphy, whom Fitzgerald later used as models for characters in Tender is the Night.

Once, when the four of them were driving to Les Halles, Fitzgerald, who didn't much care for the color of the old market, created a little color of his own by chewing hundred- franc notes (the equivalent of twenty-dollar bills) and spitting them out the taxi window. "Oh Scott, they're so dirty!" Sara protested, but Fitzgerald went right on. Finally the driver could stand it no longer. Stopping the cab, he ran back to retrieve some of the money. Fitzgerald jumped into the driver's seat and headed for the Seine, saying he was going to plunge them into it. As he came to one of the ramps, they managed to get the wheel away from him and return it to the terrified driver who came flapping up behind them in his long coat.

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Revised November 11, 1998