Under the Radar: A Cambridge Taxi

Susan Rasmussen NNL-150326-104327001

Susan Rasmussen NNL-150326-104327001

  • One taxi journey...
  • One lawyer...
  • One planner...
  • And one man working on the interface between the brain and computers
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One of the pleasures of life is its infinite variety, especially the meeting of random strangers.

This morning I took my car to have a sensor fixed and a good clean (ostensibly an incidental, but to my mind, the real, purpose of the visit) in Cambridge, where I sometimes live for a few days a week, according to my social life and opportunities to see clients.

One of the services offered by Vindis (squeaky clean showroom, fruitbowl, free coffee) is a lift back home for the temporarily carless, so I got into the garage taxi and headed back to town with three others.

I looked on my phone to see which piece of my deathless prose the editor had published this week and showed the result to my fellow passengers (that’s at least three more readers this week).

Laughing, we got talking. The lovely woman next to me, wearing black and pink Lycra, was a lawyer for a globally recognised clothing brand, oh, all right, Burberry: I can hardly make them any more famous than they are already, or damage their stellar reputation by anything I say here.

She was fantastically enthusiastic about her job which, being involved with creative people all day, was a world away from previous experiences.

The Lycra was accounted for by the fact that she catches the train in the morning to Kings Cross, runs through London, past Buckingham Palace, and along to her offices, as a way of maintaining fitness for triathlon training.

After showering, it’s into a dress and heels and ready to work, which might include trips anywhere in the world and runway shows. Variety indeed. Are we envious?

The friendly guy sitting in the front seat, wearing a funky black hat, was a PhD student and lecturer, working on the interface between the brain and computers.

He is developing the means to make computer games work by thought alone, picking up by EEG the electrical signals that the brain generates. Although applied now to games, this will eventually (ie very soon, knowing how fast the world of computers moves) have applications in the world of medicine, for ‘locked in syndrome’ and people with aphasia for example. How could that be more fascinating?

The other passenger was paying close attention to his phone, and got out at the offices of an estate agent; he said he was ‘a planner.’. He’ll be in the taxi on the return trip this afternoon so I’ll find out more then. We could all have sat in silence staring at the traffic but we had a great journey, which instead of being part of a dreary chore, became more like a pop-up party.

PS. It turned out that Mr Planner was as fired up about national politics as he was informative about the future shape of the city of Cambridge. Get talking to the person sitting next to you - who knows what you’ll learn?