Sunday, January 25, 2009

Judged against British standards Olomouc is a small, tranquil town, which certainly in comparison with my home town of Coventry is pleasingly free of violence. There are unfortunate exceptions to this of course, but the violence that does occur is usually of a different type to the British classic of random psychos, or gangs of psychos, going out on the town for the sole purpose of looking for an excuse to shout “what you fuckin’ starin’ at?” before battering some innocent party over the head with a pool cue. Here any violence is more likely to be in connection with extreme right-wing politics, football hooliganism or organised crime, three groups of animals which overlap considerably.

As a result, such violence, though less commonplace, has the potential to be extremely nasty. A few days ago one such incident of the organised crime variety took place in the town centre, ending in the murder, or at the very least manslaughter of a taxi driver. I probably ought to be ashamed to say this, but the outcome of one cabbie being stabbed to death and another going to prison for a very long time strikes me as what a thicko football manager might call a “proper result”.

The desire for bloody revenge does not belong to the more noble human qualities, but few of us are immune to its charms. At times it’s tempting to believe in a vengeful god, and in fact most religious people do, the vindictive shits. As an atheist I suppose I ought to be above such baseness, but the sad fact is that I am not (hard to believe I know, usually I’m such a nice, placid sort of a chap). Well whatever, I might wish a violent death on some people, but at least I’m not stupid enough to believe in god.

The reason I hate these particular taxi drivers so much is because of an experience I had three years ago, during a particularly bitter Czech winter. There was at least a foot of snow outside, it was well below zero and my girlfriend and I had just spent the evening at the annual “beer ball”, which took place on the edge of town, and had to get a cab back to her place at about 2 in the morning. Needless to say, after a beer ball neither of us was entirely sober, and trying to be fair and evaluate everything from both sides, this may have had an influence on the events which followed. We jumped into a taxi, upon which the driver deliberately ignored all our directions, claiming “it’s all the same”, and took a circuitous route to my girlfriend’s place, which he then of course attempted to use as an excuse to overcharge us. Knowing that this was an obvious scam, as well as being a bit pissed up, I told him I’d give him two thirds of what he’d charged, because we all knew he was shamelessly trying to rip us off. The driver refused to take what I offered him, and insisted on the full inflated price, resulting in a standoff. I told him that if he wasn’t satisfied he should call the police, meanwhile unbeknown to me he sent out a distress signal to his colleagues. Within a few minutes six more taxis pulled up, and I was suddenly surrounded by seven gorillas demanding money out of me rather forcefully.

Obviously now it sounds pathetic, since the money they wanted came to less than 2 quid, but, being pissed and mouthy, I was concerned with the principle of the thing. The fact that he had called his mates and not the police convinced me even further that the taxi mafia were in the wrong, so full of Dutch courage, I refused to pay. The end result was that seven of them beat me up, not extremely badly, but I got a black eye and a few kicks in the stomach and thighs out of it. Finally, after being threatened with being dumped in the boot and driven out to a lake five miles out of town in sub-zero temperatures, I capitulated and gave them their (absurdly small) ill-gotten gains.

Afterwards I went to the police, but as you might expect, they were a fat lot of good. The taxi drivers had a very well worked out drill for making sure no witnesses saw exactly which of them had thrown the punches or dealt out the kicks, so despite me wasting several hours, and on several occasions when I could have been working, answering questions (idiot that I am, I answered them honestly) and making lengthy statements down at the police station, the police came up with fuck all.

So forgive me if I don’t don a black armband and rub ash all over my face. The papers still haven’t released the name of the deceased yet, and obviously I’m hoping that he’s one of those who gave me a kicking. Even if he wasn’t I know he was a co-owner of the firm whose drivers were responsible, and that it’s clearly company policy to beat up awkward customers. Add to this the newspaper report, which states that the man in question, who was – surprise, surprise – an ex-copper, began randomly attacking drivers from the rival, split-off taxi firm, one of whom went to report the matter to the police. In the meantime he continued to attack several more rival taxi drivers, behaving “like a psychopath”, until eventually he picked on the wrong man and was stabbed three times.

What, am I supposed to resist a snigger? Fuck it, and fuck you. That’s the kind of world these people live in, that’s the way they live and die. In keeping with the general bad taste of this post I’ll end it with a quote, appropriately enough from Taxi Driver: “One day a real rain’s gonna come and wash all this scum off the streets”.

In the meantime this wee shower will do nicely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Violence is everywhere, even in the most tranquil places, one may find it, because people are violent.
As to the thing that you state that God is vengeful... there is deep philosophy in revenge, one needs to understand why God permits revenge. I respect your views, but i object your claiming that people, who believe in God are stupid...

6:22 PM  
Blogger ASHDAV said...

There was meant to be a bit of self-deprecating irony in that statement, maybe I should have made it clearer. I don't think all people who believe in god are stupid, but I do think that those who believe in a vengeful god, and then use that as an excuse to put their bloodlust into action, ought to be locked up, whether they're philosophers or just average psychopaths.

7:48 PM  

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