Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Kindly Helped an Uber Driver with His Tax Return but Was Still Only Rated 4.6 out of 5

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Kindly Helped an Uber Driver with His Tax Return but Was Still Only Rated 4.6 out of 5

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Rinder

THE most life-changing advice I ever received came from a very famous older woman, whom I cannot name as she is apparently still alive and has not aged a day since she allegedly turned 50. We were at a "fashionable" event in London that I was curious to attend, even though I had been described that very day by a rather astute critic on twitter as "the gay that style forgot". From the moment I arrived, I knew that I had made an appalling mistake. The place was filled with mega-posh dullards and their "girlfriends", some of whom had clearly had so much surgical intervention and lifting that I'm pretty sure I saw one woman blink her lips. It was like Dante's vision of hell, only with Botox and sympathetic lighting.

One of these grande dames complained to me that she hated wearing pearls in the summer, as they were "just so hot!" I loathed this woman and wanted the Lord to smite her by returning her original face, yet I found myself being kind and sympathetic to her plight. And I utterly hated myself.

Then to my astonishment, the aforementioned famous vision (a real-deal legend) appeared alongside me. She had, it seemed, also been forging an assessment of my own character type.

"You seem like exactly the kind of person who worries deeply about what people think of you," she declared, before explaining that it had taken her until 71 to conclude that it only mattered what she thought of them. She was quite right. I do want to be liked often against my better judgment.

London and its people are famed for their incredible indifference to one another, but it's actually a charade that requires some effort to maintain. Think of the archetypal Tube experience, sweating profusely in constant terror at having perhaps inadvertently touched someone, even though this is entirely inevitable.

Now you've got to avert your eyes as well as clenching your limbs; accidentally reading your fellow passenger's texts is a whole new special horror. Recently I accidentally caught the words "Wow was amazeballs!" I suspect that the texter (using mega-large font) was expressing post-coital bliss, and I was forced to spend the next 15 minutes arranging my face into ever more convoluted semblances of somebody who had not been party to that exchange. …

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