Saturday November 30th. I’m driving empty down Baker Street and hear a whistle. I didn’t see who was whistling, but then I don’t often respond to whistles anyway – it’s not the British way to hail a cab.
I stop at a red light and think nothing of it. But the whistler has clearly legged it down the road desperate for a cab. I look round, and it’s ex-boxer and personality, Chris Eubanks – resplendent in designer jeans and pinstripe jacket.
(the only other person who chased after me in the middle lane of Baker Street was Patsy Kensit: she was going to Scott’s, which features in my next celeb encounter).
Chris is known to be a bit eccentric. Chasing cabs in Baker Street is fairly eccentric, I suppose; he was certainly indecisive. First he wanted Selfridges, then he wanted me to drive further into Mayfair. He finally asked me to cut across three lanes and stop at the cab rank at M & S in Orchard Street. He gave me £4.50 deposit and said he’d be back in a few minutes. I didn’t intend to give him long, but he was as good as his word and asked me to take him to the car park at Audley Square.
On the way there he asked me the best way to drive to Brighton: the M25 or through Brixton? After all that I couldn’t think straight and wasn’t much help. I offered to lend him a map, but he seemed in a hurry. Seemed a nice bloke, and better looking than he is on the telly.
Just after that encounter I accepted a radio account job from celebrity fish restaurant, Scott’s. The doorman came over and confirmed my passenger would be out soon. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but he wore an amused, knowing, expression.
I didn’t recognise the couple when they came out. He seemed pleasant and polite and directed me to Chelsea. Just before Sloane Square, a motorbike came from behind me at speed and swerved across the traffic. It stopped in Cliveden Place, and its rider hurriedly went to retrieve something from his top box. Unusual to see a courier on a Saturday, I thought, but I suppose that’s the 24-hour, seven-days- a-week society we’re now living in. I thought no more of it.
A few yards into Sloane Square and the traffic’s slowing. There are flashes of white light all around me. I see blokes in motorcycle gear and cameras either side of my cab snapping away at the couple within. She tries to hide herself away, but that’s the only reaction from my passengers.
The same happens further down King’s Road when the traffic stops. As we pull into his road, the man whispers me to stop. They get out and the blokes are snapping away furiously. Neighbours stop to watch the spectacle. The man acknowledges the photographers and pauses to allow them to briefly take more.
I realised later that the man was Charles Saatchi. He’d just divorced his celebrity chef wife, Nigella Lawson. Their marriage was put under scrutiny after he was beastly to her on another occasion at his favourite restaurant, Scott’s. I must say, today he showed admirable calm and dignity.
I was delighted to see my cab in the Sunday Sun the next day!