The kindly cabbie: Our Time of Gifts week 18

This week, shattered glass lay strewn over a stretch of path in our park. And Austin fell in it.

He was belting down from the top of the hill towards the river, eager to dig out pebbles the perfect size for throwing and splashing. One of the larger shards of glass must have caught his wheel; or he simply tripped, as he often does. Either way, the piece he landed on sliced through his trousers and into his leg. Blood fell from the short but deep gash, dripping in large blobs onto his blue wellies.

Austin is normally a stoic boy. But, as he said to me later, “even though I’m nearly four, I cried and cried and cried.”

His little sister, in sympathy with Austin for his ‘berry dore’ leg, echoed the wail. I felt like joining them, but realised that a cacophony of shared familial sorrow wasn’t going to get the three of us back up the (very steep) hill, and home to hot water, antiseptic and plasters.

Have you ever tried carrying an almost-four-year-old with one arm, while steering a buggy with the other? I gave it a try, but those children are heavy. Even now, two days later, if I lift anything heavier than a carton of orange juice my right arm displays a tremor to rival the staunchest of alcoholics.

But there’s one thing I’ve realised about being a parent: when the wellbeing of your children is at stake, you can do much more than you ever realised – physically, and mentally. I could have carried chunky Austin, and pushed Gwen up the hill, out of the park, and down the streets to our home. I could have done it; but afterwards, I would have been a wreck.

And, as it turned out, I didn’t need to. When I reached the park exit, as if by magic a black cab pulled up, and the driver offered me a lift to wherever I needed to go. For free. He’d seen me struggling to transport the two children, turned round his cab, and come back to help.

So, we rode back to our doorstep in warmth and comfort, and the cabbie kept a respectful distance while I hoisted the children safely inside.

I wish I’d taken a note of his name or registration, as I’d like to thank him. He reinforced my belief that London, this city that many people claim is unfriendly and full of hostility, is home to some of the most giving people I’ve met.

As for the glass, I reported it on, and now it’s gone, either through the Council’s efforts, or those of a conscientious inhabitant of this little corner of south London.


This week, my free cab ride was a gift I gratefully received. And, on our part, we gave some tins to the local Food Bank, via a collection at Austin’s school.

I’ve written elsewhere on Our Time of Gifts about our donations to the Food Bank. My feelings haven’t changed. The problems that have led to so many people being forced to accept food aid, are becoming even more deeply entrenched. But, with so many desperate mouths to feed, I still feel the need to give in this way.

Our Time of Gifts is my year-long adventure in sharing. Each week, I will loan or give something away, then see what the universe brings to my doorstep….

 Click here to find out more about Our Time of Gifts.

Have you given away, or shared anything recently? Do you have a gift-giving story to tell? I’m putting together an Our Time of Gifts round-up for 12th November, and would love it if you could tweet me @NellHeshram (or email by 9th November with your posts. I’m dying to read them.


  • Katie
    November 7, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I hope he’s ok! We also had a kindly cabbie in London last week. On our journey out of London I struggled with three kids and two suitcase on the tube. No lifts and rude people shoving my children was not an experience we wanted to go through again, so we forked out for a cab on the way back. He helped me with the luggage, kindly told me a cheaper and shorter distance to where I needed to go AND refused my tip. Go London Cabbies!

    • Nell Heshram
      November 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      It’s heartening, isn’t it! I must admit I’d always had them down as the types who shouted at cyclists and were prone to road rage. Encounters like this have changed my opinion…..

  • Charly Dove
    November 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Oh my goodness I hope Austin is alright, what a horrible thing to happen – especially as you’re not feeling great too. Such a beautifully written post and what a lovely cabbie that helped you. That is just wonderful. A really great story of superb kindness. You must have been so relieved. Thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory

    • Nell Heshram
      November 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      It’s a pleasure and yes, I was so relieved I almost cried!

  • Janie P
    November 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    That is a really lovely story … well not in terms of Austin hurting himself obviously, but restoring your faith in humanity.

    • Nell Heshram
      November 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks Janie!

  • Actually Mummy...
    November 10, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    How wonderful! What a lovely project – I’d love to see at the end of the year whether you recieved as much as you gave – though i suspect i already know the answer 🙂


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