Me: Could you bring me to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital?
He: No, I am sorry, I can’t allow you to step into my taxi as we are in the drop-off zone here at the Manchester airport.
Me: I just called the phone number which is indicated on the door of your taxi, asking you to pick me up, isn’t it?
He: Ooh, indeed, you did. So, yes, get into my taxi and I’ll drive you to the Royal.

That’s about how we got to know each other, John and I, 26 years ago. I worked as a Clinical Research Associate at Organon Teknika. Taking a black cab at the airport was about 10 pounds more expensive compared to a private taxi. Asking John to drive was an expense cost saver and it turned out to be a great start of an English-Dutch friendship.

Every time I flew into Manchester airport to either visit the research team in Liverpool or in Manchester, John would pick me up. He knows a lot about the Dutch Royals which was a way to start the conversation during the trips.

We talked about football of course. And as he loves Greyhounds we also went into to the city every now and then to bet on Greyhound races.
During our discussions we also learned that we had the same challenges in trying to have children. Yes, men talk about that too!
Hence, never a dull moment during the trips from the airport to the hospitals, to the hotels and back to the airport, five years in a row.

We stayed in touch even though I didn’t come to England after a career change. He and his wife Julie became parents in the meanwhile. Two lovely daughters, Lauren and Lucy. Pascalle and I visited them in their lovely house and they came to the Netherlands once during Sinterklaas time. Always great fun. John ensuring silence moments would not occur and Julie apologizing for John talking that much. I also visited John’s mother every time I was in Liverpool as she is Austrian. She loved to talk with me given the fact that I speak German. So unique to have this friendship with my favorite taxi driver in the UK and being introduced to his beloved family. I also met his friends and learned more about English football as I ever could imagine during our phone conversations whenever Dutch and English teams played against each other.

He: We want to come and visit you.
Me: You are crazy. You don’t like to fly. What a great idea!
He: I need to check the holiday schedule of Julie and the girls and let you know.
Me: Fine, and you can stay at our house again.

Mid August John, Julie and Lucy flew into Charleroi airport and an hour later they arrived in Banholt. Lauren stayed home to watch the greyhound.
Upon arrival John started talking and Julie continued apologizing. Nothing changed obviously and we laughed out loud. Great to see Lucy after all these years and admiring what she achieved throughout these years.
They went to Maastricht with Pascalle and we enjoyed diner together. Visited the highest mountain of the Netherlands exactly there where three countries meet and visited all three counties by wheelchair in 10 seconds!

The days passed way to quick. It was great fun seeing this lovely family. A unique friendship throughout these 26 years!

To get a quick impression of our time together these days, click on this YouTube link:

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