Holding a Hackney carriage licence in Vale of White Horse gives me the right to pick up a passenger who has flagged me down for hire on the street anywhere within the boundaries of the district.

These stretch from the city limits of Oxford all the way to the edge of Swindon in the west, encompassing many rural communities as well as Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage.

Indeed, when leaving Swindon on the A420 for the return journey to the Vale, the further away you get from it, the more the instances of the name of the town are spray painted on road signs, like insecure reverse territorial marking.

Such flag downs, as they are referred to, can be one of the glories of taxi driving, for the randomness of the encounters which can ensue. There are barely any of them around at present, deep in the middle of the third English lockdown, because people on the face of it, are not supposed to be moving around.

But people do still go in sizeable numbers into Abingdon town centre on a Monday, which is market day, to carry out their business, queuing 17-deep to get into the bank and 36-deep to buy fruit and vegetables at the market.

Indeed, the queue is so populous that the market now has two security guards, instead of the usual one, and two people who stroll around the town centre with Covid Compliance Marshals emblazoned on the back of their high visibility jackets.

But travel into Abingdon on any other day of the week, when the weather is clement, and you will still see sizeable numbers of people meeting up in the Market Place. As a friend online put it this week, 'dozens and dozens of people around Abingdon, mostly meandering aimlessly - at the weekends the square is full of people meeting up, standing around, sitting.... not a mask in sight'.

People can’t really be blamed for the desire to arrange their visits into town at the same time as their friends. But they are responsible for the manner in which they conduct themselves.

They mostly appear to walk into town, or use the bus. Barely anybody is wanting to use a taxi at this time. This week, for only about the third time in more than a year, I worked the taxi rank in Abingdon for a whole morning, while I waited for my passenger to return from their doctor’s appointment.

My friend asked me what it was like being back and I answered honestly. The five-car offside taxi rank, located at a busy junction in the middle of Abingdon’s one-way system, was oversubscribed because it is a Monday, more in hope than expectation. And I made £10 for three hours work. This is not the beginning of the recovery.