THINGS have changed a bit in the Wantage night time economy.

Some of the smaller late-night venues are closed and some of the larger ones, where it is possible in theory to maintain social distancing, are open.

After they shut, it results in large groups of people congregating on Mill Street and elsewhere, hanging around for more than an hour after the venues have closed, chatting with their mates.

There is all the usual unpredictability and selfishness associated with such groups: randomly stepping into the narrow roadway in the face of oncoming traffic, smashed glass in the road and sometimes even something a bit more sinister.

A passenger got into the back of my taxi at the weekend, in the early and dark hours of the morning, who gave me palpable cause for concern for my own safety. Someone who is unable to annunciate clearly where they want to go is always cause for concern.

It is not an environment in which anyone should be working, however, I have had three months of no work, followed by one month of only minimal levels of work - though filled with the promise of future work to come, in the form of bookings for journeys to the airport in August and September.

In these circumstances, I take all the work I can get, especially with concerns that there might be a second wave of coronavirus, or a so-called ‘local lockdown’, which would be financially devastating. I only ever turn work away if I can’t do it, and even then it is usually possible to find another driver.

Daily use of social media is essential for a small local business like mine – one of the few areas where an advantage can be had over a larger enterprise, because it is more personal than corporate. In a sense, we are our business; the personal and business brands are symbiotic.

Every month, the taxi and private hire driver forums on social media are riven with stories of the most dreadful incidents of violence and abuse which are visited upon the taxi drivers of this country, who are simply trying to go about their work of driving people home safely in the middle of the night. Perhaps I should stop reading them.

There is a prayer which I tweet often at the weekend: "May almighty God protect from all remaining perils of this night all those souls plying for hire and travelling on the roads of the Kingdom. Bring them safely home."

This weekend, I prayed silently to my God with all of my heart and all of my soul and all of my mind that the powers of darkness would not have dominion and that I would be brought safely home. In all my life, I have probably only ever prayed with that level of intensity once before.

And he answered that prayer.