Car 6

Mrs Maryan Elliott

Outward appearance

Tiny, plump woman wearing a black shirt printed with gold leaves. Sits with a handwritten list on her lap. Eyes closed, she recites.

Inside information

Maryan emigrated from Armenia after marrying a British tourist. He looked big, clear-skinned, blue-eyed -- the model of a Soviet citizen. Back in Britain, he simply looks fat. He's a taxi driver.

Maryan's father was an economist. Her mother, heavily made-up in orange silk, frequently visits Britain, looks stricken, and lobbies the embassy to see if they can give her daughter a job. After months of applying for research or translation work, Maryan took a job in a new dry cleaning shop.

Two days convinced her that she needed to do something else. She decided to become a taxi driver.

What she is doing or thinking

Maryan is studying the Knowledge. To be a taxi driver you have to pass a test to prove you know the streets of London. So with Charlie's help, she is memorizing London.

She spends weekends driving up and down roads, to learn what they look like from all angles. She has to know every no-left turn sign or one-way street.

She can feel her brain being colonized. Sections of it feel weighed down, as if lead were being poured into a filigree mould. At night, as she goes over the names, the streets spread in her mind like frost.

Maryan will be one of the few people who know what London really looks like. She will never again stumble on anything new by accident. She recites.

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