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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Yen for Taxi Prices

SAITAMA, Japan -- I decided to leave after the "Queen" had taken her head off.

Long after the English fans had stopped playing the theme from "The Great Escape" for the umpteenth time and gone peacefully home, and the Swedish fans had left with their cardboard cutout of Sven Goran Eriksson (Swedish scarf attached), the fan in a dress, lacking something of the elegance of our own Golden Jubilee Windsor, took his mask off and left -- and I followed.

Three and a half hours later I was in a Tokyo police station with 34,000 yen ($200) on the meter after my hyperactive taxi driver had tried to get me home. I'd missed the last train in a town 25 minutes north of Tokyo but hitched a lift with three photojournalists who sat spellbound as the meter ticked through their expense account's upper limit.

Our taxi driver, clad in the de rigeur white gloves taxi drivers wear here, had obviously got his license in Mitino, as he swerved his way across Japan's highways and decided to bypass Tokyo to drop off the first two hacks in Yokohama, 40 minutes south of the capital.

The other photojournalist in the car -- a Swede -- got peeved at this slight diversion when we reached 20,000 yen and the driver swerved to pull up next to a 24-hour store to get a few groceries. As Mr. Angry began to beep the horn, the driver backtracked to the shop door, waved his white glove and returned within a minute with four cans of cold coffee as a peace offering.

It eased the tension and, after dropping off the two journalists, the Swede and I were driven home to Tokyo, huddling down giggling in the back so we could avoid extra toll charges on the way.

Our driver waited suspicously long before saying we could emerge from our foetal postions, and then spent two hours looking for where I live. Stopping at Tokyo station, 10 minutes from where I live, he ran up to the first people he saw, clutching my copy of the Lonely Planet. Unfortunately they were English, so he woke up a taxi driver asleep nearby who instantly reached for his remote control, flicked on the LCD screen above his steering wheel and showed my driver the way on his computerised Tokyo atlas.

"Can you get porn on that?" asked a curious Englishman peeping in to the taxi, before pretending to steal our taxi, doors left open, keys in ignition.

Forty minutes later, wishing we had never met, the driver and I walked into a police station, and all the officers came out to watch and help the only English fan to disturb the local police that evening.