Thursday, May 11, 2006

London cabbies

Granted, they no longer come in basic black, but London cabs, whatever the colour are unique to London and a tourist attraction. To me however, it is the drivers, those Cockney drivers who call all women passengers “love” and “darling”, who are unique. They can talk the proverbial hind leg off a donkey if you give them a chance, discussing any topic under the sun. They will give you their take on life and dish the latest from the House of Commons, the current state of Mr. Blair's party and his life expectancy in power and the latest on the royals. They know everything from the Stock Exchange and can forecast the weather.

I enjoy talking politics with them and hearing their opinions on the politics of the day, the Labour party, and the rising number of migrants in London. (The people of African origin in Brixton, outnumber white people like 5-1. Here food, music, cloth and hair products come direct from the Continent or the West Indies). Most cabbies say they like the influx of migrants, especially our influence on the foods and music of the Londoners. (I am aware they might be diplomatic because of the passenger) but I refuse to be a cynic.

One day I asked a cabbie what he felt about economic migrants – those who come to the UK to work. This man was of the opinion that people should be allowed to go anywhere they could to earn a living. He said, “If my family were starving and I heard there was work in them countries, I would swim to get there. Just let anyone try and stop me love,” he said. Obviously, he did not hold with the government on deporting undocumented workers.

London cabbies are mostly kind souls. When I have had to take a cab to hospital, and not only have they been gentle with me but they have encouraged me. Last year, this cabbie drove me to hospital when I was quite ill. Not only did he refuse to take the fare I owed him, he was oh so very gentle with me, apologising for every bump on the road. I pray for him as often as I remember.

God bless them one and all.

Pictures of the black cabs provided by and wikipeda


Anonymous mshairi said...

It's funny though how black cabs will ocassionally refuse to take one to some of London's 'poorer' areas. I remember having a problem or two while living in South London. Also there are times when one does not really want to talk and all they want to do is go on and on (and on:) Having said most of my experiences with cabbies have generally beeen good.

Nice slice of London life, Uaridi.

5/11/2006 04:42:00 pm  
Blogger Couch 'tato said...

wait let me get this sister has a bus pass the other travels in a taxi????

5/11/2006 09:21:00 pm  
Blogger Stunuh Jay said...

There's a book in the states called Taxi Philosophy, these guys are a well of information and opnions that are different and awesome.

5/12/2006 02:58:00 am  
Anonymous Ms K said...

Remember all the hullabaloo about Kenya's london-look taxis? Now they're so decrepit its sad.

Nice post love!

5/12/2006 12:19:00 pm  
Blogger jp said...

that was so kind of him, am sure it made your day better though ill.

thanks for the welcome message to blogsphere. thats good moral support

5/12/2006 12:33:00 pm  
Blogger dangerously_shy said...

My encounters with london cabbies are always interesting like this one time i mentioned i worked in local government and the driver started ranting about high council tax and giving me suggestions to take back to my mkubwa lol..but i have alot of respect for what they do especially the test they have to take - crazy bananas!!

Nice weekend

5/12/2006 01:49:00 pm  
Blogger Kenyananalyst said...

Nice post. I hated cabbies in NY and Pennsylvania (I was charged US$25 for a 10 minutes drive on my first day in the latter). I would trade anything to have an experience with British cabbies as I love British politics and soccer. Anyone giving me a good dose of that anywhere else will be a natural buddy.

5/12/2006 06:46:00 pm  
Anonymous Mama JunkYard said...

LOL @ Couch Tato...

Actually it should read one sister travels by taxi...the other is walks everywhere...after losing her buspass!

I have only ever had one bad experience in a black cab and it was in Bristol. After a night out on the town with my Bar class mates. I shared a taxi with a student from the Bahamas.

The minute we sat down the driver asked for the full fare upfront.

Mr Bahamas who had one tequilla too many told him no and the two began the whole 'is it cos I am black debate'.

Heh..weren't we thrown out! 2 AM...we dragged our sorry selves to the back of the taxi queue.

5/13/2006 05:04:00 pm  
Blogger Farmgal said...

dont you just love it when they stop in the middle of the road to pick up..but u got to love them...

5/13/2006 07:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Mentalacrobatics said...

One thing that impresses me about London cabbies is that they have to pass and remember everything in The Knowledge. A very intense exam of routes and landmarks etc. I remember reading a few months ago how cabbies were protesting when the government tried to change the format of The Knowledge, they felt it would be to easy to pass and new cabbies would not be as proficient.
Passing a test like that for Nairobi would be a challenge, for London a city four times bigger is very impressive!

5/14/2006 01:47:00 pm  
Blogger spicebear said...

chatty cab drivers are quite common in texas - actually everyone is quite chatty, considering that houston prides itself on being a big city with a small town feel. not always good for me though, cos i am most definately not a morning person.

i was once on the way to the airport in a cab with a very chatty driver from haiti. it was nice until someone cut us off i traffic and he got an acute case of road rage, speeding to catch up with the other driver and swerving in and out of traffic. he even wanted to get off the freeway to give him a piece of his mind! sigh.

5/14/2006 05:30:00 pm  
Blogger Darius said...

That is great, isn't it - when you sort of feel like you're being welcomed aboard ship by the Captain!

Used to have this one "Karivan" (bus) driver in college who was like that - relaxed, easygoing, and he had a pet name for just about everyone who rode the bus. I was "Sarge," don't ask me why...

5/15/2006 04:23:00 am  
Blogger Stephen Bess said...

Wow, this doesn't sound anything like the cabbies here in DC. :)It was a pleasant ride at one time when the only people that drove cabs were kindly old gentleman playing 50's Jazz tunes. It's very difficult for most black people to stop a cab in the city. I've seen evidence of it. Otherwise, I can't remember my last cab ride?? I'm glad that your experience is different. Great post!

5/15/2006 03:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Pet Taxi said...

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9/24/2011 12:05:00 pm  

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