- I’ve taken this piece from the Observer, Sunday 1 November 2009
A prime example of one of London’s best cabbies
I’ve never been able to get up in the morning, so working later suits me just fine. I take Mondays off, Tuesday I go out in my cab mid-morning, then each day I go out later and stay out later. It’s until about 1am in the week, but always later at weekends.
As a cabbie you get to meet people you wouldn’t usually mix with in your normal life, so it’s always interesting. Everyone’s more chatty at night – they’re going out, they’re in a good mood, and, of course, they’ve had a drink.
I’ll pick most people up – I always have my doors locked – and I’ve never really felt unsafe. You just have to use your common sense – if you’d cross the road to get away from someone, then you probably don’t want them in your cab. There are certain areas I’ll avoid, though. I won’t go into the City on a Friday night, for example. They’ve gone out straight from work, and get so drunk.
Saying that, I feel more vulnerable if I’m out in the West End meeting friends. You’ve only got those few people looking out for you but, when you’re driving a cab, wherever you look there’s another one. You know that if you’re in a bit of bother, another black cab will probably pull over and help you out.
There’s a real community of black cabs out there. Loads of us communicate via Twitter – it’s called Tweet a London Cab – and via the radios. It means there are people out there who have got your back.
London at night is an incredible place to be. You see some really lovely things. My favourite spot is Waterloo bridge – from there you can see so much of London. It’s such a buzzing city, and being in a cab I feel like I’m part of it. I guess us cabbies are like the buildings – you don’t really notice we’re here, but without us, London just wouldn’t be the same.
One of the best parts of the job is how flexible it is. If I want to go out, I just take the time off. If I’m short of cash, I’ll just work more the next week. I don’t have children, but I know lots of guys who do have young children, and they work the hours that fit around their lifestyle too.
I’ve been in the corporate world – I used to work in IT for a big US firm – but I wouldn’t go back. I sat in Starbucks one morning with a friend and the stress level coming off people in the queue was crazy. They’re all caught up in the rat race: they’ve got to get their coffee, get to work and go to meetings. We looked at one another and just said: “You can’t put a price on not feeling like that.”