Chicken Soup Original for us commoners. Almost posted this under Linguistics, but daren't. This article involves royals, but it's NOT political, so Republicans the world over (half of me included) please refrain from lambasting it and soak in cab linguistics. I hope someone enjoys this half as much as I have. Here:
"Would you Adam and Eve it? I got the call to pick Prince Charles up at Kensington Palace yesterday, Straight up, matee. And he wants to go to Hanover Square.
He gets in the back with his secretary and his copper, so I give them the patter: the weather, the Government, what's wrong with this country, how his old man drives around London in a black cab so no one recognises him.
My mate reckons old Dukie's doing Terminal Four at Heathrow this morning. Course, he never switches his yellow light on.
I've got the old pinstripe whistle on for the day but, fact is, I always wear a suit on the job. Old school, me; the name's John Sheen, 65 and ex-RAF, but the mates call me Gucci John, and acually I'm not that gorblimey.
It's 9.20 quid on the meter, and he gives me this crisp tenner like it's just come out of Coutts cash machine. And there was me thinking toffs like him never carry cash. He's not sure about the tip so I give him the 80p change and, blimey, he takes it. Says he hasn't been in a cab since he was a kid. Ain't lived, has he?
He wants to see our cabbies' shelter. Only 13 of them left in London now, and they're preserved.
We take him in and Faye Olsson, our luverly lady chief, says to him: "Would ye like a wee cup of tea?" She's from Edinburgh. Wouldn't want to drive a cab there, mate; they talk funny.
So he has one in a posh china cup with milk and sugar, and we don't charge him the 20p. Faye tries to tempt him with one of her fantastic bacon butties or a black pudding roll, only a quid each. but he says nah, must have had his scoff before he came out.
Now honest, mate, I haven't left the meter running. I ask him, where to now, guv? and he says Clarence House. That's all right; it's just I don't do south of the river this time of day.
Six quid on the meter this time. He gives me another tenner and insists I keep the change. Diamond geezer; I wish all my fares were that good.
then he asks me into his gaff, where there's 120 of me mates all in their Sunday best taking a tot on his lawn and chatting up Camilla. Cab trade charity types, mainly; we're a charitable lot, taking underpriviledged kids to the seaside, or even to Disneyland Paris. And you know what he does? He comes up and gives me 80p change from his first ride. Double diamond geezer, this one.
So we tell him about the trade, like how it takes an average of four years to do the Knowledge and only a third of us make it, and how neurologists at the National Hospital are studying cabbies' brains to see if there's an extra big bit that makes them remember every street and public building within six miles of Charing Cross. Course there is, mate.
And he meets Brenda Bartlett, one of our few lady cabbies; there's only 400 of them among 23,000 licensed black cab drivers in London. Disgraceful, mate; scandalous under-representation, that's what I call it.
It's an honour to be there, guv, even if it means missing a morning's fares. Somebody appreciates us at last. Charlie makes this nice little speech saying how he'd always wanted to recognise the best cabbies in the world for the contribution we make to London.
Personally, I think he just wanted to se if cabbies have legs. You never see a cabbie's legs, do you?
And he loves the patter, 'cos you know what he says? He says: "You must be doing the world of good to so many people's psychological health!" Course, he's big on alternative therapies, isn't he?
We're o chuffed we give him three cheers and a little glass model of a black cab on a nice wooden plinth. And he takes it and says: "If I rub it hard enough, a taxi driver might appear."
Course he will, your Highness, just as long as it ain't raining".
Doncha luv it?
Chris Ayres, The Times.
Reprinted by The Press (Christchurch, NZ)
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