As we continue with our Q&A with a Cabbie, this week we talk to Steve from North London who has been a London Taxi driver for over 20 years...
1. Why did you become a London Taxi driver ?
My name is Steve Plumb, I live in the North London suburbs. I became a Licensed London Taxi driver in 1992 because I wanted to be fully self-employed. Since I was was twelve years old, I've played the Drums; now mainly jazz. Back in the 90s I was doing a lot of gigs, especially posh parties and my job simply got in the way! I wanted to be my own boss, with a flexible work pattern.
2. What did you do before you became a Taxi driver ?
I was eighteen years working as an over-paid insurance clerk for two firms (Syndicates) of Lloyd's Underwriters. I underwrote property policies in the UK and the USA. I also managed some of the Syndicate's "outward" reinsurance programmes. It was all very tedious, but we had some great laughs back in the 80s :)
3. What do you love most about London ?
Two thousand years of history, with a very diverse arts scene. I also love the architecture and how it reflects London's history and development.
4. What do you most dislike about London ?
That is is so badly managed. I think that the elected, salaried Mayoral position imposed on us by Tony Blair has been a total waste of money. London's inhabitants deserve a much better system of local government. We really need to see some sort of GLC reinstated - a fully democratically elected legislature.
5. Are you a day man or night man reason why ?
Mid morning to evening. I gave up the night work when the volume of work in the small hours became less guaranteed.
6. What is your favourite place or view ?
Wow. Hard question! I love St James' Street and Mayfair as it's like London in Black and White. Still some old-school characters in that area. I love any back streets or alleys. The Georgian houses off Smith Square in Westminster and similar in Spitalfields are really gorgeous. The fact that in the City, many of the street patterns are medieval always amazes me.
7. Have you got an interesting fact about London that others may not know ?
London was never "conquered" by William the Conqueror. He was a shrewd, politically-savvy french nobleman who saw that the ancient City was already being run very well by the Saxons. His first job to keep the subjected Saxons on-side was to ratify their Mayor and Aldermen. He issued a Charter, which is still in London's Guildhall! Get your enemy onside - a lesson for the 21st Century :)
8. Who's the most famous passenger you've had in your Taxi ?
For me it's George Cole - the boy actor who became Arthur Daley in the TV series "Minder". He was a mild-mannered, quietly-spoken gentleman.
8. Have you got an interesting story about a passenger or job you've done ?
Too many to mention. Taking a messenger from Saville Row tailor's Anderson and Shepherd to Clarence House with cloth samples for Prince Charles was a great opportunity to chat about life on Saville Row. Naturally, we didn't talk about Prince Charles...
9. What tips would you give to a tourist ?
Give yourself Three Weeks (3) taking the odd day off for a rest in bed! And remember - London is HUGE! Don't expect every place of interest to be nearby. You will certainly need to use the odd taxi :)