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Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a black cab driver

Written by
Danielle Goldstein

…according to Rob Lordan, 36

Driving a cab is an expensive business

‘In my first year I spent £12,500 to rent the cab. That was more than my flat! But buying a new cab costs £42,000, then there’s diesel and other challenges we’re up against. It’s just becoming unsustainable financially and it’s very sad.’

Traffic isn't the only problem you face

‘It’s become so horrendous in London that, understandably, people don’t want to use you. But there are also 115,000 private hire cars to compete with, and some of the driving is appalling: drivers going up one-way streets in the wrong direction or pulling over on zigzags.’

The Knowledge involves verbal abuse

‘I took 27 exams to qualify as a driver. It took me five years. The examining officer sits at a desk and suggests points, like The Shard and the Time Out offices, and you have to describe the route you’d take, naming every road. Then the examiner will be rude to you or awkward to get a rise. I had one guy throw a book across the room and another pretend to doze off, because that’s what happens in real life.’

Cabbies have their own secret code

‘There are loads of phrases. If you see a policeman about with a speed gun you say there’s “a Kojak with a Kodak”. There’s “kipper season” when business is slow, because things go flat, and a new driver is a “butter boy”. Another one is “the gas chamber”, which is what we call Euston because you go underground and there are loads of fumes.’

Rich people are the rudest passengers

‘I don’t like generalising, but my most troublesome passengers tend to be people who are very wealthy. The times I’ve been really nastily, verbally abused have been by people I’ve taken to places like Chelsea and Kensington.’

Check out Rob's blog at

Now discover the things you only know if you’re a waxwork maker.

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