I'm still roaming the streets of our great City after nearly half a century as a London cabbie and I'm still just as proud of our trade as I was all those years ago when I first acquired the coveted Green Badge.
I was one of the first to join the newly-formed Licensed Taxi-Drivers Association in 1967. This was formed as a breakaway group from The T&G because we weren't too happy with their support and when the LTDA started their first newspaper called "Taxi", I was the very first regular contributor. Now some forty years down the line, I still write a regular column in the same newspaper! It's hard to believe that the poor old London cabbies have been forced to stare at my ugly mug, every two weeks for over forty years!
In 1979 I won the very prestigious "Taxi-Driver of the Year Competition" that was set up to raise money for, "The Taxi-Driver's Fund for Underprivileged Children" My year 'On the Throne' was very exciting. I had the honour of following The Lord Mayor's Coach in that annual spectacular through The City. Then I made a couple of TV documentaries and appeared on Saturday night telly in "Blankety Blank", "Tell the Truth" and other forgettable shows!
In the early nineties I got involved - like I always do, in trying to set up a co-operative for the cabbies (HALT) at Heathrow. We then decided to create our own magazine and, as an experienced trade journalist, I got the job as Editor, Advertising Executive, Chief Salesperson and delivery boy! I managed to improve "The Halt Magazine" from an eight-page, black and white publication, to a twenty-page, full-colour front and back. On top of that, all the advertising I had drummed up made it self-sufficient.
By the middle of the nineties I was now Chairman of HALT, the magazine was flourishing but things weren't going at all well at home. Our lovely eldest daughter Jenny had been diagnosed with breast cancer and at Christmas time 1999, she sadly succumbed to the terrible disease just three weeks after her 41st birthday. I immediately resigned all of my positions at Heathrow and retreated to my home in an effort to hide away in deep sorrow. But Jenny gave me strength to carry on because she was always telling me to write a book. So to stop my constant crying or turning to the booze, I took to my computer every day for three months and wrote my first book "Cabbie".
Our lovely Jenny continued to helped me, because almost by return of post I received a letter from my very first choice of publishers saying the Marketing Team wanted to go along with my project and could I sign a contract? Oh, heady days, and days I will always remember to my last breath.
Now it's book number FIVE scheduled for April 2010 and possibly book number SIX if "Mr. Robert The Queen Mother's Hairdresser" gets off the ground!