Tony Davidson’s epigrammatic autobiography, The Green Badge of Knowledge, is the sum of two parts: life before commencing The Knowledge; and his journey to gain the coveted green badge of a London Licensed Cabbie.
Growing up in Hoxton – which according to Davidson is pronounced ‘Oxton – in post-war London, before the millennials made adjacent Shoreditch the place to work and play.
[H]oxton was in Davidson’s time, one of the poorest boroughs in London, and in this little account, the author takes you into the Hoxton housing estates full of villains, gangs and young men asserting themselves both in and out of the boxing ring.
Much of the Hoxton account is written in the vernacular of this little locality, which for me was given too much emphasis, with the F-word appearing in every recounted conversation.
As a London cabbie, naturally I found the anecdotes about learning The Knowledge of most interest. His father-in-law was interrogated by the legionary Mr Finlay. For young Davidson, his nemesis was a Mr Shern, described as six-feet-four, shaven head, dark glasses, ex-vice squad, and not someone who suffered fools gladly.
Davidson’s life post-Knowledge takes a reversal of fortunes, through the fortuitous connections of his sister-in-law he gets to meet Danny DeVito. However the good times don’t last, and as Davidson admits, writing this concise account of his life has been, as much as anything, cathartic for the tribulations to follow.
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