London Books Review: London Taxi Driver Slang

Every trade and profession has its own separate phrases, the London cabbies are no exception with a large vocabulary, hardly surprising since they have been plying for hire on London’s streets for over 350 years.

Graham Gates in association with Stuart Pessok, the retired Managing Editor of Taxi Newspaper have compiled over 280 words and idioms used by cabbies.

[W]HO WOULD KNOW that a droschky was another term for a black cab? Apparently, its derived from public carriages used in Russia, the term brought here by Russian-Jewish émigrés who became cabbies.

That Hogarth Roundabout, so often the subject of radio traffic reports, is known as Cherry Blossom Roundabout, once the location of a brand of shoe polish manufactured nearby.

Or Dead Zoo is the rather prosaic nick-name for the Natural History Museum.

My favourite is The Gas Works, summed up as – The Houses of Parliament: hot air at extortionate prices.

One omission is Hot and Cold Corner, the junction of Exhibition Road and Kensington Gore where the Geographical Society has erected, outside its headquarters, the statues of Stanley Livingstone and Ernest Shackleton.

This little book has room for the chronology of the London Cab; a short bibliography; and a comprehensive definition of the term ‘cab’. Not a bad buy for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

London Taxi Driver Slang by Graham Gates. First published by Abson Books in 2011.

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