Lost in translation

London cabbies have the reputation that they have an opinion on everything; they will not go south of the River; and know just about anything to do with London, which we do little to dispel, but are patently untrue.

This third urban myth that we are in fact just a mobile information desk to catch ‘The Lost of London’ and point them in the right direction must consume hours of a cabbie’s time every day.

[C]ONTEMPLATING THE MEANING OF LIFE whilst waiting at traffic lights, The Lost Tourists break into one’s hypnotic state, surprise and momentarily disorientated you. They ask with trepidation sometimes in a northern accent “Do you know the way to the Lyceum for the Lion King”?

You see it’s 7.21 in the evening, they are hopelessly lost and the show commences in nine minutes. Sure you can drive them, but it’s Covent Garden, gridlocked as usual, and you know with the one-way systems it’s far quicker to walk.


You are flummoxed, but you must never reveal this, you’re the world authority on everything London, right? But as you spend an entire lifetime driving, walking in the opposite direction to the road’s one-way system is – well just weird.

Don’t show your indecision, not a frown must pass your countenance, not even for a nano-second. “Certainly Sir, it isn’t far from here, just a few minutes’ walk away”.

That has bought a few more seconds thought. Do you now send them across the Piazza, but what does the back of the Opera House look like? Would they know when to turn right? And are they going to even know when to turn into that famous square?

Your momentarily pause in answering has brought on near hysteria from the girlfriend, who has spent hours getting ready little realising that Londoners dress down nowadays to go to the theatre. They have spent nearly an hour walking around the area’s labyrinthine streets and to cap it all can hardly understand the cabbie with his cockney accent.

Private hire attracting my attention

By now, and I swear TfL do this deliberately – the lights have changed and that nice private hire driver in his Mercedes is suggesting, by the use of his horn, that conversing with pedestrians just isn’t to his liking.

The best pedestrian route that was forming in your brain has disappeared from your consciousness, and to make matters worse at the end of the road, now empty of traffic due to your inability to more forward, is a fare.

“Look walk just down to the end of the street, turn left and you can’t miss it”. Yes very professional, but at least they start to move in the right direction. And come to think of it you haven’t told them that the start of the show is not to be missed with a sun rising over Africa’s savannah.

Now, where was that fare I saw?

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 31st January 2012

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