On 23rd February 2030, CabbieBlog will come of age and become twenty-one years old. Whether its author will be as robust is another matter. Ten years ago this blog was obsessed by the forthcoming 2012 Olympics, not least that my old place of employment was to become the Velodrome.
So in the spirit of 20/20 Vision here are some rather egregious predictions for London and London’s cabs 10 years hence.
Cash will still be around at the end of the decade because there are too many situations in which only cash will do, such as paying a handyman. Expect an increase in the proportion of establishments who won’t take cash, already some of the hipster’s favourite places don’t recognise the folding stuff. Only a few years ago most passengers wanted to settle with their cabbie with cash, nowadays most use plastic. Contactless isn’t yet a decade old – it was an exciting novelty at the aforementioned 2012 Olympics – but large numbers of people already get very cross if they arrive at an establishment that won’t accept it.
Will you be able to cross your cabbie’s hand with silver in 10 years time?
I doubt it.
We’ve had Boris-bikes; -bridge; -bus; and -bo**ocks, what next Boris Brexit? Boris Johnson will stand astride the Twenties in the same way that Margaret Thatcher dominated the Eighties, but the problem for the ultra-left wingers is how to delineate their hate figure 40 years later. For Thatcher we had Thatcherism, but for Boris – Johnsonism? We Londoners have a fair idea of what to expect – more words than actions.
Boris as Prime Minister in 2030?
The one organisation I fear for most in the 2020s is the BBC. It is hard to defend this broadcaster’s largesse. During Brexit, while other broadcasters sheltered under umbrellas the Beeb had a portable studio erected on Parliament Green. But for all its faults, and there are many, not least Countryfile, nothing that might supersede it could ever do as good a job.
Will the BBC still exist?
Since Cromwell licensed the London cab trade in 1654 – and in so doing making it the oldest regulated public transport system in the world – many have tried to destroy London’s cab trade and been proved singularly unsuccessful. The watermen plying the Thames were the first to try their luck when the first bridges were built claiming that cabs couldn’t ‘go South of the River’; in 1961 exploiting a loophole in the 1869 Carriage Act, Michael Gotla spent £560,000 buying 800 red Renault Dauphines expecting that the drivers could ‘ply for hire’. Unfortunately for Gotla within a year, the courts begged to disagree with his interpretation of the law. Then in 2012 along came a company who used their ‘offshore’ status to avoid paying most UK taxes; a company with a close association with the then prime minister; dispensed with the cumbersome criteria of having drivers who had experienced driving in England at some point; abandoned comprehensive criminal record checks; used drivers which lacked an understanding of the geography of London’s labyrinthine roads; and who had limited ability in understanding the capital’s native tongue, the company flooded London’s streets with thousands of rented vehicles purporting to be ‘cabs’. Eventually, they have been called to task and banned.
Will they leave the capital never to return?
Don’t hold your breath.
You know where online communication is going, it’s going visual, now social media posts only grab your attention if they include an image, an animation or better still a video. Nobody wants to read those 500 words you’ve honed to perfection any more. So will blogs only be written by ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’, the archetypal voice of outraged Middle England?
I’ll leave that to you, dear reader, to give your predictions for 2030.
Featured image: Marco Verch (CC BY 2.0)