Previously Posted: Memory Men

For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.

Memory Men (20.10.09)

Memory Men (20.10.09)You have to feel sorry for high achievers like Lord Winston.

They work hard all their lives and reach the top of their respective professions. Then they find themselves sitting down to dinner with a London cabbie, possibly sharing a table on a cruise or at a hotel.

The conversation around the table goes something as follows:

Table Chatterbox: turning to Lord Winston “and what do you do Bob”?

Lord Winston: “Well I am a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, I am also a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Institute of Biology. I also hold honorary doctorates from fourteen universities. In addition to being a British medical doctor and scientist, I’m a television presenter, and sit on the Labour Party benches in the House of Lords.”

Table Chatterbox: stifling a yawn, “Oh, really”. With that, he turns to me. “Do you have an interesting career, Gibson?”

Gibson Square: “Well actually I’m only a London cabbie.”

Table Chatterbox: “Well how interesting, I’ve always wanted to know, just how is it you manage to remember all those roads?”

Just what is the fascination with the Knowledge? I notice you are among the many who have chosen to read this blog on all things cabbie. We are not as well educated as many graduates, and contrary to popular opinion we’re not as erudite as we would like to think ourselves. We are reputed, incorrectly, to have narrow Right Wing views, with a propensity to favour the British National Party.

Yet I have shared a table with a nuclear physicist, a director of Unilever and a National Health Service consultant, but all the other diners want to know is, just how it is that I could have done the Knowledge.

If I was clever enough to remember 11,500 roads in central London plus all the theatres, hospitals, clubs, public buildings and all manner of miscellanea and could then take the shortest route between any two of them, I would have the brains to be a barrister and wouldn’t be pushing a cab around London.

If you are reading this Lord Winston, and you find yourself in CabbieBlog’s vehicle, just to help your self-esteem I’ll donate the fare (with a generous tip) to the charity of your choice.

Got to go now, I’m halfway through reading Blackstone’s Criminal Practice 2010, it’s a riveting read.

9 thoughts on “Previously Posted: Memory Men”

  1. Gotta chuckle how this rings so true. It is always so fun to meet new people who enjoy impressing themslves by rattling off their credentials. I gain much more plea sure in saying ‘I am not supposed to reveal my past, you know?’ Or ‘I am retired from various careers and enthusiams.’ It gives my ego much more pleasure to have someone come up and say ‘ I am told you are a most interesting chap and I should talk to you. ‘ My father taught me humility, and to be more curious about others than in myself.
    So let poor Lord doctor famous person no one has ever heard of boast. He must be disappointed that we don’t recall his name.
    Must go google about that, cheers.


    1. I’m shared a table with a nuclear physicist and an director of one of the largest companies in the world. Both were charming and modest, but fellow holidaymakers only wanted to know about The Knowledge.


    2. Few people really love to be on holiday and discuss quantum physics, or the latest human resources theories of management, as interesting as they can be. But everyone loves to hear about London, the streets, the history, after all, it is The City.


  2. When I was still in the Ambulance Service, my job was always of interest. They usually asked, “What is the worst thing you have ever seen?”
    I would reply, “You don’t really want to know”.
    If they insisted, I told them, and watched them turn pale, and shift uncomfortably in their seat.
    Then I would say, “I did warn you”.
    Best wishes, Pete.


    1. Before that, I used to tell them about a man who had been found dead after 10 days during a hot summer, or a wino who had neen run over by an inter-city train in Queens Park. (Picking up the bits of him along the track.)


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