Simon Kelner: All fun and Games? Not if you ask the taxi drivers...

Kelner's view

Share
Related Topics

A former colleague of mine, let's just call him Phil, used to say that he was born in the town of Curmudgeonly, West Yorkshire, so practised was he in the Yorkshireman's talent of not being impressed by anything or anyone.

It comes to something when I, a cheerful, upbeat Lancastrian, receives an upbraiding from the other side of the Pennines for my gloomy outlook, but Phil thought that I had outdone even him in my crotchety response to Andy Murray. I am willing to believe this attitude owes more to age than geography but, to borrow from a fellow Mancunian, heaven knows I'm miserable now. When the Olympics was awarded to London, there was some resentment from other parts that the beneficial effects will be felt only in the south-east of England, already a relatively prosperous area.

This may well be true, but every coin has two sides and, as we get nearer to the opening ceremony, everyone who lives and works in the capital is only too aware that the Olympics is going to cause massive disruption. Those running businesses are fearful that the same dip in retail activity they suffered around the Jubilee will affect them again, but over a longer period.

But  - and here's a sentence I didn't think I would write in this lifetime - it's the cabbies I feel sorry for. Every time I encounter black cab drivers, the lament is the same: "It's going to be impossible to do our job" and: "I'm going on holiday". The Olympic traffic lanes have been painted, effectively cutting some of the capital's busiest roads down by half or a third. Journey times will be slower than by horse and cart, and not only are taxis banned from using the Olympic lanes, they can't use them for *-turns or even turn right across them. "We're iconic, you know," a cabbie said to me. "But we are treated like the lowest form of transport." It seems it might be easier to find a black cab on the Costa del Sol than the Embankment in the last week of July.

Maybe it's because I'm a misery guts, but I see little evidence of excitement about the Games. In fact, I detect a degree of collective emotional overload. No wonder Andy Murray broke down on Centre Court: the unbearable weight of national expectation couldn't help but make him feel utterly wretched. We've had the swell of jingoistic pride over the Jubilee, hopes of English football success ignited and then dashed at the Euros and been put through the wringer by Murray.

Are we temperamentally equipped to go through it all again? And this time the stakes are raised. It's not just our athletes who are on trial, but also our ability to host a major international event - and the reputation of our capital city. I fear the worst, but that may be because I'm turning into  a Yorkshireman. Taxi!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Teacher

£22000 - £32000 per annum + TLR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our client is...

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A still from Central African Republic: Descent into Chaos  

Rory Peck Awards 2014 News Finalist: Pacôme Pabandji

Independent Voices
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

My limerick response to Mike Read’s Ukip Calypso

Simon Kelner
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London