True Gripes: Whisper who dares: Has taxi chatter vanished forever

Share
Related Topics
Where have all the chatty cabbies gone? Illusions I have held since childhood of rabbiting hackney carriage drivers from Ealing Studios films have been shattered because they are simply not talking any more.

They are the fount of all knowledge and the source of some damn good yarns, but trying even to get the time of day out of them now is impossible. Long gone is the time when passengers would feel obliged to gasp with amazement as they listened to the cavalcade of stars whose backsides had graced the seats upon which they sat.

Now you're asking him who he's had in the back of his cab lately just to break the silence and the 'them and us feeling it inevitably creates.

I have been suffering silent journeys since Christmas and a recent trip confirmed my worst fears. My day had been long and hot and with a searing headache and the rail strike half-way through one of its 24-hour stints, I afforded myself the luxury of hailing a cab. No sooner had I stepped in than the protective glass screen was slammed shut.

I had been in mid sentence, but a reply came not from the driver but from the Rolling Stones crooning Honky Tonk Woman from a stereo riding shotgun in the front.

OK, I thought. If you don't want to talk, that's fine, and besides I love the Stones. I stretched my legs and fell into a newspaper. But as the sweat began to form and roll I realised just how hot it was and reached to open the window; to my horror it was locked. I knocked on the glass but by this time Mick and the boys were in full swing and my driver was lighting a fag and admiring the girl in the sports car alongside him.

All the macabre Luis Bunuel films I had seen flashed before my eyes. I would be ignored until I expired with heat stroke and then driven to a secret west London warehouse where the bodies of hundreds of talkative victims had been dumped, still lying in taxis with their newspapers strewn about.

But at journey's end, as I slid damply from the back seat and fumbled for the fare, my driver smiled and wished me a pleasant evening - hardly the sadistic cabbie I thought had been at the wheel.

So why the lack of communication? Why the silence? There's nothing I like more than a good bitch about life. Politicians, celebrities, the weather - they're all fair game. I always thought cabbies were great for that, always ready with an argument and a strong opinion.

What has happened to the likes of the cab driver who told TS Eliot that he'd confounded the great mind of Bertrand Russell, the philospher ('And I said to him, now Lord Russell, I said, what's life all about then? And you know, he couldn't tell me.')?

It's all come as quite a shock, so bring back the chat; bring back the boasting cabbies; bring back motorised conversation.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The Interview cancelled: From supporting the Ku Klux Klan to appeasing the Nazis, Hollywood has a rich history of caving in

Boyd Tonkin
A female US soldier eats breakfast while on tour in Afghanistan  

All’s fair in love and war? Not until female soldiers can join the men on the front line

Rosie Millard
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas