On route to the British Museum this morning, our London cab driver told us, as it is the way, a lot. I innocently asked about Uber. It will be the end of us, he said. Looking around, there was little to support this claim. After all, hadn’t there been at least 10 taxis queuing up in front of our hotel this very morning? And is the West End jampacked, as usual, with black taxicabs? Still, judging by the rate of change in the British capital, I was easily persuaded that he was right.
This made me sad on many fronts. First, in the purely logical sense my own future as a London cab passenger seemed doomed. People driving their own cars as taxis simply can’t take electric wheelchairs. And even if Uber reaches an ’agreement’ regarding disabled access, I would remain pessimistic. Such deals easily fall to the wayside or fall apart. That’s because they are always extras, add-ons to the core business. And that’s one of the things that’s great about London’s black taxicabs. They provide disabled transport on a fairly uniform basis. By agreement, if you drive a London cab you have an accessible vehicle. There’s either a built in wheelchair ramp or a folded one in the boot of the taxi. It’s part of your license.
But that’s the rational part. The less rational part is on display right now, as we turn off New Oxford Street to wine through a one-lane road, virtually an alley, that deposits us right in front of the British Museum. And, of course, we’ve had the usual lesson in British politics. Our driver doesn’t like Boris Johnson. He’s moving to Cyprus. Whatever.
Everyone is leaving town, it seems. London is too expensive. Life is too short. Really, I know fewer and fewer people here. What will happen when they are all gone? Of course, they will never quite all be gone. And, let’s be clear…I will be gone before the last of my friends and/or family are. Besides, this is life. Nothing lasts forever. And as for the cabs, well who knows? The essence of London cabbies involves a certain emotionalism. They are a hyperbolic lot. Talk of disaster may be excessive.