I have always enjoyed chatting with taxi drivers (affectionate sighs from the daughters who are used to their mother’s nosiness). Well, the start of my two-week stay in London featured one really good experience and one less so.
I was met at the airport by Morris, part of the Dulwich Cars team (now my favourite south London cabs). Morris talks! Quite difficult to get a word in edgeways but a really entertaining trip, even the horrible bit going through Croydon. Morris’ parents came from East Europe (Hungary, I seem to remember) but he was born and brought up in Brazil, came to study in London, and has stayed here ever since, first in a normal office, corporate job, and now as a taxi driver.
His wife is Portuguese and his son British. He described the hassles he has had with immigration officials over the years, including an attempt to deport him, which required him to borrow £6000 to pay for legal fees, only for the judge to throw the case out immediately and order that the Home Office reimbursed him. He has also had runins with the poice and lives in permanent fear that he will lose his driver’s licence.
Despite all this, Morris is of a sunny disposition, with clearly a large, faithful clientele (mainly women!) who ask for him regularly. Despite his wife’s attempts to get him to return to more lucrative employment, he sticks firmly to driving a taxi, which he loves, and keeping a health life-work balance.
Two days later, I took a black cab from Tottenham Court Road to Baker Street. It turned out the driver lived in Harlesden, not far from my brother and sister. Before I had time to say this, he added that he hated Harlesden as it was full of Somalis who spat in the street. I talked no more.