Allow me introduce myself to you, my name is Danny Kemp and I’m a Licensed Black Taxi driver in London. Thirty-eight years ago I did what is called—The Knowledge–to qualify for my badge and license and here I’m going to tell you all about what all the trials and tribulations, funny and sad, I have faced during those years. Let’s start at that -The Knowledge. A ceremonial roll on the drums and cacophony of distant trumpets. There you are, heard all the stories about driving one of those black things or with just a plain masochistic outlook on life and want to cause as much suffering to yourself as you can, at the door of the Public Carriage Office wanting to donate your life to the streets of London.
“Yes” said an uninterested voice behind the glass screen over which was etched- New Applications.
“I want to offer my services to the great London public and become a cab driver like all my friends please.” I jauntily announced filled with the enthusiasm and confidence that only a twenty-four year old who knows all there is to know about everything could muster.
“Take this Form and go to this photographers shop. Fill it in and put the two photo’s with it and come back here with it all,” without looking up nor adjusting his ill-balanced glasses he dismissed me in a monosyllabic voice that was trying desperately to hide his excitement at seeing me.
At that early stage of my life I was a long way off becoming the cynic that I am today, I actually thought that they wanted me! After all the relevant enquires were made, I was cordially invited back and thinking that the reception was laid on just for myself didn’t bother with breakfast expecting a huge laid out affair to welcome the great me. Well, it wasn’t quite like that as by now you must have guessed. There I was surrounded by about twenty other dew-eyed chaps of varying ages trying to look important and informed.
“Good morning one and all here is the “Blue-Book.” This will be your bible and what your world will revolve around for the next coming years, enjoy. Make an appointment on your way out and we’ll be seeing you in fifty-six days or so from now.” So spoke one of the MEN or better known as examiners, those that held the power of life or death over us all. Now here is where we start. The “Blue Book.’ Which was not blue at all but a faded well thumbed sickly pink colored one containing 268 so called ‘runs’. These runs are from set locations strung across a six mile radius of London centered on Charing Cross. The word Cross denotes one of the place where a King of England planted seven Crosses to honor his dead spouse Queen Eleanor, but as I wasn’t around at that time nor was it part of the Knowledge I can’t enlighten you as to his name. There was more than enough within that blue book to occupy any sane mind without such deviations.