Welwyn Garden City ex-cabbie reveals the secrets of The Knowledge in a new book

PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 November 2017

Former black cab driver Tony Davidson with his book

Former black cab driver Tony Davidson with his book "The Green Badge of Knowledge". Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

A Welwyn Garden City man who spent 27 years driving a London black taxi has told of his escapades in a new memoir.

Former black cab driver Tony Davidson with his book Former black cab driver Tony Davidson with his book "The Green Badge of Knowledge". Picture: Danny Loo

Cockney born and bred Tony Davidson, who is now retired and living in Panshanger, wrote “The Green Badge of Knowledge” to give readers a taste of the cabbie life.

“When you’re driving a cab for over 20 years you have enough stories to write a book,” Tony told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

So that’s exactly what he did.

Previously a British Gas worker, Tony had a narrow escape in a gas explosion and decided to learn “The Knowledge” - stringent study required to become a London cabbie.

Hallowed by taxi drivers worldwide, the Knowledge tests drivers on road names, landmarks and “points” - standard routes across London - that takes three years to learn.

“They say it’s harder than doing a degree,” said Tony. “But once you get bitten by the Knowledge bug it takes you over.

“By the time I finished, I had done 5,000 runs and 10,000 points to remember.

“It’s all still there.”

The book takes the reader from Tony’s rough-and-tumble teenage days to the many stories he picked up along with his passengers.

“I’ve got too many stories to recount,” he said.

“My sister-in-law said that truth is stranger than fiction, and that runs through the book.”

One day, he was driving an elderly couple to the British Museum, and decided on the spur of the moment not to charge the fare.

“After that, I had the best few weeks I had ever had,” he reminisced. “The run lasted exactly two weeks - it was more than luck.”

Not all his customers were so gentle, he said, and his cabbie friends often warned him to be careful of who he picked up.

He said it was always a relief to come back home at the end of a tough day.

“I always worked in London all day - it was a nice contrast, then coming home to the peace and quiet of Welwyn Garden City.”

But is the arrival of sat-nav technology going to ruin the London cabbies’ profession?

“London’s cabbies are the best in the world,” said Tony.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

“The Green Badge of Knowledge” is available on Amazon for £6.99.

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