Living in London means you don’t need a car. Quite aside from the fact that the traffic is unbearable, the routes muddled by one-way systems or physically damaging due to the councils’ enthusiasm for ‘sleeping policemen’, and the parking wardens being generally awful, there’s another upside to being without wheels. Without a car, I can justify taking taxis. A lot. With no congestion charge to pay (and the fine for forgetting to pay at least once in a year), resident’s parking, a hiked-up insurance premium, speeding fines, at least one car radio stolen, twice-yearly services, MOT, car tax and parking fines, I reckon that leaves me with a cab fund of about £1,800 per annum.
That’s a cab journey about once every three days. (Or one to Edinburgh and back.) Some might say the downside is having to talk to the cabbies, but I love them. Over the years, I’ve talked to a qualified lawyer (he did pro bono cases for his fellow drivers), a philosophy student, a feminist, a couple of novelists and an ex-limo driver for pop stars (who told me some racy stories about the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood). As BT might say: don’t drive, just talk.