I often get asked about why taxi drivers say certain things & to explain their phrases. So I decided to ask David ‘The Captial Cabbie’, who leads tours of London in his black taxi cab, for his insight into ‘Taxi speak’, i.e. how cabbies (taxi drivers) speak & what they mean. He kindly wrote this little story for Perfect Cuppa English to show all the different phrases they use & shared his taxi language translator. I even learnt something new & so now you know how to speak taxi language!
2 Cabbies (taxi drivers), let us say Dave and Vic, having a cup of Rosie Lee (tea) in a Cab man’s Shelter (Green Hut).
How are yer doing Vic, not too bad Dave, considering it’s just after Christmas and we’re in the middle of the Kipper season (quiet trading period just after Christmas), I’m just ticking over.
You’ll never guess who I had in the back of the Sherbet (taxi cab) yesterday, I was at the Raft (Victoria station) sitting on point (First Taxi on the Rank) and this Single Pin (passenger) comes up to me and say’s ‘Palace of Westminster please driver’. I say’s ‘Of course treacle’ (term of endearment when a cabbie is being friendly), the Gas Works (Parliament), that shouldn’t take too long. So off we trot, got her there in double quick time, she gets there and pays what’s on the clock and legals me off (didn’t give me a tip).
I drive round Parliament Square and drive over Westminster Bridge to join the rank at the Loo (Waterloo station), waited for a bit and this lady comes up to the window and say’s ‘Kings Cross please driver’. Now I knew I recognised her Boat (face) but couldn’t put a name to her. So off we go across Waterloo Bridge, as I am just getting up a bit of speed, I noticed a Kojak with a Kodak (a handheld Speed gun), so I put the anchors (brakes) on a bit and slowed down. Eventually we get to the Cross (King’s Cross) and I suddenly realise who the punter (passenger) is sitting in the back, she’d had her head in a book for most of the journey, ‘excuse me darling I am sure I recognise you, is your name JK Rowling by any chance’, ‘yes’, she says, where shall I drop you off, platform 9 ¾?
A Lexicon of Cabbie Speak
Be Lucky A departing greeting
Bilk To run off without paying
Blue Trees Police speeding trap
Brown Coat Taxi Vehicle inspector
Burst End of Theatre/Cinema viewings, passengers looking for taxis
Butter boy A newly qualified female or male Taxi Driver
Clock The Meter
Cross Kings Cross
Den of Thieves Stock Exchange
Dirty Dozen A series of small streets in Soho that cabbies would use for journeys going from West to East as short cuts. Unfortunately, some of this is difficult to navigate at present due to Cross Rail having to dig up most of Soho.
Gas Works Parliament
Guvnor A Police Officer
Iron Lung Men’s toilet near Victoria
Kangaroo Valley Earls Court
Kipper Season Quiet trading period just after Christmas
Kite A Cheque
Kojak with a Kodak A handheld Speed gun
Legaled off No Tip
Loo Waterloo Station
On Point First Taxi on the Rank
On the Cotton As the crow flies
Pipe Blackwall Tunnel
Raft Victoria Station
Roader Long Journey
Sherbet Taxi Cab
Treacle A term of endearment
Single Pin One Passenger
Wedding Cake Queen Victoria Memorial
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