Leighton Buzzard author tells tales of the London taxi trade
A Leighton Buzzard author has penned a book to take passengers on a ride through his days as a black cab driver, including giving a lift to rock legend Robert Plant!
Chris Ackrill, 58, is proud to have published ‘From Manor House Station to Gibson Square - and back again: Secrets from the London Taxi Trade’ detailing his colourful experiences in the capital.
The book details Chris’s journey from his beginnings as a humble parcel delivery boy to taking the industry’s infamously difficult test ‘the Knowledge’, and navigating his way through the mad metropolitan streets.
Chris said: “I wanted to answer every question anyone might ask of me, and in an entertaining way. You need a sense of humour to do the job otherwise you’d go mad!
“My fondest cab memories are picking up famous people: legends such as Robert Plant, Michael Palin and George Best, to name just a few. They were all nice people.”
But Chris’s tales from the taxi trade aren’t the only adventures explored in his book, as during his 30s he took a break from life on the roads to study at college in Birmingham and at universities in Bradford and Louisiana - in the “sprawling southern suburbs of Baton Rouge”.
After a spell as a careers adviser, he later returned to the taxi trade and became an examiner of the Knowledge - a mind-boggling test including 468 London routes - and not for the faint hearted!
Chris said: “The Knowledge was harder than my two degrees put together and the examination process is terrifying. It’s like the worst job interview you’ve ever had. And you’ll need to do it again, maybe another 15 times.”
Chris happily settled in Leighton Buzzard five years ago and enjoyed sitting in the Black Lion or Bald Buzzard Ale House to complete part of the editing process with a pint.
He now says his days on the cab are numbered - indeed he is currently studying Applied Health and Safety - but has a few opinions on its future.
Chris said: “The job hasn’t become more difficult because of the passengers – most customers are great; it’s because every week more roads are ‘re-modelled’ (narrowed) or closed off completely. Uber have had an impact, but I believe they have had their time in the sun.”