Cally cabbie’s life on the road
- Credit: Archant
Meet the black cabbie from the Cally who does his bit for charity and limelights as a swing singer at venues like Charring Cross theatre.
Joe Lewis, 49, lives just off the Caledonian Road, and has been driving a black cab in and around Islington for the best part of 18 years.
He chatted to the Gazette about what makes an interesting customer and why he isn’t nervous about fronting a big band gig later on this month.
“The best customers are the ones who give energising conversation,” said Joe. “I like finding out about their lives.
Joe, who is also a qualified tour guide, said; “One time I gave two American guys an impromptu trip before taking them to the airport so they could go back to New York.
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“This was about 12 years ago and we’ve been friends ever since.”
“I don’t think people realise some of the things London taxi drivers do,” he added.
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“We do a lot of charity stuff, for instance once a year about 100 taxis take sick children and their families to Disneyland Paris.”
Joe, who did these trips for 10 years, said: “I have some lovely memories from that.
The experience of driving a 10-year-old child recovering from lymphoma puts all of life’s problems into perspective.”
He also takes veterans on trips back to battlefields, and was recently in Arnhem, Holland
Joe said: “There was a marvellous parade for the brave men who helped liberate the country, which was really nice.”
The cabbie was originally born in Holborn but moved back to Cally, where his dad grew up, after getting married.
“I like living in Islington,” said Joe. “It’s just the convenience of being able to turn on my lights and be at Kings Cross in five minutes.”
He added: “It’s an extremely sociable industry and there are lots of green huts, which have been around since the Victorian times, where we can get a chat food and drinks.”
When asked why the trade is so important, Joe said: “Look at the history of the Hackney carriages, Oliver Cromwell gave the first cabs licenses in 1654, which means my trade is older than the United States of America.”
Joe will be performing with the Denmark Street Big Band at the Charing Cross theatre on September 16.