Saturday's Financial Times had an article about London's cab drivers, saying that they need to go to 'customer relationship' courses as well as learning The Knowledge. It suggests that the cab drivers are too talkative and insensitive to those passengers that prefer not to chat. Now I am as antisocial as they come, being a good New England Yankee, but I beg to differ. Even a perma-grump like me (when I lived in London that is - I blame the severe lack of Vitamin D due to almost no sunshine) likes to chat to a London cabbie. They are funny, knowledgeable about all that is London, and mostly harmless. Many a late night they would pour me out of the cab and wait on the curb while I let myself into the house. One kindly driver, when learning that I was moving to New York City, helpfully advised me never to use the "C" word when swearing in America. Most cabs today have a speaker system anyway, and you can switch it off if you don't want to chit chat. But what would London be without chatty cabbies? They should not change - nor will they.
Talking about leopards and their spots never changing leads me to today's FT. The front page tells us that oil trading companies have "quietly" stopped supplying petrol to Iran. The paper says this is a clear sign that Washington's efforts are paying off. Of course they are (sarcasm alert). The naivete of some journalists (and obviously politicians) makes me want to scream. The "small Dubai-based and Chinese" companies that are reportedly replacing the US/UK/Swiss trading companies as suppliers to Iran will be backed by the very same suppliers which are claiming to be getting out of Iran. The profit margins on supplying petrol there are simply too high to lose. This is how it has always worked, and I can't see it changing anytime soon. Ask any London cabbie, he will back me up.