Late 1979. I was working a nine to five job and looking for a way to break free. I watched a film written by Jack Rosenthal. The Knowledge.
This film inspired me to contact the Carriage Office, and asked if was true that it is possible to learn the knowledge on a provisional driving license. (as one of the characters did) They told me it was, as long as I past a driving test before I past the knowledge. I booked an interview, received my blue book and started the knowledge. learnt to ride a motor cycle and learnt to drive a car. I recorded my runs onto cassettes, and instead of listening to music I would listen to the runs, it helped enormously. Sounds boring, but I pass the knowledge in 11 months. I was one of the first lady Hackney Carriage Drivers.
I am very honoured to have been, the first elected Lady Master, of the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers. September 2006. My Installation and dinner took place on the HQS Wellington. A Royal Navy Sloop, which was purchased and transformed into a floating livery hall. By the Honourable Company of Master Mariners.
A week later, I was being driven by our Beadle, Mr. John Sheen, on The Children’s Magical Taxi Tour to Disneyland Paris, which seemed very strange, because, I had for many years, driven a family myself. As the majority of Past Masters have.
I enjoyed my year as Master immensely. Attending many Livery Company Dinners. Meeting very interesting people. Taking part in many ceremonies. Being invited to luncheon at the Mansion House, after the Lord Mayors show. At The worshipful Company of Carmen joint services dinner. I was introduced to one of my favourite Royals. Princes Anne, and her husband Timothy.
Bing invited to the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, is one of the last duties as Master. It was a wonderful day. When the guest had finished their afternoon tea. Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived. Guest were ushered into a line, forming two channels from the Palace steps, ready to see the Queen and the Duke. The Queen walk through the right side of us, and the Duke walked through on our left. One of the Dukes ushers, dressed in top hat and tails Came to me and said, Prince Phillip, is very interested in a Badge of Office. Do not be surprised if he stops and talks to you, and he did. He asked what the Badge represented. I told him it is the Masters Badge of a Livery Company, on a closer looked he said. Oh the Wheelwrights, to which I replied: No Sir, the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers. REALLY! He asked, Do you have to be a taxi driver to be a member, yes Sir, I replied. Are you a Taxi driver. Yes I am sir. He then wanted to know, how long I had been a taxi driver, how long it took me to pass the knowledge, and many other things. Before he left, he commented on the Badge, he wanted to know why there were spurs, you do not need spurs these days! I replied when the Worshipful Company first came into being in 1654, the spurs were need, so they were designed into the Badge. He gave me a nice smile and nodded. One of the many highlights of my year as Master.