Retired taxi driver, now teaches The Knowledge to new taxi drivers
Favourite thing: Pub measures, Taxi Trade Credit Union model taxi
My great aunt’s family had a public house in Glasgow on the corner of Gallowgate and Bellfield Street, just across Bellfield Street and the Gallowgate, the other side, there was a street called Soho Street.
These are the liquid measurements that they used to use before the days of the optic. It’s a quarter gill measure and what they did is, they poured the gill and they poured that, that was a quarter gill and then into a glass. Then, when you wanted to cheat, you put an old ha’penny in there. The halfpenny used to sit in there perfectly and it took up that wee bit of space. So they thought they were getting a quarter gill but they weren’t getting a quarter gill: they were getting a nearly quarter gill. The ha’penny worth mounted up over the years.
I think they’re made of pewter. They’re made in Birmingham.
“My father was a bit of a hard man and the Gallowgate was a hard place”
These actually were in use in the public house. My father worked there. He was a drayman by trade but he was a bit of a hard man and the Gallowgate was a hard place so he used to go in at the weekends and work the bar, just make sure there was no trouble in the place. So he used these. And my sister in her young days worked part-time to help him out. She used them. And unknown to me then, my wife’s grandfather stayed in Soho Street and he used to use Molly McCann’s pub, which was the name of the pub. So he would use these. I end up meeting my wife and that’s got a family connection on both sides.
I was made executor of my aunt’s will. And these were left the house. So I said, I’ll have them, because I knew there was a bit of history you know and that they’d been there a long time and they’re things that you don’t see nowadays.
“I could be dying of thirst and I couldn’t drink a lager to save my life”
I’ve never been a drinker. I don’t drink. At all. I never have.
All my family, you know my sisters, like any other one, they’ll have a wee drink if they’re out with others. But, aye, I don’t drink at all, never have. I never got the taste of it. I never found one that I could say I really liked, you know. Give me a cup of tea or a can of Coke as opposed to any kind of liqueur or beer. I mean I could be dying of thirst and I couldn’t drink lager to save my life, I really couldn’t. The taste does not agree with me at all.
“I’ve been teaching drivers The Knowledge for over 20 years now”
How long have you been a taxi driver?
Tommy: Well I’m retired now but I started early 70s, 72 maybe. I was doing the taxi school while I was driving. Years ago this used to be, it’s now one — the Glasgow Taxi — but it used to be 4 different radio systems in the city. That was before amalgamation.
I was quite well known to the committee at the time, with one thing and another, and they were looking for somebody to do the taxi school to teach drivers The Knowledge and my name popped up. I’ve been involved, it’s been over 20 years now, nearly. So I was actually still driving a taxi and doing this as well. But I’ve been retired from driving a taxi about, maybe 8 years now.
We’ve been operating the Credit Union since 1980. In essence it’s a co-operative bank.
“As soon as you say, I’m going to spend that, the taxi will lie down on you”
You know, in the taxi trade, no matter how well it’s going, you always need money. Because you never can say. “I’m going to spend that” because as soon as you do that, the taxi will lie down on you. This is a fact, I’ve experienced it for years. And this, as far as I’m concerned — I know I’m biased — is something which all taxi drivers, and people should be involved in. You save whatever you can every week, and depending on funds available, policy etc, you can borrow x amount, pay it over a given time.
“In the Credit Union, you borrow £200, you’ve still got £500”
As I keep telling people, the difference with banks — if you’ve got £500 in the bank and you go in to take £200 out, you’re left with £300. If you’ve got £500 in the Credit Union and you borrow £200, you’ve still got £500. You pay back your £200. And the interest is always, it’s like 12% a year, 1% a month, over a year. You just keep doing that and it keeps going on. You still have your shares and you can keep adding to them.
We have a taxi branch, and taxi drivers and family connected to them can join it. And you know, as I say, a lot of people, they know roughly what their income tax will be. They know it’s going to be twice a year, so they save. And they borrow to pay their tax at New Year and then in the summer. And they just keep paying in. So they’re actually paying weekly. It’s too easy to when you’re self-employed, you’re likely to forget. You think “I’ll put money away for it next week”.
If the taxi needs something done to it, it’s got to come first because that’s what feeds you, you know.