Despite a few years of global turmoil, both financially and more worryingly, our National Security, London is still without doubt a city we can be proud of. It is still a capital city that other countries aspire to be like, whether in sport, fashion, finance, commerce, entertainment, nightlife or a number of other subjects.
I would wager that whatever corner of our globe that you may be in, mention London to somebody and the image of a Black Cab and the Queens Guards may well spring to their mind.
I am very fortunate but more importantly very proud, to have belonged to both of these ancient, world famous icons.
Sunday was our National Remembrance Day, and our London Taxis and Guards Regiments were proudly on display, cheek by jowl, for all of the world to see.
I saw our Poppy Cabs lined up in military precision, snaking the whole length of Westminster Bridge and beyond. It brought a lump to my throat, and it dawned on me how traitorous and negligent Transport For London have been, in the appalling disrespect that they have showed our great trade.
Whilst on the subject, Mike Hughes is a very modest gentleman and colleague. The way he has led the Poppy Cab service for our military veterans, is testament to what our iconic profession represents. Naturally, Mike relies on the many like minded, willing colleagues from our trade to assist him, and our trade being what it is, he always hits his target.
The logistics of this massive brief shouldn't be underestimated, and I know that it takes up a lot of Mike's working year. Mike is a giant of a man in both his physical stature and his heart. He has assisted me personally in some of my most precarious and worrying times and it is to the advantage of both our London Taxi Trade and The British Legion, that Mike Hughes is the colleague and man that he is.
Witnessing the cabs and their fantastic, generous drivers yesterday, who willingly gave a day's wages to assist our military, not only choked me up, but gave me an immense pain of anger towards TFL and Mayor Johnson. If I was London Mayor, I would be incredibly proud of the London Black Cab and their drivers, but that lot of shysters don't appear to share my sentiments.
It hasn't been a good year for our trade. But yet, in spite of this treatment and mutiny, The London Taxi Trade continue to give generously and freely to many deserving and valid charities.
Not long ago, a convoy of almost 100 London Taxis left Canary Wharf taking almost 200 seriously and terminally ill children on the long haul from London to Paris Disneyland.
Once again, almost 100 of our proud trade men and women giving up most of their week's earnings, for such a worthy and once in a lifetime holiday for dangerously ill kids. Not just once, mind you, but every year !
Can you imagine the Goldman Sachs backed Uber doing anything like this ?
Course you couldn't !
The thing is, I'm not naïve, I'm not wet behind the ears and I know that things change and things move on. Of course I do. I accept that. But surely, they should only move on for the good, the better , or to improve ? Not just for the sake of it.
I would like to ask anyone at TFL or even the blond fellow himself if, hand on heart, any of them HONESTLY think that flooding our great city with untrained Uber drivers and their cars instead of our 400 year old platinum, professional service................is moving forward ?
Is it HONESTLY progress ? Is it HONESTLY for the better ?
Look at the form that Uber have got already. Death by dangerous driving, rape, sexual assault, violence, abuse, incompetence, etc, etc, etc etc.
Is that really good world reputation for our great City ?
Does Johnson HONESTLY go home to his wife and say that he is well proud of what Uber is doing for our Capital ? Does EVERYTHING have to be about cheap ?
Does it all have to be about who can do the job for the cheapest price possible ?
We are becoming a nation of cheap skates !
Don't get me wrong, I love a good deal and love the pound shops too.
Only last week I was pleased with my pack of 20 AAA batteries for £1. I got home, put three of them in my head torch and they lasted 32 minutes !
Cheap ? You bet ! Any good ? Not worth a rub ! Back to Duracell. You get what you pay for ! I took a chance and paid the price, but what I didn't do is go back crying that I had been shafted ! I had no one to blame but my greedy and stupid self ! I should have known better.
Where will it end ?
Will a firm of foreign nationals with dubious background checks undercut the price paid in salaries to the Queens Guard ?
I am no financial whizz kid. But surely our tourist industry and image is very important to London's economy ?
The London Black Cab is at the heart of it !
We are part of the history and image of London !
And yet, TFL and the Mayor treat us with contempt and continual disrespect and would put their hands together if we disappeared altogether.
Why the prejudice ?
Why the contempt ?
Why do they regard us so low and worthless ?
What concerns me though, is that we are getting used to this shoddy treatment. We actually expect it now. It shouldn't be like this, should it ?
Our trade appear to be limping along despite the abuse and traitors who have hung us out to dry. I don't know of what will become of us in the end. If it were left to me I would give TFL such a reminder of what and who are trade are, that shit or bust, they would never forget it ! However, it is not my call, and our ultimate survival is in the hands of our trade Orgs. I don't say that sarcastically either, as I know only too well how apathetic we are as a trade.
Whoever we are members of, trade Orgs require support and commitment. And that comes from a person who belongs to neither ! However, I don't mind who calls the action, if I think it will assist our longevity, I will do everything to support it.
I have personally achieved much in life that I am immensely proud of. Completing the Knowledge of London and gaining my Green Badge was certainly one of them. Normally, I take TFL's appalling prejudice against our trade on the chin, and just deal with it. But witnessing the incredible gesture of goodwill and respect to our military from Mike Hughes, his team and the Poppy Cab Drivers, mixed in with the raw emotions I always feel at the Cenotaph, left me in a state of frustrated anger. Anger at how we have been regarded by a limp wristed bunch of civil servants and anger at how our great 400 year legacy, has been given away to a third world rabble of unqualified dross.
Our future is unsteady right now, but one thing is for sure. If anything happens to our great trade, there will be many wonderful, deserving charities, sick and under privileged children, war veterans and many others, who will greatly miss the generous and proud goodwill of our London Cab Drivers.
On the other hand, maybe Uber could just step straight into our shoes, and do the deeds that we do, couldn't they ? In their dreams, maybe.
Transport For London and Johnson deserve the monster they are creating. The problem is though, unless we present them with some robust challenge, for us it will be too late.
Walking around Soho late on Saturday night with some old army mates, neither of them from London, I felt embarrassed.
A city centre China Town looking more like Calcutta than our once fantastic London. And the establishment had the affront to describe Paul Raymond as "sleazy" ! Personally, I would rather witness the odd pair of naked breasts or a pert ladies bum protruding from a Soho doorway than the chants of "Taxi, Taxi" or being mowed down from a coked up Rickshaw driver ! Paul Raymond wouldn't recognise his old patch in the mere eight years he has been dead. It has become a bandit town.
I am convinced that the hidden agenda to eradicate us is in full swing within the TFL sewerage . Even with their suspect win in the courts for their fake meter, Uber or TFL or Johnson were unable to diminish our hearts and professional pride to continue serving London and the world's travelling public, just the way we always have done.
And if there were ever any doubt as to whether we are deflated or fighting, then one could look no further than Mike Hughes's fantastic Poppy Cab Battalion on Westminster Bridge yesterday, or The Magnificent Mayfair Mob taking our night ranks back by force !
On the ropes we may very well be, but I awoke this morning as proud of my Green Badge, as I ever have been!