What special qualities does one need to be a taxi driver? I imagine that if a Sheffield taxi firm had to draw up a list of commandments for new drivers, it would read something like this...
1. In residential streets when picking up fares or dropping off, make sure you block the centre of the road to inconvenience other drivers as much as possible. It is especially important to ignore any available parking spaces as using them would allow free flow of traffic.
2. If you need to turn around, always do a U-turn in the middle of the street. If other drivers honk you or screech their brakes, simply ignore such petulant reactions. Never do what non-taxi drivers do - find a quiet street and back into a driveway to turn around causing as little inconvenience to other road users as possible. That would make you a laughing stock at the taxi rank.
3. If at a side junction and you need to turn into the main street, just do it. No need to look. If by chance another car smashes into you then it would clearly be the other driver's fault.
4. When someone orders a taxi, make sure you arrive at least ten minutes after the appointed time. Try a range of excuses including "The traffic was busy", "This street isn't on my satnav" and "Control said twenty five to, not half past".
5. Practise suitable facial expressions when your customer is asked to pay the fare. Whatever sum of money is placed in your palm, look at it as if inspecting rodent poo and pause with an expression that says: "Well where's the god-dam tip you freaking miser!"
6. When queuing at Sheffield railway station for fares, ensure that you make every effort to prevent private cars from entering the station drop-off and pick-up zone. For example, pull up next to a friend's cab for a chat about racing pigeons or the political situation in Korea. If the hindered driver blows his horn or politely asks you to clear the road, simply take out a copy of "The Guardian" and begin the cryptic crossword.
7. When transporting a stranger to the city to their desired location, do not forget the importance of taking a circuitous detour which will allow the visitor to see some of the least visited parts of the city such as The Manor and Fox Hill Estates.
8. If you feel like conversing with a passenger sitting in the back, make sure you have pre-prepared a range of banal comments and questions which should be directed to the cab's front windscreen in order to muffle audibility in the rear. If the passenger says "Pardon?" or "Excuse me?" you should repeat your remark with an even greater degree of mumbling.
9. When driving your taxi around town, feel free to use your mobile phone both for making and receiving calls in transit. As a taxi driver you are a professional driver and therefore normal rules of the road do not apply to you. At traffic lights it is good to text any unnecessary messages and then proceed just before the light changes back to red, leaving non-taxi drivers fuming behind you.
10. Make as much money as you can and when banknotes are handed to you, never offer change immediately. Wait until the passenger demands change and part with it slowly and with great reluctance spluttering, "I've got a wife and four kids to support."