National Geographic : 2000 Jun
Albert Mmori Kensington and Chelsea ' llD" DID IIU Palc Houses of Parliament Westminster Tate Britain• City of Westminster/ East End 4 BRICK S--LANE Spitalfields Tower Hamlets t V 4p ELMINGTON -ROAD Peckham Lewisham Lewisham Wandsworth "" 0mi 1 0km 1 SOURCE: GREATERLONONN Lambeth AUTHORITY(LONDONRESEARCHCENTRE NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC MAPS Brixton ethnic cleansing and racial hatred. Londoners are moving in the opposite direction, making their city the world's greatest cosmopolis. F OR JOHN SHEPHERD, a cabbie who has been threading his way through Lon don's streets for the past 30 years, keep ing pace with all this is no small task. "To do the Knowledge now is taking up to three years," he said, recalling the exam that London cab drivers have to take before they can get their license, as we swept over Waterloo Bridge on our way to Peckham in south Lon don, where he was born. "I left school at 15 and started work in the old Covent Garden flower market." A short, well-built man with a domed, balding head, blue-gray eyes, a close mustache, and a razor-sharp wit, John is one of those ar chetypal Londoners who seem to have stepped straight out of Mary Poppins or EastEnders. "An old cabbie once said to me, 'John, my Soho Camden New or renovated project New rail transit line Neighborhood or area Borough son, if you learn one thing a day while you're doing this job, by the end of your life' "-he paused meaningfully as a gray plaque marking the onetime home of Charlie Chaplin flashed by-" 'your 'ead will be full of rubbish.'" We pulled up outside a two-story house on Elmington Road. "See the different colored brick?" said John, pointing up at the wall. "That's where it was hit with a German bomb." From Brunswick Park, along the street, we could hear the sound of children playing. "I did the Knowledge in the afternoons while work ing at the flower market. In those days you had what was called the Blue Book, which had all the different runs in it. You would get a map, and you would study the route, with all the backstreets, and write them down. Then you would go out on your bike and follow the route. The hardest to remember were all the little alleyways and backstreets. We used to call them 'rat runs.' " He paused. "You can't use NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, JUNE 2000 Notting Hill Kensinl Garden SKensir Palace ;at GREATER LONDO AUOITY~S~H S\ Brunswick Park TAE . _ NA ** '