This is an archived column first published prior to Gerry Anderson's death in 2014
Dublin is one of the few remaining cities in the world where taxi drivers live up to passenger expectations. For example, the traditionally garrulous New York cabbie is now completely extinct, replaced by surly drivers of swarthy mien and no more than a nodding acquaintance with the English language.
The gabby Brooklyn cabbie of the movies, who will colourfully spout forthright views on everything from the price of fish to the likelihood of the discovery of life on other planets no longer exists.
A traveller is wise to know the whereabouts of his destination before he sets foot in a New York cab these days – the Sri Lankan cabbie certainly won't have a clue.
Nor do many cheery, cheeky Cockneys seem to make their living in the hackney business any more either. London taxi drivers generally turn out to be silent, defeated types, not much given to casual talk.
Even when the passenger does discern a faint batsqueak of conversation from the vicinity of the driver, he (the passenger) must scream a reply at the top of his lungs to penetrate the glass and steel screen that renders him a prisoner in the back seat.
And I bitterly resent not being allowed to leave the vehicle until the driver decides to let me out.
Belfast's cabbies are generally fine and try hard to be friendly but I often hear evidence of a strange, black, Northern Irish humour which we Northern Irelanders can readily appreciate but which often leaves the foreigner gobsmacked.
Such as the case reported to me of the English visitor just off a plane at Belfast International Airport who boarded a cab and was surprised when told of the remoteness of the airport from the city centre.
"Why did they build the airport all the way out here?" he asked the driver.
"Because this is where the planes come in," replied the cheesed-off cabbie. End of conversation.
I hailed two taxis in Dublin last week. The first driver told me about his recent unpleasant encounter with a prominent Northern Ireland showbusiness personality.
Much as I would take great pleasure in revealing this personality's name, my hands are understandably tied.
The well-known Northern Ireland showbusiness personality had (as court reports in the Derry Journal used to say) a number of bottles in him. He sat in the front passenger seat and immediately started to shout abuse into his mobile phone.
As is not altogether unknown in Dublin on a Saturday night, a drunk unaccountably lurched into the path of the speeding vehicle, forcing the cabbie to take swift and evasive action. The suddenness of this manoeuvre caused the mobile phone to fly from the hand of the well-known Northern Ireland showbusiness personality, causing him much displeasure which he expressed in colourful language directed at the driver.
The cabbie countered with equally colourful language and physically threw the Northern Ireland showbusiness personality out of the cab into the uncompromising night.
Having myself had some experience with this well-known Northern Ireland showbusiness personality, I heartily congratulated the driver.
My other Dublin cabbie told me about Joe Dolan and his wife's knickers. Apparently the cabbie had splashed out one St Valentine's Day on some very expensive French silk lingerie for his spouse.
Two nights later, wearing the aforementioned fancy underwear, the spouse attended a Joe Dolan concert, during which, like many of her kind, she, in a moment of madness, threw her knickers onto the stage at the heavily perspiring Joe.
Finding the same Joe Dolan in the back of his cab recently, the driver related this sorry tale.
I'm sure Joe Dolan raised an eyebrow when the cabbie told him how much money had been invested in the exotic lingerie.
And I'm sure Joe Dolan was surprised when the cabbie seriously asked if – under the circumstances – he could have his wife's knickers back.
What use would the knickers be to Joe anyway and surely he doesn't just throw them all away, does he?
He told me that Joe obliged him with a hefty tip.
Well done lad, thought I.Visit our anniversary hub where we celebrate 150 years of the Belfast Telegraph
Belfast Telegraph at 150
A Dublin-based Sunday newspaper recently ran an interview with ex-X-Files star Gillian Anderson in which she was merrily plugging her new filmed-in-Belfast movie The Mighty Celt.
Belfast Telegraph at 150
As you read this, men and women all over Northern Ireland may have already done things that would normally result in their immediate arrest. Throughout our beleaguered province men dressed as women are having their heads shaved for money as a prelude to donning blonde wigs and badgering innocent people in the street.
Belfast Telegraph at 150
Yesterday’s tragic death of George Best is a sad reminder of the inevitable consequences of a troubled free will. George never made excuses about his drinking, nor did he blame anybody else. He just couldn't stop drinking and admitted as much — a non-recovering alcoholic.