Barry Ivens, who has been driving London’s iconic black taxi cabs for a quarter of a century, has never experienced anything like the past tumultuous year in the British capital. As waves of coronavirus swept the country and lockdowns wrought havoc on his industry, the 53-year-old said the financial and mental anguish had “taken its toll”.
“It’s been really hard,” Ivens told AFP from behind the wheel, as he plied the still-quiet streets of central London looking for customers. He has relied on everything from repayment holidays on his mortgage and cab to government financial support schemes, and feels lucky to be alive given COVID-19 has caused nearly 128,000 deaths in Britain.
However, Ivens – one of 15 members of Black Taxi Tour London, a collective offering bespoke guided tours alongside regular rides – has also sorely missed the social side of his work.
“You’re almost a showman for London,” he said. “You miss that all the time, so your mental health...read more...