|Call Sign likes to cover as many taxi related topics as
possible. Some are amusing, some topical and some serious. Derek Chandlers (A38)
interview is all three. I make no apologies for deliberately picking Derek out for just
one reason: He is black. Some of you may be distressed that anyone should be selected
purely because of his colour but I hope that the majority will want to hear Derek speaking
of his experiences as a black person driving a London taxi. Not speaking about prejudice
doesnt make it vanish. I wanted to know how much, if any, Derek has faced. I would
also like to make it clear that Derek was aware from the onset why he had been
Call Sign: Firstly Derek, can you give me some personal details.
Derek Chandler: Well, Im married to Geertrude Anolda Van Der Berg, who we call Tiny to save our teeth overworking! We have two grown-up children Michelle and Anthony. Michelle and her husband run a staff finding agency and Anthony works for them. Michelle has two sons - Anton and Louie - which makes my wife and I very young grandparents Okay, if you are going to be pedantic, youngish! I met Tiny when she came over from her native Holland to learn English for the company she worked for, KLM Dutch Airlines.
CS: How long have you been driving a cab?
DC: I passed out in 1970. Four months ago and for the first time in those 28 years, I lost my badge so I trotted of to the PCO to report it. Lo and behold, after I gave my badge number to the receptionist, she came back and presented me with my own badge that had been handed in by someone. Unfortunately, a heavy lorry must have driven over it because it came back crumpled! I laughed and waited for the new replacement. But they wont replace badges if the number is still visible and I now have to wear the crumpled one. So any autograph hunters following this interview, will not have too much trouble finding a black driver with a badge that looks
|as though he had tried to eat it! But the
first person to ask me if it is a new type of cannibalism is asking for trouble!
CS: And DAC?
DC: I have been on Dial a Cab for 18 years. To be perfectly honest, I wouldnt have had a clue until the plc proposals came around giving me my starting date. I found it hard to believe that I had been here so long, but having been around during the years at Shirland Road as well as Brunswick Place, I suppose its right. I must have started with DAC when I was about three years old - approximately! I remember the Shirland Road days so well. In fact I still have the job sheets from our time there. Do you remember when we had to phone the office to clear dockets that we had done that week?
CS: Sorry Derek, Im much younger than you. I only just about remember last week !
Have you had any other jobs before driving a cab?
DC: I started as a mechanic but that didnt last too long as I was never too keen on the grease! Then I worked for a company that produced Christmas Crackers. I used to travel around organising the gifts that went inside - and in those days they were much better quality than they are now.
CS: I thought Santa made those
DC: Yes, well we helped Santa at Christmas but for the other 364 days we did it using our own initiatives! Then I was a Chauffeur for one of the directors of Burberrys wives. As we were always told at the time, Harold Wilson used to wear one of their macs. I enjoyed working for Mr *****s wife, but they used to have a strange living arrangement. Whoever it was they lived with, it certainly wasnt each other! The only time they were really together was each summer when I used to take them to Lake Lugano for ten weeks. They let me use an apartment near their mansion so that my wife could also come with. Even then he used to vanish, suddenly phoning at the weekend for me to pick him up at the airport!
CS: Were you born here?
DC: Yes, as was my mother while my father was born in Jamaica. My
At the recent AGM allowing his hair to regain it's own colour.
early days were spent in Camden Town at my
grandmothers flat. After marrying Tiny, we bought our own place in Bounds Green
before moving to our current house in Palmers Green when Anthony came along. Weve
been there ever since.
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