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Mark Solomon has driven a black cab in London for 13 years. If you take a ride in his taxi, he won’t just be asking you for the fare, but for your favourite quote as well! Mark records the quotes in his blog, www.blackcabquotes.com and has published a book called Black Cab Wisdom. We talked to Mark to find out more about the project.
Why did you start collecting the quotes?
I’ve always enjoyed hearing and reading inspirational quotes and phrases. In September 2009, I picked up a worldly-wise North American passenger, and for some reason I had an overwhelming urge to ask him for the best bit of advice he’d ever been given. It was a time when I had a need for purpose and direction, as well as reassurance that I was making the most of my time in the cab.
Do you ask someone for a quote at the start or end of the journey?
I’ve developed a verbal pitch to encourage passengers to share quotes (and excuse them if it’s not their thing). I normally ask them at the beginning of the journey in order for them to have time to think of something. At the beginning, I was documenting these on bits of scrap paper. I then introduced a clipboard, which I placed on the back seat with a sheet of blank A4 paper and Biro attached.
Are most people happy to provide quotes?
Ninety-five percent of my passengers provide quotes – the other five percent are either on the phone or smooching! Most are surprised and excited that such a project exists, and all seem to be honoured to participate. It was the passengers’ support at the beginning of the project that ensured its continuation. The passengers also gave me the belief that the concept would make a great book.
What are your favourite quotes?
“A moment’s action is worth more than a year of thought.” I’m a good ideas man but not the greatest implementer, so this one boots me up the backside!
“What other people think of you is none of your business.” Most of us at some time or another have lost sleep over what other people think of us but this quote can eradicate any inferiority issues.
“Don’t raise your voice improve your argument.” We could all do with practising this one a bit more!
“Don’t mistake existing for living.” Hmmm, this one is definitely food for thought…
How has the project changed your life?
The project has completely changed my life. I’d dreamt of one day writing a book, but never thought it would come in this form. The project makes me feel like a purposeful cab driver, and creates a harmonious vibe between driver and passenger. It has completely spiced up the job. The words of wisdom I have received from my passengers now play a big part in the way I live my life.
Why did you decide to start a blog? How did the project turn into a blog and then a book?
Once I started asking for quotes, the passengers began to direct the whole project! They told me I should start a blog so people could follow the project’s progress. I’m the type of person who needs to produce and share creativity, so the blog was a perfect way to do this.
It was also the passengers who suggested that I turn the project into a book and convinced me that it would be a successful one. Passengers with journalistic or publishing knowledge gave me advice on how to put a book proposal together. I then found out about the London Book Fair, where I met a publisher from Summersdale, who specialise in this type of book.
Fortunately for me, they liked my proposal.