The next time you're stuck in a black cab ensnarled in traffic on the North Circular, the rain sluicing through the cracked window onto your chinos, and the cabbie turns to you with a wry grin and cracks a line about how great the weather is in San Diego this time of year, be wary: this effusive endorsement of all things Americana may not be as innocent as it seems.
US outfit Taxi Promotions UK, responsible for the vehicle-length ads splashed across cabs in London, is hiring cab drivers to act as word-of-mouth ambassadors. Capitalising on the "captive audience", plus the typical cabbies' tendency to run his mouth given half an opportunity, the outfit has whisked drivers out to far-flung destinations across the States, wined and dined them, before plonking them back on the streets of London where they can deliver the "spiel at the wheel" to all and sundry.
But what if you don't fancy being subjected to a screed about the sights of Seattle while you're on the way to a business lunch? Government regulators are fussing about whether a passenger's right to peace and quiet has been "impinged". Hmm. Peace and quiet you say? Londonist is gathering that these regulators aren't regular users of London's streets, where screeching traffic and hollering motorists are the norm.
A Public Carriage Office spokesperson has acknowledged that, as yet, not a single complaint has been reserved. Could it be that we're happy to have America sold to us, where (lest we forget) the pound currently enjoys a bruising dominance over the dollar? We think you should take your cabbie's advice and nip over to the States for a shopping spree quick-sharp, before this fog of stock market uncertainty engulfs us all.
Pic from masochismtango's Flickrstream