Derek O'Reilly is about as close as you can get to a bonafide Black Cab Celebrity. A true Londoner born in Hackney at the Old Mothers Hospital and resident of Islington for over 20 years he recently transplanted to Wapping. Not only has he been Training Manager at the Knowledge Point School for over 10 years overseeing the training material and plans for aspirant cab drivers starting the Knowledge but he's a media starlet too. With 24 interviews for international television in the bag, he was more than qualified to be the Knowledge Master in ITV's celebrity cab driving challenge series "Call me a Cabbie" and was a dapper quiz master for the London Transport Museum's Black Cab themed quiz nite back in August. That's where we shook hands with the man himself and slipped in a few questions.
Why did you want to be a cabbie?
For the independence and freedom to work for myself whenever I wanted to.
How long did you take to pass the Knowledge
2 years and 4 months in 1994.
Is there any part of London you don't feel confident navigating around
Not really, if you work all areas on a regular basis you retain your knowledge. I still drive a taxi for a few hours a week here and there to keep my hand in and to keep my knowledge of London fresh.
Who's the most memorable person/people you've had in the back of your cab?
Sir Dennis Healey and his wife. She realised en route there was nothing in the fridge for dinner and asked me to stop at Marks & Spencer.
Give us one fact or bit of trivia about London's cabbies that few people know
There is no retirement age you can work until you are 101 if you wish and pass annual medicals.
We've heard it said that one can sometimes manage to hall an off duty cab whose driver is heading home for the night by yelling EAST! at them. Is this a worthwhile tactic or is it a load of old nonsense?
Load of old nonsense.
Why do you do it? Is it for the driving the meeting people, or maybe it's because your a Londoner and you love London Town...
I do love London very much but also need the money!
What do you do to unwind?
I like to visit historical pubs, good restaurants and of course Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
No never, once on British Rail years ago I think it was the cheese and tomato sandwich.
Find our more about the Knowledge Point School by visiting their website or signing up for an open day. We're going along shortly... watch this space.