Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Telling Tales: "Give Them a Wee Shuffle and They Won't Forget the Journey," Said Edinburgh's Strangest Taxi Driver

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Telling Tales: "Give Them a Wee Shuffle and They Won't Forget the Journey," Said Edinburgh's Strangest Taxi Driver

Article excerpt

A few years ago, a friend stumbled out of an Edinburgh pub in the wee hours of the morning.

Confronted with the prospect of a trek across the dark slopes of Arthur's Seat, he and his drinking pals instead hailed a black cab. When they climbed in, the driver sat in the front, as usual, and revved the engine. But then a puppet appeared over his shoulder and greeted them in a hoarse voice. "From the moment we entered the cab to the moment we got out, we didn't stop laughing," my friend remembers.

This story might sound like it was found at the bottom of a pint glass, but he was not alone. Extraordinary reports began to circulate online, and each was unique. One fare (as passengers are known in taxi slang) was encouraged to shout: "Gie's a tune, driver," at which point the cabbie produced a harmonica. Another likened his experience to watching a stand-up show.

One thing all the stories had in common was the cabbie's name. A video clip posted online by a Taiwanese tourist shows the driver turn up the music, switch on flashing lights, play maracas and brandish a rubber skull.

"I'm kind of famous in Edinburgh," he says as he drops them off. "You can tell everyone in Taiwan you've been in The Shuffler's taxi."

After hearing these stories, I, too, hoped to hail The Shuffler's cab. But it never happened. Instead, I ended up with one gruff, grey driver after another. On my last visit to Edinburgh, I asked my cabbie about The Shuffler.

"Oh aye, Kenny," he said. …

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