Oxford

Twitter adventures of Abingdon taxi driver Colin

The Abingdon Taxi
Image caption Colin's tweets describe eccentric characters and dramatic night shifts

How do you behave when you're in the back of a taxi?

Colin drives a licensed hackney carriage and is also a private hire driver in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. In his passengers he sees the best and worst in people. What's more, he tweets about it.

"There are no 'no go' areas," he said. "I'd find a way of describing most of the situations that go on because they're endlessly fascinating."

However, Colin remains largely anonymous to his Twitter followers. From his comments they can deduce that he is a Christian and he likes quoting Shakespeare.

Colin is also 45 and hails from Oxford. His tales paint a picture of a world the rest of us only ever glimpse.

It is one of "arguing couples", "drunken squaddies", and taxi conversations that cover every subject under the sun (and moon).

'Quite outrageous'

"The stories he tells about the people in the back of his taxi are fascinating to read" said BBC presenter Phil Gayle, one of a growing throng of followers that includes several journalists and politicians.

"It's interesting how people carry on - their behaviour would no doubt be very different if they knew it was being tweeted."

This is most evident on Colin's early morning weekend shifts.

"On Friday and Saturday nights there's this time at one o'clock when the quality of the customers and their behaviour really deteriorates considerably," he explained.

"People by that time have consumed a fair amount of alcohol and the sensible people will have gone home during the mini-rush after the pubs close.

"During the day they are nice sensible middle-class people who once they get a drink inside them will do things that are quite outrageous.

"Let's just say no dog has ever had an accident in my taxi but humans have."

'Hilarious characters'

Colin's narrative features a whole cast of regulars, with pseudonyms to protect their identities.

These eccentrics are given monikers such as Cheap as Chips Charlie, Jabber, Rather Large Dave, The Red Baron, Grumpy Sid, Grey Mercedes, Chuckle Brother, and The Professor.

Grey Mercedes in particular comes across like some kind of nemesis to Colin, a seemingly bad driver with even worse manners.

"I don't use people's real names or give out addresses or personal information" Colin said.

Image caption Colin works long hours for six days a week in Abingdon and Oxford

"Most of the time I should think people wouldn't even recognise themselves.

"There's a much more subtle way of going about things."

Of course, as @theabingdontaxi's popularity increases, so do the chances of his anonymity being shattered.

Abingdon resident Nathan Allsworth, from the band Grudle Bay, has been following Colin's tweets since the early days.

He said: "One day we randomly booked a taxi to a gig. We started talking to the driver about this taxi tweeter and how interesting it was to read about our hometown and the hilarious characters within.

"He then turned around and said 'that's me' and the odds alone floored us."

But for the moment Colin retains his air of mystery.

So the next time you're in a taxi you may want to think about just how your conduct would look to the rest of the world.

Colin said: "I can't stand rudeness, people who are not courteous and take for granted the situation they're in.

"It's my living, I don't do it for fun, I do it six days a week for long hours.

"It just seems to me that the community of taxi drivers are grossly taken advantage of by whole swathes of society."

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