Reserved, diffident and insouciant – three words that sum up the emotionphobic Brit. This national stereotype has long diverged from the rest of the sentimental continent, leaving us with a reputation of still having that infamous stiff upper lip… until the Olympics. For two whole months, the world watched as we turned into a collectively teary nation letting all our emotions hang out. However, euphoria over, it seems that we have once again ensconced ourselves comfortably into anti-emotion. According to an ICM survey, 70% of Londoners will apologise for someone bumping into them. Moreover, 74% of Londoners still believe that, in spite of London 2012, Britain is a reserved nation.
Greentomatocars, the London mini cab firm who commissioned the survey, wanted to understand how their customers like to travel – whether, for example, they prefer silence or chitchat with their driver. Over a third of Londoners (39%) have taken a journey where they didn’t want the driver to talk and 40% said they felt obliged to join in conversation rather than saying that they wanted to travel in silence. On top of this, only 10% of Londoners will ask for silence, if that is their preference, at the beginning of a journey.
Greentomatocars wanted to improve these statistics, and so have introduced, albeit on a trial basis, a Talk/Don’t Talk button. On entry, the customer can state their preference to immediately indicate their level of loquaciousness, hopefully surpassing the social awkwardness of an unwanted chinwag. As the right to silence is pre-acknowledged, the likeliness of offending the driver is dramatically reduced and so no one should feel bad flicking this switch. Phew. However, we can’t help feel that this is merely just sweeping our emotional inadequacies under a thinning carpet. Matthew Bremner
To book a talking (or a silent) cab, visit greentomatocars.com.