Colin Dobson collected war veteran Sam Langford from his home in Didcot at 1.00 pm in his taxi on Tuesday for a complimentary return trip to a ceremony at Oxford Town Hall where Mr Langford would receive his D-Day medal, the Legion d’honneur. At 4pm Colin drove him back home.

In between these trips Colin had a school run and picked up two eleven year old boys for a thirty minute ride from school to their homes. They lowered the windows and shouted abuse at physically disabled people. They also screamed homophobic insults at people walking along the footpath who looked a bit different from these two boys.

Colin was caught in the nasty little web these kids had spun.

“It was thoroughly unpleasant, as bad as a Saturday night on the clubbing scene. They used foul language relentlessly with a barrage of every swear word you can imagine. They threw things out of the window. I asked them not to do that, but they ignored me. I couldn’t stop it.”

Tuesday may have been a memorable day of victory for the D-Day soldier who emerged from a boat on Juno Beach all those years ago, but for the local warrior on the home front at the moment in his taxi it was a disaster sandwiched in between the memorable bits.

What is the life of an Oxfordshire taxi driver really like?

Colin Dobson works sixty to ninety hours per week driving his Abingdon based taxi. “The experience of working a night shift and driving during the day is completely different.

“Since the nightclub, Stratton, closed almost four years ago in central Abingdon violence is not so prevalent. The nightclub was near the taxi rank and one night I saw a man and his wife arguing as they came out of the club at 1.30 am. He grabbed her short blonde hair, pulled her to the ground and began to smash her head on the pavement. There was no police intervention in this act of violence.

“Back in 2013 a squaddie from the Dalton Barracks kicked in a window of a house on Ock Street and I could see a father sitting behind the window cradling his baby.

“Hodsons estate agents located next to the taxi rank get their windows kicked in regularly and it’s a listed building with old, tiny windows. Every Friday and Saturday night there is violence.

“I’ve been physically attacked. One man jumped out of the passenger side without paying and then opened the front door where I keep a bag with my laptop and other valuables in the spare seat. He grabbed that and sprinted off in the parking lot of the Pack Horse Pub near Harwell at 2am. I gave chase and grabbed the bag. He bashed me on the head several times, but I held on till he finally ran away.”

Now when a passenger comes into Colin’s taxi he turns around and looks them in the face to establish eye contact and to be able to identify them later for any police investigation.

He also hides money in various parts of the car so if someone tries to rob him they won’t get all his takings. This kind of robbery happens about twice a year.

He told me: “People run off without paying about five or six times a year.”

Colin isn’t confrontational about that and just lets them go. But he’s adopted a different strategy. Now if a passenger wants to go from Abingdon to Wantage in the middle of the night and this would be a £23 fare, Colin asks for payment upfront.

Some people use taxis to do drug deals. Colin told me: “If someone rings at 3am with a return trip to Oxford, that’s probably a drug deal. I have taken people to a phone box. They make a call and shortly someone on a bike arrives. You don’t know what they are doing because they don’t do it openly, but there is an unspoken understanding.”

Taxis can also be a sex scene.

“When I collect two people from a pub who are drunk and have lost their inhibitions, they continue their pub behaviour on the way home. A taxi feels to them like a private place, even though it is public transport.”

Sleepers can also be a problem. Some people fall asleep in moving vehicles like babies. Colin gives them short shrift: “They take up a lot of time, usually do not pay and go on long journeys. So I keep the car temperature low to stop people falling asleep, even though I have to wear a hat, gloves and an extra jumper.

“I picked up a squaddie who wanted to go to the Dalton Barracks but fell asleep in the taxi. When we arrived the guards didn’t recognise him. We woke him up. He didn’t have any money and asked me to take him back to Abingdon to the HSBC bank cashpoint which was inside the lobby of the bank. He fell asleep on the floor. It was a nightmare.

“I’ve been driving a taxi for seven years, seeing violence and antisocial behaviour night after night, and it’s soul destroying, not life enhancing.

“The daytime taxi life is different. You quite often have the elderly and disabled who see the taxi service as a lifeline. I feel like I’m doing something positive and useful for them.”