Think of this as my whingeing Twitter page
Just some random thoughts and observations
When I have a ‘For Crying Out Loud’ moment I will add this to the Diary page. Most entries will be just that, and not worthy as a post, but enough for the need to get it off my chest, and hopefully it will annoy you as much as me after you’ve read it. At times it might even make you smile at the absurdity of human nature.
1st January 2014 I have written previously about ‘How to Hail a Cab’, but upon embarking upon your journey there are certain rules of etiquette it might be wise to adopt.
The beginning of the year is known as The Kipper Season for reasons that have been lost in the mists of time. Traditionally it is one of the quietest times in London for the cab trade, so with a frustrating time trying to earn living cabbies can tend to be, shall we say, a little tetchy.
Yes I know the inside of a cab is spacious, but seeing a passenger moving from seat to seat is extremely distracting when negotiating heavy traffic or travelling down a motorway.
McDonald’s go to extraordinary lengths to protect their corporate colours – they are red and yellow in case you haven’t noticed – a cab is black they shouldn’t be confused. Eat in McD’s not in a cab.
It is said the perfect dinner guest avoids religion and politics when engaging in conversion. This is the polar opposite to the perfect punter in a London cab. The merest hint on either of these subjects could unleash a torrent of polemic from the guy up front – discuss at your peril.
One of the greatest inventions towards the end of the last century was the mobile phone. It’s not a novelty anymore. Don’t use it while trying to instruct the cabbie as to your destination or making payment.
And speaking of tendering payment, wait until the vehicle has stopped before thrusting the readies through the partition.
1st November 2013 Had my favourite punter in the cab, close to completing a 25-minute journey, while thrusting his i-phone at me, proclaims that I’ve “taken the wrong way”. I patiently point out that he is holding the map upside down and if I had taken his route we would be drowning in the Serpentine by now. The conversation ended at that point.
28th October 2013 Tesco the ubiquitous retailer has its shops in almost every location. Take the one in Covent Garden it has because its loading bay in a road so small I defy most cabbies to be able to locate New Row. To stock their store Tesco despatch an articulated lorry the size of a small house, its driver just about managing to manoeuvre his vehicle into the tight space. If that wasn’t enough the geniuses in charge of logistics send their lorry at the height of the evening’s theatre going public arriving, so the driver has to contend with negotiating the vehicle as hundreds of people try to squeeze past and then try vainly to get into Strand past dozens of parked cars.
24th October 2013 After re-opening Farringdon Road to vehicles after 6 months, so concerned were they that traffic would start to flow again, they have changed the sequence on the Blackfriars Bridge southbound lights to remain green for only 12 seconds.
26th August 2013 Boris is planning to impose a 20mph limit on all of London’s residential streets, despite average speeds in the Capital hardly above Victorian horse drawn vehicles. The speed limit is already in place on 19 per cent of London’s roads and supporters claim major benefits in road safety and improvement on the quality of life. Islington became the first London borough to impose a 20mph limit on all the roads that it controls and Camden are consulting residents on the same policy. If adopted by all of London’s boroughs it will mean 95 per cent of the Capital’s roads will have this restriction imposed upon them.
Driving in Islington now has become tedious at best and painful should one have a back condition. The council’s road calming measures in the form of ‘sleeping policemen’ are ineffective as many large cars just straddle the obstruction.
However, my observation is that those drivers most willing to get up to higher speeds quickest are usually found to be the ones that need to rely upon their brakes most. Hence turning most of that kinetic energy into heat and ultimately hot air!
I feel the only way to realistically keep speeds down to that magical 17 mph (as odometers are inaccurate at slow speeds), would be to remove all speed humps and invest in a network of average speed cameras, as their installation seems the only measure to work motorists adhere to the speed limit.
21st July 2013 It’s twenty minutes past midnight and just when you think you’ve seen every possible stupid trick a cyclist can make one comes along and leaves you agog. I’m joining Piccadilly from Bolton Street and a cyclist jumps the lights heading towards Hyde Park Corner. But unlike most of the kamikaze light jumpers he has his mate sitting on the handlebars. Without lights – naturally – he peddles furiously around one of the world’s busiest intersections, wobbling as his 12 stone passenger is preventing him move the handlebars effectively.
18th July 2013 Had a punter in the cab today who said that the labyrinth of one way streets in Pimlico was a security construct for MPs who live in the area. According to him they were afraid that the IRA could easily exit the area if they had targeted someone. So a group of highly motivated individuals who are prepared to murder a Member of Parliament to further their cause would scrupulously adhere to the Highway Code. A likely story, but it at least answers why so many call girls and mistresses reside in Dolphin Square a stone’s throw away even today.
14th June 2013 Some dozy twat of who goes under the grand name of the junior Lib Dem Business Minister has seriously suggested that all verbal undertakings offered by tradesmen to their customers should be enforceable by law and to that end the customer should record this on their mobile phone as evidence. It means that if Ms Jo Swinson’s proposal makes it to the Statute Book I could be prosecuted if I tell a punter “Hop in, Guv, I’ll get you to the airport in 30 minutes”, and the Westway is jammed solid.
16th April 2013 What’s the chances? Twice this week I’ve had a job right out to Richmond. Went to the same expensive road both times, they lived 6 doors away from each other.
18th February 2013 Boris does come up with some great wheezes. His latest is that within 6 years all commercial vehicles entering London during the working day (whatever that means) should be emission free. Considering the only ‘emission free’ vehicle is electric, does he expect all cabs to be replaced with a vehicle which cannot travel over 80 miles a day? A vehicle which is still on the drawing board? And every existing cab will be replaced by its owner – making his old cab worthless – with one costing £60,000? Boris remove your head from up your backside and look at reality.
8th December 2012 Went to fish and chip shop today. Old lady standing by counter eating her lunch. Did she need the company or just the warmth of the shop?
30th November 2012 I’ve just seen a man riding a customised bike up Tottenham Court Road with two children on board, one in front of the handlebars the other as a pillion passenger, none wearing head protection, and no rear lights in the dark.
16th November 2012 Today I saw 10 coppers at Admiralty Arch engaged in preventing crime by pulling over cyclists jumping the red lights.
9th November 2012 Conversation overheard of woman on phone while on the way to Royal Hospital: “My friend got so drunk that she fell down the stairs and they think she has broken her neck”. Oh dear, these youngsters.
7th November 2012 In Oxford Street they only have the Christmas decorations up, featuring that well-known seasonal ingredient – Marmite!!
6th November 2012 I had resolved to stop writing up my diary, and then some irascible old trout gets into the back. It’s 6 o’clock in the evening and she asks “Baker Street”, now if somebody says “London Bridge” I don’t drop them off half way across the River, I naturally assume they want the station. So after she has watched me head for Baker Street Station she waits until I stop outside the station to tell me she wants the Sherlock Holmes Hotel and then accuses me of being “A wrong’un”.
27th February 2012 Occasionally, just occasionally a rather strange series of events play out in a working day. My first job was to pick up actor Ralph Fiennes and take him to an editing suite in Soho. Within yards from dropping him off I was hailed by a guy in a wheelchair. As I was lowering the ramp he told me, and you’ll just have to suspend disbelief here, he had just been asked by a beggar for £15. Whatever happen to “Got any spare change Gov’nr?” Half an hour later , in the back of the cab, I found a camera case with a digital camera memory card within, but no camera. I inserted the card into my own camera that I always carry for the blog. Returning to the rather swish restaurant where my fare was dining I proffered my phone showing the punters image to the Maître’d and got him to scour the darkened restaurant. Errant punter found I returned to my cab with a self satisfied smug look and little else.
4th February 2012 A very satisfying moment, at the front of a long queue of freezing people at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge are four snobby women with a dusting of snow on their expensive coats and each carrying a half full Champagne flute. “No sorry”, perplexed expressions all round on their cold faces. “No drinking”. Couple behind jump gratefully into cab – made my day!
14th January 2012 I don’t think a day has gone by since the Romans arrived that Bishopsgate has been free of roadworks.
12th January 2012 At the front of the rank at King’s Cross, 3,000 yellow hire lights in line behind me, punter asks “are you available?”. Sigh!!!
10th January 2012 When you want West Central Street you don’t wait until you get to Clerkenwell before telling the driver that you have mumbled “West”Central Street.
8th January 2012 Walked through the Blakemore Hotel’s foyer as water started pouring from the ceiling the manager was booking a minicab at the time poetic justice
6th January 2012 Beware shoppers in Covent Garden in mass suicide pact – jaywalkers
4th January 2012 Large police presence outside Foot Locker in Oxford Street. What are they expecting déjà vu?
2nd January 2012 Just noticed that the Meridien Hotel’s rank is so far from the hotel’s entrance it might just as well be situated on Hyde Park Corner.
15th December 2011 Passed a new development on North Woolwich Road today; it offers “Peace and Tranquillity”. City Airport is next door, 4-land road outside and the Docklands Light Railway runs overhead. Peace Man.
14th December 2011 A man knocked on our front door today. It was a Churglar. A chugger who call at your home. I’m a reformed offender can you . . . No. Thanks.
13th December 2011 Central St. Giles development at the end of Oxford Street looks like it’s been designed in Lego by primary schoolchildren, not by a world class architect.
12th December 2011 Admiralty Arch for sale, could be the opportunity for McDonalds to create its most prestigious drive thro’ outlet, its shape a perfect M.
10th December 2011 Christmas shopping in full swing and what do we get? Demonstrators from Congo reducing Parliament Square and shutting off half the West End causing gridlock. What has this to do with us?
6th December 2011 Is it me? Why do people thrust the money through the small aperture of the partition with any small change wrapped in a banknote? The consequence of this action is that the coins drop unto the floor, lost forever in the driver’s compartment.
22nd November 2011 Went into my local Lloyds Bank today; redecorated and now with surround sound, a continuous broadcast of their television adverts. So the last bastion of quiet on the high street has gone.
10th November 2011 I would have liked to make the excuse for not writing much in the Diary this past month as being the result that I haven’t much to moan about. Unfortunately most of my spare time has been taken up trying to get my head around my shiny new
i-phone. What is it with these geniuses in Silicon Valley, can’t they make anything simple? You need to have a Masters in Computing to just import your address book let alone sending an e-mail.
5th November 2011 I was on Downing Street’s Petition website today and was surprised to find that there wasn’t a petition to ban rickshaws. You would have thought that our Association would have taken it upon them to propose one, 24,000 drivers with their families and friends should manage the required 100,000 needed to make the Government sit up and listen.
12th October 2011 Called off the Langham Hotel rank (a 5 star no less) to be asked by the doorman if I could take his Japanese guest to a red light district “Soho is your best bet” I say in my best Mandarin, and show him a telephone box in said district with its ubiquitous adverts. Not understanding how girls have become hi-tech in offering their services he wanders off into the night.
11th October 2011 Went past the Apple Store on Regent Street today, and apples and candles are being left outside in memory of Steve Jobs – iSad.
10th October 2011 I read today that Big Ben is starting to lean. Underground excavations have allowed it to lean 0.26 degrees from the vertical in 400 years it will look like the Leaning Tower of Piza. That should help the tourist industry.
8th October 2011 Here is a turn up for the books, an Aussie man gets in the cab wearing a drop earring and sporting a rather nice shade of egg-shell blue nail varnish. And what is more he gave me a tip. What is the world coming to?
6th October 2011 Had a “Lady of the Night” asking for £1.50 today, strange amount for begging or is that the going rate in these days?
16th September 2011 I see TfL is running newspaper adverts warning Londoners of disruption during the 2012 Olympics; flexible working, working from home are advised and err . . . stockpiling food. What is this the siege of Leningrad?
24th August 2011 Earlier this year, when Barack Obama visited London, the police closed off half a dozen streets in Mayfair and brought the entire area to a virtual standstill. The restrictions proposed for the Olympics will bring far worse problems over a much larger area. If TfL and the Olympic bodies cannot come up with concessions for the taxi trade, they will likely find the public’s only real alternative to the overstretched Underground system vanishing from the streets. Sitting in traffic all day is one thing, having an irate passenger scream that there must be another route when you know there isn’t is another.
22nd August 2011 The news recently that the No. 10 Petition site is to be improved with the added incentive that if 100,000 signatures are recorded our MPs might debate the motion, could work to London cabbies advantage. It’s an open secret that the biggest complaint that we have is the continued tolerance by TfL of rickshaws on London’s streets, and if my passengers are anything to go by, many Londoners as well. Surely it can’t be hard for us to raise the required number of signatures; 24,000 licensed cab drivers, their spouses, friends, partners and pets, it might just might, force MPs to address the banning of these death traps.
12th August 2011 London is inundated with police from every force in Britain 16,000 of them after the riots (Sorry! Protests over the Government cuts) earlier in the weekS. In Upper Street, Islington they were gazing at a Foxtons, probably they haven’t seen an estate agent with a monster flat plasma screen, 1960s psychedelic chairs and a bar before;. Also saw in the West End constables from the north of England being asked directions, they had no idea where Trafalgar Square was let alone a theatre.
8th August 2011 I was in Hackney today having a coffee when a riot broke out in the High Street. Women running away pushing prams, shop windows broken, people not able to work. What on earth are the police playing at? Law and order as the rest of society understands it has broken down, only politicians and senior police officers believe that our society in London is normal.
1st August 2011 After what seems like a year the cobbles have finally been laid in Maiden Lane. The slowest builders in the world have even been featured on numerous articles about their incompetence.
20th July 2011 When I was a lad we had a local road sweeper by the name of Charlie, he had developed breathing problems, probably as a result of the war, and preferred to work out doors. Armed with just trolley containing his bins and brushes he kept the neighbourhood clean. Now today my local street cleaners have arrived, after an absence of many months, not for them one man and his barrow, one drives the lorry, the second holds the bin while the third has a broom. Could that be the reason why I pay over £1,500 Council Tax?
8th July 2011 St. James’s Street has recently been made 2-way, but for some traffic still moves in only one direction. One was a Mercedes travelling towards me, a standoff ensured with each of us not wanting to back up. Eventually Mr. Mercedes took the pragmatic view and relented.
7th July 2011 Tonight I was hailed as I drove through Eaton Square and shown a picture of a car park taken on an i-phone. Do I know where we have parked our car? The usual question and answer game ensured whereupon we were all agreed that it was under Kingston House opposite Hyde Park and we were proved right.
5th July 2011 I read recently that Harrods and Selfridges have opened their Christmas departments,
four months before December. Even more bizarrely there’re opened early for Muslims who shop frantically in the days before Ramadan. You couldn’t make it up.
1st July 2011 In Preston in an attempt to reduce their expenditure councillors have insisted that taxi drivers who struggle to understand English will no longer be given the help of a taxpayer-funded interpreter to save money. Hackney and private hire drivers currently get help with translation at town hall meetings, such as when they are applying for a licence. The service has been used several times since 2008 but licensing chiefs are considering scrapping the service to save cash. Cabbies who can’t speak English you couldn’t make it up.
24th June 2011 Advert seen on the back of a coach: Downton Abbey £36; only problem it doesn’t exist! I suppose they will be taken to Highclere Castle, no Hugh Bonneville here just some Egyptian galleries.
16th June 2011 Talking to a passenger she told me of the time she was in labour sitting in the back of a cab on-route to hospital, fearing her waters would break, and in agony every time the cab went over a road hump.
14th June 2011 A major fire in Aldwych closed up Waterloo Bridge, Stand, and all approaches all day, so what do the TfL management (being paid £500per day) do, they then close up Blackfriars underpass, so nothing moved all night, gridlock at midnight.
11th June 2011 If the traffic wasn’t bad enough in London, today we had a group protesting about rape, 1,000 nude cyclists cruising around the West End and Trooping the Colour, great – gridlock.
3rd June 2011 “Haitfield House, Sowth Wawlk” was the instruction when he got into the cab, and continued his conversation with a colleague about futures, options and takeovers with an accent of Received English which would have made Brian Sewell sound like Del Boy. South Walk? “I’m not sure where Hatfield House is”, I ask. My passenger informs me that it might be Stamford Street. “Oh! Southwark”, with a silent w.
26th May 2011 Lots of traffic as there often is in London after heavy rain. Trying to join a major road the brand new red Ferrari next to me has stuck his shiny nose into the bike lane. Lycra Man on his bike spits on his bonnet as he passes – only in London eh?
20th May 2011 I saw today a cab with an imitation pirate ship’s prow and stern, I suppose it’s an advert for Pirates of the Caribbean Part IV. Dear God, what will they think of next?
19th May 2011 Our most precious things in life are our children, so why do the eco warriors in London persist on transporting them on their bikes? Today, I saw one which had a plastic cradle attached to the handlebars with a 3-year-old perched on top.
16th May 2011 I found a Blackberry in the back of the cab today, its screen helpfully informed me of its owner’s name and a number to be phoned to return the device. Ringing it the Blackberry sprung into life. Yes, the contact number given was the mislaid phone’s number.
27th April 2011 I have read today that the Olympic Delivery Team have given Camden Council £145,000 to re-phase a set of light; install two no left turns; and lengthen a pedestrian island by 10 foot. The site is 10 miles from the Olympic Park and is designed to hinder people travelling to and from St. Pancras Station by cab. The station of course connects with the Javelin Train to Stratford Station and the Olympic Park. One wonders if that much is spent on a set of traffic lights just how much has been wasted in the stadia’s construction.
16th April 2011 I had a member of the pro-AV team in the cab, he naturally asked what way I would vote in the referendum. I asked would the vote be conducted under AV or First Past the Post rules. Looking surprised he replied “under First Past the Post rules of course”. QED.
10th April 2011 I read that residents of Nice have a new energy-efficient option for getting to work. Nice has become the first city to have a rental scheme using electric cars. More than 200 cars are available to 70 docking stations for a rate of €8 an hour. Just don’t tell Boris.
23rd March 2011 A recent article in the Evening News stated that all spectators will be issued with one day travel cards when they buy a ticket to the 2012 Games, so bang goes any chance of many jobs to and from the Olympic Village for cabbies. We all know about the Olympic Lanes that cabs enter into at their peril, but have you heard about the advertising restrictions? Strict rules mean only Olympic sponsors, known as partners, can advertise within 300 metres of a Games venue. Such is the anxiety to prevent “ambush” marketing by non-sponsors that an Act of Parliament is set to enforce the ban; perversely an exception is made for the Barclays-sponsored “Boris” bikes that will be allowed within 300 metres, despite the bank not being an official sponsor. The ban will mean that ANY cab displaying advertising other than for Olympic sponsors will not be allowed to drop off or pick up at any Games venue, not only will cabs with super sides and full livery advertising be prevented from plying for hire it will of course prohibit those radio taxis carrying the ComCab/Dial-A-Cab and other roundels advertising their radio circuit.
17th March 2011 Nothing exercises MPs minds more than themselves. Take how they are voted into their privileged Commons seats. Soon they will try to elicit your vote on the AV Referendum. Most of us don’t really understand just how it works so here is CabbieBlog’s suggestion: Ask them will the Referendum be conducted under AV rules or first past the post? If it’s first past the post – why?
14th March 2011 The indignity of being kicked out of a Thistle hotel recently has been exercising my brain. “The toilets are only for guests” I was told. So where to find a Goldilocks Hotel: Not too posh (no scruffy cabbies allowed); not too cheap (no toilets in the foyer); but just right. In central London the opportunities are fast disappearing, soon I’ll be forced into McDonald’s.
5th March 2011 Spotted this sign: Notice to Cabdrivers. Any Cabman skylarking or otherwise misconducting himself while on the Managing Committee’s premises or Smoking whilst his Cab is standing alongside the Platform will be required to leave the Station immediately. By order.
24th February 2011 In the 17th century the most popular leisure activity was to go to Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens and Lambeth Council has taken it upon them to spend a small fortune recapturing the former glory of the park. Now after installing two black concrete pillars and a granite path they want to fell two ancient mulberry trees. These 70ft trees are the same species that King Charles II planted in an effort to kick start London’s silk industry. Questioned why these trees should be removed the Lambeth Council’s response was:
“The mulberry trees have red berries that will stain the new granite sets which will therefore require additional cleaning to maintain the newly paved surface.” Council bosses are worried that the mulberry trees will not just stain the pavement, but that the roots from the trees will affect the wiring of the illuminated pillars. It also said if the trees were kept it would have to re-design the entrance and spend more cash, adding: “The entranceway design was finalised and is committed to a contract. If the trees were to remain, the entranceway would require redesign work which would delay the project by an estimate of two weeks, and cost an additional £1,500 – £2,000.”
It would be a strange paradox that they should be felled as part of a plan to beautify the entrance to the gardens and I think a more proper response would be to work with nature.
23rd January 2011 An age of austerity is what we have been promised and it’s going to be tough, so we must all pull together for we are all in one Big Society. But have you noticed that those who complain loudest about the current Hard Times are not the ones currently experiencing it?
18th February 2011 Why does the paying public’s stupidity always surprise me? “The Korean Cultural Centre 123 Strand please.” We get to Strand drive its full length then she tells me it is 1-3 Strand and according to her GPS phone the building is on the corner of Northumberland Avenue and Trafalgar Square. She doesn’t want to pay for the cruising up and down Strand, and then asks for a receipt. No chance, my receipt machine doesn’t do discounts!
17th February 2011 Went past One New Change that ugly shopping centre built opposite St. Paul’s. And look protruding out of the roof is an alien robot, very in keeping with this heritage site. Just how do they get planning permission to build these ghastly buildings?
15th February 2011 How is this for progress? We once had our milk delivered, you picked up the bottle from your doorstep, pressed down the foil top and there was your morning’s milk. Now it is a trip to the supermarket, multiple choice of milks – full cream whole milk semi skimmed, skimmed, 1 per cent fat milk, organic milk, milk from Jersey and Guernsey cows, flavoured varieties, pasteurised, sterilised, Ultra heat treated, evaporated, condensed, untreated, filtered, dried milk powder and homogenised – we then have to carry the weighty stuff home. The heavy container with its contents of 1.136 litres has a tight fitting screw top, and then the seal below has a pull tab which never works and you have to use a knife to pair it open.
5th February 2011 It’s got to be the most pointless street-scaping in the Capital; Pall Mall is now a dual carriageway. Not only will the central reservation encourage pedestrians to stop using the zebra crossings, when drivers reach the western end many find themselves on the wrong side of the central reservation, they then have to cut across traffic to turn either left or right.
3rd February 2011 Today the fate of one of London’s last surviving medieval streets will be decided. Hanway Street connecting Oxford Street with Tottenham Court Road with its narrow curving streetscape has against all the odds survived and is worth seeking out for its unique intimacy and charm. But these qualities could be lost if that purveyor of cheap tack gets its way for Primark needs space for . . . a loading bay!
2nd February 2011 I heard today that Westminster Council parking enforcement is operated from Warrington. Could it be possible that they fear retribution so much they have to locate themselves 160 miles from London?
29th January 2011 I must be getting old and mellowed for very little has annoyed me this month. But today at the South Kensington junction I saw an uncontrolled King Charles spaniel puppy, its owner was so incapable of giving the dog basic training it nearly got run over.
26th January 2011 The cab trade in which the punter starts using the service without the means to pay must be unique; for who would say to a plumber I haven’t any money as he commences the work? Then after requesting we find cash point (they never want to pay by card in a cab) blame us for our inability to find one, or worse still decide they don’t like the cash point we stop outside.
21st January 2011 I read an interesting item regarding the fuel rises of late. Someone with more time on his hands that is really healthy, he came up with these interesting figures. Being the same age as me he started driving in 1965 and according to his calculations, the national average wage was £700 a year or around £13 a week (I was on £5 per week, but no mind), and I was paying four shilling (20p) for a gallon of petrol. That meant I could buy a total of 67.5 gallons with my salary. The national average pay today is £22,000 a year or £423 a week and the average price of petrol is £5.81 a gallon, so I could now buy 73.15 gallons of fuel with a week’s wages. As a percentage of my earnings, I’m paying less for petrol than I was 46 years ago. So why do I get angry over the cost of motoring or is it that as a cabbie I’m buying over £120 of the stuff a week?
18th January 2011 I’m not usually a lover of modern buildings but the latest skyscraper emerging from London Bridge looks to be a stunner. While critics of the Shard of Glass are worried by its impact on St. Paul’s they should reflect that when Wren’s cathedral was proposed there was huge opposition to his baroque design. St Paul’s was considered out of place in Protestant England, but built it was, and London is the better for it. The Shard may not be its architectural equivalent but its skilful design, using angled glazing, reflects the sky to onlookers and thus minimises the impact the building has on its surroundings. We live in perhaps the greatest capital in the world, which has long had the role of a driver of global trade and finance. To subordinate that purpose for the sake of protecting a view is not in this city’s historic spirit. I love St. Paul’s but I love London more.
31st December 2010 Another year over and I suppose a New Year’s Resolution needs
to be made – and kept. So for next year I’ve chosen one that I can keep: To paraphrase
P. J. O’Rourke: In an election: don’t vote for them; it only encourages the Bastards. After being lied to by my Conservative Member for Parliament, I’m going to spoil my voting paper in future.
30th December 2010 In the new version of Upstairs, Downstairs, the “Belgravia” porticos of Eaton Place aren’t the real thing; they’re filmed in Clarendon Square, Leamington Spa. Westminster Council have allowed too much traffic, parking and street furniture in present-day Belgravia. Luckily the architect responsible for the terraced Eaton Square townhouses – P.F. Robinson – built identical properties in elegant Leamington – Thanks Westminster.
22nd December 2010 The world-famous zebra crossing outside Abbey Road Studios, immortalised by The Beatles’ Abbey Road album, has been given Grade II listing, now we are going to have even more jaywalkers crossing in front of my cab having their pictures taken. Those wishing to be photographed just like the Fab Four would be disappointed to learn that Westminster Council moved the original one several yards south from its original site, and replaced all its components, and so no original features remain.
20th December 2010 No one does chaos and queues quite as well as the English, in fact in 2012 we should make it an Olympic sport, and we would get gold. All we need is several inches of snow and low temperatures and we can show Johnny Foreigner a thing or two about how not to handle a crisis. I was at St. Pancras station yesterday and in freezing conditions some 6,000 people snaked back along the Euston Road past the British Library and back again, it was claimed you had to wait up to eight hours to catch a train, and get abuse from a yellow jacketed official into the bargain.
30th November 2010 New York has now been officially confirmed as having the slowest-moving traffic in America. On a positive note, road fatalities in the city are apparently at an all-time low, presumably because no vehicle now goes fast enough to cause any damage. Given the shocking way London has also been grinding inexorably to a halt under the guiding eye of our cycling mayor, Boris Johnson, perhaps this is his secret game plan too – saving lives by making all cars go three miles an hour.
24th November 2010 Here we go again, the great unwashed are “demonstrating” against the removal of student grants. It’s a shame the rest of us were prevented working in London, preventing us paying more tax to fund them to sit around university for three years scratching their collective bums. And why are the tutors thee, surely they should lose a days’ pay; we’re paying them to teach NOT protest.
22nd November 2010 A nautical adventure today. I’m outside the Howard Hotel and a guy with lots of heavy photographic equipment wants to be taken just quarter of a mile up the Victoria Embankment to a ship. I help him carry said equipment on board and he tells me a previous cabbie, a woman at that, when asked to do the job told him to f**k off. It’s good to see courtesy is still alive in our trade.
12th November 2010 I had a cold call from an energy company today, endeavouring to get me to switch suppliers. I asked the man if when I had switched away from my supplier he could arrange that I could pay more so I could help save the planet. After five minutes of animated discussion he said that I was wasting HIS time and rang off – do call again British Gas.
10th November 2010 How long should it take to pay by card? I’ve just spent 45 minutes, first the three proffered cards were rejected, and then the cash point wouldn’t cough up. He was eventually bailed out by his girlfriend.
9th November 2010 Today I was given directions by photo. “Can you take me to this car park?” Brandishing his i-phone – thanks Steve Jobs.
5th November 2010 They say that like attracts like, I’ve just had a couple in the cab, he with the affected plumy tones of Brian Sewell, while his companion, an American lady, sounded like an extra from Gone with the Wind.
4th November 2010 Reading in my trade journal today of a man walking down the taxi rank until he came to an old fashioned Fairway cab. Apparently after 20 years of development the seats in current models (TX1, TX2, TX4 and Mercedes) are less comfortable. Only with the manufacture of cabs could you achieve that.
21nd October 2010 In just about every other European city tourists have to pay to visit museums and art galleries while local citizens are admitted free. So why not here? The Tate, National Gallery and the British Museum, free to British subjects, £10 to tourists. Let’s face it they queue up to pay for rubbish like Madam Tussauds; they can well pay for decent exhibitions. We’re skint, remember.
21st October 2010 Yesterday we had George Osborne spelling out the cuts he is making to local government budgets, today I can disclose I’ve made a £60 contribution to Camden Council’s shortfall in the guise of a Fixed Penalty Notice.
12th October 2010 Stopped and asked by a pedestrian for the location of a bus stop, what am I a roving tourist office? He told me he wanted Tenison Way, I did not know it, “That’s worrying” exclaimed my enquirer. I looked it up later, Tenison Way SE1 is a bus lay-by and nothing else!
1st October 2010 Absolutely pouring with rain today, so what do I get? I get an idiot crossing the road in front of me with a cardboard box over his head; he hadn’t even cut out some eyeholes so he could see me bearing down upon him.
29th September 2010 Three years in the making, the Mother of All Traffic Jams, local side roads blighted with cars and God alone knows how much money; the Gants Hill roundabout is nearly finished. And do you know what, as I predicted, apart from traffic lights and a few plants it doesn’t look any different nor does it benefit and motorist nor pedestrian any better than when they started.
28th September 2010 Future London buses could be made from cola and beer cans I read at the weekend. “Bicycle clips” Boris is working on introducing to the capital’s streets a futuristic light-weight high-tech hybrid version of the classic Routemaster made of aluminium. Expensive to make but cheap to recycle (Boris like anything to do with cycle) 150,000 aluminium cans are needed for each vehicle. It has been suggested the Mayor’s office gets the capital’s schoolchildren to collect cans to build Boris’s new fleet of eco-buses. You heard it here first.
27th September 2010 Two men get into the cab, one stating the destination in poor English, they then proceed to snog. On arrival at the place I thought they asked for they inform me that I have misheard their request. I ask them why they didn’t tell me we were going five miles in the wrong direction, to which I get the reply “I haven’t seen my boyfriend for a week and was greeting him”. I should add here they were over 40 years old, just grow up lads.
3rd September 2010 Today started with seeing Boris Johnson racing down our high street with all his lackies and local Tory councillors in hot pursuit; you can always tell when elections are on the horizon. I should have asked him why the Government is hell bent on destroying the Royal Mail. Having missed a package delivery from a well-known courier company I was obliged to wait 45minutes listening to musak just to tell them I would pick up my parcel at their depot, on arrival it took another 40 minutes for them to locate my delivery. How knowing I was going to pick it up, wouldn’t you think it would be put to one side? It makes the Post Office look the model of efficiency.
29th August 2010 Why do we put up with this Carnival every year? Notting Hill boarded up and residents barricading themselves in, they tell me they have do it to stop people urinating in their front gardens, or breaking into their homes.
28th August 2010 Remind me not to get too excited if I get another Heathrow this year. Arrived at Terminal 4 and passenger wouldn’t pay the full fare, not much I could do once we have arrived.
24th August 2010 I swear my passengers are becoming more stupid. Today I’m asked to stop at a cash point, my fare gets back into the cab and we proceed down the road; after two minutes I’m asked “can you go back to the cash point, I’ve left the money hanging out of the machine, and it might be still there”. Needless to say it wasn’t.
15th August 2010 The BBC in their modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes moved 221b Baker Street to North Gower Street. Well done BBC, the real modern Baker Street is a horrible, faceless mix of glum Thirties architecture and shiny, pointless office boxes. What residential space there is tends to be noisy and dusty. By contrast, the very slightly grimy street they use in the series, North Gower Street behind Euston Station has the sort of striking early 19th century architecture of which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and certainly Homes’s landlady Mrs Hudson, would have approved. It added atmosphere to an already enjoyable atmospheric series.
11th August 2010 I read today that a penthouse at One Hyde Park has recently been sold for £140 million, a world record price. Personally I can’t wait for them to finish the development so that traffic can flow past this builder’s site again after three years of 24 hour traffic jams.
6th August 2010 How do they get away with it? Under the Disability Discrimination Act exemption has to be given to owners of assistance dogs, allowing the animal into private premises which is open to the public. But here in Regency Place while Westminster Council are zealously booking any cabbie who stops to use the public toilet and parks on a yellow line for nanosecond, here at this rag bag corner shop is a notice declaring illegally, presumably on religious grounds, STRICTLY NO DOGS ALLOWED.
3rd August 2010 So the right to travel in a priority lane at the Olympics will be extended way beyond athletes and officials to thousands of sponsors and “VIPs” who could perfectly well plan their journeys to events to allow more time. Has the cost of these arrangements to London business been included in the Games organisers’ calculations? And no, cabs aren’t allowed in the proposed lanes.
1st August 2010 So London could switch off its speed cameras, before they do can some reliable research be undertaken on the likely effect. Since the police stopped patrolling the roads, I suspect the cameras have been the last thing between us and anarchy, as selfish, aggressive driving becomes the norm, with much of it drug-influenced.
31st July 2010 The strangest sight crossing London Bridge, at first a thought it was a small demonstration of about 25 men, but there were more police surrounding the demonstrators than protestors, then I realised that the group had been arrested and instead of being put into police vans, they simply corralled them up and walked them to the police station.
27th July 2010 It’s the balmy ideas season, first out of the gate has to be the suggestion that Oxford Street should have a two-speed pavement, slow on the inside and an outside lane for fast walkers. Pedestrians can’t be bothered to use the road correctly let alone keeping to the correct side of the pavement.
23rd July 2010 I’ve just heard that Selfridges are about to open their Christmas grotto. Dear God! It’s not even August yet.
21st July 2010 Transport for London, with considerable encouragement from Bicycle Clips Boris have certainly ensured that cyclists won’t lose their way. New Superhighway 7 seems to be embossed every few yards with a route number. Often, as on Southwark Bridge, there are 15 panels within a 100 yards stretch and how patriotic when you have a red route with a blue ribbon and a proliferation of white painted panels.
5th July 2010 So glad Boris is holding talks to raise £25 million for a Thames cable car. If only he could think about upgrading the Woolwich Ferry, it hasn’t been fully operational since the old King died.
3rd July 2010 What a great idea are the countdown timers on pedestrian crossings being trialled at some locations? It gives BMW drivers a heads up to when they should gun their engines to fly away from the lights.
1st July 2010 I’m really getting mad when I see parents carrying their little children in carts pulled or pushed along a main road by the adult’s bike, just to show everyone the green credentials of the parents. Don’t they realise how venerable they are?
23rd June 2010 BT is saying it will soon be able to provide us with broadband speeds of 100 megabits per second; I’m so looking forward to receiving my extra 99.
15th June 2010 Just received a parking ticket from Westminster Council; it seems that after overcoming a few legal and technical problems the council have installed almost blanket camera coverage, not to prevent crime you understand, but to provide a revenue stream from the hapless motorist.
12th June 2010 Just have come home from a long break in Dorset, can’t believe how many St. George’s flags have appeared on cars and houses. None in Dorset, does that not say something of Londoners?
25th May 2010 Transport for London Police are worried about a resurgence of “East European pick-pocketing gangs”? Look, these guys are merely doing the crime that British criminals are too lazy to do.
20th May 2010 More fallout as a result of Gordon Brown’s incompetent running of Britain’s economy. Due to authorities reining in on expenditure, Morris Singer Art Foundry which has cast public monuments for over 150 years has today gone bust. Its legacy includes: Two of Landseer’s lions in Trafalgar Square; the Figure of Justice atop the Old Bailey; and Boudicca opposite the Houses of Parliament. What other fall out will this outgoing bunch of chancers leave us?
14th May 2010 I read in the Evening Standard today that Westminster Council have spent £1.1 million on a parking enforcement contract bidding process, that has seen Westminster award the contract to a new firm, revoke the award, fight a law suit, and re-open the expensive tendering process for a second time. No why does that not surprise me?
12th May 2010 Further proof that the paying public are stupid, while pulling up at a fashionable Notting Hill diner, my passenger thrusts a £20 notes through the partition, as if I can take it from him while I’m trying to park the cab. Later that evening I’m asked “Do you know the temperature?” My reply “It’s cold”.
11th May 2010 It seems like a good idea at the time when Microsoft claimed I could upgrade my laptop in one hour to Windows 7. Here we are more than one week later still trying to get everything to work.
2nd May 2010 Some of the more curious of you might have looked into the Back of my Cab and read that I had Grayson Perry in there, an interesting encounter, as a transvestite, he was dressed as Alice in Wonderland. But some cabbies have all the luck, this guy Jon Horsley, had Damien Hirst in the back and Damien took a shine to him and drew this sketch for his boy. Like an idiot he’s only going to send it to auction, it will be worth a fortune in years to come.
28th April 2010 its amazing 26,000 cabbies in London and my two neighbours are on the Paddington rank with me. Mind you it’s not surprising, hardly any work out here.
22nd April 2010 Just come across a blog, described as ”part art project, part labour of love, part experiment, part mission to highlight how shit our roads are” the pothole gardener wants to brighten up a few peoples lives momentarily, and creating mini-gardens in pot holes is my means. He does this by planting out potholes, well if you can’t get rid of potholes, why not?
16th April 2010 It’s 8.30 at night and I witness a scooter being hit by a car in Roseberry Avenue. Both bike rider and pillion passenger get up and ride off without a backward glance. Obviously a stolen bike, pity they didn’t end up in hospital.
11th April 2010 Warmer weather has arrived and the girls are shedding their outer clothes and it would seem their brain cells. An air head sat in the back today singing to herself, then when we had travelled ⅓ mile she told me to stop, when she started paying me she changed her mind requiring me to go on to the original destination. When I told her the meter had been stopped she waltzed off in a huff.
22nd March 2010 I paid my rates today at the local bank. Gave them a £50 note, which turned out to be a forgery, great! Why don’t they punish counterfeiters more harshly?
20th March 2010 I heard of an app for i-phones today, it’s called Meter Down. Apparently it tells you if you’re being overcharged by your rickshaw driver in Mumbai, India. Using GPS and the time of day it calculates how much you should have been charged for your journey. Now that’s a good idea for London’s pedicabs.
9th March 2010 Don’t ever believe that radio signals are weak. Stopped 100 yards from Paddington Green Police Station today, then could not get the cab to start, the immobiliser wouldn’t work. The radio signals had knocked out the beam from my key fob and silly me I had forgotten my pin number override. Eventually found it and away we went.
12th February 2010 I’m often asked why don’t you cabbies like going South of the River. I had a perfect example today, upon dropping off in Herne Hill; a young man walked up to the lowered window and asked if I could give him change. When questioned he ran like Hell for he didn’t even have a note to change in his hand, just a scrap of paper.
26th January 2010 I’m sorry, but I have to moan about stupid punters again. If you had wanted to pay me through the glass partition, would you balance, yes balance, the notes and coins on the very narrow ledge which supports the glass? Some people have no common sense.
21st January 2010 “I must not ask stupid questions”. If that was his New Year’s resolution, the man who asked me where number 17 Queensbury Terrace has already broken his promise, for we were in Queensberry Terrace, as he stopped me to ask where exactly was number seventeen, as if I would know.
13th January 2010 Snow still bad and now the Government say that councils must reduce their use of salt by 25 per cent, stock are running low, there is talk of gritting lorries driving around with the spreaders turned off as they have no salt, but seeing them on the streets reassures the public.
11th January 2010 I have just been phoned by our trade newspaper to inform me that I’ve won a competition for a SatNav designed for London cabbies, I will report on its merits – watch this space.
22nd December, 2009 It’s good to see the roads are now safe enough for the police to venture out on, they are using a speed camera on a stretch of road under the Westway that pedestrians have no access, well it’s better than catching criminals.
21st December, 2009 Two inches of snow today (or should that be 5.2cm?) and every hill in London is impassable. Adverse weather conditions blamed, lets hope we don’t have a winter like 1963. Oh! Yes the police have not been allowed out of their stations apparently it’s too dangerous out there in the snow, scared of snowballs I suppose.
18th December, 2009 Occasionally small things can put a smile on my face, Gants Hill toilets has a certificate displayed proudly announcing the “Toilet Attendant of the Year”.
16th December, 2009 In a debate in the House of Lords, peers have expressed outrage at plans to review their expenses. Lord Palmer, was horrified by plans to cap hotel bills at £140 a night, which he said, “would force noblemen and women to take taxis to the outskirts of London; a scary experience” – Thanks your Lordship!
14th December, 2009 I’m really getting fed up with people wanting to eat in my cab. If that was not enough they invariably cannot locate their mouths and the food ends up lying on the back seat for the next passenger to find.
10th December, 2009 Blackwall Tunnel closed southbound tonight. No contraflow system in place. Gridlock in East and South-East London. Some people taking 5 hours to complete a half-hour journey. Some cars have been abandoned. Brilliant joined up thinking at TfL.
8th December, 2009 It’s that time of year, London full of drunks who use a cab once for Christmas. They tried to get in my cab by Admiralty Arch, even when I said I wasn’t working. Roll on January.
7th December 2009 Just noticed a new hotel has opened at the eastern end of Long Lane, called The Bermondsey Square Hotel; it’s located where London’s largest antique market used to be held. If the market is still held early Friday mornings nearby, will the guests like to be woken at four in the morning to stalls being erected and the smell of fried onions?
24th November 2009 Driving north up Drury Lane, a one-way street much favoured by cabbies, a police car was coming towards me in the opposite direction. No light or siren, he just couldn’t be bothered to go the long way round.
16th November 2009 I’m really getting fed up with all this drinking in the street. Someone dropped a bottle in the middle of Charing Cross Road, a cab drove over it and shrapnel cannoned across the road into everyone standing on the pavement. Luckily no one was hurt.
13th November 2009 Fridays in Bethnal Green. Waiting at a red light in Bethnal Green Road a man and two women emerge from a public house. Man knocks first woman to the ground and is attacked by the second, his punch misses its target. Good to see traditional Fridays in East London are being maintained.
12th November 2009 Some peoples’ honesty I find truly humbling. An elderly woman when alighting my cab at Waterloo station gives me £1.30 she has found on the back seat. Maybe there is hope for Mankind in London . . . just don’t hold your breath.
11th November 2009 In an attempt to prop up the ailing finances of the Olympics, I see they have installed a speed camera set to 30 mph on the six lane dual carriageway of the A12 which passes the Olympic site. No roadworks, just another money grabbing exercise.
10th November 2009 While stopped at the lights outside Borough Station a young man completely spaced out on drugs stands stopping the traffic. He then proceeds to lie backwards across my bonnet. Where are the police, inside the police station opposite of course?
2nd November 2009 I was hailed by two Australians last night. They opened the door and without getting in, then proceeded to talk to their friends who had just hailed an illegal minicab on a mobile phone. The conversation ensued about the price and having established the rogue cab was cheaper than me slammed the cab door without saying anything. What is it with these people from the Antipodes, have they no idea of manners or courtesy?
23rd October 2009 I had a family of Germans in the cab tonight. Dad wanted to know what is Foxtons? He was quite surprised when I told him they are just estate agents. He couldn’t work out why an estate agent would have a plasma screen and a bar at the entrance.
22nd October 2009 Three major roadworks tonight: Camden Town, Bloomsbury and Cromwell Road absolute chaos, with half of London gridlocked, and it will only get worst nearer 2012.
20th October 2009 Saw a blind woman tourist near Paddington with an old video camera around her neck. Bet those holiday shots will be great.
16th October 2009 I’m really getting fed up with the traffic jam at Scotch Corner. Its just because two rich brothers want to build apartments for, well the rich. Urban Legend now has it that the penthouses of said apartments are changing hands for, wait for it, £180 million.
14th October 2009 Out walking the dog today and saw a 4 inch long goldfish swimming happily in the River Rom. Might sell the story to Disney Studios they could call it . . . I know Finding Nemo. Who would put their goldfish into a river? At least there are no pike in the upper reaches of the Rom, but if he goes into the River Lea, goodbye Nemo.
2nd October 2009 Travelling through Gants Hill every day is getting very tedious, first they decide to “improve” the roundabout telling us it will be finished by next spring. Now, and I’m not joking, they have found an unknown wartime factory bang in the middle of the roundabout. It will have to be removed along with all the unused services attached and taking care not to damage the Central Line Underground running below. And the finish time? One and a half years’ at least.
19th September 2009 Had a job to Courtfield Gardens, it’s one of those locations in London that’s split into many different parts. We need number 22 and as I’m looking around for it, the idiot gives me the full postcode. What possible use is that, have I to memorise every postcode in London?
18th September 2009 Pick up two men the worst for wear, drop them off at King’s Cross. I give a receipt to be told that it’s blank. The idiot was looking on the back, I had to turn it over to reassure him there was printing on it. God I despair of them sometimes!
10th September 2009 Just have come back from Public Carriage Office demonstration. Can you believe it, they have allowed a convicted wife killer to sign on to start the Knowledge of London training scheme? The lunatics really have taken over the asylum.
25th August 2009 I didn’t look twice at a mini roundabout and a bloody van came swinging around from my right. Oh well will have to put my hands up to this one, first prang in 13 years which was my fault. Don’t these delivery drivers ever slowdown?
10th August 2009 As a frequent user of hotel toilets (thank you very much chaps), I’m getting perplexed at the devices used to save water. The taps have a sensor to turn them on and off, but for some of them you have to wave at the sensor and then get your hands under the flow before the water turns off as the sensor doesn’t scan the washing area. Thats progress?
7th August 2009 I’m sitting in the back of my cab, cup of tea in my hand, eating a sandwich and reading a book. Two American cretins ask me if I’m available, sure I always look for punters from the back of my cab.
31st July 2009 Some cyclists really do have a death wish. Southwark Bridge has two very substantial bike lanes, with what looks like anti tank traps between riders and motor vehicles, as a consequence the road is much narrowed for cars. Fair enough we can all get long just fine. So what do some of the idiots do? Why they cycle in the narrowed section designated for cars and lorries.
30th July 2009 A question. How long does it take to get out of a cab at the end of a trip? Well some people are so lazy/brain dead they can take up to 10 minutes.
28th July 2009 I’m really getting annoyed at seeing Romanians selling The Big Issue. When John Bird founded the publication in 1991, it was meant for the homeless, not freeloading immigrants.
16th July 2009 In heavy traffic a BMW (what else, they all drive like lunatics) bumps my rear bumper, doesn’t get out to apologise just tries to run me off the road when we get past the jam. If only I had a gun . . .
15th July 2009 Sitting in my cab in Regent’s Park I heard a loud thump. On of those Lycraed Lunatics, not looking on his bike has ridden into the back of a car. People stop and offer assistance, then leave not worrying about the poor bastards 08 VW. Well at least he’ll be off his bike for a while.
13th July 2009 Are they all mad? Driving down Marylebone Road with its 6 lane dual carriageway at 28mph (honest officer) having just passed Baker Street Station, some idiot runs across the road and he has to swerve to avoid me. There were at least 30 people by the pedestrian crossing waiting for the lights. He just couldn’t wait his turn, must have a death wish.
12th July 2009 Wrote demanding my money from the bilker (that’s what we call them) who didn’t pay me for Ealing job. Doubt if I will get a reply.
6th July 2009 Saw a new Rolls Royce today with minicab roundels on the back, I think it’s a scam to avoid Congestion Charging, or may be a very expensive ride after a few beers and a curry on a Saturday night.
3rd July 2009 Got a job from The Angel to Ealing, “can I use a credit card” he enquires. Got to destination, card was declined, he had no money. Don’t these people think before they go drinking? Well me thinks I can kiss goodby to £42.
27th June 2009 Invited to an old friend’s 60th birthday party at a golf club in deepest Essex. Not being sure of the way I asked the future son-in-law to guide us there with his SatNav. The infernal machine took us into Chelmsford town centre, and then into a bus lane with no through road for cars. We turned around and were directed by TomTom into a cul-de-sac. Remind me never to buy this gizmo whenever I’m tempted with all this new technology crap.
23rd June 2009 Nil Penile Carborundum Every institution needs a motto and CabbieBlog is no exception. I have decided that the above quote is a suitable choice for this blog. For no sooner had I started this diary your humble scribe was nobbled, but I won’t be gagged. Thieves have stolen 300 yards of pristine BT telephone cable between the exchange and my laptop causing a crisis with no internet for five days. With no Wikipedia to plagiarise this diary entry has been produced using, heaven help us in this day and age, a pencil and notepad. I’m now beginning to suffer withdrawal symptoms through a lack of internet surfing, no Facebook, Bebo or Flickr. Oh! Yes and for all of you without the Latin, my motto translates as: Don’t let the pricks grind you down.
18th June 2009 Just come back from a few days on the south coast, its all pretty 1950s down here, just as it should be, perfect for a family holiday. Well, it was until I found this chocolate box thatched cottage (once owned by Bob Monkhouse), but look what the council has allowed to be built on each side of it.