Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I'm off again!

Hi folks
Back again!

Since last posting here my cab has had its annual overhaul. This involves an MOT Test first which normally highlights problems that will need to be rectified before the main test is carried out a day or two later. I found the MOT Fail certificate in the glove box which stated that the cab failed due to a broken coil spring and a faulty windscreen washer system. Both these problems as well as others were rectified and in all fairness the cab feels like its had quite a bit of tlc to get it passed and plated for another year.
One problem I have been having a lot recently is that after leaving the cab parked up for several days (5 days over Easter) the battery goes flat. A quick jump start with my son's Christmas present is normally enough to get it going again but today it refused to charge up. On closer inspection I could see that the earth strap was falling apart thereby failing to provide sufficient connection between the battery and the body of the cab. An RAC guy once showed me a way around that which was to clip the black jump lead onto the engine. She started up first time and I was soon on my way to the garage where they replaced the earth strap and topped up my steering fluid which is also leaking from the steering box.
The Easter holiday has had a negative effect on the work and two weeks on its still giving us cause for concern. I think its just a matter of time for me to finally give this job up for good. (2week gap since I wrote these words) In fact the work is practically non existent on the streets so unless you're prepared to wait for ages on the oversubscribed station and hotel ranks you may as well give up. Last week, for instance I totalled £450. Deduct my cab rent and diesel and theres not a lot left over for anything once I've paid a few bills. I've applied for a few jobs in Suffolk and am waiting to hear from them.
It's a crying shame whats happening to our trade and I cant see a way back for it with so much technology out there offering cheaper transport.
I guess my next post will relate to whatever job I manage to secure in Suffolk so I'll keep you posted.
Take care out there.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Things are looking up

Hi folks

We're now in week 5 of the new year and the work is slowly but surely picking up...not a lot, but still better than it was.

I have another cabbie mate called Chris whose taxi has just reached its 15 year limit. He's decided to rent from my garage and is now driving around in a similar liveried cab to mine. The garage owner buys old taxis for parts and has offered Chris a derisory amount to take the taxi off his hands. Chris has litterally just called me on his way to pay his cab rent to say he's gonna try and get a bit more for his cab so I might hear something before end of post.

My own cab continues to earn me my daily bread but its not without its faults. A few weeks ago I picked four guys up at Paddington and took them to the World Darts Championships at Alexandra Palace. When I hit Highgate Hill the cab almost refused to climb it. It was extremely embarassing and the burning smells it was emmitting pretty toxic. The cab has since been de-coked but I've yet to take four people up Highgate Hill so we'll see how I get on.
Another problem the cab has is a loose connecton on the electric windows. I'm booked in to see the electrician next Wednesday but until then I have attached a piece of string around the wiring loom and have to pull it when the windows dont work. You couldn't make this stuff up!!

Just passed the Ecquadorian Embassy next door to Harrods where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up for the last three years evading capture. Lots of press gathered there. Perhaps he's had enough and is about to give himself up? A clip from globalnews.ca says "LONDON – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he will accept arrest by British police if a U.N. working group investigating his claims decides that the three years he has spent inside the Ecuadorean Embassy doesn’t amount to illegal detention."
So it could all be over pretty soon. Its been costing a small firtune to police that situation.

Chris just called me to say he's managed to get a few bob more for his old TX1 and payment will be in the form of three half weeks rent on the cab he now has so he's gone home relatively happy with that deal.

I have a diabetic review next week so I'm trying to abstain from eating too much crappy food before my blood test. I'm eating salads from Prêt à Manger and am trying to avoid carbs, which are like instant sugar to a diabetic.

So, another high profile death to add to those mentioned in my last post is the death of the much loved Sir Terry Wogan. He's just always been there for most people my age and by all account the nicest bloke you could ever meet. One of his last tv shows was called "Terry and Mason's Food Trip" where he drove to various places around Britain with London Cabbie Mason McQueen sampling the local cuisine and meeting loads of interesting people. RIP Terry.

So I'm sitting on the cab rank at London Zoo awaiting my next job. I think it's about time I got a decent fare!

Take care.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 22, 2016

A rainy Friday

You'd think rain would make it busy right? But as I sit here on the rank of the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington after having driven here all the way from Bloomsbury I'm starting to wonder. I go to Suffolk tonight to spend the weekend with my wife so a fruitfull day is always preferable.
Yesterday was a different story. Wherever I went I found work.
I started with a Hailo job from Maida Vale to the science museum. Harrods proved a happy hunting ground as long as you avoided the over zealous traffic warden trying to prevent us from over-ranking. To them "the kipper season" means nothing just an increase in taxis looking to illegally queue for work. A bit of sympathy for our plight wouldn't go amiss!
The V&A has also given me regular pick-ups. Strangely, more than half always want to go to Fortnum & Masons in Piccadilly....there must be an exhibit in the museum with a link to that iconic British store.
I grabbed a bite to eat at the Astral Cafe where I've known the owner Tony since his days at the Piccolo in Mayfair. I have one of the Astral melts with chicken escalope cheese gherkins tomatoes and mayo. Very nice indeed.

I recently ordered an android tv box to watch sport and films on it. My daughter texted to say the oackage had arrived so after work I had a new toy to play with. It took 3-4 houurs to set up but by 2am this morning it was up and running and ready for my viewing pleasure from Monday.
The only problem is I've only had 5 hours sleep and the effects are being felt as we speak 💤💤😲
Take care out there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A cold Wednesday in January

I've just been to pay the £200 rent on my taxi. I'm left with five £5 notes to my name after a particularly terrible week.

I left the garage in the Cricklewood area with my hire light on (well, half on, as one of the bulbs have fused!).
I drove as far as West End Lane where a dingaling sound from the phone indicated I had a job via the Hailo taxi app which I happily accepted. It was a couple and their baby going to the Royal Free Hospital. As I drove ahead the bright sunlight highlighted the fact that my windows needed a good cleaning with Mr Muscle.

From the hospital I have driven through Belsize Park, Chalk Farm, Camden, Primrose Hill and all the way to the taxi rank at St Johns Wood tube without getting anymore work.

I took a detour after Camden through Gloucester Crescent to look at number 23 which is the subject of the Alan Bennet story "The Lady In The Van". I was hoping to spot the blue plaque unveiled at the end of the film but it was no doubt fictional.

So, as I sit here awaiting a "dingaling" or a "walk up" and listening to Heaven must be missing an angel" on Smooth FM I wonder if fate has decreed a life of struggle for me and the missus.
It sure feels that way but we acknowledge there's people much worse off than us so we try and think positive.

4 deaths of note in the last month. Lemmy, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Glen Frey. All have played a major part in my life and all gone way before their time. They will be sorely missed. May they all rest in peace.

Take care out there, its icy and cold.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

Hi Folks

Happy New Year to you all!

Leading on from my last post where I was wondering where my one day of driving a 7.5 tonner would take me. Well I had to report to Magnus Group at Great Blakenham in Suffolk and I was told to take their Mitsubishi Cantor truck out for five pallet drops in and around London. The first drop was in Thurrock then onto Swanley. From there I had to drive up to Merton. The next destination was an industrial estate in Chessington where I had to deliver a racing cycle belonging to the MD of Magnus Group for some alterations. I was to wait for the alterations and then take the bike back to Suffolk with me so as it took about an hour so I went off in search of a burger van for my lunch. As I was on tachograph rules I had to watch my driving time. From Chessington I had to drive to Slough but there had been an accident on the M25 and my mandatory rest time was fast approaching. In fact I was due to stop for a 45 minute break as I sat at a complete standstill in the traffic so by the time I finally managed to get off at the next junction and find a suitable stopping place I was well over my time and liable for some sort of punishment, possibly in the form of a fixed penalty. After my drop off in Slough I had a final drop off in Waltham Abbey.  The drop off was a very muddy industrial estate where the fork lift truck couldn’t reach me.  The pallet I was delivering had some sort of air conditioning unit and several other boxes all shrink wrapped together and weighed at least a ton. The guy receiving the goods decided to drive a transit van round to the side of the lorry and handball the stuff off (remove manually bit by bit). Everything except the air conditioning unit was transferred to the van but the unit itself was way too heavy even for two of us so I had to call the office to see what needed to be done and they said to just bring it back. I set off for my 2 hour drive back to the yard. On arrival one of the office workers came running out asking if I had the boss’s bike and promptly took it. I had to report to the office to sign off and was questioned about the last delivery. They said they guy who’d helped me unload the pallet had called to say that there were parts missing and did I know anything about it. No I did not…and I didn’t care for this questioning as if I was responsible for some sort of pilfering. I left there with a nasty taste in my mouth.

My agency had informed me, previous to that 7.5 ton job, that I would have four days of work at UK Mail delivering parcels in the Newmarket area. I reported at 7am on the Tuesday morning to be told that I wasn’t required. I called my agency but there was no reply. I drove back home and called them a bit later to be told that there was some mix up but that they would get back to me with some work. That was on the sixth of October. I was fobbed off for the next few days and by Friday the ninth of October I had decided to ring up my old taxi garage to see if I could rent a cab for a few weeks. They had a cab available so I drove back to London and started work. I spent the next few weeks taxi driving, sleeping at my London home and returning to see Jane in Suffolk. The taxi I was using belonged to a guy on holiday so eventually he needed it back and there wasn’t a spare cab for me so I decided to go back to Suffolk to try the agency again. No work was offered so I signed up with another agency and waited for work. After another week of lounging around the house I’d had enough and rang a different taxi garage.  I’ve since  rented an 05 plate TX2 with an all over livery for £200 per week. Work has been pretty thin on the ground but I’ve scarped a living together and have managed to get home to see Jane twice a week.

Christmas has just been and gone and my first week back has been abysmal. Another week like the last and I’ll be in the poor house.

Take Care Out There


Sunday, September 06, 2015

Londoncabby Update

Hi folks
It's time for an update on what I've been doing since my last post indicated I would be looking for a career change.
I ceased being a cabbie (for the time being) at the end of July. My driving licence entitles me to drive 7.5 ton trucks but to do it professionally you need to complete 35 hours of training at an approved centre to gain what is known as a CPC Qualification which gives you a card similar to a driving licence called a DQC or Driver Qualification Card. Together with this card you also have to apply to the DVLA for a Digital Tachograph Card. I did my classroom training in July and started looking for driving jobs in the Ipswich area as soon as I'd qualified. One company I'd noticed always seemed to need drivers was Tuffnells Parcels. Their trucks are green in colour and have the slogan "Big Green Parcel Machine" on the back. I was granted an interview after a short phone conversation and two days after the interview I was put to work. Quick or what?
Now, Tuffnells is known as a company that carries anything. Weight limits mean nothing to them. I was put to work with a seasoned old timer and we took a truck full of parcels and various other things to the Lowestoft area of Suffolk. On closer inspection of the load I could see planks of wood 6 meters long, metal poles, large boxes with pieces of machinery in them and various other large and apparently heavy items which would need to be manhandled eventually by me on my own. Another aspect was getting the lorry down some of these tight country lanes. I managed to clip a wall and a lampost at the same time as I attempted to follow the satnav through a maze of backstreets. I think that swung it for me. Yet another aspect of the job was the collections. You were given three or four collection points where you would go once the truck was empty and collect any thing from a few parcels or boxes to several pallets of goods. You could effectively bring more back to the depot than you started with and I knew, after a particularly stressful shift trying to make room for all these collections that it wasn't for me.  To cut a long story short I survived four shifts before I realized the job was too much for me. I don't know much about the health and safety laws of this country but I know a human body is only capable of lifting so much before it just can't do it. So as I lay in bed on a Wednesday morning deciding whether to go in or not Jane decided it for me and I sheepishly telephoned to say I couldn't do the job anymore. I really do take my hat off to the guys that have managed to do that job for several years. The guy I was with called Wayne was of a similar age to me and seemed to have boundless energy. I called him first to say I wouldn't be in anymore and he totally understood and wished me well for the future.
So, jobless again, I was debating whether to rent a taxi and go back to work in London but having moved all my stuff to Ipswich and said goodbye to the kids plus receiving loads of encouragement from family and friends I didn't wan't to look like a failure. I signed up to a driving agency and was eventually allocated some work driving white vans as a courier driver for UK Mail. They have various routes around East Anglia and Essex and I have basically been covering drivers away on holiday or sick leave. The parcels are all normal sizes and although timed deliveries can mess up your whole route order its been quite enjoyable. Just as I was getting used to the job and making a few friends the agency decided to send me somewhere else last week. I was to go back on the 7.5 tonners but this time there was no heavy lifting as it would be palletised goods only. This was right up my street and I had an extremely enjoyable week driving a Mitsubishi Canter truck into London and surrounding areas dropping off pallets instead of parcels. I did have a delivery in Coniger Road, Fulham and I wondered how I would get the lorry down this extremely narrow street safely and then get out again. As I entered the street there was nowhere to pull in or park. Putting the hazards on and blocking the road wasn't an option as I may be tied up for quite some time while I maneuvered the pallets off via pump truck and tail lift. I opted to drive around and find a space big enough for the lorry.  I turned left out of Coniger Road into Studdridge Street and immediately saw a gap big enough for me to safely park. As I pulled into it I heard a loud scraping noise on the roof of the truck indicating that I was hitting overhanging tree branches and possibly breaking them off. "Oh well" I thought, "its only a tree". Just as I was climbing off the lorry I heard a guy screaming behind me. "Look what you've done to that poor tree you idiot!!" I acted all surprised and apologetic as he indicated several branches and leaves that had formed a little pile on the pavement. It didn't look good but all I could do was apologize even more and he eventually calmed down warning me to be more careful in the future. A few years ago he wouldn't have got away with calling me an idiot but I felt he probably had a valid reason in this case.
The daily deliveries to London invariably ended with a final drop at The Teardrop Center in Swanley, Kent. The first time I attempted to find this place I got it seriously wrong and had to take a 20 mile detour to get to it again. As in anything, once you've done it once it becomes a doddle to do again so the next visits there were incident free. From there it would mean a trip through the Dartford Tunnel homeward bound. That proved to be the worst part of the whole day as it would regularly take between thirty minutes to an hour to get through after the Swanley drop. They've even removed the toll booths and made everyone pay online to speed things up but its still a nightmare which needs addressing as soon as possible.
So to the present. I generally get a text from the agency informing me what I'll be doing in the coming week. This weeks text said I would be back at UK Mail from Tuesday to Friday. I have had several Mondays off recently as there doesn't seem to be a need for agency drivers. But since I've been typing this post I've had a text asking if I could do a one-off tomorrow and take a 7.5 tonner out on a long distance trip. I've agreed and am totally intrigued as to where I might be going. Using a tachograph means you can only drive for nine hours with a forty five minute compulsory break after four and a half hours of driving so long distance probably means the home counties or possibly London again. Watch this space to see where I went.

Take Care Out There.

(I may have to change the LC for something else now I'm not doing cabbing anymore ;) )

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

I'm Going On Hiatus!!

Hi folks
I’m still
here but for how much longer?

You will
have all heard of Uber by now. Uber is a taxi company that has been allowed to
operate in London to the detriment of our iconic and illustrious trade. I don’t
have anything against anyone making money but my gripe is with our (London
Taxis) governing body, Transport for London or TfL. They have allowed Uber to
operate in London as a separate entity to the licensed trade. Their pricing has
attracted the lion share of our custom and our 300 year old trade is now in jeopardy
of going down the toilet, in fact it is already in the u-bend!

In a few
days I will have completed 25 years as a licenced cabbie, I doubt whether I’ll
complete 26 years. I am already actively seeking gainful employment elsewhere.
I’m looking forward to going to work without spending the whole day physically
looking to get people inside my cab when only a year or two ago it was easy. To
not paying high rent for the vehicle I need to earn my living. To not paying
for fuel. To not having the taxman chasing me for unpaid dues. To having paid
holidays and paid bank holidays….the benefits are endless.

I should say
that my wife lives in Suffolk and I have been working my cab on weekdays and
going to stay with her weekends. I had thought that I could commute backwards
and forwards from Suffolk to London but only if I had been able to make the
money required to pay the bills. Alas, this hasn’t been the case and Jane’s
getting a little bit disillusioned with the present arrangement and I don’t
blame her hence the need to try something different for the sake of the
relationship and also for my own sanity.

So folks,
for the moment, as soon as I secure a job elsewhere, I will be putting my taxi
driving days on the back burner.

Updates to
my employment status will appear here periodically.

Take Care
Out There.

London Cabby