My 18-year-old son decided he wanted to shoot some pool today. He also reckoned he could “whoop my ass” at it. My 20-year-old son heard all this and decided he wanted in on the action, being a decent player himself, so the three of us set off in search of a pub with a pool table. I have to say here and now that this was a first. We hardly ever play pool together as we are first and foremost darts fanatics. We have two dartboards up at home, one in the living room and the other in my 20-year-olds room in the loft. They both play for our local working men’s club. I also used to play but I dropped out because I was losing too much money by not being at work. We ended up at an Irish pub called The Cock in the High Road near our house and I thoroughly enjoyed the next couple of hours spent in there listening to the jukebox, (some U2 but plenty of other stuff too) drinking a pint of lager shandy and getting my ass whooped by both of them and a couple of strangers who put their money down for a game. I must do that again soon.
Being a Friday night work was busy as usual. I started at 8.45, which is quite late for me, but the quality of work more than made up for it. To keep myself informed of all the new bars and clubs that open in town I have a database on my computer and I transfer all the information to a Palm Tungsten handheld that goes everywhere with me. If there’s one thing I hate is not knowing where something is so I try my best to update the database as often as possible via certain websites and hopefully anything new that a passenger asks for will be listed. I often get phone calls at all hours of the day and night from cab driver friends who need to know where something is as they know that if anyone’s gonna know it, I will. It proved handy tonight when a couple of Americans got in at Paddington Station and asked for the Nobu Berkeley.
As soon as those two got out I turned in to Piccadilly and two drunk ladies flagged me down by the Ritz Hotel. One of them wanted Tottenham Court Road and the other wanted Liverpool Street Station. They started talking loudly, the way drunk people do, and following on the vein of my last blog started slagging people at work off. I thought to myself, “Here we go again”. Eventually they stopped and one of them tried to stick her head through my partition but unlike New York cabs mine only opens about five or six inches. Realizing she wasn’t going to get her head any further she just sort of clung on and started asking me loads of questions such as: was I a proper cabbie (someone explain), was I born and bred in London as most were not (most licensed cab drivers are from London), what was my name, where did I live, how old was I, what football team did I support. It went on and on and most of the time I didn’t answer and she’d ask another question. I was glad she would be the first one out. When I stopped to let her out she staggered out, shut the door and as I drove off she ran in front of me and I almost ran her over. She wasn’t aware of this as she had her back to me. But she made it safely back to the pavement and continued on her merry way. Cue the other one. “So, you’re a Leeds supporter? How did that come about?” so I gave her part of my life story on how I ended up supporting Leeds United Football Club. Then came an interesting bit. The Elijah Wood film Green Street is based on a real life football gang called the Inter City Firm or ICF (name is changed in the film to GSE, Green Street Elite) and they follow West Ham United. They go around having fights with other prominent football gangs and do serious damage to each other. My remaining passenger said that she was a season-ticket holder at West Ham and knew all the current ICF gang and her father used to be in it. I asked her if her mum was also in it but she said women were not allowed in it but her mum had once thrown another woman under a bus for rubbishing West Ham. She was quite proud of that.
I spent most of the evening trying to keep away from the centre of town, as Piccadilly Circus and all the surrounding streets were solid.
A solid Piccadilly
A guy flagged me down in Blackfriars and asked for Kings Cross Station saying he was in a real hurry and would appreciate it if I would put my foot down as he had 8 minutes to catch his train. I duly obliged, driving like a madman and jumping a couple of red lights on the way. I got him there with a couple of minutes to spare. The meter read £8. He gave me £10 and waited for the £2 change. Why do I bother?
The next lot I picked up wanted Crouch End in North London. I didn’t realize it at first but I could smell food and saw that they were eating KFC. It smelt good. When they got out they paid me, tipped me well and walked off. As I drove away I looked in the back and sure enough they had left all their crap there for me to clear up. And they had trodden a few chips into the carpet as well. Animals!!! The smell of the food made me hungry so I went to juice up and bought myself a ham salad sandwich and a drink. The sell by date still had one day to go but the sandwich tasted rank and I threw it out the window cursing to myself.
I had taken my money for the night but there was still work out there so I thought I’d do one more job and ended up back in North London. A car with two black guys pulled up next to me and asked for directions to some obscure road. I didn’t know it and told them I could check on the satnav if they liked. They both got out and came to my window as I typed in the street. They started asking me about the satnav and asked if it was new. I started feeling uneasy as I thought they could easily snatch it as I only have it blue-tacked to the dash because the bracket broke a few months ago. Just then a Police van pulled up and asked if everything was ok. I must admit it must have looked suspicious to them. I said everything was ok and they pulled over a little further up. I’ll never know if I was about to be robbed because as soon as I told the two guys where the road was they got back into their car and drove off. Who says there’s never a policeman around when you need one?