Monday, May 01, 2006

Demon Pedicabs

Yesterday (Saturday) was a big blow out. I think I was mistakenly in the comfort zone so I took my daughter to the cinema to see Freedomland with Samuel L Jackson and Julianne Moore. It was a bit hard to follow at first but it all made sense in the end, but I wish I had’ve gone to work instead.

There was still actually some daylight left when I got to work today around 6.20pm and there was plenty of work out there especially as it started raining soon after I started. I got a couple of shots of Primrose Hill when I dropped my first job off.

As Monday is May Day Bank Holiday here it wasn’t a typical Sunday night. Most people have the Monday off and go out clubbing on the Sunday before. The bulk of my runs were taking people too and from various nightspots. The West End was extremely busy around Soho and Chinatown.

Chinatown and Soho

A few years ago pedicabs were introduced over here. The whole taxi industry was up in arms about it and the various trade organisations tried to get them banned by spending thousands on lawsuits, failing miserably. The powers that be saw it fit to allow them to ply for hire and generally drive about unregulated and with no price structure. They can actually charge whatever they can get away with and most often they do. It was while I was waiting at the lights at Oxford Circus when one pulled up alongside me. A couple walked up to the driver and asked him where Cavendish Square was. It was literally three streets away. The driver told them to hop on and he would take them round there and only then would he give them the bad news that they would have to pay at least £10 if not £20 for the pleasure. He then proceeded to turn away from where they wanted and drive down Regent Street in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help myself. I crawled behind him for a couple of junctions and then pulled alongside and asked the male passenger if he knew this guy was taking him away from where he wanted to be and that it was going to cost him an arm and a leg for the pleasure. Long story short, they got in my cab and I took them there for nothing. This sort of thing must go on every day, ultimately, with the blessing of the Government. I think it’s a disgrace.

In between jobs I either listen to CD’s or the radio, mainly
Virgin because they’re the only one that play practically all rock music. Lately they’ve started playing Jack Johnson all the time. To me, that isn’t rock it’s easy listening at best or just out and out pop and I always turn it off when he comes on or put the CD player on. They were doing a Classic Songs segment earlier and sandwiched in-between the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Queen they put Jack Johnson on. How the hell can his music be classic!! And now you’re gonna think I’m bullshitting here but I picked up three girls going to the club at the Baglioni Hotel in Kensington and as I was driving through Hyde Park they asked me to put Virgin Radio on and guess who was on? I swear on my kids it was Jack Johnson singing Better Together and the girls loved it and sang along and asked for me to turn it up, it was torture I can tell you.

Around 11.15pm I decided to stop for some Nosebag. As I was closer to home than my regular eating haunts I decided to try one of my local Chinese’s. As I was getting prepared to tuck in there was a knock on my window. As I opened it a drenched lady asked if I was free. I said that I was about to eat my supper but she pleaded with me saying it was only a few roads away. Not one to turn money away I told her to jump in. She whistled, yes, whistled to her friends who were sheltering in a doorway and they all trudged over and I ended up going to three different destinations (the cheek of some people) and I could hear them all commenting on the smell of the food that was wafting through the partition. Any way I parked up anew and this time managed to eat uninterrupted. I had bought myself Satay Chicken and Special fried rice as per usual and discovered I’d been missing out for all these years. I usually have sweet and sour chicken from this place but I will be changing from now on. I’d practically eaten most of it when I remembered to take a picture.

All in all I had a really good night and if I could manage to get out at least at the same time later on today I should do even better as the meter is on the higher rate for the entire day.


wil said...

How is your meter adjusted for the higher rate??

By just adding on "extras" or is it controlled from a central station?

Or ???

london_cabby said...

It's built into the software. Our meters have the day and date and time programmed in and depending on the time of day decides which rate is relevant.

Rate 1 6am till 8pm weekdays.

Rate 2 Saturdays and Sundays till 10pm

Rate 3 after 10pm every day.

We used to use the extras for people and lugage but since the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone came to power several years ago he overhauled the whole pricing system and incorporated all the factors to come up with a £2.20 starting minimum. I prefer it that way as people used to quibble all the time when extras were used.

london_cabby said...

Rate 2 also applies between 8pm and 10pm weekdays

An Ohioan in the UK said...

Just wanted to say hi and nice blog! I lived in London for 2 years and your blog brings back the memories. I once made a very happy cab driver by asking to be taken from Victoria Station to Ealing Broadway in morning traffic! :-) Good luck out there!

ang said...

Hi there bruv - keep up the good work! I know it's a strain having to work so much but you'll see it's going to get better in the long run.
Oh, by the way, good for you what you did with that pedicab thing. I don't know what they are, is that what the photo is? Anyway, if it weren't for cabbies like you people would be taken in. I just wanted to know what did the other driver say?

london_cabby said...

He just sat there with a stupid look on his face.


I totallly Love your blog. Since your last two posts were about food- I'd really like an honest opinion. I have been thinking of going to London and setting up a Mexican food you actually think it would attract people? One of my closest friends lives in London, and she thinks its a great idea- supposedly, "ethnic" food is in. I havent been in London for over 5 years, and I am totally in love with the city.I think people could experience the delicious variety that is present in Mexican food. No matter what any American tells you, Mexican food is not extremely greasy [all that greasiness is due to American improvisation of Mexican cuisine] But yeah, I would think bringing Mexican food to London would be nice.
What do you think?
Would you ever eat Mexican food?

STAG said...

I think your example with the pedicab is simply you being a good citizen preventing a fraud. Though if I was the pedicab driver and you stole MY fare like that, I would have thrown a cobble at ya!

I watched a show somewhere that detailed how difficult it was to get a cab license in London...that you had to take, among other things, an oral test where they would give you two points on a map and by memory you have to detail the shortest route between them. Do they not test and license the pedicab drivers? If not, then why not?
I know that when I am in a new town, the cabbie almost always takes the long way to my destination. Except for London...they ALWAYS took me the most direct and cheapest route. Maybe I was just lucky, or maybe it was that license tesing.

My home town of Ottawa is the worst! They NEVER take me the direct route but milk the job as long as they can! I don't dislike is one way to get to know a city!

Your thoughts? Like, would you be more accepting of pedicabs if they took the same training as you did?

Of course, here in Ottawa, we have rickshaws pulled by ridiculously fit university students but they are mostly "around the park to look at the flowers while cuddling the girlfriend" type rides, not "cab rides" per se.

JRC said...

Treat yourself to a DAB Digital Radio, and you could enjoy Virgin's sister station Virgin Radio Classic Rock - good for the Jack Johnson moments... ;)

James @ Virgin