It’s 10am on Sunday morning and I haven’t been to bed yet as I have been sitting with my two sons watching the first five episodes of The Sopranos Season 6. They haven’t come out here yet but someone I know is obtaining them from a third party and letting me watch them. I plan to go out in a few hours to buy some blank DVD-R’s to copy them before I have to return them.
I started late again last night at 10pm but there was loads of work going here there and everywhere. It had been raining all day so the air was chilly and damp, which I think drove people to take cabs instead of walk. Most of the jobs were average runs to and from nightclubs. My cab is licensed to take five people. Three on the back seat and two people facing backwards on pullout seats called, by most people, jump seats. Often, people ask if I can squeeze in a sixth person and most times I say yes but if another cab pulls up with me I say no as I have been called greedy by other cabbies for taking six. Tonight I wasn’t even asked, they just piled in on Tower Bridge and asked for Tottenham Court Road in the centre of town. 2 women and 4 men all in high spirits, all American. From what I could gather some of them had recently been to China and they were amazed at the influence Chairman Mao still has there. One of the conversations went something like this: (the guy was gay as I heard him refer to a boyfriend so imagine a gay American accent with this one) “I could not believe the way Chairman Mao still influences these people I mean they were like, “Chairman Mao said this and Chairman Mao said that” so I went to a gift shop and bought Chairman Mao fuckin ashtrays, Chairman Mao fuckin postcards, Chairman Mao fuckin ornaments. I even bought Chairman Mao fuckin Chop Sticks. I thought shit if it’s good enough for Chairman fuckin Mao it’s gotta be like fuckin cool man” The rest of the group were in stitches and I have to admit I was secretly laughing too. He was a very funny guy.
When those six got out there was another guy waiting to get in and we went back the way I had just come to Bethnal Green. When we got there he wanted a printed receipt but my cab hasn’t got a printer yet as I managed to by-pass the new law stating all cabs must have a printer. He was Eastern European and couldn’t understand why I never had a printer and all the other cabs he’d ever ridden in had one. The hand written receipts I give out were not acceptable by his boss but that was all I had. He kept on and on about printed receipts until I blew my stack and said “I ain’t got a fucking printer mate so how the fuck can I give you a printed receipt are you stupid or something?” He sat in the cab for a few minutes trying to absorb the information. In the end I turned the engine off and when I opened my door to get out he got out himself and started walking away and calling me names in Bosnian or something similar with plenty of hand gestures thrown in for good measure.
I made my way to Old Street as there are lots of clubs and bars there and soon had a nice ride westwards. About half a mile on the guy looked like he was about to throw up so I pulled straight over and he just made it in time. Onlookers jumped out of the way as he puked up all over the pavement. He produced a hanky, wiped his mouth and got back in. We carried on to Gloucester Road with out any further emissions.
Gloucester Road is a favourite stopping point for me because they have a late night Burger King, a 24-hour Tesco convenience store and a Bureau De Change where I can change up all the Dollars and Euros that I have accepted as payment for fares. There’s a special cab driver rate here and it’s open all night. I took advantage of being in the area to grab a Whopper with cheese meal with a coffee from the BK. After being approached by half a dozen would be passengers I drove a few hundreds yards round the corner and ate my meal in peace.
Back on duty, I drove past the nightclub/bar Eclipse in Old Brompton Road where 2 or 3 illegal minicab touts (unlicensed taxis) where trying to tempt people into their cars.
I was immediately flagged by five revellers wanting to go to Clifton Road by Warwick Avenue, close to home again. I often get jobs going towards home when I’m not ready to finish just yet but as long as I’ve taken a certain amount of money it can be very difficult to resist the temptation to call it a night. On this occasion I gave in.