Friday, June 30, 2006

Rich Pickings

Productively I had a blinding night last night.
I started at 19.40 to be precise and finished at around 1.15am. 5 hours and 35 minutes to be precise but it was non-stop work and of the good quality sort too (apart from the last one).

The first job was from Paddington Station to Liverpool Street Station, a nice cross-town job to start the day. It was an attractive Italian lady on crutches who said she had broken her leg while back home in Italy skiing. I’m sure some people are really good at it but it’s never appealed to me at all. I use to go ice skating in my youth and spent 70% of the time shining the rink with my arse. It must have something to do with poor balance.

A few jobs later I found myself at the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo. A Scottish couple with kids asked to be taken to the Days Inn Hotel about a two minute drive from there and by the time we arrived the kids had managed to press every button, open and shut every window at least twenty times including the partition, disengage the wheelchair security belt causing an annoying bleeper to sound and put hand and finger prints on all the recently cleaned windows. And as usual the parents were oblivious to it all. If it had been a longer trip I would have had to say something but I thought best not to alienate them for tipping sake.
So we get to the hotel out comes the Scottish money and I get paid the £4 fare and sweet FA else. Que vamos a hacer?

In complete contrast an ultra posh couple stopped me at the light on my way out of Waterloo and the man asked me where I was going. I said wherever he wanted and they got in and we set off for Sloane Square. The fare was £11 and he gave me £15. Much better. I know a lot of commenters on other blogs criticize us cabbies for going on about the tips or lack of them. In general I don’t care either way whether I get a tip, I’m just happy to get paid the metered fare but it is nice when a tip is added. I once picked a guy up who only went a short distance £3.40, or something similar, and he offered me a £20 note. I said I was low on change and did he have anything smaller, he told me to keep the change. But the non-tippers far outweigh the tippers, at least here in London.

The work continued one after the other and after 5 hours I had already taken what it usually takes me 8-10 hours. The next job going my way was always going to be my last one for the night. So after an effortless night I suppose I had to end the night with a bit of grief.

A guy flags me down in James Street off Oxford Street and asks for Fellows Road and adds “the shit bit” to which I could only assume he wanted one of the tower blocks. James Street being one way southbound has an “ahead only” sign so you can’t take a left or right into Oxford Street, you’re forced ahead in to Gilbert Street and then have to do two right turns and a left and then a U-turn in Oxford Street. With all these left and rights it was inevitable that the guy would pipe up, sometimes you just know it’s gonna happen and you even prepare your answer. “Where the fuck are we going mate?” the standard question of the ignoramus. As I explained he started getting more animated and started accusing me of “tucking him up”. I love it when this happens in the centre of town as there’s always loads of police about so I made sure I stopped near a parked police car and told him to get out. If you show any signs of being a pussy these people will exploit that so when I “lose the rag” I lose control and start ranting and raving for them to fuck off and take another cab they soon get the message. So out he went cursing and swearing to himself and I just turned around and went home.

No Comparison

I stopped off to get a drink and came across a new type of Diet Coke in a black can called Coca Cola Zero. Unless you drink battery acid don’t bother. It was revolting and I even think it upset my stomach as I was up a few times in the night to use the toilet. I'll stick to the regular Diet Coke in future.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Talking Dirty

I’m almost back to normal after these last two weeks have seen my bank balance take a serious battering. There were weddings to attend, family functions, clothes to buy, nights off to watch England progress in the World Cup, general day to day living expenses all requiring money that wasn’t being earned for one reason or another. But I’m now focussed and raring to go!! Not.

I did two shifts today. The first one was only a few hours long as I wanted to watch the Spain V France game. I was mostly over on the east side of town and took the opportunity to visit the Beigel Shop in Brick Lane. I had a cream cheese and salmon beigel ( I thought it was spelt bagel!) and it tasted pukka!!!!

Beigel Shop, Brick Lane

I was eavesdropping on a conversation, as one does, and wished I had a tape recorder with me. These two ladies were discussing their sexual exploits and were using language that even an old seadog like me felt uncomfortable with (did I ever mention I used to be in the merchant navy?) I don’t know what it is about posh people but they seem to think that when they get in a cab it’s ok to talk like a sewer because the cabbie is bound to be common and used to such language. Well I wouldn’t say I was common, well not too common, and I am used to the language but not from people like them and I almost said something to them. I can’t think of a dirty word they never used and as this is a family site (ha ha) I won’t repeat what they said but needless to say it was disgusting.

Sex talk

Talking of sex this next picture is of Sussex Gardens in the Paddington district. Who would think that this lovely tree-lined street, which by day is busy with tourists coming and going about their business, turns into a sleazy red light zone which is crawling with prostitutes as soon as the sun sets? During the course of my work I’ve had to approach many of these girls and ask how much they charge for their services for the guy in the back who’s too much of a pussy to ask for himself. I don’t mind asking as long as they make it worth my while but I draw the line at letting any sexual activity take place in the cab. I don’t want no bodily fluids on my back seat.

Sussex Gardens By Day

There are still thousands of cars and taxis driving around with the English flag flying from some part of the vehicle. I must admit as England progress through the tournament I’m tempted to put a couple of flags up myself. We play Portugal on Saturday and I think the country is starting to believe we can go all the way. I concur.

Flying The Flag of St. George

COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hard Graft

I started at 10.45am on Wednesday morning and have just come home at 3.30am on Thursday morning. What does that tell you? Well it’s the longest shift I’ve ever done for a start and it was only done out of necessity. I’ve had so much on this last week that work has suffered a bit. I went to a Stag night last Saturday and the following day there was a family gathering at my parents house which called for my presence. This Saturday me and the kids are going to a wedding and we all have to be kitted out with new gear, hence the Cole Porter (London cabby speak for working all hours).

The replacement Palm handheld I bought recently was a lesser model than the one that was stolen and I just haven’t managed to take to it. So much so that I started looking around for a different one. Enter little brother Joe. He bought himself an iPAQ a few years ago and has never taken it on the road so out of the kindness of his lil ol heart decided that I would benefit from it more than him and promptly delivered it in person yesterday. It’s an iPAQ h5550 and according to this review was the Tungsten C equivalent, which is the one I had stolen. It has built in WiFi and can connect to the net when I’m out working but I have to find a few hotspots to make the most of it. It has many other functions and I’m well pleased with it. Cheers Joe.

I went over to my garage today to pay the weekly rent. I asked when they would be getting any newer cabs as I’m just about coping with the jalopy I’m driving at the moment. They couldn’t put a date on it and even hinted that they may have to get rid of some of the older cabs altogether which would mean that newly arrived drivers such as myself would have to go elsewhere to rent a cab. I’m not bothered as there are lots of garages around but I’ll wait and see what happens before I move on.

There was work everywhere today and I took an extremely decent amount of money. On two occasions today I looked round to see if anything had been left on the back seat and found money. One was a five-pound note and the other was a whole heap of change totalling seven pounds forty pence.

I had a nice run out to Feltham earlier. I almost drove past as I thought it was a drunk loser but it turned out to be a masculine looking female with a lovely personality. She asked me for a price and I said it would probably be anywhere between forty and fifty pounds. She wanted to pay by card but I don’t do cards at present so we stopped at a cash point. She was so easy to talk to and we told each other our life stories. The fare ended up at fifty six pounds and I felt I had to let her off the six pounds as I had practically fallen in love with her by journey’s end.
In complete contrast I found myself on Paddington Station rank later on and there was a guy being rejected by all the cabbies in front of me. At this point I couldn’t see what was going on but the guy decided to sit on the ground next to the rank as other passengers struggled to get past him into the cabs. Wouldn’t you know it? As I took the pole position he decides to try his luck again with me. I locked the doors and left the window open a few inches. He gets up and almost falls back down, a sure sign that he’s drunk or under the influence. Puts his face sideways against the partially open window and says: “Will you fucking take me to Ealing?” His breath stunk of drink. “No I fucking won’t take you to Ealing” I shout at him. “ And what’s more no one else will take you either if that’s how you’re gonna ask them” He replaced his face with his fist and extended the middle finger and with all the hatred he could muster said: “Well fuck you and all your pals, you’re all a bunch of cunts”. I was so tempted to close the electric window on his hand but thought better of it. He backed away from the cab and took up the same position on the ground. A normal person walked up and asked to be taken a few quid away but I didn’t care, I just wanted to get out of the station.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Two Nil To The Ingerland.....

Yes it was two nil to England after they pulled their finger out in the second half. Credit to T&T they defended well but apart from a fantastic clearance off the line by John Terry they hardly troubled us. Bring on the Swedes and maybe Germany in the second round.

I knew it would be busy after the game so I went straight out to work. What I never really thought about was the drunken idiots that would also be out there. You'd think that after watching their country win and progress to the next stage of the World Cup that they would be happy and even chilled out. Not so. Having been a warring island nation since time began people in this country are just born with a fighting gene and love to excercise it at every opportunity. I must have seen at least half a dozen fights on my travels around the city. Police sirens were constantly blazing. I was taking two ladies to Southfields and as I was driving through Putney three guys in England shirts were kicking the shit out of eachother. One of their girlfriends was trying to break it up and I saw her shoved away from the scrum and land on her arse on the pavement. About half an hour later I was driving along the Kings Road and I saw something similar but there was only two of them and one of them was taunting the other guy with a traffic cone, Absolutely crazy.

Workwise I never stopped the whole time I was out. Everybody wanted to talk about the football and by the third or fourth job I was repeating what others had said to me as my own. I got my other cab back today with the fixed suspension (it's still crap though) so it was hard to hear what people were saying because the gap in the partition is on the opposite side to me as opposed to right behind me in older cabs. There is also an intercom in this cab but it's not working.

I only did six hours but I took a full days money in that time.
I took a guy out to Northolt and he was trying to chat me up. What's up with that? I always get them don't I? When we got there he asked me to come in for a bowl of soup!!! Who the heck has soup at home, I know I don't. I did all I could not to offend the guy. I think he really thought he'd cracked it with me but yet again, as in all these events, I had to disappoint him. It turned out to be my last job and I flew down the A40 towards home extremely pleased with my nights work.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Knackered Suspension

Since my last post the weather has cooled down somewhat. From the unbearable heat that we were having it has now dropped down to a bearable cooler temperature. I’m sure it’s only a brief respite and that the sun is lurking up there behind the clouds, but it’s nice all the same.

I’m guessing the ratio but probably one in every ten streets in London have speed bumps of some description or other. There are the smooth variety that only require a minor decrease in speed and then there are those that you must climb up one side and drop off the other. There are lots of in between styles as well and I’d love to meet the people that decide which type are going to be put where and give them a piece of my mind. Collectively, they are the cause of much damage to vehicles. Exhaust pipes and sumps regularly scrape these bumps causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage. Suspension systems also take a battering and it is for this reason that I had to take my cab to the garage yesterday. Every time I drove over a bump or pot hole a loud banging could be heard. Basically the suspension was knackered and I spent three hours at the garage waiting while they fixed it only to be told that they had been trying to fit a wrong part and that I would have to leave it overnight. They gave me an even older cab (94) which had no diesel in it, I had just filled the other one up, so I had to spend more money juicing this one up.

On the work front I’ve been doing OK this last week. As predicted I’m back out working in the evenings driving around with the dregs of society as well as the nice people.

I got hailed by a couple of losers a few nights ago in Stockwell. Why I stopped in Stockwell I’ll never know but these two guys were as high as kites and wanted to go on a drug run. We headed off towards the Tulse Hill area to a council estate and one of them got out and back in three or four times while the other one was whispering into his phone. I hate these types of jobs and if I get the opportunity I generally do what I did next. Both of them went in to a flat leaving a carrier bag on the back seat. And after observing them enter the flat I drove off with about £11 on the meter. I’ve done this many many times before and believe I’ve saved myself a lot of grief whilst losing a few quid along the way. There were two cans of Carlsberg Special Brew (the preferred drink of alcoholics and losers) in the bag which got thrown off Vauxhall Bridge on the way back in to civilization.

Have any of you drivers ever been egged? Is it just a British thing? I got egged for the second time this year in Cavendish Avenue in St. John’s Wood a few nights ago. The other time was in Albany Street next to a council estate. You’d expect to get egged there but not St. John’s Wood. This time the egg splattered on the rear wing so it was easy to hose off at the garage round the corner. I never saw the culprit this time as it came from over someone’s garden wall but the time before it was a gang of kids and they caught the cab lovely while I had my window down and it sprayed into the back through a gap in the screen that the TX’s have, it made a right mess and took me half an hour to clean. Little bastards.

After two years of detouring through Porchester Road, Bishops Bridge was finally re-opened after being completely replaced with a brand new bridge. It is the main access point for Paddington Station from the north and also a gateway to many other destinations. Although you get used to and adapt when a major road is closed it’s nice when it re-opens and eases the traffic in the area.

England play Trinidad and Tobago in their second game in the World Cup today at 5pm. Cabs will be scarce on the roads but I will be out working soon after and expect to “Clean Up”.
COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Indian Summer

We’re in the middle of an Indian summer here in London and it’s too hot to do anything. With no aircon in my cab it has all suddenly become too much for me. The World Cup (which one I hear you ask, there is only one World Cup!) is on at the moment so I find myself watching that instead of working. Result? Bank balance suffers. England won their first game 1–0 but made hard work of it. We have an easier (on paper) game on Thursday which should see us progress to the next round, fingers crossed.

I managed to purchase a refurbished replacement Palm for the one I had stolen last week and I am sitting here waiting for DHL to deliver it. They have a tracking function on their website and it says it’s with the courier at the moment but no delivery time. We’ve all waited in for a delivery and without a time it could mean a whole day is lost although I have been pottering about this morning clearing all the coke cans and pizza boxes from last night's WWE event that saw my two sons and their two cousins glued to the TV.

I have actually been doing some work and even with the heat it’s still been busy out there. Again, there hasn’t been much out of the ordinary to report other than people moaning about the cab fare or which route I was taking.

I did come across a strange occurrence last night whilst driving west on Fulham Road. At the junction with Munster Road I came across a bunch of drunk Aussies playing Rugby.
They were throwing the ball to one another American Football style and hitting cars in the process prompting a wave of horn blasts from irate drivers at all four road junctions. My passenger just happened to be Australian and found the whole thing hilarious and even encouraged the guys as we drove past. When I dropped her off and returned the same way they were still at it and one motorist had got out of his car to have a go at them. Summer madness.

My final job last night saw me enter Victoria Station where there was a long queue of people as on most Sunday nights. A youngish guy with an iPod was to be my fare. He asked me how much it would be to go to Seven Sisters in North London. I said around the thirty-pound mark. He thought about it for a few seconds then said lets go. I didn’t like the look of him so I said I’d need the thirty up front. “Don’t you trust me?” he said. “Just covering myself mate, d’you want it or not?” I replied acting tough. He took out his wallet and handed over the thirty pounds and off we went. Him listening to his iPod and me listening to Coldplay performing live at this weekends Isle of Wight Festival on Virgin Radio. I never looked round once the whole way there until I pulled up outside Seven Sisters Underground Station. He was spark-out. I had to shout at him about three times to wake him. It took him a few minutes to realise what planet he was on then another one to realise what area he was in. When I pointed out the station the recognition was complete. He then looked at the meter (£29.80, not a bad estimate) and asked for the 20p change. Well I totally expected that from someone like that but was glad I’d taken the money first as he definitely would have been trouble.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I Believe In Karma

What goes around comes around, Karma, call it what you like. I had a taste of that today and it wasn’t nice. I had to take my Dad to Moorfields Eye Hospital for his pre-op appointment. I can normally park on the taxi rank outside the front door but today there were two cabs occupying it. I put my cab on a parking meter and had to pay £4 per hour. I put in enough for four hours so work that out. All my valuables get locked in the boot when I go off and leave the cab, the only trouble today was that I forgot to lock the boot. The other cab just used to shut but this one has to be locked and lately I’ve been forgetting. I had no reason to take my stuff out until after I’d dropped my Dad home and gone to my own home. I had a nap for a few hours as it had been a long day and at 9pm I decided to go to work for a few hours. I went to the rear of the cab to retrieve my bag and found the boot unlocked, no surprise there. I put the bag in the front with me and started my daily ritual of preparing for work. Where was my money pouch? Where was my £1 coin container with about £30 in coin? And most horrifyingly, where was my Palm Tungsten C PDA? Some dirty rotten bastard had knicked all three things. If they’d have lifted the whole bag out and made off with that they’d have landed themselves with my satnav and my Sony digital camera as well but for some reason they left it behind. The reason I said what I did at the top of the page is because someone had done to me what, as a youth, I did to many people. I must have destroyed a few peoples lives way back when I was a lad with a set of keys that could open anyone’s boot so I just smiled to myself and said “serves you right” It still doesn’t mean I’m not gutted at losing the Palm because I am. I had so much personal info on there and all my databases that I’m going to have to replace it soon. I’ve seen a few on ebay but they want too much money. They’re quite an old model now and should realistically only go for around £50. I’ll keep looking.
It definitely affected my work because I only managed around 6 jobs. The last one took me so near home that I couldn’t resist. I went straight in to look on ebay.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Today (Sunday) was the end of school half term. It is generally always an extremely busy day for work as people are returning with their kids from all over the world. I made sure I got out early to fill my boots and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a scorching hot day so had it not been for the end of holiday then we’d have all been driving about empty as people opted to walk.
I called in at my usual stations, Paddington and Victoria (main entrance and the Raft around the back).

The Raft (Victoria)
The work was continuous for most of the evening. Even the beggar at Victoria was having a good day as he asked me to change some his day’s takings into notes. I counted it all out first and there was £15 there. Not bad for doing nothing all day except making a nuisance of yourself. I only did it as I was short of pound coins otherwise he’d have got the blanking treatment.

The only real blogworthy occurrence of the night was when four people in Grosvenor Square flagged me down and they asked for the Thistle Marble Arch. As they were getting in one of the women didn’t keep her head down and butted the top of the cab. She fell backwards into the arms of the person behind her as if knocked out and started sobbing. This sort of thing happens regularly with the Fairway taxis but never with the TXI and II’s as they are a little bit higher. Many years ago I stopped for a couple that had a baby in a backpack and as they bent to get in the baby caught it full in the face. I had seen it happen but they were oblivious to it until the baby, who had the wind knocked out of him, caught his breath and started screaming and wailing uncontrollably. It was a terrible thing to witness. As always, by the time we reach the destination the passenger has recovered somewhat and walks away from the cab rubbing their head, poor things.

One other occurrence worth mentioning. I was driving along Horseferry Road and was flagged by an unlikely pairing of a well-dressed man and a scruffy black youth. The youth waved the man over to me and headed off in the other direction. The well-dressed man had been looking for his hotel but couldn’t find it. He produced one of those cards with all the hotel details on it. The hotel was a five-minute walk away. I told him to jump in and that I’d whisk him round there in a minute but he seemed reluctant to get in. I said I wouldn’t charge him as I was going the same way and, surprisingly, he was inside the cab in a flash. 30 seconds later he recognized his hotel and started making some funny gurgling noises. I pulled over, he jumped out, thanked me and that was that.

I was so busy that I never stopped for supper. I popped in to an all night shop but couldn’t decide what I wanted. I ended up with a packet of Italian Salami to make a sandwich at home and a packet of ready to eat mangoes, both of which have been duly demolished and washed down with a cup of tea. Goodnight John-boy!!!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

On the pull

I hadn’t been to see my parents since the 14th of May so after dropping my son off at his Saturday job I popped round there. My sister was also there doing a spot of spring cleaning and we commented on how this time last year we were doing the same thing whilst my mum was in Spain with my sick dad. Dad remains in good health but has yet another operation to look forward to on his eye. It’s to remove a cataract which will hopefully clear up his vision in that eye. Mum was mourning the loss of RocĂ­o Jurado, a famous Spanish singer. I had never heard of her but mum was really taking it badly and even shed a tear.

I had meant to start early today but England were playing Jamaica in a friendly and it was on TV so I decided to cook some pasta for me and the kids and watch the game. England won 6-0, a sign of things to come perhaps?

I got out the door at 6.30pm and had to find a petrol station that didn’t have a queue. So many have closed down due to leases expiring and plans to build flats on the property that the few that remain are always busy. The BP in St. John’s Wood was empty, probably because it’s the dearest garage in the area. After paying for my fuel and returning to the cab two American couples walked up to me and asked me to take them to the Mermaid Theatre at Blackfriars. The traffic was slow most of the way. I pulled a couple of strokes to get out of it but it always met me on the other side. After about the third stoke one of the women piped up in the back. Did I know it was in Blackfriars? Yes luv I’ve been a cabbie for sixteen years. Why were we taking so many turns? To get you there quicker, haven’t you noticed the traffic? How much further? About 10 minutes. Then the classic one. We’re not tourists, we live in London. That’s a coincidence so do I. I don’t need this sort of shit but it happens from time to time and it takes a lot of effort not to be rude or lose it altogether. Inspite of all that they still gave me a nice tip and told me to have a nice day. I love Americans.

I was driving southwards on Highgate Road when a man flagged me. Did I know where the Forum was? “Yes mate it’s just there” I replied indicating the said building to him. “Well I need to go past that and towards the railway bridge” he said climbing into the cab. The railway bridge was only about 400 yards away. He was telling someone on the phone of his location. As we approached the bridge he told me to stop by a guy on a phone, I assumed it was the guy he was talking to. As we pulled up the guy on the pavement about turned and walked away. My passenger let out a sigh. I asked what was happening and he said that I should just wait there. Not a word was spoken for five minutes whilst I tried to figure out what the hell was going on. You get all sorts of strange ones in this job and as a rule I never make any comments. After the five minutes were up he handed me a fiver, the exact fare, and said that it was the strangest cab ride he’d ever had and got out heading in the same direction as the other fella. Ours is not to reason why etc etc.

I sat next to Battersea Park tonight eating my Satay Chicken and Rice and listening to Virgin Radio as I regularly do when this extremely camp old geezer walked up to the window and said “are you free?” like John Inman in Are You Being Served, the 80’s TV show. I nearly answered, “I’m free” in the same camp voice but he might have thought I was taking the piss out of him so I just said “yes mate where you going?” He said “I’d love for you to take me to the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Marble Arch” I haven’t heard it mentioned by it’s full name for ages as everyone says KFC, but anyway, off we went. He started asking me all the usual questions that passengers ask a hundred times over then basically tried to find out if I liked cock instead of pussy. Fifteen years ago I would have stopped and thrown him out but these days I humour people like that. I asked him if he thought I looked like I might like cock, he replied in the affirmative. He said he always tried it on with cabbies and sometimes got lucky. Not tonight he never. If as many women chatted me up as men do then I’d be a happy man.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tapering off.

I did another long day today and am completely shattered but if I don’t write this now it’ll never get written. As you’ve probably seen, the blog has tapered off somewhat. That’s due to the fact that I’m doing much longer hours and need to unwind by watching TV and not typing. I’ve now moved on from Lost to Season 5 of Smallville, another great show.

Between yesterday and today I’ve done about 50 jobs so it’s safe to say I’ve been busy. The rain we’ve had recently seems to have gone away for a while and the mega demand for cabs is over. Now it’s just the bread and butter work that’s always there. I’m using totally different ranks during the day. There’s an extremely busy rank outside Waitrose (supermarket) in Marylebone High Street that I keep going back to. It’s only a two-cab rank and it’s not always possible to get on the back. These small working ranks should be just for that…work. But some cabbies abuse them by parking on them and going off to do their shopping or banking.

As the football World Cup draws nearer the amount of England flags that can be seen from every other vehicle increases. Transport for London have allowed licensed taxis to display the England flag but to make sure it doesn’t “get in the way”, whatever that means. Although I can be patriotic I don’t like drawing attention to myself with these sorts of decorations but I will be backing the team 100%.

My camera has been buried at the bottom of my bag for the last couple of weeks so today I took a few with my phone and the quality is not as good.
The Mall is the red coloured road in front of Buckingham Palace with all the flags that is often seen during the London Marathon. I clicked a few off whilst driving down it earlier.

Traffic in The Mall

Buckingham Palace

Cyclists in The Mall

I managed to get on the rank at Victoria station earlier and by the time I made it to the front it had taken about 20 minutes, so only a decent paying job would do. An Asian couple came walking into view and don’t ask me why but I had visions of a trip westwards. My face dropped as they asked for the Thistle Westminster Hotel. “But it’s only around the corner” I protested. “Well we don’t know where it is” said the guy. “Turn right and walk to the second corner and there it is” I said hopefully. “My wife’s tired, we’ve done a lot of walking today, please can you take us?” What could I say? The meter starts at £2.20. When I pulled up outside the hotel it read £2.40. He gave me £2.50 and said keep the change. How kind of him.

When I’m in and around the Paddington Station area I like to get a kebab from Kolossi in London Street. I’ve been going there for years now and always have a good chat with the owner. His face always lights up when he sees me and he comes over and makes me the kebab himself, always over stuffing the pitta bread with kebab meat. I hadn’t been in there for a few weeks but it tasted better than ever, not like the one that did my guts in the other day.