As I think I’ve mentioned before, working during the day finds me sitting on ranks that I’d never use at night. A few favorites are the rank at the London Eye on the South Bank which has provided me with a steady supply of work whenever I’m in that area.
Another favourite is the Waitrose rank in Marylebone High Street. This particular area has many well known people living nearby and BBC London radio is also just a few seconds away from the rank so one can see a constant passing of well known faces walking past and even taking cabs from the rank. I spotted Ally McCoist, ex-footballer for Glasgow Rangers and team captain on the BBC’s A Question of Sport walk past me the other day closely followed by Andy Townsend, another ex-footballer and soccer pundit. He asked me for directions to Marylebone Station and when I told him it was a “slap from here” he decided to jump in and be driven there. We were there in minutes so there wasn’t any time to strike up a conversation, not that I would have instigated a chat with a celebrity as I get quite squeamish at the thought of it.
The downside of days is the traffic. Yesterday the Victoria area was in total gridlock and I had various passengers get in whilst I was stuck in traffic only to get out a few minutes later when they realized they weren’t going anywhere. After about the fourth set of passengers had gotten out I decided that drastic action was needed in respect of my positioning. I turned off Victoria Street and went down the side of Westminster Cathedral only to get caught in a fresh gridlock in Francis Street. A man asked me to take him to Paddington and I made sure I primed him up by telling him it was going to be a heavy journey. He said that “it beats walking” and would leave it up to me to make the right choices. I duly obliged by taking a seriously longer route which avoided the troubled areas and added three or four pounds to the fare. He was pleased, I got more money and everyone was happy.
Depending on where you are in the world you may or may not have heard of the tornado that cut it’s way through the Kensal Rise area of London yesterday (Thursday). About a hundred homes were affected mainly with roofs being ripped off but some were seriously damaged with walls collapsing exposing rooms to the elements. Apparently we have 40 to 50 tornadoes a year in the UK but the only time you sit up and take notice is when one passes through your neighborhood. I drive my daughter to school through the affected streets every morning so I count my self as lucky not to have been caught up in it just an hour or two earlier. The streets in that area are still closed off as we speak as engineers assess the building for safety. Some will have to be pulled down altogether. Many families are sheltering in the British Legion hall a few hundred yards from where I live and will probably be homeless for Christmas. I wonder if their home insurance covered Acts of God?
I nearly flattened a woman cyclist yesterday. I was in Knightsbridge heading towards The Old Bailey with two lawyer types onboard. As I pulled away from the lights on to Hyde Park Corner she came out of the park and cut across me. I swerved out of the way almost colliding with another cab on my right and managed to pull away. The next lights were on red so I stopped and contemplated the near-miss, mentally storing it in the appropriate section of my brain with all of the others I’ve had in my 24 yeas as a driver. Bang bang bang on my window. It’s the lady cyclist, and she’s not a happy bunny. I partially lower my electric window. “Didn’t you see me, you almost killed me” she started screaming at me. “You’re dangerous” she continued, and then turned to my two bewildered passengers and repeated “he’s dangerous, I’d be careful or even take another cab” My turn. “I’ll tell you what I saw shall I? I saw a stupid bitch come flying out of the park, cut across me without as much as a signal. It’s a wonder you’re still alive. Have you got a death wish or something?” She couldn’t answer that, the lights changed and off I went catching a glimpse of her in the door mirror giving me a hand signal. When are cyclists going to realize that most motorists don’t care for their antics and that they can get seriously hurt or worse if they don’t have their wits about them? They should ban all cyclists from the roads in my opinion as they never abide by the rules; well 99% of them don’t anyway.