Suitably nourished I carried on with my nights work and found myself heading towards Victoria Station where I was flagged by a group of young people. One of them came to the window and I recognised her as a relative by marriage (to those that know me and read this blog don’t ask me who it was as I said I wouldn’t mention it to anyone and here I am going global!!). It took her a while to twig it was me and when she did she got a bit animated but was more concerned that I might tell her parents that I had picked her up in an inebriated state, so I promised her I wouldn’t say a word. Then came a dilemma I haven’t had for a while. Do I take her money? They went to Covent Garden and I decided en route that I wouldn’t charge her but when we arrived she insisted and gave me a £5 tip as well.
The West End was manic, as are all Friday nights, and I really wasn’t in the mood to pick up idiots so I made my way to Victoria again. On the approach to the rank all the cabs were swerving away from these 2 girls who were completely rat-arsed. As I swerved away one of the girls dropped her phone and I heard it crunch under the wheels of the cab and all I heard was her shouting “you bastard, you’ve killed my phone” as I sped off. The last time something similar happened was in broad daylight when passing some road works one of the guys dropped a plastic box containing his lunch and I flattened it. All I could see in the rear-view mirror was this guy waving a flat piece of plastic at me and giving me a recognized hand gesture with thumb and forefinger.
I pulled into the station itself and there was a long queue of people. My job was a couple going up to Highbury in north London. The route took me through some ridiculous road works where a massive detour would be necessary to get around. Of course, the couple had been busy snogging and when they surfaced for air couldn’t recognise the diversion and started “piping up” as I call it. I put them straight with a few choice words and they re-joined lips for some more snogging. The guy asked me to stop at a shop to buy some drink and when he got out his chick started asking me questions about this and that. It turns out she was from Honduras and gave me a chance to practice my Spanish on her which really gave her a thrill. The guy came back and she introduced me to him like a long lost friend but he didn’t look too impressed. Two minutes up the road he puts his head in the gap of the partition and says quietly “ I forgot to get some rubbers, can you stop again?” which I duly did and instantly got interrogated again by Miss Honduras (she might have been as she was really pretty). “What did he say to you?” Diplomatically I answered, “Oh, he forgot to buy cigarettes at the other shop” “Yeah sure” she said suspiciously but left it at that. He came back and she asked him the same thing and lucky for me he said the same as I did. I got them home and she shook my hand and said a whole load of nice things to me in Spanish. She paid me, and surprise surprise, no tip. As she shut the door I looked round and there was a £1 coin on the seat. She saw it too. You would have thought it was a ten-pound note the way she tried to get back in the cab to get it but the guy told her to leave it for me. I took a picture of the name of their road just to post something.
The work continued at a fast pace. Rosebery Avenue to Charing Cross Station, Charing Cross Station to Waterloo Station, The Strand to Hammersmith and onto Roehampton. The passengers on this job were three merry ladies and they were telling each other jokes all the way home and although I wasn’t involved in their conversation I could hear everything and there were some crackers in there which had me in stitches. On my way back through Hammersmith I trapped a four-hander on a busy roundabout and held up the traffic to pick these people up which prompted all the cars that had to get past me to honk their horn and shout insults at me, what an impatient breed we motorists are! The job ended up in Finsbury Park in North London and they gave me £35 including a nice tip. That concluded my night’s business and I set off towards the comfort of my bed.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Page 2 starts with the previous balance carried over. £58
Nosebag - B. Pk. Rd means I stopped for my supper (nosebags are used on cart horses to feed them and some cabbies apply the term to their own feeding times, don't we Chris?) B.Pk Rd. (Battersea Park Road) is the location of the Chinese Take Away I mentioned and pictured a few blogs back. I had my usual; a number 96 with fried rice, 96 being Satay Chicken. I always collect my food and sit in Prince of Wales Drive next to Battersea Park eating and listening to Virgin Radio where tonight an ecstatic listener won a week in New York City.
Back to work.
6th job. Victoria Station Taxi Rank to the Zander Bar at 45 Buckingham Gate. Fare: £4.40 Legal (no tip).
(today for some reason I start adding up the totals down the right side of the pages)
8th job. Waterloo Taxi Rank to Loughborough Junction Station near Brixton (a rough area) Fare: £12.20 Legal.
9th job. Victoria Station Taxi Rank to Wandsworth Road, south of the river. Fare: £11 inc £1 tip. (looks like a 4)
10th job. Buckingham Palace Road near Victoria Station to Strawberry Moons, a bar in Heddon Street, Central London. Fare: £10 inc £1.40 tip.
11th job. Regent Street, Central London to the Sanderson Hotel, a popular and trendy venue in the centre. Fare: £5.60 Legal
12th job. The Sanderson Hotel to Angel Islington an area in North London. Fare: £10 inc 40 pence tip.
Total so far, £126.
13th job. Great Portland Street (central) to Erconwald Street in East Acton, West London. Fare: £22 inc £3 tip. (Her company was paying and she asked me for a couple of blank receipts)
14th job. NHG (Notting Hill Gate) to Brixton, South London. Fare: £27 Legal.
15th Job. Brixton (I only pick up here if they look respectable) to Prince of Wales Drive, Battersea (where I ate my supper) Fare: £14 inc £2 tip.
16th job. Kings Road, Chelsea to Fulham Park Gardens. Fare: £10 inc 40 pence tip.
17th job. Gloucester Road, South Kensington to Du Cane Court in Balham, South London. Fare: £17 Legal.
18th job. Kings Road, Chelsea to Vingt Quatre, a 24 hour Brasserie in Fulham Road, Chelsea. Fare: £6 Legal.
Grand total for the night was £222 which ain't bad for seven and a bit hours work.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
I wasn't going to have a night off tonight but I was watching the Barcelona v AC Milan game on tv and dozed off. Continental games have a habit of doing that to me as they can be pretty boring at times. My daughter asked me if I had any batteries for her MP3 player and I said we could pop out to the local supermarket (Sainsbury's in Ladbroke Grove) to get some and a few other bit's and pieces.
When we got there the parking spaces had all been changed around in the last few days. The regular customers had to park at the far end of the car park making way for the disabled drivers at the front of the store. Not one to follow the rules, I parked right outside the front door in a disabled bay.
A nightly ritual for me is the hanging up of the badge I wear whilst working. I have lost it many times over the years but now I hang it on a nail in my room so that I can always find it.
As a divorcee I have to do all the household chores ontop of my nights work. I do get some help from the kids but in general I prefer to do it myself. I made a Spanish Paella earlier (sorry no pic, it got eaten too quickly!!) so I had the dishes to do and the stove.
One of my favourite cakes are Danish Pastries especially the ones with Cinnamon in them. I had a couple with coffee in my new England cup.
In to the living room to throw a few darts. I'm pretty good, even if I do say so myself, and regularly score 180 maximums. The wall below the board is peppered with holes where various amateurs have missed, none of them are mine. The 15 - 11 at the top of the right score board is how it currently stands between my two sons versus me and my brother Joe. We only play every so often when circumstances bring us all together but me and Joe are leading and my two sons can't handle that.
Tomorrow is Thursday and the begining of the busy four nights work so I shall be out there refreshed and eager to earn a few quid. Not!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Me and Mikey went straight to Halfords, a car spares and accessory shop in West Hendon, quite a journey during the rush hour, but it had to be done. Once there I bought an earth strap at a cost of £3.99 and fitted it to the cab and I was mobile once again.
Halfords in West Hendon
After giving the cab a bit of a clean up inside and out I finallly got out to work at 9.05pm. I trapped almost immediately and the work continued at a steady rate for the next five hours. The next six jobs kept me in and around the Kensington and Chelsea areas, my favourite hunting ground. It was while I was driving towards Hyde park on Queens Gate that a young lady flagged me down outside a bar, got in and asked me to pull over and wait. She was trying to ring someone on her mobile phone but it must have kept going to voice mail. After she tried 3 or 4 times to ring she sort of blew her top and shouted "Oh for fuck sake come on, I don't know what I'm doing with this loser" at no one in particular. I had a little chuckle to myself and said "What's up?" to which she repeated that she didn't know why she was with this guy as he was a loser. Just then a disheveled male appeared from the same door she had. He had a suit on but his shirt was hanging out, his tie was crooked and his hair was all messed up. She saw him and said "Oh my God look at the state of him". He saw us and came over and got in and directed me to Chiswick. He tried to give her a kiss but she wasn't interested then he started talking in a really peculiar voice, a bit like those old Jerry Lewis films, it was cringeworthy!! All of a sudden she said "Driver, can you take me to Hallam Street, I'n not going to Chiswick". Used to couples having arguments after all these years I just said OK and did a U turn. They then proceeded to have an argument but kept their voices very low so it sounded like a snake hissing. Just before I got to Hallam Street she said "can we go to the Albany" (a pub in Great Portland Street). OK says me. I dropped them off, she paid me £16 and into the pub they both went. By the time I'd put the money away, written down the amount on my notepad, had a swig of water and did a U turn to drive back towards town, I saw the guy come storming out of the pub stamping his feet and waving his arms about like a madman. She must have given him the sack.
Three or four jobs later I picked up an eccentric spinster, well that's what she looked like to me, and took her up to New Southgate in the extreme north of London. This is satnav territory and I was thankfull that she'd given me her street name at the begining so that I could plot a course. About ten minutes into the journey she started sneezing. One after the other. She obviously had an allergy or something but the amount of times she sneezed was ridiculous. I called through to her "are you alright love?" She said that she wasn't. I asked what was causing it and she said it could be one of three things. After shave, asbestos or dogs. In some form or other I think there were traces of all three things in the cab. Yesterday, while having my brakes done my brother in law used an airline to blow all the crap out from around the brakes, probably including asbestos. The Magic Tree air freshner (new car smell) I have hanging up in the passenger compartment could account for the after shave as it is quite strong and as for the dog, well, my mad Jack Russell called Dude is in the cab all the time but I never told her that I just put it down to the work I had done yesterday. I opened the rear windows for her and she seemed to settle down after that and I carried on concentrating on the journey. Every now and then she would shout out "left here!" or "right here!" contrary to where the satnav was telling me to go but I just did as she asked. Eventually we linked back up to the satnav route and all was well. I pulled up where she told me to and stopped the meter on £36 and a few pennies and she proceeded to rumage through her bag. The meter goes up 20 pence every twenty seconds so after about five minutes of her rumaging through her bag I would have earned another three pounds had I not stopped it. Next she declares she hasn't got enough money and we'll have to drive to an ATM. Once the meter is stopped you can't start it up without resetting it but if you drive on a stopped clock it will increase as you go along but once you stop at lights and traffic you lose out. Also on a stopped clock the interior lights are wired to go on automatically and go off once the wheels are turning. So, as you can imagine, the next few minutes were a right old song and dance with her asking me why the lights kept going on and off (because I stopped the meter outside your house before you realized you never had enough money on you, you dotty old cow...I thought this to myself but of course I never said it to her) and why couldn't she turn them off with the switch (for the same reason). Anyways, she got the money after the interior lights had gone on and off about fifty times and I got her home safely and the meter had increased another £6 making it £42 in all, no tip either, oh well. Enough for one night.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I went straight to work after all the repairs but it was really uneventfull. I did have two nice jobs though. One of them was a wait and return from Oxford Street to Lotts Road. The guy was meeting someone there and when we arrived he got out on the roadside and left the door wide open. A 4 x 4 almost took the door with it as it sped by. I got a bit of a fright and shouted out to the guy angrily to come back and shut the fucking door. I think it pissed him off a bit that I had shown him up in front of the people he was talking to as he gave me an angry look, but fuck him, was he gonna pay to fix my cab? I don't think so. He stood there talking for a few minutes then got back in for the return journey and never spoke a word to me. The meter clicked onto £30.40 when we arrived and I told him that £30 would be fine. Needless to say he threw the money at me and stormed off. Am I bothered?
The next job was the last of the night and by far the best in a while. 3 drunk ladies going three totally different ways but wanting to get there in the same cab so they could chit chat. (More like slag their work mates off, as thats all they did the whole trip) One went to Queens Park, close to where I live, another went to Kensington High Street and the last one went on to Mitcham where I started my shift from my brother in laws house. Together with a £5 tip the last lady gave me £52 in all. I could have carried on but as I'd started the day a lot earlier I felt a little ratty and needed to get back to my home comforts.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Well St George's Day came and went and all in all was pretty uneventful. My sister sums it up in her latest post.
There were a few drunks floating about but I think the steady drizzle we've had today kept a lot of people at home. I did pick one drunk guy up who I had to humour as he seemed to have a problem with the world. In the US you'd call him a redneck, someone who hates everybody but his own kind. To add to that he was a Millwall supporter. The fans of Millwall are notorious for being racist thugs along the same lines as the ICF as mentioned a couple of posts ago. He was trying to find out who my team was, probably to start a fight, but I managed to convince him I didn't follow football and that my sport of choice was rugby, (a lie) a sport which he knew nothing about. He left me alone after that and rang his girlfriend and started talking all soppy with her telling her he had something for her. I dropped him at a pub in Bermondsey in South East London and breathed a sigh of relief when he'd gone. I had to drive all the way back to my favourite perch at Victoria Station before I picked up another job. A couple got in and I heard the woman exclaim "Ooh look a box of Ferrero Rocher unopened!". I guess the thug never had a present for his girlfriend after all. I had the intercom turned up and I could hear them in the back unwrapping the chocolates and stuffing their faces with them. They could have offered me one as they were technically my responsibility to hand in at the lost property office!!
I found something out tonight when a wheelchair passenger wanted my cab at Euston Station . My wheelchair ramp was jammed. I offered to tip his chair up and push him in but he refused to get in by this method and said he would take the next cab. The cab driver behind me didn't look too happy and I am sure he gave me a dirty look. I haven't used the ramp for about a year so I suppose it must need oiling or something. My front brake pads need changing also and I am getting them done at my brother in law's later on today so we can check out the ramp and fix it at the same time.
I filled up with diesel (it's almost a full pound per liter today) and grabbed a coffee and chocolate croissant and took a break by the Harley Davidson shop in Kings Road. (I had a pic but lost it).
In spite of the rain it was still very slow. I did some big bird on the taxi ranks only to get short jobs and comments like "We know it's only a short distance but it's raining". I was about a mile from home when two guys flagged me down in Edgware Road and asked for Market Mews in Mayfair. Unless they lived there they could only be going for one other thing. They spoke poor English but they told me they came from Greenland. I don't think I've ever seen a Greenlander before and they had similar features to Icelanders, the only one of which I ever picked up was the singer Bjork about five years ago. Anyhow, they were really enjoying their stay in London and kept declaring how much fun they were having. I pulled up in Market Mews next to the place I expected they would go to and the red light was on meaning they were open for business at 1.30 am. They paid me £10 tipping me £3 and walked off. I called out to them "Have fun".
Now that I was back in town I thought I'd do a few more jobs then head home. There were some wierd people out there tonight when really they should all be tucked up in bed.
The last job was an elderly Russian couple from a new restaurant in St James's. The old boy had a job climbing into the cab and his wife was shoving him from behind and I could only assume he was shouting (in Russian) for her to leave him be as he could manage, which he clearly couldn't. At their hotel in Marble Arch he again had difficulty getting out and I jumped out and offered my hand to him but again he was having none of it. Miserable old goat. And he never tipped, but I expected that.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
I spent most of the day ferrying the kids about hither and thither. My daughter spent the day with a school friend in Wembley and my son went to his mates 21st Birthday celebration in Harrow and then into town at Covent Garden.
I got out to work at 10pm (it's getting later and later again) and only did three hours before my son rang to see if I was in the area to pick him up and take him home. In that short time I managed about 10 jobs most of them in the centre.
I picked up four Brazillian guys in Chelsea and took them to the trendy Sanderson Hotel. They were in very high spirits and one of them had samba music playing from his mobile phone. They were all singing along and the cab was rocking from side to side. A Mercedes Sports pulled up next to us with 3 beautiful girls in it and the guys started chatting them up whilst we waited in the traffic. I had to smile to myself at all the pick up lines they were using and d'you know what? They worked because they told the girls to follow them to the Sanderson for a drink and some fun and the Mercedes stuck right behind me all the way there. Once there I was paid off and looked on in admiration as these guys reeled in their catch. Good luck to them.
As I said it was a short shift tonight as I collected my son from The Roadhouse in Covent Garden but it was a pleasant evening all the same.
Today is St George's Day, the patron saint of England so Sunday night should be pretty busy in town, hopefully not too many drunks, i'll let you know how it goes.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
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?
Friday, April 21, 2006
I don't generally work so far to the east of town but I ended up there after I was hailed by what I'm almost sure was a high class call girl in Kensington with an address on a scrap of paper. She asked me how much it would be to that part of town and I told her it would be the best part of £30. When I did "The Knowledge" to become a cab driver most of this side of town was derelict. 16 years on and it's all completely changed. There are hundreds of appartment complexes all with names I've never heard of. The street she was looking for actually showed up on the satnav which surprised me but we had a lot of trouble locating the appartment block and the meter clicked up to £29 by the time I found it. She was a bit flustered and produced a handfull of scrunched up banknotes telling me to keep the change. As I straightened out the notes I saw there were two twenties and a ten, fifty in all. £21 tip. That's the best one I've had for a while, even if it was probably a mistake. Back on Canary Wharf the doorman of an office block flagged me down, hopped in and directed me round to another door with two brand new Bentley's sitting outside. A stunning blonde got in. The voice she had didn't match the look. She was talking on the phone and every other word was either "fucking this or that" or "that bitch". She then said "Can we go to Koko's in Camden and I need to stop somewhere to get some fags". Off I went on what was going to be a good ride. The tirade continued until we reached the Texaco garage on The Highway when she got out to buy the fags (cigarettes). When she returned she carried on with her phone conversation. From what I could gather she was talking to her mum. She had just been at the unveiling of the latest Bentley with her father and there were a lot of important people there. She was introduced to a young lady (25 she said) who was married to a 75 year old man (gold digger perhaps?). The lady asked he if she knew her husband to which my one said no but my dad does. A catty remark was made and the whole atmosphere changed causing my one to make a sharp exit. And here she was in my cab telling all her friends about it. Are all women that bitchy? I think they must be because listening to my own daughter chat to her pals all they seem to do is slag each other off. Once my passenger had finished telling the story to everyone in her phone book she turned her attention to me and started telling me it all over again. It seemed like a storm in a teacup to me but it bothered her so like the good listener I am, well...I listened. I then chipped in with a few suggestions and we got on famously. It turns out she is a reporter with one of our top newspapers, I won't say which one, and she was covering the Bentley story etc etc etc. The subject got on to tipping and how some people are tightfisted with their money. She said she'd give me a good tip as it was on the company. The job ended with £27 on the meter and she gave me £30. I had a nice run of jobs all night after that. All of them going over £10. My last job took me from Bermondsey Street to Golders Green which is a loveley job to finish up with if you live where I do. The guy was an accountant specialising in tax and, I'm no expert but given his area of residence and a certain look, most definitely Jewish. I always get on well with these people and I ended up telling him my life story and he in turn told me his. He was going through a crisis with his wife and just wanted to be free of her but it was going to cost him big-time to get a divorce. He told me all he wanted to do was travel the world on his own as he was a loner. I think he was glad to be able to unload on someone because he also gave me a nice tip. 15 minutes later I was at home eating steak pie chips and beans and looking back on a good nights work. (No pics today as there was nothing worth photographing)
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I live my life from day to day. I need to work almost every day of the week to stay ahead of the game. One day off and I start sinking. Two or three days off and throw a few high profile family birthdays in, a day out at a theme park and a family get together and it’s safe to say I’m in deep shit. Which is why I had to do two stints today. I hate working days, as the traffic is always bad. The jobs are shorter and the meter charges at a lower rate. That said, the quality of the passengers can be better. It’s generally women shopping, business people going in to The City etc. No drunks, no losers and no bilkers (people who haven’t got any money or people who run away without paying). Trust me to get a bilker. It was a very short job from Fulham Road to Old Church Street in Chelsea. I had £4.20 on the meter and she gave me a pound and said she would go get the rest. She looked rough, like a retired prostitute. I know this because in 16 years I must have picked up hundreds of them and they all use the phrase “alright darlin?” So I waited 5 minutes, then 10, then drove off as I have done countless times at night empty handed. I never saw where she went as she walked down the street so I couldn’t go knock on the door. 3 jobs later I was driving close by and I saw her walking down Kings Road. I stopped across from her and shouted “Oi where’s my three quid?” She replied “Oh shit I forgot” and indicated for me to go over to her, for what, I don’t know. I just said, “forget it” and waved her away. She’ll need a cab another day or night and it won’t be mine she gets in.
I hadn’t had any breakfast so I drove round to Zanellis in Old Brompton Road and had a coffee and a sandwich. There’s nowhere to park round there and the traffic wardens come out of nowhere. While sitting there eating my sandwich I spotted a warden and quickly sped off. My coffee flew off the dashboard and all over the gear stick and my receipt pads. You should’ve heard me swear…just a little bit.
I paid a few bills then went home. I knew the kids were going out to celebrate my son’s 18th Birthday so I didn’t have to cook. I grabbed a few hours sleep and was back on the road at eight thirty.
Passengers waiting for taxis
It was desperately quiet and I only managed half of what I would normally expect to earn on a Tuesday night. Victoria Station was running (very busy) so I kept going back there.
Only a couple of incidents of note to report.
I picked up a mother and daughter from Paddington Station with two great big heavy cases. I struggled to get them into the cab. Halfway to where we were going the lady asks me if I would take the cases into their flat for an extra fiver. I agreed. When we got there it was on the third floor and there was no lift. By the time I’d got the two cases up the six flights of stairs I was completely fucked. A fiver just didn’t seem worth it. I sat in the cab for a full ten minutes composing myself; I’m not the fittest of blokes and I honestly thought I was going to have a heart attack. I have mates who would ask for £20 and £30 to carry cases up that many stairs but I just haven’t got the front to do that. In the past I have declined citing back problems.
Our taxis are wheelchair accessible and have ramps that pull out. You will often pick up people in wheelchairs who wait by the side of the road either by themselves or with relatives and friends. The whole chair just slides straight in and even has straps to secure it although nobody uses them. The only problem is that some of these people smell of piss or even shit. I’m not being cruel but there’s a few that are known for it and cab drivers won’t pick them up. I was flagged down by someone in South Kensington and I shouted over to her “where to?” she said, “it’s not for me it’s for her”, pointing to a “known smeller” and I just drove off. Honestly, I can’t be having any of that in my cab. I’ve been caught out a few times and spent the entire journey heaving as if to vomit. No thanks. Let Dial-a-ride take them.
Excuse the blue but i've done something wrong and can't be bothered to delete it and start again.
UPDATE...Changed colour to what you see now.
Can any body tell me why, if I post more than one picture, only the first or top one opens up bigger when clicked. the others don't open? Strange.
Monday, April 17, 2006
I took my daughter to Thorpe Park on Saturday to celebrate her cousins 14th birthday. It’s a theme park on the outskirts of London with some amazing rides, check out the link.
A deserted Kings Road, Chelsea.
Work tonight was pretty slow. The streets were deserted. I did have some quirky passengers though like a couple of extremely drunk posh women talking about death and about someone they knew who had recently been murdered. I had the intercom full on but unless their head is turned towards the mike in the window sill it’s hard to hear clearly. I had a four-hander to The Garage, a music venue in Highbury Corner. They all had an open beer in their hands and I thought of Paradise Driver informing them that they were breaking the law (as far as I know it’s not against the law here). I nearly managed to get a booking for 4am in the morning to take a guy out to Gatwick Airport but when I told him how much it would be he changed his mind. I stopped for these two sorts (good lookers) in Kings Road and they only wanted to go about 500 yards down the road. They asked me something on the way and I answered them and one of them said “Ooh what a lovely voice you have, it’s so. …growly!” Little did she know I had a frog in my throat.
I’ve had a headache all night. I think I caught the sun yesterday. I was out in the open air for the best part of 12 hours. I never took anything for it as I couldn’t be bothered to stop anywhere. It’s still with me now as I write this
When it seemed like the night was over I drove past Victoria Coach Station and a lady with two little girls flagged me down and asked to be taken to Finchley Road which fortunately takes me part of the way home, which I did do straight after dropping her off.
I'm attending a barbeque at my parents house later on today. We haven't had one for a while and this is the first of the New Year. Read my sister's blog for more information on it. I have to contibute a couple of Spanish omelettes. There's generally always too much food there so it's best to not eat anything all day until the afternoon. Happy Easter everyone.
Friday, April 14, 2006
It was another average night tonight. My main concern was that I went out with only a few £5 notes and no tenners. Everyone was giving me twenties to change and after stopping for the fourth time to buy a drink or something else to change a twenty I opted for a bag of Monkey Nuts and went and sat on South Kensington Rank to eat them. I amused myself by opening each nut and throwing the shells out of the drivers window and all you could hear was the crunching sound as the traffic drove over them.
I was driving down Gloucester Road and a couple flagged me down. The guy was rat-arsed drunk. I couldn't understand what the hell he was trying to say, I didn't even have the beginnings of a clue. He then started saying "you don't know?" over and over in a strong foreign accent. The woman leaned in and said "he's the Ecuadorian Consul". I said "oh yeah? Well I still can't understand what he's saying, can you?" She said she knew where they were going and that she would direct me. A couple of turns later we pulled up outside Cuba, a Latin Bar in Kensington High Street, which I would have known had he not been slurring his speech. What would the Ecuadorian government think of the impression one of their representatives was making on the streets of London. Tut!! tut!!
I had a bit of a wake up call earlier. I was driving along Marylebone Road which is a 3 lane dual carriageway. I had 2 people nattering away obliviously in the back. I was probably, no, definitely, going too fast when I suddenly noticed the lights had gone red. If I'd have slammed the brakes on at that moment the two in the back would have smashed into the partition as they never had their seat belts on, so the only thing I could do was drive through the red light causing the few pedestrians who were on the crossing to shit themselves and then wave their fists at me and give me a recognized insult gesture with thumb and forefinger. Point taken!
The change thing never got any better and forced me home in the end. I can't work like that and will make sure I have enough tomorrow night.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
It was pretty quiet tonight but I still managed to take my money. I discovered this Chinese Take Away a few weeks ago over on Battersea Park Road and have been going back regularly as they do a pukka Satay Chicken and Rice. You'd be amazed at how many of these places there are around town but also at how many are terrible.
When it's so quiet I often go and rank up outside the London Hilton in Park Lane. I've had some decent rides from there in the past and people can come out of there and ask to be taken any where. A Russian couple came out one night around 9pm and asked for Stanstead Airport. It's London's fifth airport and the furthest away being actually outside London in the county of Essex. As I pulled up at the airport the meter clicked onto £105 and in broken English the man started complaining about the high price. I just shrugged my shoulders and held my hand out.
Anyway, I never got a long ride from there tonight just one to China White's, a nightclub in the West End. As I ducked and dived down some back streets to get onto Piccadilly one of them was blocked by a lorry. He was just blocking the whole street whilst he unloaded. All the cabs behind me started honking their horns so I did as well but the driver never appeared so everyone started backing up and going the longer way around (more money for me). I should've taken a picture but I often forget I have the camera with me. A lot of the pictures I take come out blurred, I think the camera has been dropped one too many times so tomorrow I'm going to take an older one out with me as the pictures it takes are much sharper.
By 1.30am it was all over and I found myself cruising around aimlessly. I had the radio on and Sade was singing Your Love Is King and I started nodding off so I juiced up at the petrol station above and called it a night.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
This was the scene in my house yesterday as a new TV was being "Road Tested". The other TV, a Sony 29" had been purchased from my mate Chris and lasted a good 10 years. It's still works but now needs a swift wack on the top before the picture will appear. This "new" one is a Phillips 36" widescreen also purchased from the same Chris who has just gone out and bought himself an LG 42" Plasma. After years of the Sony with no remote control this one is really doing it for me. It has so many extras and settings that I'm sure it will do my shift for me as well!!
Talking about shifts, I never went out last night as I needed a bit of R&R so me and the boys went out to our nearest all night store and bought some DVD's and some "Supplies" (popcorn, crisps, chocolate, drink etc) and spent the night in front of the new TV.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Work was fairly quiet on Monday night . Only a couple of incidents to report. I picked a guy up at the Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly and it took a while to understand him. It turns out he was Canadian but the French variety and he was from Montreal. French must have been his first language because his English was lousy. I speak fluent Spanish and a bit of French so with the two languages intermingled we understood each other and I got him to his hotel. As I was close to Paddington Station I put on the rank there and only waited a couple of minutes befor this American guy came out. Most Americans do this, they only ever say half of what they mean. They'll say the first part of a road or street but not add the "street" or "road" or "place". The same goes for place names or hotels. This guy came out and simply said "the Shaftesbury". That, in any cabbies mind, can only mean the Shaftesbury Hotel in Shaftesbury Avenue, smack bang in the centre of town. So I'm almost there, I've got £12 on the meter and he says "you are taking me to the Shaftesbury Kensington aren't you?" I've never even heard of that hotel so I said "you only said the Shaftesbury, that's where any cab driver would take you". He muttered something under his breath which I took as him showing annoyance towards me and I prepaired for a argument or worse but he simply conceded that it was his mistake and apologised. A swift U turn and £8 later I pulled up outside what must have been a brand new and classy hotel in a shitty street in the Earls Court area of west London and he just sort of threw the £20 note through the partition and stormed off. In theory we are supposed to know everything there is to know about London but in reality we don't and also the only way to find out when something new has opened is to be asked to go there and not know it. Sometimes it takes a couple of trips there for it to sink in and just as your getting used to something it goes and closes. C'est la vie.
Grabbed a bite to eat at Kebab Kid on New Kings Road and did another couple of jobs before calling it a night as I have an appointment at the Eye Hospital later on today.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I actually got out to work at 7.15 Sunday evening and it was a wet miserable night. I had the radio tuned to Magic FM and there was an interesting interview with Neil Sedaka that kept me company for about an hour. I made my way to the Paddington Station taxi rank which is one of the busiest stations in London due to the fact that the train from Heathrow Airport pulls in every 10 to 15 minutes. I started off with a nice cross-town ride to Fenchurch Street Station but then ended up driving all the way back in to another station, Victoria, the one with the resident beggar I'm always trying to avoid. The reason I try and avoid him and others is that I sat down one day and worked out how much money I give out to these people and it worked out to at least a couple of hundred pounds a year. It might not seem a lot to some people but it is to me so I decided that charity begins at home and to look after number one. From Victoria I got a fare to Tottenham in North London and when I got there they tried to pay me the £30 in Jersey money. Jersey is one of the self governing Channel Islands belonging to Britain but their money is not acceptable here whereas ours is acceptable there.....strange one that, so they had to get the money from someone in the house.
I grabbed a bite to eat at yet another of London's main line railway stations (we have 9) Marylebone, and carried on working until 1am. It turned out to be a wholelly uneventful night, but I think that's what most cabbies the world over would really want.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
I'm attempting to post a picture for the first time so have chosen one I recieved with a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) a few months ago. Over here they have cameras for absolutely everything. In this one I am supposedly blocking a box junction. There must be all of six inches of my cabs rear end over the line. I did comment on it in one of my earlier posts and have subsequently paid the £50 fine. I've put another one in here. It's my cab on my drive.
Started work around 7pm and to get me in the mood I put U2’s Zoo Station on full blast. The only problem is that I generally trap my first job within minutes of leaving the house and was only half inspired by the music before having to turn it off to pick up this really frail old Irish man. As he struggled into the cab I could see he was dribbling saliva all over the place and made a mental note to check that there wasn’t any on the seats and walls (are they called walls or bulkheads?) after he had got out. I forgot to check as a steady run of work then ensued. Edgware Road Station to Farringdon Station, Farringdon Station To Liverpool Street Station, Stamford Street to Horseferry Road, Rochester Row to Warwick Square, The Raft (Victoria Stations Gatwick Express Terminal) to Vama Restaurant in the Kings Road, Vama to The Fentiman Arms. From there I drove to Victoria Station to sit on the rank but there was a queue of people waiting and I managed to pick up and drive off just as the resident beggar was making a beeline straight for me. At 9pm the rain started and the work continued. At 10pm I stopped for a bite to eat at cabbies favourite kebab joint, Efes in Great Titchfield Street. They really know how to make a lovely kebab. Back to work and the jobs followed one after the other. I took two drunk ladies up to Haringay and because I let them off £2.80 (the fare was £22.80) and told one of them that she only looked about 25 years old (we’d been chatting) she wanted to kiss me and put her lips in the gap in my security screen. I offered her my hand instead of my lips and she gave that a little peck. I felt like the Pope!! On my way back from Haringay I was driving past the O2 Centre and this drunken crowd were stood in the road trying to flag me down. One guy was doing a “most muscular” pose a la Arnold Schwarzenegger and I couldn’t get by. I locked the doors and waited till he tried to get in then put my foot down and sped off. He lashed out at the cab with his foot I think and I heard a thud. I wasn’t in the mood for any more nonsense tonight and drove straight home. I checked for any dents but it’s dark so I’ll check in the morning. But apart from that last bit of hassle it was another decent night in London.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
I only did a couple of hours tonight as I wasn't in the mood.
I picked up my first celebrity in a long time and he's a personal favourite of mine. Richard Dreyfuss was just standing on the side of a road in Primrose Hill with an elegant lady, possibly his wife, but I wouldn't really know and asked me to take them to the O2 Centre in Finchley Road. There is a cinema complex there and some restaurants. I didn't get a chance to say anything to him as it was a short ride and he was deep in conversation with his companion and as he got out there was another couple waiting to get in. He paid me £10 for a £7 fare and that was that. I only did one more job after that then came home and watched Oceans 12 on DVD.
Friday, April 07, 2006
I managed to get out around 8pm and was pretty busy right up until 2am. I never stopped anywhere for food so I reached my target in those 6 hours.
I was driving through Trafalgar Square and realised that Nelson's Column is completely boarded up and there's a staircase running to the very top. They're obviously cleaning all the birdshit off it and giving it a general spruce up but I bet it'll piss a few tourists off who wanted to take a picture of it.
I picked a man up in Shaftesbury Avenue and he asked to be taken to Great Suffolk Street south of the river. I drove down Haymarket, through Trafalgar Square, Northumberland Avenue, along the river to Blackfriars Bridge, over the bridge, left into Southwark Street and finally right into his street. As I was crossing the bridge he pipes up with "Why are we crossing the river again?" Comments like that get my back up straight away and I feel like throwing them out. I replied with "If you can name the first bridge you reckon I crossed I'll give you a free ride". Needless to say he couldn't name it and I started lecturing him about accusing cab drivers of taking the long way round. By the time he got out I had made him feel like a complete twat and he couldn't apologise enough and even gave me a few quid extra.
There was a big function on in the marquee in Battersea Park and the taxi marshal told me there were about 1500 people there so I went back three or four times but they were all short to average rides.
Best ride of the night was probably Paddington Station to Putney.
So all in all a peaceful (except for the twat) but average (ride wise) night.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
The last few nights have seen me having an afternoon nap and dragging myself out of bed at 9 or 10 at night to go to work.
Friday really took the biscuit as I went out to work at 2am on the Saturday morning. I must admit I did enjoy it and took a decent wage in about 3 hours.
Sunday saw the annual tariff increase and all licenced taxis had to report to various depots and locations all over London to have their meters upgraded with the new software. I had to go to Station Road in Tufnell Park and I was in and out in under 10 minutes.
One weird incident to report tonight. I picked a couple up in Sloane Square and they were all over each other, shining each others tonsils. The woman wanted to drive past Chelsea College in Manressa Road. When we got there she told the bloke to get out while she paid. As he got out she grabbed the door handle, slammed it shut and shouted "Drive off quick!!!" The bloke looked totally bewildered as I sped off. I never asked her why.
I took her to the Grosvenor Kensington and she paid the fare plus a two pound tip and walked off. She must have had her reasons.