I could quote a Clint Eastwood line from “Heartbreak Ridge” here but I’m not going to so if any of you are conversant with that fantastic film you’ll know what I mean, and why I won’t say it. (Highway says it to Profile when Major Powers has him running in circles)
Well, the Kipper Season is well and truly here. I’ve posted it before but for any newbies the Kipper Season refers to back in the day when cabbies wives would have to feed their family kippers because there was no money for luxury foods due to the quiet period following Christmas. It’s not quite that bad these days but not far off.
I’ve been at it all week and the work has at times been thin on the ground. Everyone has been telling me that people have taken an extra week off and I can quite believe it.
I’ve been trying to scrape three weeks cab rent together and am half way there. I now owe my garage £600 which is payable today Monday but I won’t have it all realistically until Thursday . How have I managed to get a few weeks in arrears I hear you all asking? Because I’m one of the “give him an inch he’ll take a mile” brigade. My garage can be too lenient for their own good and many drivers take the piss. I don’t consider myself one of them but I’ve had to take advantage of it because Christmas has ruined me. I plan to ring the garage later today to let them know I haven’t left town with their cab.
A couple of nights ago , I think it was Thursday or Friday, I had done about 8 hours work and was on the princely sum of £88 and about to call it a night when I decided to try Victoria one last time. The time was 1.30am and I am normally at home by 2am. I was at the head of the rank when a lady approached me and asked for a price to Cambridge, of University fame. To quote the old guy who hanged himself in “Shawshank Redemption” I dam near soiled myself. (Don’t know why I’m quoting films all of a sudden but it’s all good fun). Anyway, from my depressed, slouched position in the cab I sat bolt upright and thought of ways not to scare her off. I knew the price for Cambridge a few years ago would have been £140 to £150 so now it would probably be nearer to £180 or much more. Two things to consider here were the fact that she was a student and also that she was Australian. (Is that being racist?) In my mind I was telling myself “she ain’t gonna have it” and decided to quote her £150 after saying it would normally be the best part of £200. (Is that being greedy?) She started umming and arring. She asked if she would be able to get a bus to which I told her it was too late. She asked if she’d be able to get a cheap hotel for about £30 to £40 to which I said yes if she wanted to spend the night in a flea-pit. What about a better hotel? £100 to £150 per night says me. “Oh fuck it then you might as well take me” she finally decided much to my delight. I made sure she had enough money on her and off we went for the sixty mile jouney. I had a touch over a half a tank of diesel so I knew I’d get her there OK but would have to find a garage for the journey back. She spent the entire journey messing about with various electronic gadgets and made several phonecalls. We got to the Cambridge outer limits in about 40 minutes and she told me we’d have to stop at a cash point. I inwardly winced to my self as I’d asked her before we left London if she had enough money. A lot of these provincial towns only have a few cashpoints and more often than not are out of money in the small hours of the morning but I never said anything and hoped it would be OK. It was OK but now we were driving in a pedestrianised area of Cambridge, she only knew the cycle routes which is what we were on and my satnav was having kittens because it didn’t understand where the fuck we were. She kept recognizing ways that she’d been through on her bike and kept telling me to turn here or there where it was obvious motor vehicles were not allowed. We were going round in circles and she eventually gave up. We were lost in Cambridge. It was about 2.30am and there were still a few people strolling around and I was getting some very funny looks from them. I decided to ask someone how to get out of the pedestrian area and back onto the regular roads. After asking a few people I managed to find my way back to the road and the satnav readjusted to her road. Basically the whole centre is a no-go for motor vehicles and you have to use a ring road. If you use the clockface analogy I was at three o’clock and she lived at seven o’clock. The satnav took us anti clockwise so it was a bit longer (it’s not being greedy though as I’d already agreed on a price) and we finally arrived at her house. Now to find a garage. I was now on a quarter tank. The last time I’d used the POI (points of interest) on the satnav to find an open garage in the wee small hours I’d almost run out of juice as they were all closed. I decided to head back to the M11 motorway and find the next available services which turned out to be the ones at Birchanger Green near Stanstead Airport. I’d never let the fuel gauge get so low so it was lucky the cab never conked out in the middle of nowhere. I put £20 diesel in and also bought myself a meat and potato pasty and a pork pie plus a few sweets that I shouldn’t be eating. There was no microwave in the place so I drove out of there eating a cold pasty. After two bites I chucked it onto the M11 and opened the pork pie. After two bites of that it followed the pasty onto the M11 and I was left with peanut M&M’s and and a bag of revels to keep me company for the drive home.
I had another puker yesterday (Sunday). It shows you how desperate I was for work when I stopped for this guy who could barely stand he was so drunk. Luckily it was only a short journey from High Holborn to the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury. As we waited at the lights in Tavistock Place he opened the door and jumped out then turned and faced the open door and proceeded to vomit in the triangle of space between himself the door and the cab. He only got a few splashed on the door frame as the rest was all over his shoes and the pavement.
Another incident occurred yesterday as I picked up three Canadian ladies (is that racist?)going to the Central Park Hotel in Bayswater. As I turned into Earnshaw Street by Centrepoint the road was blocked by about 8 guys knocking seven shades of shit out of eachother. I couldn’t get past so I waited and watched as they went at it. We’re talking full blown punches to the face, stamping and kicking. One guy was being dragged away by another and his trousers ended up round his ankles revealing his crown jewels to all and sundry. One of my passengers shouted to me “quick dial 911” and I said “what for? By the time they get here it’ll all be over” and as I reversed and drove away I turned to my passengers and said “Welcome to London”.
I had another “touch” tonight as things were looking gloomy. I was next in line at Victoria when a lady walked up to me. I’d already done about twenty minutes “bird” on there so anything just to get me away from there would have done me. “I don’t know if you want to do this but I need to go to the Holiday Inn in Carburton Street where I’d like you to wait for me while I drop a suit off for my husband who’s in court tomorrow, have a wee (take a piss) and then we’re going back to Kew Station. Do you mind?” Did I mind? I could have kissed her. She was a talker so as we commenced the journey she started telling me how her husband was a doctor and was in court the next day as a character witness for a friend. They lived in Bournemouth on the south coast and he’d forgotten his suit and she’d had to get up halfway through her favourite TV program to drive to London in her Beamer at speeds of up to 115mph to bring it to him but she didn’t know her way round central London so had left her car at Kew Station and taken the train to Victoria blah blah blah. I must have said the right things when a response was required as she thanked me profusely and gave me £50 for a £43 meter.
Daughter is back at school in about 2 hours so I’m gonna grab a bit of kip. Catch you all later.