Sunday, April 29, 2007

Steamed Up!!

Well it finally happened. After years of mismanagement, has-been players coming and going and bleeding the club dry and the total lack of any manager being able to make us play good football, bar the shouting, Leeds United, the football team I have supported for 35 years are now a League One team. For those of you not in the know that’s not the top division, that’s the third division, a place we’ve never been to before. “Disgusted”, “gutted”, “heart broken” are just a few words that spring to mind but I suppose compared to the worlds larger problems it’s not the end of the world. We’ll be back….one day.

So,“Where have you been” I hear some of you ask? Very busy, very ill (just for a few days) very pissed off, feeling like the world owes me a living, ducking and diving, avoiding my garage the list is endless.

Let’s start with “Avoiding my garage”. Yes it’s back up to £800, the amount owed, yet again. I promised myself I wouldn’t put myself through that again but I have. I actually attempted to pay them today at 8am this morning (Saturday) but they must have stopped opening for those few hours of a Saturday morning because the boss was saying business was bad the last time I spoke to him. Apart from renting cabs out they also rely on private work to stay in business and that work has been thin on the ground apparently. So after not being able to sleep on Friday night because of the anxiety I felt, I wasn’t able to pay them today which in turn messed up my whole Saturday, then my team got relegated (as good as but there’s a glimmer of hope, Bob Hope and No Hope that is) so I stayed home on the busiest night of the week to catch up with stuff, including this blog.

I have also missed the meter upgrade that all my colleagues have been enjoying for the last few weeks. That means I’m earning two or three pounds less per job on average if the job was say £20 or more. I’ll probably have to go on Monday to get the meter sorted after parting with the £800.

In this last week the cab has decided to start overheating every so often. I was doing a run up to Crouch End and after driving up Dartmouth Park Hill and crossing over into Hornsey Lane I not only discovered that Hornsey Lane was closed and had been for the last few weeks according to my passenger but also that there was steam pissing out from under the bonnet and the temperature gauge was in the red. I let the passenger off the £8 fare, waited about ten minutes for the hissing and steam to die down and then drove to the nearest garage in Holloway Road. By the time I got there the hissing and steam had started up again and in my haste to get back to work I yanked the filler cap off and burnt my hand a little. Cold water soon cooled the hand down and filled up my empty radiator. The funny thing was that I had no further problems that night but my eyes were constantly on the temperature gauge. I checked the following morning and a wee drop of water was needed. So there must be a small leak somewhere which will need attention on Monday morning.

I recently spent a day and a half in bed after contracting some sort of bug. My son Michael had it days before me followed by my daughter. It then decided to attack me rendering me useless (more than usual that is) for the best part of two days. It’s at times like these when you realize just how on your own in this job you are. No work, no pay, no sick pay, no nothing. Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?

Check back soon.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

It was a pretty good day for me today. Not least because my football team, Leeds United, won at home and finally moved out of the relegation zone. Our destiny is back in our own hands and there is now a belief that we can avoid relegation and build from there.

I did two shifts today as I had to pay money into my bank before close of business to cover some bills. I worked the first shift mainly in the Kensington area and there was no shortage of work.

Bishop's Bridge Road at dusk

One problem I did have in the first shift was when a couple of Irish ladies asked to be taken to the Montagu(e) Hotel in Montagu(e) Place. I had already decided in my mind that they wanted the Montagu(e) something or other Hotel near the British Museum. Unbeknownst (is that correct grammar) to me a new Montagu (no e) Hotel had opened closer to the pickup point which was Paddington. So theres two Montagu(e) Places in London albeit spelt slightly differently and at least two Hotels with the word Montagu(e) in them. Needless to say I went to the wrong one and had to knock £8 off the fare. They were really nice about it though and I still got a whole 20p tip out of it!!

I went home around 4.15 pm to feed the hoard and to watch out for my teams result on TV.

The second shift started with a small blunder on my part. I was enjoying a tune (Aerosmith) and a latte bought from Starbucks in Randolph Avenue when a man stuck his head in the window and asked if I would take him to Sutherland Avenue nearby. The fare was £4.20 and he gave me what looked like a screwed up tenner. I gave him the change and he walked off. When I unscrewed the “tenner” I found that it was a fiver. So he’d got the ride for nothing and made 80p as well. I suppose what comes around goes around (or is that the wrong way round?) Many’s the time when I’ve……no I don’t think you need to know that.

I ranked at Paddington Station a good few times. Once the cabs have turned off the new bridge they have to rank alongside a brick wall. Some of them take this opportunity to throw out the rubbish that has accumulated in their cabs over the last weeks and even months and, mainly after dark, to have a slash up the wall concealed by their open cab doors. The whole stretch of wall absolutely reeks of urine so you have to queue with your windows shut unless you want to fill your lungs with that disgusting smell. The station does employ cleaners to collect all the rubbish but the smell is always present and they should disinfect the wall from time to time.

" The Wall"

There was something on at the Royal Albert Hall relating to Easter as all the people coming out of there were carrying some sort of lit candles. I waited for a job on the rank outside the front door. A lady came up to ask me if I would take her and her wheelchair-bound mother to Balham but as I was second cab I told her to take the front cab. That driver promptly refused to take the wheelchair as he couldn’t be bothered to get the ramps out and sped away leaving the poor lady standing there with her mouth open.
I don’t have a problem accepting wheelchairs and instantly jumped out and extended my ramp to allow the wheelchair access to the cab. The daughter told me that they always had trouble finding cabs that would take them and I couldn’t help but feel disgusted at some of my so-called colleagues. We were in Balham in about twenty minutes and I jumped back out to assist in getting the wheelchair out. They were falling over themselves to thank me which made me feel a little ashamed. I also got a £5 tip forced on me after I’d weakly refused it a couple of times.

As I came back over Battersea Bridge I was flagged by a couple with a child wanting to go to Mecklenburg Square, a nice £20 ride to finish up.

I called in at my local Tesco to buy my kids their annual Easter Eggs. I left it too late last year and they never got any. Tesco, the robbing bastards, were charging a fiver an egg but I daren’t leave it till tomorrow as they would probably be sold out.

I just went down to photograph the Easter Eggs and found that two have already gone!!

Happy Easter to you all.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sod's Law

The news here has been dominated by the 15 UK servicemen who were captured, detained for a few weeks and finally released and flown home from Iran yesterday. I’d like to think in cases like this that the reports we get from our own government are accurate and true. So it’s no surprise to me that it is now emerging that it wasn’t all sweetness and light over there and that the captives were kept isolated from eachother and at one point they were lined up against a wall as if they were about to be executed. It’s the sort of thing one has come to expect from most uncivilized countries where democracy is non-existent.
One thing that doing this job gives us cab drivers is the time to listen to the radio whilst working. It can be as good if not better than watching on TV and the coverage throughout the whole crisis was excellent on BBC Radio 5 Live.

You’ll all be pleased to know that I managed to scrape together the £800 needed to pay the cab garage and it was a great relief to me to get that out of the way. While I was there I asked them to check a few things. I had a couple of tyres fitted in February and in the space of seven weeks they have worn down to illegal levels. The mechanic checked the tracking and the ball joints and found them to be OK. He suggested to the owner that the problem must lie in the wishbones and that replacements would have to be ordered and fitted on my next visit. He fitted two new tyres there and then saving me a trip to Jettyres in Holloway. They also checked my speedo which has been flicking up and down instead of giving me a steady reading and it was decided that I may need a new clock or head as they called it so I have a few hours of waiting around to look forward to on my next visit which should be towards the end of next week.

Since I’ve paid the cab and the urgency has diminished I have found myself doing less and less. I only did five half shifts from Monday to Friday. Good Friday turned out to be a decent half shift as our meters were on “Rate 3” all day due to it being a Bank Holiday. Most jobs went a tenner or more and I didn’t even receive any strange comments from my passengers. I wasn’t looking to go too far north as I had to attend my nieces surprise 18th Birthday party at my sisters house in Palmers Green later on but as the Law of Sod decrees I trapped a job from the Gatwick Express all the way to the Holly Lodge Estate in Highgate and had to drive all the way back to town to carry on working. Nice views from there mind.

View from the Holly Lodge

When I arrived with my son at my sister’s house at around 9pm the party was already a few hours old and the surprise had already been sprung on my niece. As is usual at any functions hosted by any one of my family there was plenty to eat and drink. There was no music being played so I suggested linking my iPod to the active speakers of their computer. I have now loaded around 2700 songs on to it so there was plenty of choice which went down well with the older lot. After a while the younger lot got fed up with it and my iPod was replaced with my son’s one. Eminem, The Streets and lots of other stuff blasted from the speakers and effectively cleared the room of all us old fogeys.

I have no other obstacles in my way for the next three or four days so I am expecting to be able to get ahead of the game, monetarily. I’ll keep you posted.