Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I'm a back.

Well folks, I’m back – refreshed and raring to go. Not.
My last work night was Sunday the 9th of September and I had to leave the cab at the garage. Chris of Titanic Struggles had been working the same shift and agreed to meet me there and take me home to get my luggage and then drop me off at my parents house in Harrow.
I emptied the cab of serious amounts of crap that had accumulated over the last year and finally I put the front of the radio-cassette together with the keys into an envelope and posted it through the letterbox. As we were driving away I realized I hadn’t removed one final thing from the arm-rest compartment – my wallet, with about £500 inside. I could have cried. Worst-case scenario was that the window would be broken and left overnight and I would inform the garage by phone. Before I did that I went back to the letterbox and stuck my hand inside. To my amazement and joy the envelope hadn’t gone to the bottom and I managed to pull it out – almost ripping it. Drama over and I finally came to terms that I was on holiday.

To spare you all the boring details let’s just say that the holiday went well and I did plenty of relaxing, drinking, eating, driving and seeing friends and family.
There is one incident of note, which I will tell you about. Two days after arriving I set out in my hired Ford Fiesta to find a pub that would be showing the England v Russia game live. I found quite a few places and settled for a place on the outskirts of Torrevieja. It was a small community called Chaparral and the bar was called Boz’s bar. Now I’m not a big drinker any more on account of driving for a living. But I have been known to let my hair down (metaphorically – as I have none) from time to time. I started drinking pints of San Miguel and by the end of the game, which England won, I was rat-arsed. I was getting concerned calls from my kids pleading with me not to drive the car back to where I was staying with my Mum. I remember very little of these conversations and have since been told that I was talking pure bollocks down the phone. I remember even less leaving the bar and getting in to the car and flaking out. Being a left-hand drive car I must have thought I was back in London as I got into the right hand side and promptly nodded off with the door wide open and my phone on the dash for anyone to steal. All I remember is someone shaking me and telling me in Spanish that I had been there for two hours and was in danger of getting caught by the police. So, probably still way over the legal limit, I drove the few miles home, the streets were empty as it was almost 2am and then had to endure the wrath of my Mum who was worried sick. All in all a very stupid thing to do but I think I can be allowed one stupid act every ten years don’t you think?
The flight back to England was delayed an hour and my son, who was picking us up got lost on the M1 whilst we waited in the freezing cold for him to collect us.

The following morning I had to collect my cab and waited on my street for a Licensed Taxi to drive along. After twenty minutes of waiting I got fed up and walked the few hundred yards to the nearest miniscab office and was picked up immediately and transported to my destination by a very talkative Somalian guy at a cost of £12.

The cab was waiting for me as I entered the garage but so was a nasty surprise. Jim, the genial Irishman, informed me that I had been photographed running a red light in Parkhurst Road and that another three penalty points would be added to my license, making it nine points in total. Only three more to go for a six-month ban and loss of my livelihood – I’m really going to have to take care now. I paid them £90 for three days rental and drove home. I never came out later on as there were a million and one things that needed doing at home but over the next two nights I managed to earn the best part of a double-bottle.

Whilst driving up St. James’s Street yesterday evening the doorman of Le Caprice was out there looking for a cab for one of the punters. When the guy got in he asked me for the private terminal at Gatwick. Welcome home London Cabby. Chris was on the phone to me at the time and was quite gutted at my luck, as his evening wasn’t going fantastically well. Once down at Gatwick it took a while to find his destination as I only ever take regular passengers to the North and South terminals. I opted for the South Terminal turn off and guess what? It was the wrong one. We got stuck in solid traffic, which added at least a fiver to the already high meter. His terminal was nearer to the North Terminal and as we arrived his pilot was there to greet him and almost bowed at him as if he was royalty. The fare was £101 exactly and he gave me six twenties and waited for the change. I gave him one of the twenties back as I couldn’t be arsed to give all my change away and he just shrugged and walked off.

I only did a few jobs tonight as one of them went straight past my front door and I couldn’t resist the urge to go in. It’ll still be there for me tomorrow, and the next day.

Be Lucky.

Check back soon.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Four More Days to Go

As the countdown to my ten days in Spain continues there has been a flurry of activity on the home front.

My Dad had an appointment at the Hammersmith Hospital today and I had to drive him over there from Harrow. He’d made a remark about being short of breath to a nurse and the next thing he knows is he’s having blood tests, chest x-rays, heart x-rays, ECG’s the works. He’ll get the results in 8 weeks.

My daughter went back to school today. She recently passed all he GCSE’s and decided to study for another year.

My eldest son starts a new job on Monday. It’s an IT based job at a well-known diamond company in central London.

And finally, wait for it, (drum roll and fanfare of trumpets), my other son Michael starts a job, also on Monday. After months of bad luck he has finally used some family influence to secure a post in the warehouse section of a superstore. It’s only temporary for three months but it may lead to something else.

I have been galvanized into action after working out what I will need to put by whilst I’m away. I’m about a week short of reaching my target so a few bills will have to be held back until I return. And I’m sorting out a “rubber dub dub” from a friend of mine who’s offered to help out, ain’tcha Golden Bollocks eXtraordinaire?

I started later today on account of the early start to take my Dad to the hospital. After I got home I had a few more hours sleep and started at around nine-ish. My Orange mobile signal was non-existent and I came back home to get a spare phone and check online if there were any problems with the network. Did anyone else have trouble with Orange on Wednesday evening?

Work was steady and there were only a few twats to report on.

An elderly European twat, I mean lady, from Mayfair to Sussex Gdns via Queensway to drop someone off. The1st passenger gets out and I head for the next drop. I work my way round to Craven Road and decide to take the right into Gloucester Terrace. Then all hell breaks loose in the back.

“What are you doing, this is wrong, this is not fair?” She pipes up screaming and banging on some part of the interior. I think to myself “Oh fuck, we’ve got one”

It’s what I call a nothing decision. You can get to the same destination by going one way or the other and it costs the same.
I remain calm whilst she’s going doolaly.
“I’m not a tourist, I’ve lived in London for twenty years and what you’re doing is wrong.” She continues ranting. I try and explain to her that one way is as good as the other but she seems intent of making an issue out of it.
She’s getting her knickers in a twist for absolutely nothing. It’s actually quite comical.
“Madam……Madam……..Madam” I try and get a word in but she completely gone. Time to switch personalities a little.
“Madam!!!” I scream out. Anyone passing would have to wonder what the hell was going on inside the cab. I seem to have got through to her and she stops to hear me out. “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. Just calm down, relax yourself, you’ll be home in seconds”. And literally seconds afterwards we arrive at her house. You’ll notice that I never swore at her because inspite of all that was going on I could still see that she was a “Lady”. It did the trick and she did indeed calm down and stated that she was tired and had been on the go all day but I still told her off for unjustifiably “losing it” with me. She apologized and tipped a pound extra and that was that.

Towards the end of the shift I found that I was stuck on £20 short of my target so decided to try my luck on the South Kensington rank. The nightclub, Boujis, located about 50 meters away, was open for business and there were lots of nice people milling about. What do I get? Twat number two. A drunk mess who wants Earls Court, not a fantastic ride at the best of times. Then he says he needs to go via a food outlet. Then he tries to make conversation with me but I’m not really in the mood for his drunken ramblings. He’s younger than me by a good few years yet he talks like an old Etonian.

Him: “So Old Boy, how’s you’re night been?”
Me: “Not great, if the truth be told”
Him: “Splendid, splendid” he’s obviously misheard me.
Me: “What d’you want to eat, there’s a McDonalds in Earls Court Road we can stop at”
Him: “No, no, no. I don’t eat that shite. I want something completely unhealthy like a kebab”

There was a kebab shop at the top of Earls Court road and we stopped there. He got out and paid me. As I gave him the change he said, “Well bowled Old Boy” and waved me off. Strange one that.

I drove down the remainder of the road and headed towards Gloucester Road where I knew Opal would probably yield one last job. It did and it was going to, of all places, my street, only he was in the posh bit. We had an interesting conversation about advertising (I can talk bollocks with the best of them if it means getting a good tip) and he had lots of ideas he was trying to sell to various agencies. I wished him luck and headed back towards the Tesco on Sutherland Avenue to get my daughter her lunch for school later on today.

Only four more working days to go. I’ll start packing in a few days and leaving things as prepared as they can be for my lot here to get through the 11 days without me. I may well make one final post before I go so keep checking. If it’s not there by Sunday night then it won’t be there until I return sometime after September the 21st.

Be Lucky.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Nose Revisited

It was still light as I passed under the Admiralty Arch this evening so I took the opportunity to photograph "The Nose". It really is a nose isn't it? I'd love to know the story behind it so if anyone knows more than the article in Wikipedia then please feel free to share. For best results click on each picture and magnify them.

Admiralty Arch Today

The Nose View 1

The Nose View 2

Work was pretty brisk tonight after a slow start. Once again my mate Chris had a blinder whilst I was a good 30 - 35% behind him. We stopped for a coffee at Marylebone Station around 10.30 to compare notes and then we both drove onto the rank and within minutes we both had jobs to (him) Swiss Cottage and Gospel Oak (me).

The entire evening was pretty uneventful except for when I picked up a scruffy young man from the bus stop in Rosebery Avenue. He asked to go to Putney and promptly nodded off. All the way there I was telling myself that I should've asked for money up front and was getting all worked up. I was convinced that I was about to get knocked (not paid) and I even rang Chris so that he could witness the knocking, albeit via the telephone. I decided to wake him by shouting at the top of my voice under the pre-text of asking him if he might need a cashpoint enroute. It took a few loud shouts to wake him and I then asked him if we needed to stop at a cashpoint. He said he was OK for money and the manner with which he said it put me a little more at ease. Once we arrived in his street he pulled out a wallet stuffed with every kind of note. He was about to offer me a fifty and then changed his mind for two twenties instead. The fare was £31.20 and that's all I got but I was happy to get paid at all. All I can say is never judge a book by it's cover.......but we do don't we?

My last job took me out to Richmond and then I made my way home via a Tesco Express to buy a few bits for the kids.

Well it's now September the first and I go away on the tenth so only nine days to go and I've got a hell of a lot to do before then.

Check back soon.