Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Fodder

I bet you all didn’t expect another post so soon but as I have a bit of fodder to write about it’s best I do it straight away or run the risk of forgetting it all forever.

Following on from the last post which talked about Thursday’s shift, Friday was a bit of a washout as after only 8 jobs my daughter rang me from her night out in Wembley to celebrate one of her schoolmates’ birthdays. She wanted me to collect her as she doesn’t like travelling on public transport late at night. I don’t blame her either as it’s become virtually impossible for young females to travel anywhere without being pestered by yobbish youths. It gave me the chance to catch up with stuff at home including a full XP re-install on this computer. After a few months of it running like a snail it has now speeded up to nearly normal levels.

Saturday was business as usual for me. I was rolling by 6.30pm and most of the runs were pretty short but followed one another without any down-time. It was so busy that there were very few cabs in the west-end and doormen from various hotels were having to venture further away to hail cabs for their patrons. I dropped off in Coventry Street and the doorman from the Pastoria Hotel in Leicester Square quickly secured my services ahead of other people waiting to get in. Leicester Square is closed to traffic but taxis can access it via a barrier in Panton Street. The doorman told me that they were going to dinner on a boat on the river, possibly the Hispaniola, a very expensive Spanish restaurant. I already had the meter on since Coventry Street and as I pulled up outside the hotel the doorman jumped out saying he would fetch the passengers. And there I waited, and waited, and waited. I had £7 on the meter when the doorman re-emerged looking sheepish.

Him: Sorry boss but they’ve decided to walk down to the river.
Me: For fuck sake mate I’ve just sat here for ten minutes.
Him: All I can say is sorry; it’s not my fault.
Me: So who’s gonna pay me for my time then?

He shrugged his shoulders. This sort of thing happens every so often. The passengers get tired of waiting for the cab and decide to walk there instead leaving the cabbie out of pocket. Some of the better establishments will re-imburse the driver but most of them don’t. You can only hope that the same doorman tries to hail you later on when you can get your own back at tell them to stick it. I couldn’t wait for the next time and gave him a mouthful there and then. It’s always very cathartic.

After the theatre and dinner rush had died down I went to my favourite Chinese Take Away in Battersea Park Road for my usual Satay Chicken and fried rice.
After eating, the rest of the shift was as busy as the first half and I never stopped until I hit the second quarter of the “carpet”.

Sunday was a very busy day for me. At 6.30am I was just about to hit the sack when my brother Johnny rang me to say he had broken down in our mum’s car. He was at the Texaco in Hendon. I jumped in the cab with some tools and was there in fifteen minutes. The fan belt on the Peugot 205 had come off the pulley and I couldn’t undo the nut to loosen it. As there was only one pulley and the alternator I deduced that it could be driven without the belt. I jump-started it and followed him home and told him I’d be back later with a new belt and proper tools. I managed to get about 6 hours sleep and woke suddenly remembering I had the car to fix and had to get to the car-spares shop before it closed. That went without a hitch but as he was road testing it I saw he had no brake lights. The bulbs were ok so it had to be the pedal switch. It was now 4pm and the only place that would have that part was right next to Wembley Stadium where there was a major cup-final taking place between Chelsea and Spurs. Nothing for it but to go for it. It turned out OK as the game was still on and all the fans were inside. With the car fixed I spent a few more hours at my parents house catching up with my Dad, who was 77 last week, and my brothers and sisters who were also there visiting. After all the carry on of the past 12 hours I was in no frame of mind for work but with the cab rent begging to be paid I set off for work. I only managed 90 quid before I got pissed off and went home with the intention of starting early on Monday.

The early bit never happened but I did have a good sleep and woke with a bright outlook and a positive attitude for the shift that lay ahead.
Remember what I was saying in my last post about one thing after another happening to the cab? Well, I’d managed about 4 jobs when I noticed the steering wasn’t performing as it should. I checked the belt and decided to tighten it a bit. This was at Atlantic Wharf on The Highway in East London. By the time I’d reached Tower Hill the dashboard hat lit up like a Christmas tree and the power steering was non-existent. Luckily I hadn’t picked up any passengers and all I had to do was pull in off the main road and inspect the latest problem. It proved extremely difficult to steer the cab without PAS but I managed it and found that the belt had slipped completely off the pulley and jammed under the other belt preventing the alternator from turning as well as the fan. I managed to free it and re-attach it and do another job before it came off again in Victoria Street. I managed to put it back on again, rank at Victoria, blank the beggar who was sporting yet another new coat and trainers, pick up a job to Notting Hill Gate and drive half way up Grosvenor Place before it came off yet again. How I managed to drive those two people to Notting Hill without the power steering amazed me and they were completely unaware of what was going on. This was the last time I tried to put the belt back on as the minute I started the engine after re-attatching it the belt snapped. I had a spare fan-belt but it was too big so I tried to work without the PAS and gave up after two jobs and went home.

So this morning, Tuesday, I had no option but to go to the garage owing them three weeks rent as I hadn’t been able to earn it. Before I left home for the garage I remembered my son had just been paid so I managed to borrow enough off him to make up the shortfall and felt much better about seeing the owner face to face. The mechanic got straight to work and was done in about 15 minutes. I asked him to put some spares in the boot so that I wouldn’t have any more problems. While he was doing all the repairs I sat in the office with the owner and the manager and parted company with the three weeks rent. I made a joke about paying late and I don’t think they were too impressed as the manager handed me a letter that he was giving all his drivers. It read as follows:

To All Drivers

As a result of a large number of our workshop customers buying new cabs, our workshop is going through a rough patch.
This is likely to continue for some time, which means that we are totally dependent on the income we get from cab rentals.
In order for us to survive it is essential that all drivers pay weekly or at the latest two weeks.
This will help us survive and also reduce the number of breakdowns we are having due to silly things like belts, brake leaks and items that are normally part of the weekly check.

We would be grateful for your co-operation on this matter.


I suppose it is only right and proper for the garage to expect to be paid promptly and I left there promising to pay on time in future. Whether it happens is another story.

So, completely skint, I set off to work from the garage and managed to earn enough to get some nosebag for the kids and me.

I was back on the road at 7.30pm and the work was steady. I also needed diesel but had to wait until I’d earned a few bob before I could put some in. All the pumps at the Goodsway BP were out of order except for the one that sells the better quality diesel. £1.19.9 per litre was what the robbing bastards were charging so I only put a tenner in, which never lasted long.

I had a little look on the Kings Cross rank but it was full of cabs. As I turned right onto Euston road a lady flagged me down and asked for Golders Green which would keep me busy for a while. On the way back into town from Golders Green I picked up Michael Portillo on the Finchley Road and took him down to the Victoria area where he lives. He never spoke a word to me nor me to him and he was texting on his phone the whole trip. He did give me a £2 tip though so fair play to him.

I was practically at my target for the night when a guy asked me to take him from Boujis out to Sanderstead in Surrey. He rang his girlfriend/wife enroute and started telling her how he was offered drugs inside the club. Apparently, he was given a package and wasn’t asked for any money. On opening the package he saw it was cocaine and went straight to the toilets and flushed it down the pan. He was then approached by someone who asked for the package back. Panicking, he told them he had given it to a friend who had since left the club. He was then forced out of the club with a knife at his back and made to get into a car where he had to hand over a hundred pounds to pay for the drugs. From the way the conversation was going his partner was disgusted with him for not calling the police or taking any sort of action but he was trying to get across to her that it was only a hundred pounds and it had probably saved him from coming to serious harm or worse. She cut the phone off and I heard him say “fucking bitch” but I never got involved. We arrived at his destination he paid me off and that was that.

I headed for home but only got as far as the Tesco on Warwick Road when I was hailed. This guy was calling out to his friend who was in a crumpled heap on the ground and I was instantly on alert for some sort of bullshit. The guy who hailed me was saying that the other one wasn’t drunk and that he’d been kicked down some stairs and was hurt. All the other cabbies who’d pulled in for him had taken one look at the guy on the ground and assumed he was drunk and sped away. As my guy had the door open I couldn’t do likewise and thought to myself “Fuck it, it’s the last job of the night, let’s just see what happens” As you do!!
The guy that had been on the ground finally got into the cab and he looked in a bad way. He had blood all around his face and had to be helped into the cab by the other one. Once in, I set off for East Acton. It turns out that the hurt guy had got into some sort of scrape, had been given a good pasting and then thrown down some stairs and left for dead. The other guy had found him in a crumpled heap, offered to call the police or an ambulance but the hurt guy just wanted to get home. The non-hurt guy was a bit of a fruit cake and was coming out with all sorts of things such as “We never leave a fallen comrade behind” and “We’re muckers me and you” and when the hurt guy indicated that his partner might not open the front door the fruit cake said “I’ll get you in mate, don’t worry about that. An Englishman’s home is his castle, ain’t that right driver” he said to me. “Absolutely” I replied, humouring him. Anyway, I got them to their destination in quick time and had to help get the poor hurt guy out. Once out they paid me off and the fruitcake started again: “You’re a diamond you are mate, fanks a lot” and started shaking my hand and finally grabbed my head and planted a kiss on the forehead. That was enough action for me for one night and I set off for home.


Paradise Driver said...

How is your Dad doing? Say "Hi" to your 2 blogging sisters for me. They don't post very often anymore.

Nicey said...

Its good to see the other side of cabbing, not that I know much about it, but this is providing an insight ....
Nice one,

Anonymous said...

Buenas tardes Mr Cabdriver. I enjoy the blog - thank you ! Just wondering whether you've tried the kebab place on Marylebone High St, Topkapi, diagonally opposite Waitrose ? They do a good doner.

london_cabby said...

Paradise Driver: Dad's doing fine after all his problems and still manages a spot of work when it comes along. Don't know why my sisters never post but I will pass the greetings on.

Anonymous: Me and my mate Chris have been there once and had the chicken doner which was very nice but with so many good places to choose from it depends on when we are near to eachother. Kebab Kid in New Kings Road is our favourite and also the most expensive at around £6.70 for a chicken shawarma with taramasalata.

Roy, Dublin Taxi Driver said...

And post a little less more often,(does that make sense? i always enjoy your posts, but sometimes don't look in as I think you've given up!

Anonymous said...

As a knowledge boy, reading your blog is a great motivation! Keep posting!

Irish Taxi said...

That last comment read all wrong!
I meant to make shorter posts but more regularly?????

Could you please update the link? I've moved!

Anonymous said...


Fantastic blog you have here! Any chance of some new pictures?

Keep the post coming.


Biggsy said...

Hi - love it. The way you write reminds me that what works is just telling a story. I'm podcasting my cab experiences (somewhere in the South West) - would be great to hear from you sometime. I'm trying to decide whether to keep podcasting secretly.. or 'come out' and talk directly with people..
All the best, Biggsy

cAbbey Road said...

Hi. Just logged on to your blog. Good reading. Been out nearly 2 years now and what you write is all too familiar already! Thought your Paddington punter might have gone up Eastbourne Terrace - slightly longer but only one set of lights before Cosway St and probably quicker... I enjoyed Melissa'a book as I am a musician and a fan of NYC and have been there many times on tour. Will look out for your next instalment. Be lucky.

velvetpr said...

Shame to hear about boujis we promote there.