Friday, February 22, 2008

Wemberlee

The day out at Wembley a couple of weeks ago was really enjoyable apart from trying to get home after the game. I’d heard comments from some of my passengers about the problems getting away from Wembley Stadium after a game but never really paid them no mind. I’d decided to leave the cab at Willesden Green Station and take the train the two stops to Wembley Park. Me, my son and his cousin met up with my eldest son and another 2 cousins and their friends at a bar next to the stadium. On entering the stadium we had to go up about 10 flights of stairs (or was it escalators?) to reach our seats in the nosebleed section. I always get a euphoric feeling when I enter a football stadium for the first time and see the pitch and surrounding stands. The buzz I got from seeing Wembley was tops (obviously not as good as Elland Road but a close second). It is worthy of being our national stadium. The food and drink was a total ripoff though and it wouldn’t be out of order to bring sandwiches next time. The game was OK but nothing more and there’s a lot of room for improvement.
After the game, trying to get back to the station was an absolute joke. There were 86,000 people at the game and I would say more than half were trying to get to the station. Everyone was penned in and packed together like sardines. I got a bit claustrophobic and we backtracked and tried to go another way. In the end we gave it up as a bad job and got a cab back to Willesden. It wasn’t a black cab but a miniscab and the guy didn’t have a clue which way to go. He went into a “No Through” road off Forty Lane (Mount Drive if anyone’s interested) and I thought to myself that he must know something I don’t. When we got to the cul-de-sac with no place left to go but back the way we came my son Danny, piped up and started having a go at him but I felt sorry for the guy and told Danny to lay off him. I directed him through the Welsh Harp and we came out by West Hendon and were soon driving freely through Cricklewood and arrived at Willedsen Green. In future, and for anyone else out there planning to go to a big game at Wembley, I would recommend driving there. Even if you have to park well away from the Stadium it’s worth it afterwards and you’ll be glad you did.

The following Tuesday Danny and me drove up to Leeds for the home game against Nottingham Forest. I thought the game was pretty exciting, well at least better than games of late but again there is much improvement needed if we plan to get promoted this season.

So with two big events and plenty of days off in between it’s safe to say that I’ve been left potless and have spent the last seven days grafting away to try and catch up. For the person that asked if I’d paid my freight (cab rent) the last time I posted. It was paid but is now, you guessed it 2 weeks overdue with no chance of it getting paid until Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest where it will be three weeks again.

It seems that when I owe money to the garage, things always go wrong with the cab and I have to get the repairs done myself. When I paid up last time I asked them to service the cab. I went off for breakfast and returned a few hours later and was told all the things that had been repaired. A bolt had apparently snapped on the steering rack and I was lucky to be alive!! A comforting thought. New brakes had been fitted, door hinges lubed, a couple of new tyres put on but as I drove out of the garage it still felt like a heap of shit to me. I filled up at York Way Total garage and went to work. I started smelling something which was filtering it’s way into the cab. The temperature gauge was on the rise so I knew it was coolant escaping from somewhere. I drove home and inspected further. The bottom hose had split near the jubilee clip. Do I drive all the way back? Nah. Out comes the trusty Swiss Army Knife. I cut the hose up to the bad bit. There’s just enough hose left to go back on. It will need attention but I’ll get the mechanics to sort it as I’ll be paying the cab on time, won’t I? Nah. It barely lasts a week. Now I owe one weeks rent and I don’t have it as I’ve just blown a fortune in the Elland Road Club Shop. (New kit and a tasty looking hoody for Danny and a supersized LUFC mug for me to enjoy supersized cups of tea in) I ring the local car spares place in Willesden but they don’t do cab spares. I drive down to the Royal Oak Taxi centre in my sons car but there isn’t a garage down there anymore. I need to work and earn money but the cab’s fucked. Why do I do this to myself? Shall I ring the garage and tell them to come out to me and fix it? I can’t coz they’ll want the rent. “What a loser” I think to myself. I’ve always been crap with money and probably always will be. Think!! Think!! Who’ll have a spare bottom hose? Shall I ring Supermechanic? He’s got a TX4 so it’s probably completely different. I need another cab garage. I try Shirland Mews but that garage is long gone and has even been pulled down and had flats built where it used to be. I think of one in Kilburn but that’s not there either. There’s one in Dersingham Road that I’ve been to before I’ll try there. Alleluiah!!!! They have it. Now for some reason I’d got it into my head that it was the top hose so after parting with £12.50 I happily drove all the way home from Cricklewood thinking I would be on the road within the hour. Not so. One look at the damaged hose told me I’d bought the wrong one. Bollocks, double bollocks and treble bollocks!!!! A few deep breaths and a philosophical view on the situation calmed me down somewhat and I drove back to Cricklewood, parted with an extra fiver and came away with the correct hose. It was on in no time and it took about 5 litres of water to fill the radiator to the brim. As one problem gets sorted another one arises. A few days later the fan belt starts slipping. This is the one I put on a few months back. The alternator bracket was already at full stretch so I would need another belt. Almost two weeks cab rent due so I must do it myself again. The fan belt is easier than the hose to obtain and also at £4 much cheaper. I put it on with ease. I should’ve been a mechanic as I love getting in there and fixing stuff. That was a few days ago and all is well for now.

A few nights ago I was sitting at the traffic lights at Elizabeth Street and Buckingham Palace Road when the back door opens and in gets a scruffy looking Herbert. “Barking” he exclaims in a non-descript accent. The lights change and I pull round the corner and pull over. “That’ll be fifty pounds up front please,” I announce. “eh?” “Fifty pounds, you pay first” I say to the guy. He puts his hand in his jacket pocket and pulls out a hand full of shrapnel. “Are you taking the piss” I say to him, followed by “get out of my taxi” “No, no I have money” and pulls his wallet from inside his jacket. He did indeed have money and offered me a £10 note. “I need fifty pounds my friend” “Fifty?” “Yes fifty” Out came the other forty and we were in business. “Now I need beer” says the man to me “and telephone card”. It was after midnight and there aren’t many places where you can legally get beer but a lot of these late/all night shops will sell you it on the quiet. I set off thinking where I would be able to stop for him to get beer and could only think of Whitechapel Road as a likely place. Every few minutes he would call from the back “beer, I need beer” He already smelt like he’d had a barrel load and I kept saying 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes and he would reply “OK”. Eventually we got to Whitechapel Road and the first place he tried sold him 2 cans of Heineken. The way he was going on I thought he wanted a crate of the stuff but he seemed happy with his 2 cans and cracked one open immediately and took a big swig. “Ahhhh!!!” came a sound from the back. “Now I want telephone card” was his next demand. These sort of people get on my tits and I never bothered answering. He said it a few more times before we arrived at the address he’d given me but I just blanked him. He was reluctant to knock on the door and wanted to phone someone but had no credit. “I need telephone card” he repeated. I offered to ring the number on my phone. “How much” he wanted to know. “For you, nothing” and I dialled the number. I gave him the phone and he talked to someone in Russian. 2 seconds later the front door flew open and a big bald guy came rushing out and hugged my passenger. They were obviously pleased to see each other and forgot all about me. I already had fifty of the guy’s money and the fare was just £2 more so I never bothered waiting for the rest and drove off.

Tonight’s shift went extremely well considering I wasn’t in the mood for it.
The first job took me out to the Premier Inn at ExCeL East and I got a job from Canary Wharf back to Covent Garden so I was £60 up in the first hour and a bit.

I stopped for a kebab at Efes in Great Titchfield Street. I've been dining alone for a few weeks as Chris is on holiday in Thailand for a month. I ended up back near ExCeL later on with a job out to Beckton Alps from Victoria. The Aussie guy asked for a price and when I said “the best part of forty quid” he nearly had a seizure. Well we all know how Aussie’s don’t like to part with their money don't we!! I had to stop at the Asda cashpoint at Beckton and to save a few more pennies he decided to walk the rest of the way from there.

I drove all the way back to St James’s Street before I trapped again and this job took me to Bayswater after which I called it a night. At 1.18am the kids rang to see if I was in a good mood as they were in need of supplies (sweets and niceties). I came home and picked up Michael and drove to Tesco Express nearby where I parted with £16 for a basket full of happiness.

Halfway through typing this post I heard the mousetrap snap and went to investigate. Poor thing, he (or she) only wanted the bit of mature English Cheddar I left for it.
Pesky mice.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have just come across your blog and have found the 4-5 hours over the weekend to read all your posts since April 2004. It has been an awesome read and like a great book i just found myself not wanting to stop.

The insight to your work is great and I look forward to reading your posts in future.

I am australian and live in Adelaide and regarding your remarks about aussie's being tight I think it is because when in london they are on low paying jobs many of them and also they spend too much time converting the pounds into dollars and feel like they are paying through the nose. I have been to london 5 times and i find many expenses are equivalent in pounds and dollars ie a 20 pound taxi ride in london would cost around 20 dollars here so when aussies do the conversion they look at that 20 pound taxi ride as a $50 ride. In my case i always tip 10-20% in london cabs and even do so back here in australia which seems to be more common these days.

I got introduced to Tottenham Hotspur when in london and have seen them live which was fantastic and the atmosphere is just sensational. I get to watch about 85% of their games live here on pay TV which is great and from what i here from my man u supporting brother-in-law who lives in london is a lot more than he gets to watch man u there.

Anyway thanks for a great read and be lucky!

Peter
journeyneverends@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

international fame lc, getting mentioned in timeout, you should be blogging more often before people lose interest.

Nicey said...

Yeah I am following this blog keep it up bro, loving your stories

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I tried to contact you before in regards to contact details. Just an email would be fine. I work for Time Out and just want to send you a PDF of your great site (http://www.londoncabby.blogspot.com/).

I am extremely sorry if you have already heard from us, but i would really appreciate it if you could contact me as I do not seem to have your details.

Please feel free to email me on annabelbates@timeout.com.

Kind regards,

Annabel

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