Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Unlucky Chris

Seeing as my mate Chris aka Titanic can’t be bothered to blog at the moment I asked his permission to let you all know what’s been happening in his working life of late.

He generally works the same hours as me and picks up the same variety of nice people, arseholes and scumbags. We’ll stop for a coffee and a bite to eat on most nights depending on where we are at any given time.

On the Saturday just gone we stopped for a coffee and a slice of cake at the Subway on Tottenham Court Road. We sat outside a busy pub where there was plenty to see and talk about and after about half an hour we went back to work. I trapped almost immediately, a job down to Battersea. He trapped a nice ride down to Hammersmith. After 30 minutes and a few jobs later my phone rang and a frantic Chris asked me if I’d found his moneybag, which he’d left on the back seat of my cab containing his nights takings. I wasn’t carrying anybody at that moment so I was able to pull over and investigate further. The bag wasn’t there. “It’s long gone mate” was how I broke the news to him. There was nothing I could do but to listen to the emissions of pain and rage coming from my phone as Chris vented his anger and frustration finally terminating the call to decide his next step. The guy I had picked up after our coffee break must’ve found it and thought it was his lucky night and decided to keep it. The road he had initially given as his destination, Inworth Street (no number otherwise I would have printed that too you robbing bastard) was changed to Battersea Park Road where he got out so as not to lead me to his front door. The bag also contained Chris’s Taxi License and would need reporting as stolen at a suitable Police station. I gave Chris all the information mentioned above and after dropping a job in the vicinity he parked up and went looking through a few bins just in case the guy had thrown the bag away after removing the cash (£150). He’s clinging to a last thread of hope that the guy will have an attack of conscience and at least send him the license back in the post but we’ve both decided not to hold our breaths.

As if that misfortune wasn’t enough the following day his cab broke down on the M1.
He was driving along and the cab started shuddering and vibrating. He pulled well over to the left and rang the breakdown and after 40 minutes they came and towed him to his garage. It turned out to be a collapsed wheel bearing which has now been repaired. His cab is now off the road as it’s due for its annual overhaul so he’s using his brother’s cab for the next week.

Chris's cab on the breakdown wagon

Since my last post I have been grafting away taking two steps forward and three steps back and getting nowhere fast. Three weeks behind with the you-know-what but that should be sorted by Wednesday.

I’m flicking through my notes to see what, if anything of interest, I can tell you.

8.4.08. I picked up the singer, Bjork, for the second time. I took her and a friend to the Odeon in Camden Town.

That same shift I also picked up a fare from Victoria Station and took him to the east side of London Fields. This is a park in Hackney and at 2.30am in the morning looks and feels a completely different place than by day. As we arrived at a deserted location in Martello Street there were a few undesirables hanging about and I suggested I drop my fare a bit further down the street but he seemed to know the area and that it would be OK so he got out there and I drove away. I hate that area of town.

9.4.08. I received a £120 fine in the post for being caught in the Kidbroke Park bus lane at 1.30 in the morning a few months earlier. Does anyone know if a bus lane fine starts at £120 or should it start at £60? The garage must’ve forwarded my name and I’m wondering if they overlooked it as the desk in the office is always in a mess. I couldn’t ring and ask as I owed them the rent. That always works against me and one day I’m gonna put it right. Yeah right!!

Bang to rights

Thursday 10.4.08. Having just been to the bank in St John’s Wood, I was driving back home, half asleep, when I drove into the side of a BMW on the famous Abbey Road Zebra Crossing. We pulled ahead of the crossing and the two occupants jumped out to inspect the damage, which luckily for me, turned out to be a few minor scuffs on the rear bumper. They decided it wasn’t worth pursuing and left it at that.


Sunday 13.4.08. Started at 6.30pm and after 5 jobs decided to stop for dinner. I rang my favourite Chinese Take-away in Battersea Park Road and ordered my usual Satay Chicken and rice but also asked them to add a handful of cashews to it. When I arrived at the shop the chef started arguing with the order-taker in Chinese waving his hands in my direction. She (the order-taker) gave as good as she got and finally turned to me and asked me to confirm that I’d asked for the extra cashews to be added. I’ve been having the same dish for the last few years and the chef seemed to not be able to accept that I could change the order to add an extra handful of cashew nuts. He needed to hear me confirm it and still didn’t feel it was right but reluctantly fried off a handful of cashews and added them to the already-cooked Satay chicken. I’ve been back a few times since and he is now OK with it, or at least I hope so and he’s not adding an ingredient or two of his own, if you get my drift.

Tuesday 15.4.08. There is a famous pub in Mayfair called “I am the only running footman”. Weird name for a pub but that’s the name it’s gone by since I’ve been a cab driver for 18 years and was probably it’s name for a long time before that too. It’s on the Corner of Charles Street and Hays Mews. I must have passed it a few thousand times but never actually got asked for it by name. Today a lady asked for it by name and I was mentally aware that it was the first time ever I’d been asked for it. I just thought I’d share that one with you all.

Later on in this same shift the doorman of the Holiday Inn Regents Park flagged me. He was out in Great Portland Street looking for two cabs and I was the second one. I put my meter on and drove round to the hotel to wait for the passengers. The first cab got his passengers and drove off. I sat there until I had £10 on the meter. There was no one in sight, even the doorman had disappeared. I got out and went in search. There were two different employees behind the counter in reception but all I got from them was “it’s nothing to do with us”. As stated in another post this sort of thing happens occasionally and different cabbies handle it in different ways. As there was no one to shout at I had to drive away empty-handed with £12 on the meter making a mental note not to be “had-over” ever again.

Wednesday 16.4.08. Only did half a shift as that tired feeling washed over me after 8 jobs. I bought a can of Red Bull as it is supposed to “give you wings” but after half an hour I was worse than ever and flew home.

Being a diabetic, I had my annual eye screening this week and was told that my blood pressure was too high. Since seeing my doctor I have had an ECG and a blood test and am awaiting the results which I should get this coming Friday.

I would describe myself as normal looking. Not rugged or tough-looking but not the opposite either. If someone like me flagged my cab down I would stop for them, especially if they had five carrier bags of shopping from Sainsbury’s. Yet this old codger was driving along Kilburn High Road at a snails pace, with his “Hire” light on, looked me in the eye and then roared off. What’s all that about? Karma for all the people I’ve done similar to? Maybe his gut instinct told him I might be trouble, who knows? I waited for another cab to come by but none did so I had to walk the half mile home with these five loaded carrier bags of shopping cutting into my hands.

Sunday 20.4.08. I did a job from Paddington Station to Huntsworth Mews. I ask fellow cabbies to run it in their head. Right out of the station, round into Sussex Gardens, straight through to Marylebone Road, left into Gloucester Place set down on the left. Simple. Yet the passenger starts accusing me of ripping him off, saying it was £1.60 more than the last time. As he had already handed me a £20 note and was waiting for the change, I decided that I couldn’t be arsed to explain why and decided tell him that he was talking out of his arse and that he was talking crap. He asked why he would need to talk crap and talk out of his arse and I told him he must’ve had a bad day and was looking for an argument. We had a bit of an exchange of ideas by which time I’d given him his change and told him to “jog on”. He’d probably previously done the journey by day on rate 1.

Yesterday, Monday, started off with a trip to the Public Carriage Office to renew my Taxi Drivers Licence or Bill as we call it, for the seventh time in 18 years. £285 is what I had to pay and will now have to drive around with a cover note until the new one is issued. The last time it took almost 6 months, as there were problems with the CRB check.

From the PCO I had to drive in search of the new Super Mario game for the Wii game system. My son, Michael, was with me and we drove all over the place until finally obtaining a copy at John Lewis’s in Oxford Street.

I started my shift with a meal at the Royal Oak. Chris was also there and we never drove over to Paddington until 9pm, which is pretty late if you’re hoping for a decent night. Needless to say I struggled to earn £140 after some really desperate jobs and went home deflated at 2am.

It’s now 5pm on Tuesday and I plan to be out much earlier tonight, as I must get my cab paid tomorrow.

Catch you later.

16 comments:

Paradise Driver said...

Happy anniversary!

4 years in the blogsphere.

Have you started planning your annual trip to Spain?

Will the kids be going to California this summer?

How's mom & dad and the rest of the family?

Nicey said...

Nice one bro, love reading all about it, hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunel

Just a bloke said...

Top blog as ever, I hope Chris's luck has changed for the better.

Have you ever thought of getting the NHS to fund an insulin pump, my Missus was badly controlled, not suggesting you are, until she got one and hasn't looked back since. May suit your life style better.

Regards

Paul

Danny said...

I have been driving a cab 16 years, and for the life Of me i can never understand guys that get behind in the cab rent?? EASY. DO ONE LONG day earn the money next day pay garage, is that hard ffs? If I was a garage owner you would be out of your arse, nothing more than a liberty taker thats all you are.
Also you need to stop being so lazy, who goes to work and has a break straight away? Put a bit of collar in and then stop with your buddy Chris.....Yor problems are so simple to see, you are a lazy typical cabby that spends too much time in the cabby shelters/cafes ranting! The jobs hard I know that and work is not good but a bit of graft will see you ok...remember laddie, work maketh the man.
Danny.

Anonymous said...

Hi Danny, how's life as a Private Hire driver? Working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week? Down here in London we real London taxi's make a bomb so we can work less hours. If you don't like LC's blog, don't read it. Try writing some short words on your own one, opposed to criticising an established and well read one. Tit.

Keep up the good work LC, sorry to hear about the theft, we've all left it lying somewhere daft before, like the canteen at the flyers . . . oop's. :(

Terry

london_cabby said...

Wil: Thanks for the greetings. The annual trip to Spain is always the 2nd week in September.
Not sure if kids are going to California as work and college commitments will dictate.
Mum and Dad are both fine as are my siblings, including my "not-too-often" blogging sisters.

Just a bloke: Have often thought an insulin pump would suit me and will ask the doc when I see her tomorrow.

Danny: I make you right on most of your comment but if you knew me then "lazy" would be the last thing you'd call me.

Markee said...

I think I would do Paddington-Huntsworth Mews via Bishop's Bridge and then either the Flyover slip or across Edgware Rd depending on traffic.

You've got me worried now!

Keith said...

Haven't you been a busy lad. Red Bull for a diabetic ? Tsk tsk.

Danny said...

Sorry I was bit ott in my post. But I have come across so many fellow cabbys who get behind in the rent , make it a priorty..Just take one day out do along un whatever then pay the garage the next day, makes you feel better and the garage will always give you more respect. Me a Private hire driver LOL you having a tin bath!
I have said before this is a cool blog, I love reading about the ramblings of dealing with the good the bad and the ugly which makes up the London public, just trying to give a bit of advice, even though he probably knows it already.
Be luckys!!!!!!!!!

thomasthetaxi said...

Have you tried www.ticketfighter.co.uk
before you pay search through and see if they can help. It got me off a ticket in Randulf Gdns you can read my story at
http://theandersonshelter.blogspot.com/2008/03/its-well-worth-appealing.html

Anonymous said...

Hope you are still on for lunch tomorrow BB. Great blog as ever uplifting in a weird sort of way.

T

Anonymous said...

Aye Aye, what's all this BB is there something you'd like to confess.?

Anonymous said...

Hi There, I'm a Taxi driver in Dublin, Ireland. This city, with a population of just over one million, is awash with taxis. There is no restriction on the number of taxi plates issued. We now have nearly 13,000, thirteen thousand taxis on the road. School teachers, soldiers, firemen, prison officers, drive taxis part time. Tell me, do you have such a system in London or the UK? Also, please tell me, do taxis have to pay a fee to London Airports, Stanstead, Heathrow or Gatwick to operate at the airports? Taxi operators in Dublin have to pay a charge of 400 Euro per year to operate at Dublin airport. I would be obliged if you could take the time to reply. Regards, Dublin Taxi Driver.

london_cabby said...

Dublin Taxi Driver: London, being considerably bigger than Dublin has about 16000 Hackney Carriages and 30 to 40000 Private Hire vehicles. As far as I know there is a limit on licenses issued. The fee to work Heathrow, which is the only London airport we're allowed to work, is about £5 per visit, and is paid using a tagging system. The sensor sticks on the windscreen and various receptors track your progress around the airport and deduct the money. I had my tag stolen a while back and they want £50 for a replacement but as I hardly ever work the airport I haven't bothered to get one yet.
I hope this answes your questions.

LC

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply. Safe motoring. Regards, Dublin taxi driver.

Dmitri said...

Hi LC.

Good luck in the play-offs! I am happy Forest got up (big name) and now also Leeds has to go. The team on on steam, and I am feeling very positive about it.

Enjoy and afterwards enjoy the party at Wembley! For sure you will be there, right?

All the best! Dmitri