Hello again to everyone. That was a long three days!!!!!
I said I wouldn't mention it but I will but won't name any names. I've been in a new relationship over the last few months and all my available time has been taken up with seeing this fantastic lady. She doesn't want to be mentioned on here so I won't say too much only that the last few months have been fantastic and I hope there are many more months and years ahead for us. That's all your getting from me on that subject.
My kids are all doing well in their various stages of life. My eldest son is still working for a top diamond company in the west end and has been moved from the IT department to the engraving section.
My second son, Michael, has been going to college over the last 9 months and has been studying building (plastering, brick laying. Carpentry etc). He has now landed a well paying semi-skilled labouring job and is really enjoying having money in his pocket. He's still playing darts and is thinking of stepping up to a higher level.
My daughter, katie, has just flown to San Diego to spend six weeks with her mother. Her grandparents have also gone for the second year in succession. When she returns she has a place in college to study photography.
I have been doing what I do best. Cab driving. I work pretty much the same hours every night and take pretty much the same money.
I recently had to swap my cab for another while it went up for it's six monthly inspection. When I got it back they had fitted a new steering wheel (no idea why) a new fuel cap (no idea why) new tyres all the way round and I think they've messed with the fuel mixture as it seems to run smoother. One thing they haven't touched, and for the life of me I don't know how they can get away with it, is the suspension. The non-existent one I'm always complaining about. To back up my complaint, the second passenger I picked up after getting the cab back said to me "Is your suspension knackered?" I started telling him my concerns and he concurred. He said he could feel every bump and seam in the road. All the other passengers I pick up are probably being polite by not saying anything about it but I would rather they did as I would end up finally leaving that garage for another. Chris is always saying that I must be a mug (but his word always starts with a C) for putting up with it but that's what I do, I take it and take it until I finally blow and do something about it. My annual trip to Spain is coming up on the 10th of September and I may use that as the excuse I need to finally move on by not returning to collect the cab on my return.
I’ve still been stopping with Chris for a meal or coffee break most days. We have three or four places where we’ll stop on any given night. Starbucks in Piccadilly is a regular as they have plenty of parking spaces outside and a fantastic selection of cakes and sandwiches to chose from. We’re pretty partial to the lemon and orange muffins but my favourite is still Rocky Road although lately I have found it way too sweet. One day last week I bought the coffees (Large lattes) and as I handed one to Chris as he sat in his cab he promptly dropped it on the floor, the lid popped off and all the contents spilled onto his carpet. He wasn’t best pleased.
As you all know I like to rank up on many of the railway stations to get my fares. The day before yesterday I was waiting on Kings Cross when an Arabic man came up to the window and asked for the Churchill Hotel in Portman Square. He proceeded to put a large case in the cab and got into the cab to push it further in. The door closed behind him without him touching it so I assumed he was done and drove away. He called out “Hey, what about my wife?” and when I looked back towards the rank a lady in all the Muslim gear was standing there with another case and frantically waving at me. Luckily the other cab behind me hadn’t pulled forward so I was able to reverse back about 10 yards and pick her up apologising profusely as she got in.
The rest of that shift went as planned and I reached my target at around 2.30, the last job ending up in Surrey Quays in South East London. I had my light on all the way back in to town but there wasn’t a soul about. The only bit of excitement was being caught as Tower Bridge was raised to allow a passenger liner that had been tied up next to HMS Belfast to leave the Pool of London on it’s onward journey. As it takes about 15 minutes to raise and lower it I stood outside the cab and watched the massive ship as it passed and all the passengers who weren’t sleeping decided to watch the departure from the decks and they waived at anyone who bothered to waive at them. Once it was on the east side the bridge was lowered and we all got back into our cars and cabs to continue on our way. I wondered where the ship was off to and envied those people on it.
Whilst on the London Bridge rank last week a pair of Catholic nuns were to be my fare. They asked to be taken to a convent near Jamaica Road which I had never heard of. As I left the station the left turn into St Thomas’s Street was closed off causing me to take an extended detour adding a good four or five pounds to the ride. Chris was on the phone to me at the time and slagged me off for “tucking them poor old nuns up”. When I arrived at the convent I knocked five pounds off the fare thus avoiding any further slagging and negative karma that may have been on its way to me.
I picked up an extremely drunk guy in Camden Town and he asked for Hendon. He told me he wanted Park Road so as I arrived I had to wake him as he had flaked out. As normally happens to waking drunks he didn’t have a clue where he was and started directing me all over the place. We finally arrived at his house after already having driven past it and he started looking for his money. At this point the meter was on £24. He had no money so we had to leave his house and find a cash point. Get to the cash point and he can’t find his wallet. Meter on £30. Back to his house to wake his unco-operative and pissed off brother. Meter on £37. Back to the cash point with his brothers card and the pin number won’t work. Meter on £44. Back to his house where he keeps me waiting like a lemon outside. I get out of my cab and bang on the door at 4am. He comes out apologetically with another card. I ask if there’s any point to all this and he says the card will definitely work this time. Back to the cash point. Meter on £53. No joy. I call him back over and tell him that he’s wasting my time and it’s costing him a fortune. I take him back home and get him to ring my phone so that I have his number and that I’ll come back when he’s sober and actually has my money which by now had reached £60. I drive away empty handed but go back the next morning after first confirming with him by phone that he had my money. This is the sort of crap that goes on during the night shift, who needs it?
Thursday 24th of July and I drop off an American guy in Golborne Road, Portobello and pull off heading for home. A young girl about 24ish frantically flags me down and asks for the notorious Wessex Estate about a mile away. She starts whispering into her phone (head turned towards the intercom which was on) “yeah, I’m on my way round, have you got it?” A drug run, I haven’t done one of these for ages. It’s normally blokes, which I end up leaving where they get out but as we arrived at the Ledbury Road side of the estate she handed me a twenty and said “don’t drive off I’ll be back in a minute”. I saw her enter one of the blocks and even saw the transaction take place with the hooded drug dealer. She was back in a few seconds and instructed me to return to where we had just come from. She spoke into her phone again telling the person on the other end that she’d “got it”. At that particular moment I felt a bit like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and thought how crappy the job could be at times. She’d given me a twenty to stop me from driving off (I know of some who would’ve) and asked for it back handing me a ten in it’s place which by chance was exactly the total on the meter. That was enough for me and I switched the light off and went home.
So the days are different but the stories are the same. Who’d be a London Cabby?
Check back soon for more exciting accounts of life behind the wheel of a London taxi.