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.
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!!
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.