I suppose I better post something as I’ll start to lose my audience. These are random musings from my notes.
I only had one fruitcake in the cab over the last few days. She was a young black girl who went from Victoria Station to The Angel Islington. She was talking on her phone and then started shouting out at the top of her voice. Chris was on the phone to me at the time and he said “What the f*** was that?” I turned round and asked if she was OK and she said in a near-normal voice “yes thanks, how long till we get there?” I said about 15 minutes and she shouted out to me “well put your bloody foot down mate, I’m in a hurry here” All the way there she was saying stuff like “Can’t you go faster?” or “Overtake that car” or “That other taxi is going faster, can’t you keep up with him?”. I never answered her once as I don’t think she was looking for an answer as in my mind I think she was a bit of a nutter, someone who had issues. The only concern I had was if I was going to get paid. The fare was £20.40 and when we arrived she gave me a £20 note and a £2 coin and said in a near-normal voice “Thank you driver, there’s a little extra for you for getting me here so quickly”. The rest of the shift went OK and I did some nice jobs. The last one was a fellow Leeds United supporter who I took to Kew Gardens and we were talking football the whole way there. He gave me a £5 tip on top of the already expensive fare. There are all-sorts of people out there and in this job they’ll all pass through the doors of my taxi at some point or other.
Work last Thursday was better than the last few days. I started at about 7.30 and was done by 2am. Best job of the night was from town up to High Barnet. On the way back in from Barnet a girl flagged me down at Golders Green and wanted to go back out to Edgware. She wanted a price and I told her it would go about £20 to £25 on the meter. It went £24.60 and she waited for the 40p change from £25. I don’t expect tips ever and am never amazed at when people don’t give them. Australians and Spanish people are notorious in the cab trade for not tipping. On the flip-side of that some people go way over the top sometimes. I once picked a guy up and dropped him a short distance. The fare was about £3.60 and he gave me a £20 note. I said I was struggling for change and he told me to keep it and walked off. A few of them a night would be fantastic but they do come around every so often.
The Friday night shift was extremely busy, as one would expect. I met up with Chris at the Astral in Horseferry Road (Tony’s place) and I had a nice tuna and sweetcorn baguette with a custard tart and a latte. We sat outside a pub round the corner where in about an hour we could see all the punters slowly deteriorating through drink. They seemed to be having fun though and it made me think of how I seem to spend my life sat in the cab watching other people have fun. It’s about time I had a little bit of fun myself.
There was a lot of police activity around Baker Street Station last Saturday. From midnight all alcohol was banned on public transport and a party on the Circle Line was organised by the public in one final act of defiance. There was a lot of trouble but I managed to avoid it. Chris kept ringing me as he was in the area. We stopped for a coffee in Berners Street at around 9.30 and from about 10 until I finished it was non-stop work going here, there and everywhere. The last job ended up in Dulwich Village and the man was well drunk and had a really peculiar smell, which filled the cab. I had to drive with the window open and kept sticking my head out to get lungfulls of fresh air as I thought I was going to vomit. I rang Chris and told him and he said "just pull over and say "Oi mate, get out of my cab will you, you stink and I can't stand it" that's something he would say but I am more diplomatic and just carried on. By the time we got to Dulwich the man had passed out and I think I had turned green and I had to shout at the top of my voice three or four times to wake him. He paid me OK and on the way back in I opened all the windows in case I got another job.
Last Tuesday I ended up ranking after each job and waiting for long spells before getting my next job and then the job would sometimes only go a short distance and yield a couple of quid. The last time I ranked was the longest as I made the fatal mistake of getting myself boxed in at Paddington. I waited for almost a whole hour I did eventually get a job at around 1.15am and it took me over to Bethnal Green in the east end. The roads were deserted at that time and I was there in no time. I came back through the City and had a look on the Liverpool Street Station rank but it was also full of hopefull cabs waiting for the next Stanstead train.
I had a bit of a disagreement with a big African man at Victoria. I was on a feeder rank, not the main one, and he walked over and asked me how much it would be to take him to Lewisham. I hate going to places like that as it's such a dump. I said "about £30" and he said "ok can you do it for a fixed price of £20" and I replied "absolutely not" so he walked away and crossed the road and started getting some enormous suitcases out of a car. He crossed back over and approached me again and said "OK we go to Lewisham for £30". The price I suggested was only an estimate and I told him that the fare would be whatever the meter showed at the end of the journey. He started to argue that we had made a deal and I had said £30. I said we hadn't made a deal and that the final price would be whatever the meter showed. All this exchange of words was done in a heated manner with lots of arm waving and pointing. At the end of it all I told him that I wouldn't be moving from where I was unless he handed over at least £35 upfront. He didn't agree he should do that so we had another heated exchange and finally I told him to take another cab. The line up ahead of me had moved on so I drove forward leaving him to have the same argument with the cab behind me. I'll take anybody anywhere they want to go but I have to be sure they have the means of paying. The days of me just taking anybody anywhere without verification of funds are long gone.
Monday was a very busy shift as there were some awards on at a hotel in Vauxhall and there were quite a few after parties scattered around making it pleasantly busy for a Monday. I was on the road by 7pm and got my first job out on Maida Vale almost straight away. The second job was a strange one. A lady from Victoria to round the back of Harrods. On the way there she starts telling me about how her Mercedes had just been stolen and that she never had insurance for it. She wanted to know if she took out a policy straightaway would she be able to make a claim. How the heck should I know and why didn’t she have insurance in the first place. By the way she talked she had all the qualities of a loser and I got a feeling the ride wouldn’t be straightforward. When we arrived she started fumbling about for money and after only a few seconds of looking she declared that she’d lost a tenner she had in her pocket. She asked for my number and said she was only going to be in this place for an hour or so and that she would have money by then (call girl?) so I could run her back to Victoria. I thought to myself that it was only a fiver so if she never rang me then it wouldn’t be the end of the world. She never did ring me so I was a fiver down after only my second job. The evening could only get better. I did a few more jobs then stopped for a bite to eat at another well-known cabbie haunt, The Piccolo in Mayfair. That was where Tony started out and then left to open The Astral. So, due a bit of luck, I ranked on the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane and got a job out to The Holiday Inn Ariel by Heathrow Airport which paid £52 and made the night a bit easier.
The cab rent is due Monday and my brake pads need doing as they’re almost down to the metal when they were last checked. That’s all folks.