Thursday, October 29, 2009

Latest Developements

Hi Folks

Since last post quite a bit has happened in my life, most importantly I suppose is that my girlfriend, Jane, has moved in with me. She packed her job in as a chef in Ipswich, gave up her lovely and comfy flat and brought everything she owns to my house in London to live with the kids and me. It’s all going well and we haven’t even had a row yet so long may that continue.

In September I went for my annual trip to Spain. Jane came to spend it with me and my mum and after the first few days of torrential rain the weather settled down to allow us a good few days on the beaches of Torrevieja and Cullera just south of Valencia.

The first week after we returned from Spain I tried working days so that I was around in the evenings to spend them with Jane. I only lasted a week before a heavy depression set in and I am now back on nights. I have to say that was one of the worst weeks of my life, never to be repeated. I couldn’t earn the money I needed without working twice as long and I was so tired in the evenings that I was no good to man or beast (or Jane ;o). The straw that really broke the camels back was when I almost had a punch up with a Kensington & Chelsea council worker who had blocked a road when he rightly should have given way. He refused to budge and gave me one of those dismissive waives as if to say “you go backwards it’s my right of way”. That settled it. I wasn’t moving. I even made my passenger pay me and get out as I was determined to prove a point. After a few minutes everyone behind me had reversed and gone another way leaving me looking like an idiot and with the possibility of backing down from the argument but I stood my ground and even got out to inform the idiot driver that I had all day. The cars behind him were all honking the horn and it would now have been easier for me to reverse but I stood my ground and eventually they all moved and the idiot was able to back up and let me through. I was going to give him a mouthful as I drove past but thought it better to have the window closed in case he decided to spit at me, something I know has happened to other drivers but never to me. So after all that excitement I went home and thought to myself “is all this grief worth it?” I had the next two days off and started back on evenings the following Monday. The only problem with that is I’m back to picking up all the drunks and arseholes that I so despise. Still, I can’t have it both ways so I’ll see how I get on and how Jane puts up with being in with the kids every evening before I make any more changes.

The cab is behaving extremely well at the moment and there’s really nothing to report on that front. I had it serviced recently and while I was in Spain the garage did some maintenance on it that has kept it running smoothly. The first annual overhaul is due in early December but I should only be without the cab for a few days.

There’s nothing much more to say for the moment as its been quite uneventful. I come to work, I frequent all my favourite ranks such as South Kensington and Victoria, I earn my wedge and I go home. That for me is a perfect nights work and that’s how I’d like it to remain, but it never does, does it?

Take Care.

L.C.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Where Have All The Arabs Gone?

Apologies for the lack of posting recently but I think the Twittering is getting the best of my material. Having said that, I am Twittering less by the day. I do find it interesting to receive Tweets from all the people I “follow” on there and it is more up close and personal than reading someone’s blog but I will endeavour to return here from time to time to update what I’m sure is one of the longest running, if not the first, blog about the London Licensed Taxi Trade.

Without harping on too much about Twitter I have found that I now work slightly differently. I read the Tweets as they arrive and get a feel for the areas where there is work, or more recently, a lack of it. August is traditionally a bad month and it’s very noticeable. It’s also Ramadan at the moment an the distinct lack of the Edgware Road Arabs has been felt by all of us. You don’t realize how often they take cabs in and around the Edgware Road area going hither and thither and I for one will be glad when things get back to normal which, if I’ve read it right on Wikipedia, should be from the 20th of September.

I’ve also been doing my bit to reclaim the work that has been stolen by the minicabs. The nightclub Tiger Tiger in Haymarket is where I’ve been returning to when in the area and there has been some very nice work coming out of there. Last week I picked up a couple who refused to use a miniscab that had blatantly tried to tout them in front of me and I took them down to Colliers Wood. I think the guy thought he was on a promise but his bird had other ideas so I ended up taking him all the way to Canary Wharf for a total fare of £80. Just think, the miniscabs have been nicking this work for years and charging even more than that!!

I’ve had two roaders in the past week. One was from Edgware Road all the way to Englefield Green in Surrey. He was eating something all the way there which smelt revolting but I wasn’t going to upset him by telling him to wait until he got home so I grinned and bared it and got £80 for my trouble. The other one was last night. A bit shorter but nice all the same. Lowndes Street out to Shepperton, right next door to the film studios. A lively old bird who was chatting on her phone for most of the journey but still had her eye on the road as I almost took a wrong turning causing her to call out to me. Fare: £60.

Last Thursday I had the Radio Taxis equipment stripped out of the cab for the fourth time in my cab-driving career. I think it was a combination of me not doing it justice and there also not being sufficient work out there to justify paying them forty quid a week. I’ll miss the credit card facility but I will eventually sign up to one of these companies and get a chip & pin machine to be able to continue doing the credit card work. Anyone suggest a good company that isn’t too expensive??

My mate Chris AKA TitanicCabby is now back driving his Mercedes Vito. He’s been using his brother’s cab for a couple of weeks whilst his was being repaired after a front and rear end shunt in Staples Corner. He’s still experiencing a few problems with the electric doors but I think all that needs doing is waiting a few extra seconds once the parking brake has been applied.

So we’re now into September, the kids are back at school and now hopefully there’ll be plenty of work to see us up to Christmas. I won’t hold my breath though!!

Take care out there.

L.C.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Hi folks.

I've been working steadily away since last post and making just enough to survive. (I'm bleating again).

I had a puncture on thursday after picking up a nail on my drive. I'd been repairing my sons car with his grandad and we must've tipped out some nails and tacks from the tool box and caused one to give me a flat later in the evening. I changed it easy enough and noticed that the wheel braces supplied with the TX4's are made of much sturdier stuff than their predecesors so there was none of that "bending when stood on" crap. Of course I then had to get the spare replaced as it wouldn't do to have a puncture somewhere out in the wilds. I had to collect my dad from Hammersmith hospital and take him home to Harrow so took the opportunity to visit the garage nearby. The brand new Dunlop I'd put on was swiftly removed and spirited away and replaced by an inferior remould. The front brake pads were also replaced and the rear ones tightened up a notch. I was ready to roll. Whilst heading back towards my neck of the woods I heard a clicking noise. I thought I may have picked up a stone in the new tread so pulled over to check and found nothing untoward. By the time I got home the noise was making me ill. I shouldv'e simply turned round and gone back but I didn't. I got home had a nap and forgot about it. About 7.30 I went to work and the noise was still there. I started getting ill again and rang the owner on his mobile. He was 6 pints into a night out in Dunstable and was surprised I had his mobile. (He'd rung me once on it and I'd stored it in the memory). He suggested I call the emergency number they'd provided me with on a little blue card. I found it in my wallet and called and the only viable option I had was to drive back to north west London to meet with a mechanic who was on call that night. So, off I went again and telephoned him just before I arrived. By this time the clicking had almost stopped and I thought of times in the past when serious problems had righted themselves once the garage was on its way out. The Polish mechanic met me at the garage and started trying to find the source of the clicking. Each time he tried something I had to take it for a spin, returning to where he was waiting, shaking my head. He jacked the cab up and spun the front nearside wheel and there was a grating noise. "that does'nt sound right" he said. "No shit" thought I. The long and short of it is that the tyre was too wide and was rubbing on a pipe. Apparently there are different taxi tyres for different vehicles. So he put the right one on, I bunged him a fiver and went on my merry way.

Once in town the work was excellent. There was (I think its still on now also) a srtike on the trains from Liverpool Street Station so it was no surprise that whilst waiting on the rank at Waterloo, a face appeared at my window asking for a quote to Billericay. I just blurted out £80 from the top of my head and he gave his girlfriend an almighy snog and £80 and put her in the cab. Once I had a chance to compose myself I put the destination in the satnav and could see that the price would be around £110 but I thought to myself I would play it by ear. If she moaned about it at the other end then I'd accept the £80. The job ended at £112 and after a bit of rummaging she produced the full amount much to my delight and had to ring Chris to gloat a little. The term GBX was mentioned again.

I am now a "Twitterer". I got myself an iphone and have subscibed to Twitter and regularly recieve Tweets from lots of other cabbies. It's helpfull to see where the work is and also traffic problems around town and also provides a bit of banter to liven up the shift. You can follow me on http://twitter.com/TheLondoncabby.

So, now off to a BBQ at my parents and I will be out working and Tweeting tonight.

Take Care.

L.C.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Time Out

Now then now then boys and girls!!!

I suppose the upshot of all this is that it shows we are all different and all react to things in different ways. Thanks everyone for contributing to the comments as it made for lively debate if nothing else. Let me see if I can open another can of worms with this post he he (just joking) I will still endeavour to tell it as it is and as it happens without adding or, for that matter, removing any of the juicy bits.

As I started work a few days ago I headed towards Paddington via Warrington Crescent and the pub on the roundabout was packed with Celtic fans who’d been to Wembley for the Spurs game. I picked up a full complement of five and from the accents I guessed they were Glaswegians. No sooner had they settled in for the ride to another pub in Kilburn than the banter started. I don’t know if they were talking to me but they asked me all the questions I get asked every night without waiting for an answer as if mocking me. “How long are you on till?” “Have you been busy?” “have you had anyone famous in here?” Then they started talking amongst themselves for a few minutes before turning their attention back to me. “Fuck me mate, is the meter OK?” “Are you gonna pay half the fare?” Then on a more serious note one of them asked me about the different tariff rates and why we were on rate 2. I gathered he may well be a cabbie in Scotland and had a genuine interest so I tried my best to explain it. He then stated that one of his pet hates was when passengers got out of his cab, shut the door and banged on the roof a few times, something that happens to everyone from time to time. In spite of all the quibbling, whether serious or in jest, we arrived at The Black Lion on Kilburn High Road and they paid me the fare with a £2 tip and the last one out closed the door and banged the roof of the cab twice to which they all burst into fits of laughter. Bring back the Home Internationals I say!!!

I’ve only got three more shifts before I go off to Ipswich on Friday night for Jane’s daughters’ wedding. I have to go out tomorrow and buy myself a suit for the occasion, something I haven’t done for ages. I’m normally a trousers and shirt guy but a suit is required for this one and in any case it will also serve as a funeral suit should anyone I know snuff it anytime soon including me!!

Only a short post today but rest assured there’ll be more on the way so check back soon.

Take care out there.

L.C.

Friday, July 24, 2009

No Need For Foul Language

Hi folks

It’s posting time again.

My body clock has gone haywire and I’m up when I should be asleep. This plays havoc with home life because now I’m getting up as it’s time for work. Food has to be made (or ordered and delivered) and mouths fed before I can do that so I find I manage to finally get out by 8 to 8.30pm which then finds me struggling to find jobs that are already sitting at the restaurants and bars that I should have been dropping them at a few hours earlier. I have to head straight for the nearest rank to get “off the mark” and hope my experience will get me that next job.

A few weeks ago I could do no wrong. There was so much happening around town such as Wimbledon, concerts in Hyde Park and Wembley Stadium that the work was in plentiful supply. Since the schools broke up for the summer the work has taken a nose dive and we’re all out here looking for the same non-existent jobs.

The Sloane Avenue Boogie ain’t even working as it’s supposed to but somehow, by hook or by crook, I’m managing to survive. (I got slagged off by my mates for calling it that, does anyone else think it’s cringeworthy??)

The cab has been behaving itself (as it should at 8 months old) and I haven’t been back to the garage since the 10K service three months ago. Since I’ve been paying the weekly rent through the bank there’s been no need to go there. I did have a couple of halogen headlights blow but I’m now a dab hand at changing them. The lights on this cab don’t have that awkward clip that has to be fiddled with instead they have a plastic screw on cap which makes the job a hundred times easier. But I am now only 3k away from the next service so I suppose I will have to go there in the next six weeks or so.

I was reading other blogs recently and clicked on Chris’s to see if he’d posted anything new. I seem to remember him saying that he was going to do loads of posts about his new Mercedes Taxi but it seems to have petered out. Well he’s still out and about and chucking the Merc through those six foot sixes like there’s no tomorrow. The only problem he’s had with the cab, even after taking it back to KPM a few times is with the electric doors. They’re forever sticking or just refusing to open at all causing him to have to jump out and open them manually. Oh and remember what I said last post about GBX? Well he got a job down to Hastings the other night. Nuff said!!

I did manage to snag a job down to Epsom the other night but in the main it’s all bread and butter work of the £10 to £20 variety. I have also got used to hitting the “accept” button on the radio and after 7 weeks of not doing even enough to cover the rent I actually got paid £34 yesterday so things must be looking up even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.

So, one story to tell. It’s a story about how something can blow up out of nothing.
I’d just dropped off at Euston Station and took a peek down the rank to see how many cabs were there. There was none so I drove down the ramp and put on. 30 seconds later a woman walked down the stairs and got in. She asked for Clapham Junction and also said she’d need a cash point. Off we went. As I turned into Great Portland Street I pulled up at the Lloyds Bank. She was listening to her iPod and hadn’t realised I’d stopped for her to get money so I turned the light on and she looked up and removed her headphones.

Her: What’s the matter?
Me: There’s a cash point for you to get the money from.
Her: (Tutting) For fuck sake (Why did she have to say that?)
Me: What d’you mean for fuck sake, what’s wrong with you?
Her: Why are you chucking me out to get money here when I could get it in Clapham? (How was that “chucking her out”?)
Me: (completely over the top response) I’m not fucking chucking you out I just thought it would be better for you to get the money at the first available ATM in case the one in Clapham don’t work.
Her: Excuse me? (acting all shocked that I’d dared to swear at her even though she swore first.)
Me: (Losing it completely as I do from time to time) I tell you what love, get your bags and get another fucking cab.

She tried to start an argument but my hackles had already risen and I was having none of it so I insisted she took another cab. She grabbed her stuff and slammed my door shut and called me a few names. I drove away thinking that my reaction had been a bit over the top but she needn’t have reacted like she did and it just goes to show how someone can ruin a perfectly peaceful evening because they had obviously had a bad day. I drove down the remainder of Great Portland Street and turned to enter Oxford Circus when a guy hailed me and asked if I could run him out to Hainault, a £50 job, which kept me busy and gave me no time to dwell on what had just happened.

I have to try and keep busy this week as I am having next weekend off to attend Jane’s daughter’s wedding in Ipswich. My annual trip to Spain is also coming up at the end of September and Jane will also be coming with me and my mum for the week so let’s hope the work picks up a bit so that I won’t be skint.

Take care out there.

L.C.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Already so soon??

Hi folks

following on from yesterday.....

With a full belly and a sense of optimism rarely seen as I'm generally a total pessimist I got out to work after my Chinese meal and started the arduous task of trawling the streets for work.

My first stop was the rank at Paddington Station where after a suprisingly short wait I took a French businessman down to Old Brompton Road. I then made my way to South Kensington but was unable to get onto the already overpopulated rank. A few nights previously I'd had a bit of luck doing the "Sloane Avenue Boogie" which means circling up and down Sloane Avenue until hailed. There's always plenty of work coming out from Chelsea Cloisters and Nell Gwynne House but there's also loads of cabs doing the same thing so by doing "The Boogie" you stand a better chance of being first to the job. So as it turned out I boogied half a dozen times and got nothing. Next port of call would have to be Victoria Station. En route I was hailed in Eaton Gate by a nice couple needing to go to Ennismore Gardens. The next fare took me out to Chiswick and I thought I recognized the guy from the TV or somewhere but couldn't quite place him but he did give me a nice fiver tip on top of the £17 fare. I was already doing much better than the previous night and my spirits and love for the job rose considerably.

Back on the South Kensington rank and I'm the second cab. A lady approaches the front cab and he shakes his head. "Aye aye" thinks me, "what's going on here then?". "Do you take credit cards?" she asks after arriving at my open window. "I certainly do" says I, getting all excited at the prospect of one of those elusive roaders I mentioned in yesterdays blog.
"Loveley" says she, "then can we go to Gilston Road please?". My face must have visibly dropped because she said "is that alright?" I told her that the company would charge her an extra £2, hoping it would put her off as it does to a lot of people, but she was fine with that and off we went to Gilston Road, about five minutes up the road, for the princely sum of £6.60. I must add at this point that I do enjoy doing credit card jobs and having the facility has actually got me my money when passengers have had trouble getting money from ATM's. So even though the monthly fees to Radio Taxis (£160) are quite excessive I'd rather have the facility than not. I've also been short on the radio work in recent weeks but that's just me being too choosy rather than the lack of work and I've made an effort in this last week to do whatever comes my way regardless of the destination.

The rest of the shift was pretty much the same with jobs averaging about six or seven pounds. I was passing by the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane and saw only a few cabs there so decided to put on. 2 minutes later I was on my way to Crouch End for the best job of the night at £34.

Chris was out and about as well and was earning pretty much the same sort of money but my nickname for him is Golden Bollocks because he always manages to do better than me by the end of the shift. He might come out a few hours after me but by the end of the night he'll be on more money. The nickname comes from the last three letters of his previous taxi, GBX, Golden Bollocks Extraordinaire. He'll argue that it should apply to me but he takes some beating.

My last job of the night was from the South Ken area. This guy had been to Royal Ascot and was wearing a top hat and tails. He was as drunk as a skunk and in a chatty mood and also name-dropping like it was going out of fashion. According to him he knew everyone who was anyone and had been in the Royal section at the racecourse mingling with the Queen and all her minions. I took it all with a pinch of salt as you must doing this job and he was at his destination within 10 minutes.

So all in all a better night but still not as much as I'd like and remember that tonight is Wednesday and potentially the worst day of the week.

God help us!!

Take Care.

L.C.

I just read my emails and this one caught my eye and as I feel strongly about what our boys in the military are doing then I thought I'd share it with you.

Recently, British Royal Marines in Iraq wrote to Starbucks because they
wanted to let them know how much they liked their coffees, and to
request that they send some of it to the troops there.

Starbucks replied, telling the Royal Marines thank you for their
support of their business, but that Starbucks does not support the war,
nor anyone in it, and that they would not send the troops their brand
of coffee.

So as not to offend Starbucks, maybe we should support them by NOT
buying any of their products!

I feel we should get this out in the open. I know this war might not be
very popular with some folks, but that doesn't mean we don't support
the boys on the ground, fighting street-to-street and, house-to-house.

If you feel the same as I do then pass this along.
Thanks very much for your support. I know you'll all be there again
when I deploy once more.

Sgt. Howard Wright.
1 Platoon, Recon Company, Royal Marines

PLEASE DON'T DELETE THIS... PLEASE PASS TO EVERYONE ON YOUR E- MAIL
LIST, IN MEMORY OF ALL THE TROOPS WHO HAVE BEEN WOUNDED, LOST LIMBS AND
EVEN DIED, SO THAT WE MAY HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE !

Also, don't forget that when the Twin Trade Towers were hit, the fire
fighters and rescue workers went to Starbucks because it was close by
for water for the survivors and workers, and Starbucks CHARGED THEM!!!
AN ADDED NOTE TO THIS: STARBUCKS HAD STORES ON SEVERAL MILITARY BASES
IN THE UNITED STATES. THEY ARE NOW BEING REMOVED BECAUSE OF THIS.

There are 227 Starbucks stores across the UK, and there's no doubt that
our soldiers would get the same response from this company, so let us
do our bit and boycott Starbucks to show them how despicable theiractions are.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Waterloo Bridge

Hi folks

A bit of news on the home front for friends and relatives.
My dad’s kidneys finally gave up the fight and he’s now on dialysis. He started off at the Hammersmith Hospital but has now secured a spot at his local hospital in Harrow and has to attend 3 times a week for four hours a time. He’s also being treated for angina and has a couple of narrowed arteries which need attention. In spite of all that he’s still quite upbeat about life and continues to work from home as a translator and lovingly tend to his tomato plants in the greenhouse.

My own diabetes sometimes gets the better of me and on a recent visit to the doctor I was to be given a new treatment which involved injecting myself (not insulin) but I managed to get her to hold off for the next three months as I promised to start excercising and eating better. I joined a gym nearby and after two sessions the gym closed for refurb for a month (just as I was getting in to it!!) and now I try and do power walking and other stuff until it re-opens. I still struggle with the food side of it and as I write this I’m waiting to take delivery of a Chinese meal I ordered for the boys and me.

Since my last post I think the work has picked up a notch. It got really desperate at one point and the standard joke amongst me and my mates is “I’ll meet you at Waterloo Bridge” where we would then contemplate launching ourselves off into an after-life less complicated. But thankfully “almost” normal business has been resumed and such drastic measures have been placed on the back-burner for the moment. I still think the quality of the work has diminished and those long runs out into the sticks are virtually non-existent. Well, at least I’m not getting them anymore, what about some of you other cabbies, are you getting the roaders?

There’s been a lot written recently about reclaiming the work we’ve lost over the years. Work from venues such as the nightclubs in and around the West End where minicabs (the enemy) now rank up (illegally) outside waiting to rip-off the revellers who want to get home to the suburbs. Now, lines of London taxis can be seen outside these same clubs and bars and the passengers will end up paying a sensible price via the metered fare and are realising just how badly they’ve been ripped off over the last few years.

I continue to ply my trade in the South Kensington area as well as Victoria. The average job from South Ken is about a fiver but the waiting time isn’t too bad. Later in the evening the nightclub nearby (Boujis) provides a steady stream of work and the jobs may (or may not) get a little more lucrative, such as Richmond, Twickenham and other nice destinations.

As far as stories go I can’t recall anything particularly meaty to recount. I did pick up a druggie in Earls Court Road one night and drove her to Beaumont Crescent in West Kensington. She had about £2 on her and went off to get the rest from her boyfriend who wasn’t to keen to part with any money so he stormed off leaving her to try something else. After the meter hit a tenner I cut my losses and pulled off. I was having such a good night I never batted an eye lid but I recalled 19 years ago when I was a fresh faced butter boy and four kids did a runner into the Chippenham Estate and I went home to sulk.

(Gone for Dinner)

That was nice. Sweet and sour chicken and special fried rice.
Now it’s time for work and I hope it’s better than last night.

Take Care.

L.C.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Back Again

Hi folks.
Just getting ready to watch the Ricky Hatton – Manny Pacquiao fight so thought I’d rattle a blog off seeing as it’s been almost a month again.

My football team – Leeds United – have made the play-offs again and play Millwall next Saturday live on Sky Sports. I’ll be in Ipswich with Jane for the first game but she’s assured me that I’ll be allowed to watch it without being disturbed. How nice.

The 18th of April was my son Michael’s 21st Birthday and 22 of us converged on the Dragon King in Park Royal to celebrate it. A good time was had by all.

I was just reading my notes and have seen that I’ve been working non-stop for the last few weeks and I feel really worn out and run down.

The cab recently reached the 10,000-mile mark, which meant it was due its first service. I drove it up to my garage and left it with them while I popped round to see my mum & dad. I’d only just arrived and was tucking into some of my mum’s fine spaghetti Bolognese when, after only 30 minutes, the garage rang me on my mobile and said that the cab was ready for collection. I shouldn’t really give a shit because it’s not my cab but if something hasn’t been checked properly because they want to service it themselves instead of paying a service agent to do the work (which in my opinion is done better) then I should feel bothered. The last thing anyone needs is their cab breaking down in some God-forsaken wilderness at 3 in the morning, as can sometimes happen, because corners have been cut to save a few shillings. I’ll say no more until something happens then we’ll see what’s what!!

So, as I said I’ve been working constantly for the past few weeks. Some days have been desperate and others have been fantastic. The first three days of the week are generally the worst and test ones patience to the limit. Ranking is the only way to earn any money and as everyone else has the same idea it can be quite a job getting on my regular stands. I like to use South Kensington the most but as you turn from Glendower Place into Harrington Road you are often met with the sight of at least three, sometimes four, taxis fouling the rank. This often causes problems for buses coming up behind but stubborn cabbies refuse to budge until the line has moved up. When this happens I drive on by and try Victoria. Now that I am on Radio Taxis I can also book into the radio rank there and receive account jobs. In the last few weeks I have been assigned three or four quality jobs ending up at over thirty-five pounds each and with the added bonus of the “Going Home” facility the jobs have taken me in the right direction home.

A few nights ago I was sat on the South Kensington rank when the radio threw me a London Underground job to Ockenden in Essex. The pickups were Sth Ken, Victoria, Westminster, Temple, Monument, Whitechapel and West Ham dropping off at Roneo Corner, Hornchurch, Upminster and Ockenden. Meter fare was £122 but we get 75% of that totalling £95 so not a bad ride at all.

Food plays an important part in my nights work and I’m always on the lookout for a new place to eat. Recently, in the space of a week I tried three places. The first one was a kebab place on Rosebery Ave. After paying a fiver for the pleasure of having my mouth burnt off with the chilli sauce I threw it out the window. There was another one round the corner in Farringdon road and their chicken donner went the same way. A Chinese buffet place on Thurloe Street South Kensington was the next one to get the old heave ho, totally disgusting. Chris and me did stumble across a good’un in Strutton Ground, Victoria where you can fill a box with as much as you can for a fiver and sit in your cab enjoying it, we’ll definitely be back to that one.

How many of you have had disagreements with other motorists, said your piece and then gone on your way? The other night a guy driving a Mercedes U turned in Kensington Road almost slamming into the side of me. Startled, I mouthed a few obscenities at him and went on my merry way. He had other ideas. He came up behind me flashing his lights, honking his horn and gesticulating for me to pull over and sort it out. I was at traffic lights and jumped out to have a go. After a few more obscenities passed between us he told me to pull up round the corner and we’d have it out. Fired up as I was I fully intended to oblige but as I turned from Kensington Road into Palace Gate there were a couple of people looking for a cab so I pulled over. The Mercedes driver, thinking I was pulling over to deal with him, was out of his car in a flash and then seeing that I had only stopped to pick up a fare proceeded to follow me hurling abuse of a very intimate nature. Totally uncalled for and not a very nice thing to endure when you have a fare and can’t jump out and thump him one but hey ho, it’s all part and parcel of every day life as a London cabbie.

I got a call from Chris’s wife the other night informing me that Chris had left his moneybag containing his Blackberry phone on the backseat of my cab. Chris and me had just stopped for a coffee at the Starbucks in Piccadilly and then went about our business. Unbeknown to me Chris had left the moneybag on the back seat, something he also did sometime last year. This time there was a happy ending, as his moneybag was being kept warm by the enormous arse of my female passenger. I asked her to check if it was there and after shifting her weight to one side she was able to retrieve the poor leather pouch with its contents intact. I had picked her up straight after the coffee so I had to deliver her to Waterloo Station before I could reunite Chris with it. He eventually met me at Waterloo and we had a laugh and a joke about it. The last time it happened it cost him about £150.

Todays shift (Saturday night) was a very profitable one. I started by ferrying my daughter to her friend’s house in Tottenham. Before we got there she wanted some new headphones for her iPod so we tried Curry’s in Staples Corner and Brent Cross Shopping Centre but they were both closed.
I made it all the way in to Regents Park before I trapped my first job, a two-hander to Great Portland Street. That was followed by a Marylebone High Street to Hanley Road in Hornsey and then on the way back in an American guy waiting at the Nags Head, Holloway all the way in to the Metropole Hotel. The next four jobs were stressful because of the West End traffic. Brompton Road to Soho, Soho to Royal National Hotel, Russell Square. As they got out five Spaniards wanted to go back into the fray and I took the opportunity to talk the lingo with them. I dropped them at Leicester Square and immediately picked up five guys going to a Club in the Southwark Street Arches. The work was relentless and no sooner had I crossed Southwark Bridge when a hand went up asking to be taken to the Marylebone area. A few more jobs in quick succession saw me deposit an £11 fare at Waterloo where I thought I’d rank up and get a breather. “We’d like to go to Twickenham” says a female voice through my open window after only a few seconds. That alone was a fifty quid ride and left me sixty pence short of my target for the night. So, I drove slowly along the western end of Kensington High Street where, I kid you not, a sexy young lady in pyjamas and slippers was waving me down. She asked to go to Royal Crescent in Holland Park and from what I could gather from her telephone call the guy waiting in his bed for her was in for a real treat. That was enough excitement for me for one night and now as I finish this text I’ll be off downstairs to watch the fight.

STOP PRESS......... I think Ricky better look for another career. Round 2 knock out, tut tut!!

Take care.

L.C.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Stop press........

Chris is now posting again about his experiences with his new cab.
Go to his site from here

Friday, April 03, 2009

Burst Rads And New Cabs

So, leading on from the burst radiator, I went to my garage the following Monday and I was presented with two options. To take the spare cab and either go to work or sit round my dads house until I got a call, or to take the cab to the service agents myself…..in Luton. The guy at my garage said he’d rung ahead and that they’d see me straight away so I wouldn’t be waiting long so I thought a nice drive up there would be ok. I topped up the radiator and took some spare water and set off up the M1. I was there in no time and handed the keys over and took a seat in the waiting room. That was 11am. At 12.30 I thought that the cab would probably be almost ready so asked the lady behind the counter if she knew how much longer it would be. She said they hadn’t even made a start on it and that she had said to my guy that they wouldn’t be able to look at it until after lunch….at 2 o’clock!!!! Thoroughly flabbergasted, I decided to go for a spot of lunch and set off to find a suitable establishment. There was a cafĂ© nearby and I ordered a Spaghetti Bolognese and a cup of tea. The food was disgusting, the cutlery had the previous diners leftovers stuck to it and there were a couple of chavvy girls in there with unruly kids that were adding to my slowly rising anger. I paid up and went for a long walk and arrived back at the garage at 4pm to find that they were still a good 30 minutes away from completing the job. Still, I always say, “you live and learn” and in future I’ll be taking the spare cab and letting the garage staff bring my cab to these places. What gets me is that they have a service agent close by but there’s obviously issues there which stop them using it. Anyhoo, the cab is now ok and hopefully I won’t have anymore radiator problems although, if some of the comments on the last post are anything to go by I’ll still be needing a few more rads yet.

A couple of days later Chris and me were eating down at the Royal Oak when we were approached by a lady who was recruiting cabbies to star in a commercial for Heinz Ketchup. She said we’d get paid a grand each if chosen for a day and a half of filming. We both signed up but only I got a call-back a few days later to go to a casting studio in the West End. I had to sit round a table with four other cabbies and we each had to tell a story whilst drinking tea and pouring ketchup (from an empty bottle) on an imaginary meal. This was all watched and filmed by representatives from Heinz and at the end of it we were told to wait for a telephone call if we’d been selected. I’m still waiting so I think it’s safe to say I didn’t get the part.

Whilst sitting on the taxi rank outside the Cumberland Hotel recently a car pulled up along side me and asked me to lead him to Holborn Viaduct and he would follow me and pay me when we arrive. I have done this type of job in the past but once or twice, whilst nearing the destination, the following car has mysteriously disappeared leaving me out of pocket so unless there is someone who can ride with me while the car follows I don’t do this type of job anymore and refusal often pisses the driver off which in this case resulted in me being called a few choice names.

That same day I was flagged by a young guy who was, by requesting to be taken to Soho, looking to get laid. I told him he could get laid in any part of town by simply going to a phone box and taking one of the many cards providing all sorts of personal services. We were at Marylebone Station and I stopped at the first phone box I came across. He got out and returned with a few cards and settled for one with a picture of a very buxom blonde. I called the number and was informed of the starting price (£40) and the address, which was just off Baker Street. Not having done this sort of thing before, the young man looked scared out of his wits, so I rang the doorbell for him and ushered him up the stairs to be met by the Madam. I assured him it would be fine and left him in her hands and wished him luck.

Sunday the 22nd of March was the day reality show and Big Brother contestant 27 year old Jade Goody died after a short battle with cervical cancer. Although I wasn’t a fan it was a terrible thing to happen to someone so young and with everything to live for and my condolences go out to all her family, friends and fans.

I got a call from my son asking how to get to Hammersmith as his normal route was blocked by road closures. I was out and about myself that morning after waking early so directed him around the closures. I then picked up a fare in Kings Road and started heading towards Paddington. Forgetting that my son had already told me of the closures I opted to get to Paddington via the west cross route and the Westway. Big mistake. The Paddington slip road was closed so all the traffic was now forced over the Marylebone flyover and was backed up as far as the closed slip road. This is when she piped up. I was called a "con man", a "joke", I was told I’m “not on” and that she wasn’t paying for “this”, and all in all she wasn’t a very happy camper. On top of all that she was about to miss her train. She was trapped on the down slope approaching the flyover with no way of getting off. But she did. She paid me the meter and got out and started stomping off down the slope of the Westway until she was able to step over a small separator and flag another cab in Harrow Road while I just sat in the traffic and looked on. She probably bent his ear about me and what a crap cabbie I am. I love this job.

The hot news this week is that Chris has got himself a brand new cab. He traded in his five year old TXII and collected his brand new Mercedes Vito Taxi from KPM’s on Tuesday. He had a few things to do straight after collecting it and then drove round to my house to show me it. Obviously, as a brand new cab, it looked really nice inside and out but we sat there picking faults with it that would eventually wind us up during the course of our shift. Things we thought would prove a problem were that the taxi has to be in “park” to open the doors. Another major concern is that there are no openable windows just the side ones that open outwards a few inches. Most people like a blast of fresh air every now and then but now have to rely on the AC to do that. If anyone feels sick, like the guy in my last post, then you’re in trouble as there may be no time to prevent it from going all over the inside by the time you have to pull up, put it in park and then open the doors electrically which takes a bit longer than a normal door. In order for the taxi to pass the turning circle test the vehicle is fitted with rear wheel steering. Chris demonstrated this to me in my street and then drove off to work. About five minutes later he rang to say that one of the rear wheels hadn’t returned to its normal position and that he was weaving all over the road causing other motorists to honk the horn at him. Not bad going for a cab only a few hours old. I drove over to where he was and sat with him whilst the mechanic came out to him. He brought with him a car battery and connected it to the motor on the faulty wheel. This pulled the wheel straight and Chris was able to continue his shift with the rear wheel steering disabled until he could get it checked out properly. He has now had this done and is slowly but surely getting the hang of the cab. His only concern now is taking a left turn through the six foot six on Albert Bridge without scraping the much wider cab on the posts. As far as I know he hasn’t done it yet but tonight could be the night. Watch this space.


Chris's new cab in front of mine.


Take care.

L.C.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eventful

Hi folks
Well I just decided a few minutes ago that I would do another post and thought it best, at 4.30am, to go downstairs and fix myself something to eat first. Being part of a household that could do with collectively shedding a few pounds, I purposely don’t keep large amounts of food in the house. So it came as no surprise to me just now as I opened the fridge that there was sweet FA with which to prepare myself anything resembling a late night snack. So here I sit with two clementines inside me and an orangey smelling keyboard about to begin this post.

Just a quick reply to the commenter on the previous post, APW. You love it 38.

I have to start with a comment to the cabbie that has just been found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting women in his cab. “Thanks mate, you’ve just systematically ruined our reputation or at the least put lots of doubts in the minds of women who will now think twice about taking a licensed cab home.” When I first heard about this last year I was convinced it was someone who had the use of a licensed taxi but was not actually one of us. How could he be? We’re a respected bunch of guys, everyone trusts us don’t they? I suppose it could be said that there’s a bad apple in every barrel but it’s still hard to believe all the same and I hope women take it for what I’m sure it is and that is the actions of a sick individual who has now been caught and will spend a long time in prison.
Bob Oddy from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association insisted black cabs were safe, despite Worboys' conviction.
"This man has really let the side down. It won't happen again and you can be confident the next taxi you stop will get you to your destination safely," he said.

And now to work matters. I’ve had quite an eventful time since last post.

One day last week I picked a guy up in the West End and he asked for East Finchley, a nice job by any standards. Within 5 minutes we were traversing Russell Square when he asks me to pull over quick, as he wants to be sick. I always admire guys who do this and always live in hope that women will do the same but they never do. Any way he opened the door and puked in the triangle that was his arm, the door and the step. Some of it splashed on the step but I knew I could hose that straight off. Onwards we went and two minutes later he lowered the window and put most of his upper half out to continue puking. Fine thought I, he’s still being considerate as it’s probably all going straight onto the road. I stop in traffic and people at bus stops and passers by look over at the cab disgusted by what they see. He does this three or four more times and I wonder what the hell he’s been eating and drinking to have so much stuff to bring up. Eventually we arrive at his destination and he hands me £30 for the £26 fare and waits for the change. Now that I have the interior light on I have a better idea of what has happened and I see vomit all over the back window, inside and outside the door and assume it’s probably all down the outside of the cab as well. I decide to keep the change. He stands there looking stupid and I ask him what he’s waiting for. He wants his change. I ask him to return my cab to the state it was in before he got in and he’ll get his change. He tells me to keep the £4 and walks off. I’m now left with a heavily soiled taxi albeit mostly on the outside. I end up driving a few miles home and at 12.30 in the morning start to wash my cab with extra soap suds to get through all the crap that the driving had dried on. It’s a messy business when someone gets sick and even after it has happened to me so many times I never do what I say I will the next time it happens. I managed to get it smelling clean and looking serviceable again and went back to work and took another £60.

A few nights ago I was pulling in to drop a couple off at the Oxford Tube stop in Grosvenor Gardens when out of nowhere a wino staggered into my path. Had I been a second earlier I’d have run him clean over but as it was he bounced off the side of the cab, to the shock and horror of my two passengers, and landed on his arse. His wino pals, who were sitting on a nearby step and witnessed it all, jeered him. He then got up and started making a beeline for me, no doubt to have a go at me for almost killing him. My two passengers by this time had passed the money through the payment slot and had got out. The wino would never have been reasoned with so as he arrived at the cab shouting “oi you” I drove off, thankful that the traffic lights were on green.

As predicted by some cabbie commenters, the radio work has been pretty thin on the ground recently. I met a pal of mine recently who I’d been on the Knowledge with and he’s been on Radio taxis for years and he commented on how bad it was. I’m now reduced to taking credit card fares to earn enough to pay the weekly subs. I hadn’t done a credit card for a few weeks and one passenger wanted me to add a tip to the total but I couldn’t remember the procedure for editing the fare so I lost out to the tune of £5. I also have a sign in the window which asks passengers who want to use their cards to give me sufficient warning as they have to be swiped and processed at the head office. This sign is being completely overlooked and the other night I was presented with a card for payment by a nice French lady at the Sofitel St James’s. On swiping it I found I was in a radio dead-spot and couldn’t complete the transaction as my terminal couldn’t send the details to Control. I asked her to pay cash. She was three pounds short but rather than hang about and lose a fare that was waiting I let her off the three pounds. All in all I sometimes wonder if it’s all worth it.

My shift tonight started really well but ended prematurely. Being a Saturday night the demand for cabs was pretty good and I had a busy cab for the whole time I was out.
I stopped for a coffee and a Cornish Pasty (only a medium sized one!!) at Marylebone Station with Chris, our first coffee break since before he went to Thailand. We only got the stuff and returned to our cabs then talked while we queued up on the rank so as not to waste valuable earning time and he got a job to Wimpole Street whilst I got a better job to Chelsea. After a few more jobs I noticed there wasn't much heat coming from the heater so I checked the heat switch and it was right up on hot. The temperature gauge was right up to overheating level so I quickly pulled over before the engine blew up and checked the water tank. It was empty so I had an Evian bottle full of tap water, which I poured in. It wasn't quite enough but just enough to lower the temperature so I drove to the Texaco in Edgware Road and filled it right up. I moved the cab to a brighter and drier part of the garage and had a look underneath and could see water leaking from somewhere. Great!! That's all I needed. I got my little torch out and found that the radiator had sprung a leak. Not from a hose but from one of the metal elements, part of the radiator itself. Great thought I again, this just gets better and better. Nothing for it but to call it a night head to Tesco's to get some..........chocolate cheesecake for Katie and me. I drove home and sat with Katie, munching the cheesecake and felt a whole lot better. What I plan to do tomorrow is to go to work with loads of bottles of water and just work away, topping up when necessary and hopefully it will hold out until Monday when I'll be able to go to the garage where they'll probably give me a spare cab while they sort it out, hopefully on the same day. So luckily I'd earned most of my money and probably really should have carried on for a bit longer but I didn't fancy getting a long job somewhere only to find my one bottle of Evian wasn't enough to keep the temperature gauge down. I must join the AA because I may need them one night instead of waiting for the Mickey Mouse mechanics that most garages use to save money.

That’s all for now folks. Check back soon.

Take Care.

L.C.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Kippersnatch

What's happened?
Where are you?
Have you died?
All questions being asked of me on a regular basis. I'm still around just not feeling bloggy lately. Things are still happening to me whilst at work and are being lovingly chronicled for future postings. May as well get one in here and now.

Before I begin might I just make a comment on the new U2 album, No Line On The Horizon, which was released here this week. After playing it to death on my PC and in the cab via my iPod I have to say it's another gem of an album by Bono and the lads. There are potentially three or four classic tracks on there. Tracks to watch out for: Magnificent and Moment of Surrender. Superb.

Work, work and more work. That’s all I seem to do these days. Some people have commented on the higher rent I pay for my TX4 and if I'm finding it a struggle. If you add that to the countless other bills I pay weekly then I could really have done without it but it's still a far better cab than the others I've been driving so well worth the extra. The so-called better suspension is causing me a concern though as it seems to have vanished and been replaced with what all the other cabs suffer from. Some would say I'm paranoid about it and maybe I am but for that amount of money you expect nothing less than a smooth ride over some of the worst roads in Europe, or even the world. Since I’ve been paying the weekly rent via the bank I haven’t been near the garage for a month. I’ve had to change a few bulbs here and there but overall it has been a problem-free month, which one would expect with a brand new cab.

I've been out on the streets solo for the last month as Chris has been away in Thailand. He returns tomorrow but probably will need another week to acclimatize back to UK conditions. It's still pretty chilly here in the evenings and some parts are still getting snow although London hasn't had any more since my last post.

The radio circuit I joined about six weeks ago hasn’t proved to be as busy as I might have liked it to be. I probably get offered a handful of jobs per shift but these only reach me after having been rejected by half a dozen other drivers either because the pick up is too far away or the job is basically…shit, for example, E2 to E8 or SE15 to SE27. To those of you that don’t know London postcodes let me translate for you. S.H.I.T. Having said that it does occasionally throw out a little gem and I had a nice ride recently from Maida Vale to Teddington Studios for a well-known TV presenter who used to be in Black Adder (Baldric).

The first few days of the week seem to be the worst when trying to earn my daily bread. As Thursday and the weekend approaches then people start to venture out and it all seems worthwhile once again. There’s been a lot of “brooming down the line” lately and I’ve had to be on my guard with doors locked. Some of these cabbies have no shame about passing on their unwanted crap to the guy behind and I wish they’d do the honourable thing and pull away from a rank instead of remaining there for a better job. I was waiting on the point of the Victoria rank one day last week. I’d done a major bit of bird (as I call waiting too long) when a couple of drunk birds approached the cab. One of them was holding on to the railings she was that bad and there and then I knew they weren’t going anywhere with me. As the first one approached she couldn’t even remember the name of her hotel so she searched her bag for a card and it turned out they wanted the Royal National in Russell Square, a nice enough job if the punters aren’t two rat-arsed Irish girls. In this case I did the honourable thing and refused them and then pulled off empty and went back to the end of the line where after another longish wait I got a job to Waterloo.

I ruined a whole shift recently by getting myself boxed in at St Pancras Station. It was already pretty late but I saw a few cabs waiting and figured these guys must know that there’ll be work coming out soon so I settled in at number three on the rank. Four, five and six pulled in behind me to complete the boxing-in and there we remained for an hour and a bit as everyone except me stood outside of their cabs chatting. After said amount of time they all realised the work had dried up and decided to pull off empty handed and try their luck elsewhere, what a waste.

The luggage space in the front of the cab is resembling a rubbish tip lately with empty wrappers, empty coffee cups and various other bits and bobs there including jump leads which I had to use recently to jump start my brother Johnny’s Beamer. I’ve been getting the cab washed regularly by the guys at Sainsbury’s in Ladbroke Grove and they do a really nice job but they only do the outside as I don’t trust them enough to leave it open while I go shopping.

A Russian female passenger recently commented that the back smelt of fish, bloody cheek!! It did get me thinking though and after she got out I opened the back door and had a long hard sniff and couldn’t smell anything so I surmised that she may have been smelling her own fumes as she was sat on the edge of the seat with her legs open. Cruel, possibly, but we do pick up some mingers from time to time don’t we lads?

Be Lucky

L.C.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snow and Ice

Hi folks
Time for another post for all those people out there looking for their latest fix.

Since my last post I have celebrated my 47th birthday (30th January). I went up to Ipswich to spend a bit of time with Jane and we had a nice night out at Temptations Chinese Buffet in the town centre. Those buffets are such good value and have such a massive range of dishes that people flock to them in droves and you have to book to get in. We never booked but simply turned up in the hope of getting a table and we were told we had from 7pm until 8.30 to eat and vacate the premises, which turned out to be ample time to stuff ourselves silly. That gave us the rest of the evening to………..do some stargazing!!

On my latest visit to the new taxi garage I met with the co-owner. He was much more business like than the other guy I’ve been seeing there and he insisted that I set up a standing order to pay the weekly cab rent on time. There are two problems I have with that. Firstly, the main reason I left the other garage and came to this one was because it was very close to where my parents live. I don’t visit as much as I’d like due to always working strange hours so moving to this garage would help me visit more often. Now that the money will be paid electronically I won’t get to do that. Secondly, those of you who’ve read the whole blog will know I like a bit of leeway when paying the rent. Now the money will go out every Friday whether I have it or not so if I’ve had a bad week then I’ll be in trouble. I suppose it will have to be a priority now ahead of my house rent and my Inland Revenue payments.

While I was there I got one of the mechanics to fit a headlight and a “For Hire” light bulb. According to my brother in law (Super Mechanic) who also has a TX4 the bulbs blow a lot more often than the other cabs so, at a fiver a pop for a headlight, it’s just as well I don’t have to pay for them. The day after I paid the cab (last Thursday) the other headlight blew so I’ve been the one eyed monster all week including the drive to and from Ipswich.

Fate decided that Sunday night would be the night when London had it’s worst snowfall for 18 years. It started around 6pm with just a few flakes and steadily progressed until the roads were a slippery and dangerous mess. It got so bad that the whole bus network was suspended as was a big part of the train network. This left many thousands of people stranded and those that could afford it in need of a cab ride.
Now, from past experience, if it has snowed heavy then the last place, as a taxi driver, you want to go is anywhere outside of the centre. The reason for this is because you basically end up stranded on impassable roads and stuck on hills. The passenger then gets out and leaves you there to get on with it. So with taxis as the only way home for most people most of the journeys would have ended well outside the centre had I opted to take them but I had to be ruthless and put my own well being first and pick only the shorter jobs that would have kept me in the work. Victoria Station was one such place where I drove in with my doors locked to find a whole queue of people all wanting to go to places like Croydon and Norbury and various other destinations in South and South East London. They’d obviously been there a while and probably been refused by many a cabby so as I slowed at the rank they tried to get in first (possession is nine tenths of the law) and ask questions later. I knew it was going to be stressful working this way so I decided to go home after this job and selected a couple going to Parsons Green. Even this journey was treacherous and I got stuck twice. The first time, as I turned right from Buckingham Palace Road into Pimlico Rd and then again at the junction of Kings Road and Lotts Road where the road elevates over a hump back bridge. I dropped them near Kebab Kid which was still open so I pulled over and treated myself to one of the finest Chicken Shawarmas you’ll get anywhere in London. The radio was going berserk trying to cover work to all corners of London but I’d had enough for one night and crawled home.
The next day proved to be a bumper day for me as at least 50% of all cabs must have been snowed in in the suburbs and the streets were devoid of any traffic. The work was mental. One in, one out everywhere. All of it staying local. I don’t think I crossed the Thames all night. It got really icy on the roads around 2am on the Tuesday morning and I lost control of the cab in Ladbroke Grove. Had anything been coming the other way I would have had a head on smash but luckily the streets were empty and I managed to creep home unscathed. It reminded me of a time in the eighties when I was driving to work one winters morning and I hit black ice on Bollo Lane. The Morris Marina I was driving spun about five times, mounted the pavement, smashed off a wall missing loads of cars on the way and landed back in the road the same way I’d been driving. I didn’t even stop to check the damage I just carried on to work in shock. Dodgy stuff that black ice.

Another thing that happened this week was that I finally scuffed my brand new hub cabs. I decided to stop for a coffee in Cranbourne Street and pulled in to the snow and ice filled right hand side only to hear a grinding sound as the oversized hubcaps scraped the kerb. I was quite upset for a few moments as I’d really tried my best not to let that happen but I think most cabbies will agree that inevitably it always happens.

Four days on and there’s still a lot of snow and ice about with more being forecast.
I stopped for a coffee in Kings Road with Chris tonight and as we sat in my cab putting the world to rights there was a couple of drunks rolling about on the opposite pavement. It was such a funny sight watching them try and get each other up only for them to fall over again. The Chelsea locals seemed appalled and disgusted as they walked past and I thought to myself that I bet one of them would call the police. The two drunks managed to get on their feet and headed for the restaurant and shopping complex at Duke of Yorks Square. Within minutes a police car had pulled up and two officers raced into the complex. Chris and me decided to be nosey and locked up the cab and walked into the square. One of the two drunks was nowhere to be seen but the other one was surrounded by police and the complex’s security guards. We walked past and tried to listen to what was being said and could only glean that the man was Polish and was being asked for ID by one of the policemen. Nothing more to be seen here so we went back to work and I only managed a few more jobs before I had to rush home with dodgy Newingtons. Don’t ask.

Catch you later.

L.C.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy New Year

Hi folks

Happy New Year to everyone and here's hoping it's a goodun.

We just celebrated my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary this weekend and family from all over England and Scotland converged on a community centre in Kingsbury, North London to pay their respects. It was organised by my sisters and we all had our part to play by either making some of the food, organising the decoration of the hall or compiling some sort of video tribute to the last 50 years. I think everyone who attended would say it went extremely well and also what a crying shame it was at the amount of food wastage there was at the end. It was also the first chance my girlfriend has had to meet the whole family. She was extremely nervous and apprehensive but needn’t have been as she was warmly welcomed by everyone.

On the work front it has been a very trying time as London tries to get back to normal after Christmas. Some days have been soul destroying as we’ve been driving round aimlessly on empty streets unable to get on already overfilled ranks. These last few days have seen a slight recovery and hopefully a partial return to busier times. There’s definitely an air of doom and gloom everywhere and that could be a major factor why people are not going out and spending their money.

So while the slump goes on there are still bills to be met and the taxi rental to be paid to my new garage weekly. After a month of driving around in my nice shiny new TX4 it is now starting to loosen up and wear in a bit. A few weeks ago it developed a knocking sound when the steering was turned right. Then the knocking got worse to the point where it was either to the left or to the right. I asked at the garage and they told me it would probably be something they couldn’t touch because it would invalidate the warranty so inevitably it started giving me the hump (aka pissing me off)!! I went to the garage on Thursday and demanded they have a look and as it turned out the nuts and bolts on the two rear trailing arms (any ideas??) had worked loose and a quick few turns with a spanner sorted that problem out. I’ve really taken to the cab in a big way and love everything about it especially, trivially too, the auxiliary wire that connects my iPod to the stereo. I’m in a Bon Jovi phase at the moment and recently bought their whole back catalogue and transferred it to the iPod. So I’m enjoying my quiet evenings on the taxi ranks of London with the sound of Bon Jovi blasting out to anyone who cares to listen. Current favourite track is “It’s my life” from the “Crush” album.

The cold and wet weather has probably also contributed to keeping all the troublemakers indoors as I don’t seem to have many stories to tell you since the last post. I did have a few near misses with drunk girls almost getting sick in my brand new cab and me almost losing my cool and throwing them out but it all came to nothing in the end. A few times I’ve been approached on taxi ranks and asked to take a dodgy looking someone to a far away place but I’ve always insisted on payment in full upfront (something I would never have done a few years ago) and the ones who refused to pay upfront remained where they were. I did let my cool persona slip a few weeks back when I was blatantly cut up in Earls Court Road by a bus. This prompted me to overtake him and slam my brakes on in front of him, probably scaring the passengers witless. As I slammed them on he went back round me and did the same to me until we met at the lights at Cromwell Road and exchanged pleasantries with a few hand gestures thrown in for good measure. Silly boys stuff really, not to mention downright irresponsible but we have to make our own amusement in these quiet times ;o)

I’ve applied to re-join Radio Taxis and have been given a date for the installation of the equipment for one day this week. Hopefully I’ll become a proper “radio man” and work it properly. In recent years I’ve always started off enthusiastically but the novelty soon wears off and I become too choosy in regards to the destinations of the jobs. Then I become disillusioned and eventually get the equipment stripped out. I know there’s a credit crunch on but there will hopefully still be work on there and I’ll also be able to do credit cards again which have sometimes proved to be quite lucrative. Watch this space as they say.

Take Care

L.C.