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!!