Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Compliments Of The Season To You All.

Hi folks

Thought I’d get a quick post in before the festivities commence.

As you may or may not know I have been working days in order to have some sort of normal relationship with my partner, Jane. It takes twice as long to earn the money I need but means I get to spend the evenings with her watching TV and canoodling and what not. Last Friday she was set to visit her family in Suffolk when it started snowing quite heavily. She got into a panic about the thought of possibly getting stuck in her car overnight, as has happened to quite a few motorists recently. I decided I’d go with her just in case and return the next day on the train. The snow stopped as soon as it started but I went anyway and we had a nice time that evening taking in a movie (Unstoppable with Denzel…..very entertaining indeed) at the local multiplex. I returned on the train the following day but was only able to travel to Stratford as Liverpool Street Station was closed. I took the tube to St Johns Wood and as I exited the station I walked into a blizzard. Luckily I had all the right winter clothing on and the half hour walk to mine was quite enjoyable. The snow settled and is only just melting now 5 days later.

The upshot of this tale is that since then I have returned to working evenings / nights and I forgot how many arseholes are out there. Last night I saw a guy flagging me down in the distance and I prepared to stop but as I got nearer I saw his plastered girlfriend sitting unladylike on the wet pavement so I drove on by, as had many other cabs I’m sure. The pissed off guy threw what I could only assume was a stone which cracked off one of my nearside windows but failing to break the glass. I never bothered stopping but put a tweet out warning my colleagues.

On a more pleasant note I picked three guys up in town and dropped them off at various destinations including Clapham, Wandsworth and finally Roehampton. The last guy started chatting to me about where he used to live in Pimlico and it turns out he knows all my old pals from the neighbourhood. I used to live there until 1976 then moved away but continued seeing my pals at school and for a short few years after. Then, as often happens, we drifted apart but I recently met up with a few of them after tracing them on Friends Reunited. Anyhow, we had a great half hour reminiscing about the old days and then parted company in Roehampton to promises of meeting up one day in the neighbourhood pub The Pride of Pimlico. I doubt it will happen but who knows?

The work was a bit thin on the ground last night when I ventured onto the rank at Victoria Station. A young lady came out asking if I’d take her out to Romford and how much would it be. I told her about £70 to which she said that’s how much she had on her so I said that would be enough. We set off and I started messing about with my satnav. Seeing me do this she offered her postcode. I entered it and found that it was the far side of Romford; in fact it was Harold Hill and would probably be more money. It was a nice clear run up the A12 and I was there in about 35 minutes. As I was doing the last few lefts and rights to her road a deer crossed my path, which surprised and startled me. The girl in the back said it had probably wandered out of the nearby park. The fare hit £83 as I arrived at hers and I prepared to get the £70 we agreed but she gave me the full amount, which gave me my target for the night. The drive home was uneventful but I was tweeting and checking in on Facebook the whole way

I have now been driving my new TX4 for a few weeks. Overall it’s a great cab, as any new vehicle should be but there are two faults starting to niggle me and will need attention in the New Year. One is that the rear off side door doesn’t lock. I’ve had this problem with other cabs and it isn’t a big job but it will need to go to M&O (main dealers) to get put right. As will the second problem, which is that the right channel on the stereo isn’t working. Not a big deal to some people but being brand new it should work. It’s also supposed to be a DAB radio but I can’t seem to get it to scan for stations (it’s a JVC) so FM has to suffice.

Well, I’ve just been down to my local Sainsbury’s to get part of the shopping for Christmas. There’s stuff everywhere and I have little or no space to store anything. Luckily it’s colder outside than my fridge and it’s likely to remain so for a few days so I can store stuff out there with out anything spoiling.

All that remains is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year 2011.

Take care out there and wrap up warm.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Arise The Shard

We've had a right old time here in London. What with the cold weather, tuition fee protests and Charles and Camilla being set upon by a bunch of yobs in Regent Street its a small wonder anyone wants to come here at all.
I drove round Parliament Square the day after the protests and was disgusted at the damage I witnessed. All the traditional type phoneboxes were devoid of any panes of glass. All the lower windows of the treasury were boarded up. There was grafitti everywhere and once again poor old Winston Churchill had been defaced. Absolute animals!!

London and Europe's soon to be tallest building is coming along nicely.

The Shard Of Glass as it will be known has yet to top out but is already taller than the previous tallest building at Canada Square in Canary Wharf, East London. Check out Shard London Bridge on Wikipedia.

Well I'm sitting on the rank at the Cumberland Hotel typing this and the Twitter cabbies are saying this is the busiest week before Christmas. I've done 2 jobs in 3 hours so where's all the work?

I am now driving a brand new 60 plate TX4 Elegance. A very nice cab. One complaint......the right chanel on the stereo isn't working so i'll have to have a word when I go up to pay later on. I also can't get the DAB to work so any ideas welcome. Its a JVC fitted to all new cabs and it doesn't seem to scan for stations.

Finally at the front of the queue so should be away soon.
Regents Park Mosque. Oh well.

Check soon for more rivetting posts.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Brrrrrrr!!!!!!! It's Cold

Hi folks

These last few weeks have seen the return (with a vengeance) of the cold and icy weather that winter brings with it. We woke to snow just before the weekend and as usual London ground to a halt. It didn't really affect Central London too much as the gritter lorries had been out and done a good job but the side roads were treacherous every where and anywhere with a slight incline was a no-go area as it's very easy to get stuck.

The cab I am at present using has what I would describe as a crappy heater. The guv'nor at the garage told me that the thermostat had been removed as the previous driver had complained about it being too hot in the summer. Hello!! Its now winter!! Why couldn't he have put it back? The result is that the temperature gauge barely rises resulting in luke warm air at best. Ever the DIY enthusiast, I found a suitable piece of board and wedged it between the radiator and another smaller rad, probably the oil cooler, and low and behold I have heat!! It certainly makes all the difference and my passengers are kept warm and happy to boot!

I will nowadays be found using the rank at St John's Wood Station. Gone are the days of sitting on South Kensington as that whole area is a nightmare during the day. From SJWR (as I call it in my notes) I have gotten jobs all over the place and it's much easier to get from A to B from there.

I picked up a lady yesterday who asked to be taken to York Gate, Regents Park where I would have to wait for her whilst she crossed Marylebone Road disappeared down some alley behind the church, got me worried whether she was coming back (which I'm pleased to say she did) and then bring her back to SJWR. All the way there and back she was telling me of a stalker friend of hers that she'd once helped out by letting her live with her for a year whilst she had some problems and now couldn't get rid of her to the point where it was making her life a misery and put her on anti-depressants. She even started getting emotional whilst telling me and I tried to offer her some pearls of wisdom I'd gleaned from 20 years of talking bollocks to my punters. I think it helped her see things a bit more philosophically and she thanked me for listening and talking to her, gave me a five pound tip and went on her merry way.

I now stop for a bite to eat with the other Chris, aka @Silvercabby on Twitter whilst my other mate Chris aka @Titaniccabby continues on nights. We'll generally wait until we're near the Euston area and go for a bite to eat at the Double Six Cafe at 66 Eversholt street. In my opinion it's one of the better greasy spoons around and you can park for 45 minutes for £2 on the taxi bays in Phoenix Road.

Any way I better get out to work as I've only just popped back after dropping Jane at work and I'm losing the morning burst of work whilst sitting here typing this.

Catch you all later and remember to wrap up warm.

Take care.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mobile App

Testing 123
Hi folks, just downloaded an app for Iphone to blog on the move so you may start seeing shorter posts but on a more regular basis.

Its bloody cold and frosty out thrre and they say snow is iminent so wrap up warm.

I gave my TX4 back to the garage today and went back to a former garage. They've started me on a 55 plate TX2 and are ordering me a new TX4 Deluxe which should arrive in a few weeks. The guvnor at the garage I just left was a bit miffed at my leaving even though i gave a weeks notice. The TX2 is £50 a week cheaper and the new TX4 will be £40 cheaper so its a no brainer really.

Any way i'm gonna post this to see if it works.

Expect more soon.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hello Again

Hi folks

All I will say on my absence is Twitter.

Since my last post I have been on my annual week away to Spain and in contrast to last year it was warm and dry.

My routine of late consists of me dropping Jane to work and then sitting on the St Johns Wood cab rank in Acacia Rd until I have my first job of the day (fjotd as we say on Twitter). It can make all the difference to the days takings if the first job goes to the right place. One particular week I was regularly picking up the same guy, an American, who strolled up to my window with his scarf wrapped tightly around him and a cup of coffee purchased from the Beatles Cafe opposite the rank. He went out to Canary Wharf and by the third day I was saying "Canary Wharf?" before he was. That job would basically set the mood for the rest of the day. In contrast, three or four minor £3 -£4 jobs could take up to an hour by the time I'd got back to the rank so it's always nice to get the longuns.

I've been stopping for breakfast with Chris aka @titaniccabbie and also my other mate Chris aka @silvercabby and together with conference-calling each other for hours on end it really helps the day shift pass easily. The banter can be fierce at times and we get to hear first hand how awkward and rude some passengers can be. Titanic Chris gets the most grief as he is a more volatile character than me or Silver. A small situation can often get out of hand as his diplomatic skills can leave a lot to be desired. During any given phonecall the whole range of expletives will be heard from all of us as we're cut up, insulted and abused by fellow road users. But its all taken in good spirit and keeps us laughing the whole time. Day work also has the added benefit of being at home in the evenings curled up at home in a nice crisp clean bed next to ones nice crisp clean old lady. Well sometimes anyway!!

Traffic can be the main source of stress though. Yesterday for instance there was a student march in town. They were protesting at the proposed trebling of tuition fees and the protest turned violent prompting many road closures and diversions. A lot my passenger baled out well before their destinations as the meter forced them to seek alternative modes of transport. Helicopter pilots would've made a killing yesterday if it had been possible to operate in that way.

Well, it'll soon be Christmas again and very soon after the work will die a death again. The years seem to pass so quickly and my lifestyle remains the same. After 20 years in the job I wonder if I should have chosen a better career? I probably should have.

Take Care


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peaks And Troughs

The last four months have seen the taxi trade rise to normal levels since the recession and now dip back down to what is traditionally the worst time of the year. Once again, Ramadam is upon us that means all the Muslim customers have left our shores for Mecca or elsewhere or simply in line with Ramadam just opted out of everyday life for the next month. It badly affected our trade last year and no doubt will do the same again this time round.

I have been working away as usual. I've been doing a combination of days and nights, whatever pays the bills. Night work still brings with it a varied range of passengers. From the rich and famous to the lowest of the low. The drunks have always been there in their droves and I have had my share the same as all other cabbies.

I recently did a job from Waterloo to Camberley in Surrey. She was very drunk and no sooner had we left Waterloo Station than she was fast asleep. I woke her before she became too comatose to wake and got her postcode from her and also asked if she had enough money on her to which she replied that she did. No problem then I thought to myself. A nice run out to Surrey, a passenger with enough money and a job that would probably go over £100. The journey was uneventful until I reached the last few turnings in Camberley. I called out to her to get her door number and nothing. As usual I had my mate Chris on the other end of the phone line and he was witnessing (albeit by telephone) the proceedings as they unfolded. I called out to her many many times at the top of my voice. Nothing. I got out and shook her by the arm. A slight stirring. I continued shaking her arm as she slowly came back to life. She turned out to be what I would refer to as a stroppy drunk. The more she awoke the more my shaking her was bothering her and she would say "alright alright" or "for fuck sake" but if I stopped she would just drift back off to sleep. The whole waking her up thing took at least fifteen minutes and all the time the meter was going up. All I wanted was my money and to be on my way. I tried various tactics to coax her back to reality and when I thought she was finally getting to grips with her surroundings she would lapse back. In my earpiece Chris was offering me suggestions. "You're a better man than me, I'd have lost it by now" he said and"call the old bill (police)".

The long and short of it was that she eventually realized that I needed paying and proceeded to look in her bag for the cash. No cash was present, even after I'd asked her back in Knightsbridge. No problem thought I, I’ll do it on a credit card. She'd be sure to have one of those. I asked her to give me her plastic and the two she offered up to me were no good. One was some sort of library card and one was a reward card. I was now getting seriously pissed off. We were outside her house, she had no money in the house but she wanted to go in anyway. I had my foot on the brake; the doors and windows locked and I was refusing to let her out saying that if she went in she would leave me sitting outside like a lemon whilst she went off to bed.

I decided to bluff it and tell her I was taking her to the police station. The fact that I was in the wilds of Surrey and didn't have a clue where it was never entered my head. I drove away from her house and stopped off at the top of her road and emphasized what I was about to do and she didn't seem bothered in the slightest. At this point I lost my cool somewhat and we descended into a slanging match. All those nice colourful words beginning in f and c were used by both her and me and although it was very cathartic it wasn't getting us anywhere. Then all of a sudden she said to me " well if you stop being an arsehole and take me back home my boyfriend will pay you". I thought "me, being an arsehole?” This was the first reference to there being any body else in her house but I suppose once someone is heavily drunk it always takes a while for them to get all their faculties back to normal. I drove back to the house and switched the engine off. Without asking I got out and opened the back door and snatched her briefcase and said I'd be holding on to that until I was paid. She went indoors and I could hear shouting and eventually (it was about 2am) a tired looking boyfriend emerged, apologised for his partners antics and climbed in announcing we had to go to a nearby cashpoint to get the money. Within five minutes I'd been paid, had returned the case and was on my way back to civilisation. This sort of thing goes on in London almost every night and if it isn't happening to me it's happening to one of my fellow cabbies. In fact Chris had a similar incident recently where he had to lock an American in the cab because he was refusing to pay, needless to say they all pay in the end. Come to think of it he also had a Fabio Capello lookalike who refused to pay and he took him round to Marylebone Nick where the police came out and made the guy pay by card.

My trusty TX4 is still rolling along but with a few injuries. I currently have two slow punctures which need air every third day. I can't be bothered to go up to the garage because there's only one mechanic up there and he's always too busy. I also have rumbling rear brakes, which make a terrible noise in slow traffic. I've been told that it is due to brake lining dust in the drums and the drums must be removed and the dust blown out. I'm off on my annual trip to Spain in a few weeks and when I return the cab they'll hopefully put all these things right.

Since my last post I have been on a weeks holiday to Chesil Beach in Dorset and also spent three days in Rock, Cornwall. I drove the cab down to Rock and it took me the best part of six hours to get there but it was quite a pleasant trip and very scenic. On the way back the cab started shaking on the M5 motorway and I pulled into the services and discovered a big bulge on the front off side wheel. The spare was a bit ropey so I put it on the back and put the back one on the front and made it back home safely. I also paid a visit to Elland Road, home of my beloved Leeds United, for their first game against Derby County last week but unfortunately we lost so we better learn fast if we want to get on in this league.

I've been on days this week and apart from a good Monday the rest of the week has been terrible. I barely paid my bills this time round.

So, today is Saturday and hopefully it will be busy so I'd better get out there and do a bit.

Take care.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Do You Take Credit Cards Driver?

Hi folks, its been a while.

Since my Happy New Year post its taken this long for the work to pick up. Some evenings have been really bad but its definitely getting better out there as the economy repairs itself and people now have those extra few shekels which enable them to go out in the evening and afford a taxi home afterwards.

After months of umming and ahhing I decided to sign up with a credit card company thus managing to stop the flow of jobs I was having to refuse from getting away. To date I've only done about six jobs and the first payment has just gone in to my account this morning. The clincher was when one evening a few weeks ago I was approached by a drunk couple who'd been to the Boujis nightclub and asked if I took cards. I said no and after walking down the line of cabs on the South Kensington rank they came back to me and said that if I took them they would go home, collect a bank card and then go to a cashpoint and get me my money. Sounded ok to me so I took them. They were both very drunk and and soon nodded off. When I got to their area in the Kennington district I had to shout out to wake them for directions. I eventually stopped on Kennington Park Road but had driven quite a ways past their house. The girl got out as I waited with her drunk partner. After a while she came back and said she couldn't find her card and started getting hysterical as she only had a few hours left to get some sleep before work in the morning. Her partner woke and they both walked back towards her house which was about a hundred yards behind me on a busy road. I wasn't overly concerned as in my opinion they weren't the type to not pay so I sat there....and sat there...and sat there!!! I eventually U-turned and drove to where I guessed they'd entered their house. There were about three possible houses it could've been but I couldn't be sure so I sat outside for what seemed like half an hour with thirty something pounds on the meter and eventually had to drive off. They'd probably sat down to discuss the situation and passed right back out again. There's not really a lot one can do in that situation other than camp outside all night but it wasn't really an option so first thing in the morning I signed up for the credit card machine and its already proved invaluable late at night. Its of the chip and pin variety and works off a phone signal so as long as i'm in an area with coverage it will work. I also like the fact that it does debit cards as well but the 10% charge has already put a few people off. The thing is, on average, the meter rises by £1 when people get out to use a cashpoint so they might as well pay by card.

My Credit Card Machine

There's an unspoken rule that the cab who was driving ahead of you gets the next job. Common sense, good manners, etiquette call it what you like. So there I was driving down Earls Court Road one night last week. Its a two lane one way street and I was on the left. Up ahead on the right hand side I could see a hand go up and after a quick glance at my wing mirror I could see it was my job as the cab in the right lane was quite a way behind me. I pull in for the girl and she starts to get in. The cab in the right lane pulls up alongside me and starts mouthing that I'd nicked his job, opening his door as if to intimidate me into giving up the passenger. We had a heated exchange of words and insults as one would expect and he eventually pulled away empty handed giving me a one handed salute. Now, on the flip-side I was dropping off in Kings Road and as that passenger paid me there was another one waiting to get in. There's another unspoken rule that if you've just dropped off and there's cabs For Hire behind you then you send the passenger back to them. It was Friday night, my windows were steamed up, there was absolutely work on every street corner so I thought nothing of it as the next passenger got in and asked for Walton Street. Alongside pulls the cab that was behind me and starts the usual "are you sure mate?" In this case I explained why I did it but he said I should know better and I suppose he was right. I offered him the job but the passengers, not knowing the reason as to why, refused to get out. The other cabbie drove round me and was hailed immediately putting an end to a sticky situation but also highlighting the need to maintain cab etiquette at all times coz "if the machine breaks down, we break down" (Midnight Express).

The cab is now a year and a few months old but giving me trouble free motoring on a daily basis. Paying through the bank as I do I am seldom up at the garage. I recently took it up there for a 30k service and was offered a newer (brand new) TX4 if I could find another driver to take mine on but alas all my mates have their own cabs and to be honest I'm quite happy driving my one as its better the devil you know and all that jazz. I did pick up a great big lump of metal in one of the wheels which as soon as I pulled it out deflated the wheel but I've since had the spare replaced and all is well.

I recently got a distress call from my sister telling me my mum's car had broken down. She was collecting my dad from his 3 times a week dyalisis at Northwick Park Hospital in her aging Peugot 205. It was rush hour and took me and Jane the best part of an hour to get to her. By then the police had attended and pushed her car off the road. It transpired that the car had cut out and rolled back onto an ambulance (mum reckons the ambulance hit her) and they had called the police. Any way I tried to jump start it but after a few attempts we called the RAC and the guy that came out within 10 minutes said the alternator had packed up so with a dead battery the engine would keep cutting out. He boosted the battery for about fifteen minutes giving it enough power for me to get the car back to mums. The following day I bought a replacement alternator and fitted it myself and its been fine ever since, I really should have been a mechanic!!!

Take Care Out There.


Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy New Year To You All

Hi Folks & a Happy New Year to you all.

Since my last post I have been beavering away at work and running to standstill.

Talking about running I have had two of those in the last few months. One got away and one got caught.

The first one was a Scouser (native of Liverpool) who was suited and booted and wanting to be taken from the City out to Balham. I don't think he had running in mind when he got in, it was just an afterthought when he stopped for money. As we were passing through Clapham I stopped at a cashpoiint, as he'd asked me to do so at the start of the journey. I had no cause to worry as he was suited and booted and that gave him an air of respectability. I saw him walk over to the ATM which had quite a few people queueing to use it. I chose this opportunity to get my iPhone out and catch up with the latest Tweets. I glanced over periodically to see the progress of the queue and he was patiently waiting for his turn. Then, as if possessed by a demon, he took off like a thief in the night running into the traffic leaving me no chance of pursuit and with £23 on the meter. Bastard!!!!! In my earlier days as a fledgling cabbie I would have driven straight home feeling violated but I have learnt since then that's it's much better to carry on and you will soon forget all about it. That was the first runner I'd had for a long time and certainly wouldn't be my last as I found out a couple of weeks later.

Whilst driving along New Kings Road by Parsons Green a drunk guy flagged me down and asked for Gloucester Rd. We arrived opposite the station where he announced he needed to visit the cashpoint immediately opposite. I watched him walk over to it and then search his pockets for his wallet. Nothing. He walked back over, or rather staggered, with arms outstretched. I said "what's happening. Have you got my money?" He continued with his arms out and then as if he'd had a great idea said "hang on a sec" and walked into Courtfield Road and out of sight. I had Chris on the phone to me the whole time and I said "this bloke's doing a runner" and spun round and drove into Courtfield Road. The guy was running full pelt up the road, arms pistoning away. I drove alongside him calling him every name under the sun and he eventually ran out of steam and stopped completely out of breath. We then had a heated discussion with me remaining in the cab the whole time. It started off quite hostile as you would expect but after about ten minutes I think he had sobered up a bit and realised what an arsehole he'd been and eventually gave me his phone number, which I rang immediately to verify it. We agreed that I would call him in the morning to make arrangements for him to pay me and off he went. The next day I texted him a polite message which he answered straight away. He was very humble and apologetic and after I'd given him my bank details he transferred the money he owed me plus a fiver tip, £25 in all. So, one story that did have a good ending.

I did find that on the run-up to Christmas 2009 I had more problems with the public than ever before. More and more people are prepared to argue about the fare and find ways not to pay. I picked one lady up in the WestEnd and she waited until we had got all the way to the bottom of Queenstown Road before she decided to inform me that she needed to get money out. The only place available is the ATM at the Sainsbury's Local on the corner of Lavender Hill/Wandsworth Road. As luck would have it the ATM was out of order. She walked back to the cab and said "It's not working, what happens now?" I said "what happens now is that we drive to one that is working". "Oh no, I'm not doing that. I've got £11 pounds on me that will have to do" The meter had £21 on it and rising. What makes people think they can do that, can someone please tell me? Would you go into Tesco, make the cashier scan all your shopping and expect to be let off a tenner just because you were short? If your boss at work said "thanks for that weeks work you just did there, great job, unfortunately we can only give you half your wages this week, is that OK with you?" Would you turn to him and say "that's fine boss, no problem" Would you hell. So why do it to us? Anyway, to get back to the story, I made it clear I wanted the rest of my money and after digging around her bag she found a ten Euro note which I decided to accept rather than drive off empty handed. There was plenty of name calling and screaming in-between all this but i'll spare you all the details as for my New Years resolution I've decided not to be too controvertial, which may please some readers and piss off others but that's life.

So today being Monday and officially the first day of the Kipper Season all us cabbies now have the added worry of trying to make ends meet and trying to put that next meal on the table. It can be a struggle especially for the day shift but now in my twentieth year I'm sure I'll find a way.

Take Care out there today. It's bloody cold and icy. Brrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!


PS. Manchester United Nil Leeds United One. Get In There!!!!!!!!!!