Thought I'd better post again as it's been almost 2 months.
So, what's been happening in my world?
Personal stuff first.
I recently turned 50!!
It doesn't feel any different to me but others I've spoken to say it's a big turning point in their lives. I, on the other hand don't have time for turning points and have to plod relentlessly on the way I have been just to keep my life on track.
My partner, Jane, having family in Suffolk, has decided she'd like a weekend bolt-hole to relax in after a hard weeks work here in London. So the weekend just gone was spent moving into a little 2-bedroom cottage just outside Ipswich. My taxi was packed to the max with all her stuff and her little Fiat 500 was too. We left at 6am on Saturday morning and got there just before 8am. There wasn't a stick of furniture in the place so we spent the day getting a mattress to sleep on and lot's of soft furnishings to make the place look homely. The technical aspect of moving was my department so I had to try and get us some working TV stations. The roof ariel didn't seem to be connected to the sockets in the cottage but luckily the previous tenants had Sky TV and left the dish up. I was able to connect an old Sky box we had with a working card and we at least had all the basic digital channels to keep us amused. The internet and phone signals out in the country are weak to non-existant but I managed to locate a corner of the house that gave us the best signal for the internet dongle. The phone signal was a bit more tricky and we found that to be able to talk without getting cut off mid way you had to stand on the landing at the top of the
stairs, a bit of a pain but better that nothing at all. There is a nice pub literally next door and we went in there for a meal but everything else is at least a 15 minute drive away.
I had to return on Monday as I had to work but Jane has stayed on as she has a week off. Her daughter, who recently had a baby girl, has been enjoying seeing her mum and Jane has already babysat which is what she's always dreamed of doing. I'll be returning there probably tomorrow night after my shift for another few days and we'll return to London on Sunday afternoon as it's Mothers Day here in the UK and I haven't seen my parents for almost a month. (Shame on me as they only live 20 minutes away)
Once we cab drivers hit the big five O then we receive a letter from the Carriage Office inquiring into our health. We have 28 days to get a medical passing us fit to drive for another five (i think) years. Well, I never got that letter but I did get a reminder saying that they haven't received my medical form back in the allotted time. I had to call them up, get a new one sent out and then the fun began. My doctor, a very nice Chinese lady, decides everything has to be done to the letter. What's wrong with that I hear you all ask? Nothing is wrong with that but she is now sending me hither and thither for tests that I don't need just to satisfy what she already knows by reading my medical history. I went for an ECG the other day. She's looked at it and decided I have to see a cardiologist. The same thing happened last time I had an ECG and the cardiologist told me there was nothing wrong with me. I went to Specsavers yesterday for a very very thorough eye examination and passed with flying colours. She still hasn't given me an appointment for the actual medical where she will fill in and stamp the form for me because she has too many patients on her books. I've told her I have to get the form back to the PCO asap but it doesn't seem to make any difference so I have had to call the PCO and buy myself a bit more time. They've given me another month to sort everything out so hopefully by next post I will still be a working cabby and not a suspended one....on the breadline I might add!!
My cab has recently taken to spewing out loads of black smoke. I took it to the garage last Friday and they changed the air filter and told me to give it a good thrashing on the motorway when I went to Ipswich. I belted it all the way there and all the way back. Although the smoke did stop for a while it seems to start up again after I've restarted the engine. Whilst working last night the smoke was terrible, especially as cars behind me had their headlights on and made it look even worse. Occasionally for no reason at all the smoke would stop altogether and the cab would pick up speed and run smoothly then it would start all over again and run a bit lumpy. I've got a feeling it might be the fuel filter. The garage seems to think I may have filled the tank with contaminated fuel somewhere along the line. I'm due to go there tomorrow to pay my weekly rent so hopefully they'll have some answers as I need it to be ok for my trip back to Suffolk.
On the work front I can't really complain as I've had a couple of decent weeks. The Hailo service I told you about recently has been providing a steady stream of work to compliment the street work. The money goes in like clockwork every Friday and I'm very pleased with it.
I had a nice couple of runs out to Heathrow last week. 2 on one day followed by another the following day. I very rarely get jobs out that way during the day but it proves that they are out there and you just have to be lucky.
When Jane's away I take that opportunity to work a bit later into the evening. Before I met her I was always a night man and most of this blog prior to the last year was made up of posts where stuff had happened at night. Day work can be very boring and tedious with just normal people going to the office or the shops or the station. Traffic is horrendous and adds to the frustrations of most drivers.
Night work is always more eventful. You pick up more colourful characters, go to more interesting places and most importantly, earn your money a lot quicker. Having said all that I did a late one last night and all that happened was that I took my money a lot quicker, which is fine by me. It did give me an opportunity to catch up with my old mate Chris aka @titaniccabby to whom things have always happened and probably always will because he is such a volatile guy. We generally phone one another up and stay connected for pretty much most of the shift as it's free to talk on our present calling plans. During that time you'll probably hear Chris's horn blast about 20 times, hear him have three or four arguments, fare disputes, route disputes, hear him burst into song and generally keep me entertained for most of the shift.
Last night he picked a couple of guys up in town. They asked for the Canary Wharf area via a McDonalds for some food. Now, knowing Chris, I was surprised he agreed to take them to McDonalds as he doesn't like people eating in his cab but he never said anything and took them into the one at the Highway. They got their food, returned to the cab and started eating it. I should add that they were very drunk. By the time they arrived at Canary Wharf most of the food was all over the floor including fries, lettuce and a big blob of barbeque sauce. Chris being Chris couldn't let this go and started arguing about the mess and they all started a slanging match ending in the two drunken passengers refusing to pay. The doors were locked so they weren’t going anywhere until they did pay. Negotiations were taking place and they offered Chris half of the £20 fare. Not good enough. Chris threatened to call the police. They told him to go ahead and call them. At this point I had to hang up but after it was all over he told me that he had the police on the phone and the operator was listening to the ensuing argument and could clearly hear all the swearing and insults going back and forth and decided to send out a patrol car. At the same time a passing fellow cabby had witnessed the events, had pulled up next to Chris and got out to offer assistance. Now that there were two cabbies to contend with the two drunk guys came to their senses and produced the required £20 note. Chris's released them, slagging them off as they walked away, thanked the other cabby and informed the police operator, who was still listening that all was well. This sort of thing happens to Chris more often than any other cabby I know, as he just seems to attract all the undesirables. I'll be out there again tonight so let's see if it's as eventful (for him not me).