It’s been a while since my last post. I’ll start with some non-work related news.
On the 1st of November Jane collected her brand new Fiat 500L from Chelmsford, trading in her three year old grey Fiat 500 we had come to know and love as Fiona, well more her than me!
We spent the next day babysitting her little granddaughter in Ipswich and after the parents returned on Sunday we set off for home in London. The A12 was busy, but then it always is at that time on a Sunday. The traffic was stop start for the first twenty miles but we eventually managed to get up to sixty five - seventy miles per hour. Jane had fallen asleep for the first time ever whilst I have been driving as she doesn’t trust anyone but herself behind the wheel. All of a sudden the traffic came to an abrupt stop and at the speed I was going all I could do was slam the brakes on and hope for the best. I managed to stop a cat’s whisker away from the car in front but the car behind us never. It ploughed into us with such a force that it pushed us into the car in front. At that moment all I could think of was “Oh my God, the car is only 2 days old”. I thought Jane would go ballistic but she was quite calm and told me to pull over onto the hard shoulder as did all the others involved, except for the guy who hit us as his car was completely destroyed on the front. He was helped into the shoulder by other motorists and I could then see he was quite an elderly guy who also had his elderly wife with him. She was clearly shaken by the whole experience and all he could do was apologise and tell me that he did try to brake but that the car wouldn’t stop (possibly going too fast?). Our car had received considerable damage but was still driveable. Long story short we all exchanged details and went our separate ways. We decided to get checked out at Chelmsford Hospital but when we got there the waiting room was heaving with a four hour wait so we decided to drive on to London and see how we felt in the morning. I’ve never been in such a serious collision in all my driving years; I’ve had many a near miss but never a collision of that intensity. The following morning I couldn’t move and neither could Jane. We decided to go straight to A&E at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington to get checked out. I was seen first. I was prodded and pulled and told to take painkillers and anti-inflammatories and sent on my way. Jane had a few x rays and was given the same advice as me. I suppose it could’ve been much worse. I think speed and braking distance were the only two factors involved here and I would urge all drivers out there to learn from my mistakes. Keep well away from the car in front and then if you do have to stop suddenly you’ll have more time to stop and may not get whacked up the arse by the guy following you.
Needless to say we’re in the middle of an injury claim, Jane’s car has, after 5 weeks in the garage, been returned in mint condition once again. We’ve also been for physiotherapy and assessed by an independent doctor. The driver’s insurance company has accepted liability for the accident so a pay-out is imminent. I would rather it never happened and now I take extra care when doing my job.
But a week later I was driving around the Marble Arch one way system when a cyclist veered into my path. I had no time to stop so I inevitably nudged him and he fell off the bike. My initial reaction was anger as it was totally his fault. I had a passenger in the back but that didn’t stop me jumping out and shouting at the guy who was just picking himself up off the road. I probably overdid the histrionics a bit and eventually calmed down. The road behind me was clogging up fast so I pulled into Great Cumberland Place to discuss matters further. I advised my passenger to take another cab as this might take some time. He was OK about it and even gave me his name and number as a witness. The cyclist was bleating like an old tart. He was a man of about sixty. I told him to get a grip but he insisted he was hurt. This had all the signs of another claim but this time it may go against me. For all I knew he was a top lawyer because that’s what he sounded like. After trying to fathom out what his angle was I just asked him what he wanted. I mean he was ok so why didn’t he just get on his way? He said he wasn’t sure if he was injured and felt he needed to get checked out. Right then, nothing for it but to take him to the very A&E I was at last week. I grabbed his bike, told him to jump in (which he did remarkably well for someone who “may be injured”) and set off for the hospital. On the way there he produced a clipboard with pen and paper and started writing down my particulars. By the time we got there he knew all about me, I knew a little bit about him and we both found out we lived about four hundred yards from each other on the same road albeit separated by Maida Vale. I wished him well as I was removing the bike from the taxi and told him to contact me if need be. I haven’t heard from him since and often expect to see him as I drive towards where he lives but that pleasure has eluded me thus far!!
The cab has reached the age of three years old. The warranty has expired and it now needs 2 MOT’s a year as well as the annual inspection. It has developed a serious oil leak from the turbo unit and is losing serious amounts of oil; so much so that one of the mechanics gave me a five litre oil can to keep in the cab so I can periodically top it up. Normally when all this testing and overhauling is going on the garage give me a spare cab and I just get on with my work until my cab is passed and plated for another year but no spares are available so in order to keep me working I have to wait around the garage while the work is in progress then resume work. So on Wednesday last week I was called in so that they could prepare the cab for its first MOT. The owner, sensing my annoyance at being inconvenienced, offered to take me to the café round the corner and buy me breakfast whilst the cab was taken to the test centre. On our return from what was a hearty breakfast the mechanic informed us that they had passed the cab but a few jobs needed doing before it would pass the inspection the following day. A shock absorber was replaced and the oil leak I mentioned earlier needed to be dealt with. (It turned out to be a loose oil filter and a loose jubilee clip on the turbo hose). It also needed a new wheel and a thorough cleaning inside and out and it was then ready for inspection the following day. I left the garage to commence my evening shift and hoped that it wouldn’t get too dirty inside or out before the following day. As the inspection centre at Staples Corner was on my side of town I offered to take it there in the morning. The appointment was for 8am and by 8.15 the cab had passed and I was in the car park attaching the new plates, all quite painless. As I was out I decided to pop over to the garage and return the paperwork and give them the good news. Only one mechanic was there that early and I decided to let him look at a door lock problem I had been having with the cab. That was at 9am. By 1.30pm I wish I hadn’t bothered. He had dismantled the lock after removing the door panel and there were bits everywhere. It was patently obvious he didn’t have a clue what he was doing. He even got a new lock delivered and managed to break that one. The owner had arrived a short while ago and I cornered him outside and told him what was going on. He confronted the mechanic who in turn went on the defensive claiming the locks were both faulty. After a little more messing about the mechanic came to the office where I was patiently waiting and said he would need to get a new lock ordered and delivered but for now I would have to manage with an unlockable door. Happy to get away from that icebox of a garage I went to work. From Thursday until today Wednesday I managed to work the cab OK but this afternoon I was sitting on the rank at St John’s Wood and a lady asked for West End Lane. She tried to get in but the door wouldn’t open so I had to open it for her from inside. As she got out and closed the door bits could be heard falling inside the door panel. She paid me and walked away and I got out and tried to open the door from the outside but the handle was loose like it wasn’t attached to anything inside. Obviously the piece that connects the handle to the lock mechanism had become detached. The garage was closed so now my whole evening would be lost. Some would say that I could work by making passengers walk round to the roadside to get in but if anything serious happened to them it would be my fault so I decided to go home and sulk.
So here I sit writing this blog and pondering over my lost evening’s work and my life in general.
Jane has been back in Ipswich for the last few weeks after quitting her job here. So although we are still an item we’re living apart and seeing each other when we can. We’ll spend Christmas together next week and then work towards finding a way we can be together again. I’ve thought of driving in to work from Ipswich every day but it’s just that bit too far and would add £40 per day to the fuel bill but other cabbies drive in to London from similar and even greater distances so who knows?
Anyway, it’s time to wish all my friends, family and readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2014. May next year be a better one than the last.