Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trees are falling in Knightsbridge!

Hi folks
You'll all be pleased to know that I’m still here, I've just been busy being a husband father and son.

Well it’s a beautiful sunny autumn day (but extremely windy) here in Central London. The leaves are falling from the trees and the trees are falling on top of people. Yes this is no joke. A passer-by was killed at 11am today as they walked past Knightsbridge Barracks. I quote from Sky News.
"A woman has died after being hit by a falling tree in London during high winds caused by the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo."
Traffic in the surrounding area is chaos and getting around is a real problem.

Work is pretty good at the moment. I think the recession is pretty much over; I've just got to educate myself to stay out for those extra few shekels to make life easier and not rush home as soon as I reach my regular amount.

I've been getting quite a few jobs out to London City Airport (LCA) recently. I don’t normally wait there because it can take quite a while to get another job and with Canary Wharf and Excel nearby it’s easier to try my luck there. The last time I went to LCA, sometime last week I chose to wait on the rank at Excel as I’d Googled the exhibition centre and found that there was indeed something on. Well I started as number four cab. Many other cabs came in behind me and many pulled off deciding that waiting wasn’t for them. After an hour I was number three…not good. After another thirty minutes I was…still number three. What a waste of my life. I pulled away and went straight up to Canary Wharf. After the cab was swabbed for explosives by the overzealous security guys I was allowed in. Just on the other side of the security barrier a guy ran up to me and asked how much the fare would be to London Bridge Station. “Now we’re cooking” I thought to myself. I quoted him somewhere in the region of £15 to £20. This would go some way to saving my shift. Not to be. The quote didn’t meet with his approval and instead I dropped him at Canary Wharf Jubilee Line Station. I did a few orbits of the Wharf and never trapped another job so decided to leave E14 empty handed, not for the first time either. Ironically, as I cruised towards the City on The Highway a hand finally went up and I got a fantastic job up to Marylebone Station from where I called it a night.


Whilst waiting on St Johns Wood cab rank recently the cab started making funny noises which I ignored. I took a job into town and halfway down Baker Street I got a battery warning light on the dash. After dropping my fare off I lifted the bonnet to find the fan belt was missing. I contacted the garage to make sure I could drive it without the belt and here I now find myself at the garage waiting whilst it’s fixed. The mechanic now has to change the alternator because there’s something wrong with that as well. I think that from now onwards I can expect stuff to go wrong on my fast approaching four year old taxi. I’ve already complained about a certain clunking noise coming from the gearbox area but nothing has been done about it. I think the policy at my garage is to let the cab break down, recover it and then replace the damaged part and sod the inconvenience to the driver. I think long-gone are the days when a mechanic would crack open a gear box or an engine and put the problem right, using all the knowledge he has trained for during his apprenticeship…it’s a crying shame these days. Well, it could be worse....if it was my own cab it would be costing an arm and a leg so there’s a lot to be said about renting.

I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment as a recent visit to my doctor gave me a wakeup call. A blood test revealed an irregular liver reading so my doc has referred me for a liver scan this coming Thursday. She said it may be the beginning of gall stones which would account for the change in what is always a good reading. Since that visit I have been low carbing and eating healthier and have lost about 11 pounds and my blood glucose readings are fantastic. Long may it continue.
UPDATE!! An abdominal scan today (thursday 23rd October) at St Marys Hospital has revealed that my liver, kidneys, pancreas and spleen are all in good health so good news for once.

Check back soon for more taxi and health updates.

Take Care.


L.C.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Got Hitched!!

Hi Folks
It’s been a while hasn't it?
On the 5th of July I got married to Jane.
The last 4 months had been so stressful what with the organisation and the putting together of the big event that blogging was impossible. We tied the knot at the Brent Civic Centre opposite the iconic Wembley Stadium and then celebrated afterwards at my local club which we had prepared the night before. It almost went off without a hitch until we had to place the rings on a little cushion. I searched my pockets high and low only to realize they were several miles away in our hotel room on the bedside table. We used stand in rings, which didn’t feel right but they had to do. The day was extremely hot and the venue was very stuffy and warm. My mother complained about the loud music but then again don’t all mothers. My son missed the ceremony all together as he got stuck on the underground during a signal failure. One of the tiers of our four tier wedding cake collapsed so it became a three tier. I think that was all the fails but on a better note the speeches went well and they were followed by our first dance which was to the Barbra Streisand / Bryan Adams duet I finally found someone, We all had a good boogie after that and Jane and I were amongst the last to leave at around midnight.

Me & Jane

2 days later we went to Torquay for five days and traveled all around the Torbay area taking in the sights and the local delicacies. I’m quite partial to seafood so I was in my element down there as there was always a seafood stall close by. A new item I've noticed them doing is fake lobster tails. I've googled them and apparently they’re made of Pollack…very tasty with vinegar. Anyone else heard of them?

On my return I had to collect the cab from the garage.
Someone had been using it for a week and had moved all my stuff around, re-tuned the radio stations, chucked all my cleaning rags out of the boot and even removed a magnetic pad I had stuck to the console to attach stuff to.

It is currently Ramadan and as per usual the work takes a dip as all our Muslim passengers abstain from venturing out during the day.
In spite of that I've gradually gotten back into the groove of work and if you know where to look you can still earn a living.

London, being a capital city is always full of tourists. The usual spots such as Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, Leicester Square never fail to provide work.

Last week a family of Americans, I think they were from Denver, hailed me in Pall Mall and asked to be taken to all the main spots.
We passed Buckingham Palace, the Mall and Trafalgar Square then along the river to the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Shard then the Tate Modern, Parliament Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey New Scotland Yard and I finally dropped them off at the Hard Rock Café on Piccadilly. Total fare was fifty pounds and they gave me seventy and thanked me for being so informative.
That was easy money. I should probably start a tour company.

A bit of drama occurred yesterday, Saturday.
I was taking two ladies up to Creighton Avenue in East Finchley and was chatting them up to get the return journey back into town when my son Mike rang me frantic because he couldn't find our Jack Russell called Dude anywhere. Bang went my return journey and they weren't too pleased at being left stranded in East Finchley but an emergency is an emergency and I drove home.
The dog had already been missing for several hours and we drove around the area many times hoping to get a glimpse of his little black and white body. Mike (who’s 26) was distraught and very tearful as he blamed himself for Dudes escape. After what seemed like hours we decided to go home and print some posters. We stuck fifteen of them all over the area. I knew the dog was micro chipped but he didn’t have his collar on as we only put it on him when taking him for a walk. After that we turned to Facebook and Twitter to broadcast his disappearance urging people to “Share” and “Retweet”, and many did. I haven’t mentioned my mate Chris AKA Titaniccabbie for a while but he loves a cause and got straight to work contacting obscure groups on FB. It was one of these obscure groups that finally gave us our dog back. So, he’d apparently got out of the house without Mike noticing, crossed a very busy main road, made his way towards Kilburn Park Tube where he then became frantic and disorientated and was picked up by a young girl who took him home to show her mum. The mother took a picture of him put it on Facebook with a caption, a friend of Chris’s spotted it, Chris rang me, I rang the finder and within half an hour we were reunited with a very excited Jack Russell. The power of social media cannot be ignored and although he was missing for 10 hours the online bit only took about 3 hours, I can’t praise it enough.


Dude home safe and sound.

I went back out to work today but the weather was so muggy and my AC isn’t working. There was some sort of demo on in town and the gridlock started so I decided to call it a day. 
Best job of the day was Kings Cross Station up to Cranley Gardens in Muswell Hill £25.

Just had Doner Kebab and Chips and a pot of Haagen Daz Ice cream. Just what every diabetic needs…..not!!!

Check back soon for more news and stories.

Take Care.


L.C.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The bands are up!!

Hi folks

After weeks of rain, which has seen severe flooding and has caused so much damage and misery to so many in the UK, the weather seems to have settled down. It feels like a Spring day with blue skies and sunshine here in South Kensington.

Work seems fairly quiet today when you would expect it to be busier after the school holidays. I've almost done 3 hours work and have taken peanuts.

I'm on a bit of a mission from now until July as Jane and I are getting married. The wedding notification went up at the town hall last week so unless anyone has any objections it should all go ahead as planned. As both of us have been married before we're not making it as big a deal as it could be but it will still be an event where all our friends and family can get together for a drink, a bit of food and a good old boogie if they want to.

I've been working away since Christmas and overall it hasn't been too bad.

I had a little episode the other day when I picked up these two shifty lookin guys in Paddington and they only wanted to go round to Westbourne Grove...a 3.20 ride. They handed over a £50 note which felt wrong from the start. I carry a small uv light on a keyring and a quick press confirmed it was indeed a fake. I handed it back to him and asked for some real money to which he tried to sound surprised saying he'd just been given it in the casino. He paid me in coins and off I went making sure to alert my fellow cabbies via Twitter (@thelondoncabby).
I drove around a while looking for my next fare and low and behold who is still in Westbourne Grove trying to hail another cab but these two guys. I pulled up alongside them told them they were all over Twitter and were well out of order for trying to trick us hardworking cabbies into laundering their funny money. They sloped off sheepishly and hopefully got the message. Idiots!!

Whilst sitting at traffic lights at Holland Park Avenue one day last week I could see movement out of the corner of my right eye. I looked over and a guy in a 4x4 was trying to catch my attention before the lights went green. It was none other than TV chef Heston Blumenthal and he was looking for the Uxbidge Arms. I gave him the necessary instructions and he sped off as if late for an appointment.

I used to have a list on my iphone of all the celebrities I've had in my cab over the last 23 years. It boasted of top names such as Michael Caine (twice) Richard Harris, Rob Lowe, Richard Dreyfus various pop stars and sports people and it was a great party piece to show off and impress. Well the list somehow got deleted a short while ago and I've never been able to populate a new one with all the names as I have forgotten most of them. A shame indeed!

We are still awaiting the payout from the accident we had in November. All documents requested from us and everything asked of us has been complied with. I had to stop the physio as it was making my arm worse and hopefully it will sort itself out. Hopefully the money will arrive in time to go towards our impending nuptuals.

The sky has now greyed over and it could mean rain, hopefully!

Check back soon

Take care

L.C.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas

Hi Folks!!
 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.
Take Care
L.C.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Don't Ask And You Won't Be Offended

Hi folks
Well, Dads send off couldn't have gone any better and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I wrote the eulogy in the same style as I did the tribute on here, but felt I wouldn't be able to read it out so several of my neices and nephews took turns to read it.

We had the wake in a private room of the Beefeater in Kenton and there were over a hundred friends and family present. Me and Jane got absolutely wasted ( not planned ) , Dad would've approved ;)

The following day, nursing sore heads, we set off for Corfu in Greece. The island itself was very pretty and most people spoke English but the resort was a bit sub-standard and we really never enjoyed it at all.

The day after our return I took the 31 bus up to my garage to collect my cab. All the problems I mentioned in the last post had been, amazingly, fixed. New radiator, new differential on the axle, warning lights that kept coming on now stay off and a central locking issue has also been corrected. So that should keep me happy for a wee while.

I had to collect my mum and brother from Luton Airport yesterday and the journey back in was extremely juddery. The mechanic at my garage told me the shock absorbers have had it and they won't be getting changed until the overhal in December so I guess my passengers are in for a bumpy few months.

While I was there he changed a wheel which was bald on the inside and also did the tracking which should help the tyres last a bit longer. They also changed the ads for the umpteenth time so I'm now advertising The Aldo fashion brand.

A month on from that minor collision I reported in my last post and in true " litigious society" style it has now escalated out of all proportion. I had hoped that by not mentioning it it would go away but that was naive of me given the fact that it was mostly my fault. I had exchanged details with the driver concerned and he seemed totally ok after what was a non event of a collision but low and behold he's magicked up witnesses out of thin air and is also claiming he was injured. My guvnor has hit the roof because it's going to push up his premiums and he's also saying I'm going to be liable to pay a £300 excess of which hell will freeze over before I pay it so all of a sudden things have become strained at my garage where I've been a driver on and off for about fifteen years.

In all honesty its been time to move on for about a year so pending the outcome of the insurance claim my time there may well be up.

Todays shift was extremely pleasant and effortless. The first hundred came in about three hours ( not a regular occurence I can assure you) then as I was heading for the South Kensington taxi rank a guy hailed me opposite Christies auction rooms. He asked how much it would be to Heathrow Terminal 5 and could I get there in 30 minutes to which I replied "yes" and it would be about £60. He produced a fat wad of cash, peeled off £70 and told me to wait there. I put the meter on and waited about five minutes before a couple got in and asked for Paddington, a £10 ride from where I was. It was tempting but my inherent honesty kicked in and I informed them that the fare had been paid all the way to Terminal 5 which surprised them. Halfway there the guy asked me how much I'd been given: "enough" was my reply. I learned a long time ago never to discuss money with people who wern't paying the fare because if the fare goes less than what the payer has given they try and get the change off you. The guy never asked anymore questions and after depositing them safely at Terminal 5 I headed back to London with a £12 tip...sweet as a nut!!

I need another couple of good days to sort out a ton of bills that are about to descend on me over the next few days.

Oh while I remember, last Saturday I spent a pleasant day out with Jane and her son Jason and his partner. It was Jasons 29th birthday and he came in to London from Chelmsford to do some sightseeing and shopping. By the time we met up with them they had already visited the London Eye and taken a boat trip from Westminster Pier to Greenwich and back.
There is an old trunk of an oak tree which has over the last hundred years had elves, animals and lots of other curiosities carved and painted into it. It's called the Elfin Oak and it is a Grade II listed structure which resides in the cafe area outside the Princess Diana Playground in Kensington Gardens. I had wanted to see it for some time and was able to convince everyone it was worth a look. No one seemed impressed when we located it but I was glad to have " pointed it" so at least if I ever get asked about it by my passengers I can give them an honest answer.
From there we went to Whiteley's where we couldn't agree on a film to watch at the Odeon. We tried the bowling alley next door but it was fully booked for the next few hours so I drove us all in the cab to Covent Garden where we spent an hour browsing all the shops. Zizzi's on the Strand was where we ended up for a nice supper and fantastic value at £25 per head for 3 courses and 2 drinks each. From there I dropped the boys back at Liverpool Street Station for their return journey to Chelmsford while me and Jane went home and went straight to bed.

I'm getting too old for all this traipsing around.

Take care.

L.C
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

It's all 'appenin!

Hi Folks
Just a few more days to go for Dad's funeral. Everythings in place to give him a fitting send-off. It seems a lifetime since he died, he's sorely missed by all of us.
The following day me and Jane are flying out to Corfu for a few days to meet her kids and their partners and her little grandaughter who will have already been there a few days before us. It's 35 degrees out there today, way too hot for my liking but it beats working.
So, after a few weeks notice my garage finally raised the rental fee by £20 to the exhorbitent amount of £235 per week. As far as I know 3 drivers have returned their cabs and gone elsewhere. I am resisting at the moment as I am looking at other options. I may possibly go for a leasing option but I will be looking into it more after I get back from Corfu.
I'm presently sitting on the taxi rank outside the RAC Club in Pall Mall. Its one of several gentlemens clubs in the vicinity. The one behind me is the Reform Club which is where Jules Verne's Around the world in 80 days comes to a conclusion with Phileas Fog just making it in the nick of time.
My passenger has just instructed me to drive her to Gloucester Road northern end which will require a run through fashionable Knightsbridge.
As i drop her off a mother and son wait to get in. Kensington High Street please. Bread and butter work. I love it.
There's a buzz about London this week. A sense of everything returning to normal after six weeks of holidays. The school runs are resuming, workers are taking cabs here and there, cab ranks are moving just that little bit faster which can only be a good thing.
I stopped off for a bite to eat earlier as I felt a little weak through not having any breakfast. I went to Prêt à Manger in Marble Arch after parking round the back of the Cumberland Hotel. On returning to the cab laden with my goodies I placed the coffee on the arm rest, the sandwich on the dash and the plastic container of fruit salad on the floor. I get in, elbow the coffee off the arm rest which in turn explodes all over my stuff. Flustered, I continue to get in and somehow manage to kick out the fruit salad which also expodes open onto Bryanston Street leaving me fruitless and coffeeless and with only a cheese and pickle sarni for company! It's not the first time either. I knock the coffee off 2 or 3 times a year. I should know better.
It's all happenin today!! Just dropped an old dear off in a dead end road off Baker Street and there's a guy from the office block next door standing by her house smoking a cigarette. Apparently it's a daily occurrence and the poor old dear spends all her time sweeping up discarded butts. She screamed abuse at him to stand outside his own door, he shouted something back and I drove off leaving them to it.
2 jobs later and I have just had a minor collision with a silver mercedes van. It was probably my fault but I never told him that. There's no damage on the cab just a scuff mark on the bumper but the mercedes is now the proud posessor of a creased door panel. My guvnor's gonna love me.







I think i've had enough action for one day. I'm going home
Take Care Y'all
L.C.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Life goes on!


Hi folks

Well, as promised here is my next post.

First and foremost can I just say thanks to everyone who offered condolences and kind words after the death of my dad last week. It wasn’t unexpected but sad all the same. We’ve had to delay the funeral until the 6th of September because our large family have commitments that need to be fulfilled and honoured.

As the saying goes, life must go on and I have endeavoured to continue as best as I can.

Only 3 weeks ago Jane and I were on holiday in Majorca where temperatures were sweltering in the mid 30’s. On my return I went to my taxi garage to collect my cab. They had promised me it was going to be in tip top condition when I got it back after a week at Mann & Overtons (main dealers) to have warranty work done on it. The radiator needed replacing, the ABS needed looking at as I had been getting warning lights on the dash together with a peculiar fluttering of the brake pedal and most importantly the diff had been making some really funny noises. So, as I arrived at the garage they told me the cab was still at M&O and I would have to take a spare cab out. It was an 07 plate TX4 but a pretty decent cab and with half a tank of diesel to boot. I was to keep this cab until my regular one was returned to me. 9 days later I still had the same cab as I rolled down the slope at Paddington to join the rank for my first fare of the day. “Luton Airport please driver” said my passenger. No query as to the price was asked so off I went on what was a very nice ride first thing in the morning. The journey up the M1 was uneventful. The dropping off point at Luton Airport now charges you £2 to exit which I find scandalous but I felt I couldn’t pass this on to the passenger after he had just parted with £120 (the exact meter reading). I had had a call en route to say my cab was at the garage and could I go to collect it asap as they needed the spare for someone else so I set off for the return journey, happy at the good start to the day. It wasn’t going to be good for much longer. As I approached junction 3 the engine died. I coasted to a stop getting as tight to the hard shoulder as possible. I had been low on fuel but was still above the quarter tank so it couldn’t be that. I tried to turn the engine over but it just made a click. My garage doesn’t use conventional breakdown services like the AA and the RAC. Instead they use independents who could be anywhere at any time of the day or night. First I called the owner who wasn’t happy at the news. He gave me a list of 3 breakdown services I should use. The first one was a guy I had used several months ago when my regular cab failed to re-start (dead battery) on the cab rank at the Hilton Metropole. He was going to be 3 hours in coming out to me so I told him to forget it. The next one was two hours away and the third was down in Paddington changing a flat tyre and would be with me in under an hour. The sun was beating down on me as I waited outside the cab but ironically I had just bought an ice cold bottle of water so at least I wouldn’t die of thirst. Lorries were whizzing past and the cab swayed from side to side from the wind they created, it wasn’t a safe place to be so I retreated further back into the bushes. Help arrived within the hour and after trying a few things to get the cab started he decided the engine had seized and would have to tow it back to the garage. Within 30 minutes we were pulling up at the garage where a not too pleased owner was awaiting our arrival. After unloading the cab off the breakdown truck and after me paying my weekly rent they backed my regular cab out of a lock-up. “Everything been done on it?” says I. “Nothing’s been done. They didn’t do the ABS or the radiator and they never had a diff so it’ll have to go back when they call for it”. Flabbergasted I said nothing and just drove away. Oh and while I was paying the rent the owner said that he would be increasing the rent by £20 to cover the rising cost of the insurance. It was either that or he throws the towel in altogether. He also asked if I would be interested in buying the cab off him and that he would do me a good deal but I declined his offer. I may well be looking for a new garage in the not too distant future.

Brokedown!!
 

The work situation during August is generally pretty dire. Ramadan has just finished and at least the Arabs are using us again which accounts for at least 50% of our takings especially if you work the Marble Arch and Edgware Road areas like I do.

My mate Chris aka @silvercabby recently informed me of a new app-based credit card payment system called cab:app. I signed up to them and have been using them to process credit card payments ever since. They pay the money into your bank account on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays so you will never wait more than a few days as opposed to up to two weeks on other systems. The only downside is that you are at the mercy of the internet so if you are in an area with poor coverage it won’t work. One other thing that I found out through trial and error was that American Express cards have their security number on the front of the card. There is a number on the white strip on the back but the front number is the one required. I took a guy up to Canary Wharf and out came the Amex. I’d done loads of other transactions but not Amex so I was surprised when it came back “Declined”. I tried a few other times and even fired up Hailo to use their system but it was declined. You can imagine whilst all the attempts were being made the passenger was standing there getting more irate so I decided he was “OK” and, making a note of his details, let him walk away with my intention being to contact someone at cab:app to put it through their system. Long story short, no can do without the security number off the FRONT of the card. My £33 was fast becoming a dim and distant memory. The guy I spoke to at cab:app, Derek, was fantastic and offered to send me £20 as a goodwill gesture. I told him he didn’t have to do that and that I had to learn by my mistakes but he insisted and, true to his word, the £20 arrived the next day in an envelope. Cheers Derek!!

Jane has been house-sitting whilst her bosses go off on yet another two week holiday (how the other half live!!) My routine has suffered because of it and I find myself crawling out of bed around 10am and actually on the road by 11ish. My usual starting point at St John’s Wood Station is a waste of time whilst the summer holidays are on so I find myself turning left out of my driveway and heading for Ladbroke Grove. I have been lucky most days to trap my first job along there and I’ve found that by staying on the west side of town I can earn steadily. I sit on the ranks at South Kensington and the V&A Museum and anywhere else that isn’t full up. During the course of my shifts I am always asked for directions by pedestrians and motorists alike. I always endeavour to give them clear and accurate instructions in fact I pride myself on being as helpful as I can be. So when a guy came up to me on the South Ken rank and asked how to get to Studdridge Street SW6 I happily told him it was off Fulham Palace Road and would be about a tenner in a cab. He asked for the nearest tube and I said Fulham Broadway. He thanked me and walked in the direction of the tube station. As I thought about what I’d said I realised I didn’t mean Fulham Palace Road but Wandsworth Bridge Road instead. Annoyed at my failings I pulled off the rank and went in search of him. There were loads of people about at that time but I managed to spot him. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry and had seated himself on the edge of a flowerbox type thing near the tube entrance. I tooted the horn several times causing everyone but him to turn around and look at me. I persevered and eventually he looked over and I waved at him to come to me and explained that I had told him the wrong road and that they were several miles apart blah blah blah. He didn’t seem all that bothered and I then wondered why I had bothered myself at all but at least I could sleep soundly in my bed knowing I hadn’t misled the guy.

Whilst at work today the cab owner rang me to ask if I knew where the front of the radio was for the spare cab. I said it had been there when I broke down as I’d had the music blaring on my way south along the M1. He said it wasn’t in the cab at all and I said it had nothing to do with me. I asked about the cab and what was actually wrong with it and he told me the engine had blown and he’d just spent 3 grand on a new one and he was giving it to another driver but he wouldn’t take it without a radio in it. I re-iterated that I didn’t know where it was and he just grumbled something, reminded me that new adverts were being put on the cabs next week and then hung up. I suppose I’d be a bit peeved if I’d just laid out 3 grand for a new engine too!

Anyway, that’s all for now. Check back soon for more gripping tales of life as a London Cabby :0)

Take Care

L.C.