At last, half term is over and I'm back out working.
While it's nice to have some time without having to suffer the rolling road-block that is also known as the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach each morning, I've really been looking forward to having the travelling public donate towards whatever it is I decide to buy when I've got enough money in my wallet.
I didn't have a holiday in the summer this year, figuring total concentration on getting through the knowledge would be a better option while Mrs and Miss Headlong went away. It obviously did the trick since both Brian (my callover partner) and I managed to get through our final appearances, and get our cab licences within a couple of weeks of each other.
With half term looming I had hoped that the family would be able to get away for some well earned rest and relaxation. A few days in Spain, or the Canaries, just to get some late sunshine before the autumn darkness settled in. Unfortunately a couple of gigs for the band meant that we wouldn't be able to get a package deal and get our daughter back in time for the start of Term 2.
Instead we just had a few days out with me doing all the driving... Thorpe Park one day, Calais (sadly more Cite Europe via the tunnel than Calais) the next, Southend another day. With the weekend sorted with various odd-jobs and domestic chores, even the A2 in rush hour was very tempting.
Most of the week's jobs so far have been more of the basic sort of stuff that The Knowledge automatically prepares you for. Unfortunately several road closures, including those for the King of Saudi Arabia and his entourage, the preparations for the State Opening of Parliament (can they not just use a key like everyone else?) and sadly for an accident involving a white van and a now ex-) motorcyclist in Baker Street today have seen a lot of the capital come to almost complete standstill.
This is OK if you've got someone on board but a nightmare if you've got the light on. Nobody is going to climb into your cab with the clock ticking when they can walk to the front of the traffic jam quicker than you can drive it. It's also a bit embarrassing for the driver, since the passenger generally needs to get somewhere within a certain time. I've been asked to "get me out of this jam" on several occasions. It makes the route longer, but can sometimes get you to the destination quicker.
At the moment though, all it seems to do is get you out of the frying pan, and into another bigger, even hotter frying pan. Still, when the water board have finished replacing all the Victorian water mains in ten years time the roads will all be clear again... YEAH RIGHT!
We've got Crossrail coming, whatever roadworks will be involved with routes to and from the Olympic site in Stratford, and who knows what else.. probably the installation of rubberised pavements so that local councils can avoid compensation claims from people who have worn their shoe leather out.
Best and worst job of the day was taking a lady from Liverpool Street station to Paddington Station for the Heathrow Express train. She was travelling eventually to New Zealand on business from her home in Essex and had decided to avoid the jams on the M25 by taking the train into town and getting across to Heathrow that way. While it was nice to have the fare from her (paid for by her company expenses) it's not good when such a relatively short part of her journey takes over 40 minutes sitting in unavoidable traffic jams. Still, she was happy to eventually arrive at Paddington so that she could start the onward part of her journey.
I'm planning to go in a bit later in the day tomorrow and work into the evening, just to see if there's any difference in the traffic and the amount of work that comes up. Knowing my luck though I'll get a job back to Dartford or somewhere just as the evening rush hour starts.
Perhaps the curse put on my cab by the windscreen washing beggar at Park Crescent involved lots of slow motion traffic.