Sorry everyone, once again all my good intent to regularly post on here has gone on holiday.
Talking of which, rather than take up space on here about the bike holiday planned for October one of my fellow travellers has set up a new blog which we hope to update now and then, and also from the trip itself if technology allows. The link is over there on the right.
Have had a quiet couple of weeks myself having been away for a week up to Mabelthorpe on the East Coast. A chance to mellow out, have a drink every now and then and not have to worry about driving anywhere the next day. With the school holidays still in full swing I've not had the cab for a couple of weeks, saving myself some money, but looking forward to picking it up again for the Bank Holiday weekend. Just got to hope nobody wants to go anywhere near the Notting Hill Carnival area or The Mall since both will be closed.
Once that is all over I'll drop the cab off again at the garage since I'll be away at Rhythm Festival for the last weekend of August. Three days of camping, beer and music. Can't wait. Should be fun, especially since my 12 year old daughter is coming with us, and there's not a modern "pop" band in sight. Hopefully she'll be educated so that she knows what REAL R'n'B is about, and not what is now being given the label that has previously graced such stars as Jerry Lee Lewis, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley.
Since it's been a month since my last post I won't give details of every job, more just the highlights (and a couple of lowlights) that have graced my own little part of the taxi trade.
I'll deal with the lows first so that I don't leave all those knowledge boys saying I'm one of the miserable old sods who tell everyone the game's dead. I'm only telling it how it really is out there sometimes. You've got to take the rough with the smooth. The first couple of weeks of the school holidays were slow. I mean REALLY slow. It wasn't just me, quite a few other drivers I spoke to said the same. However, some must have got lucky since they were saying it was OK. (Rough with the smooth, remember).
My regular cab also had to go in for its 6 month inspection so I had to spend the week before my holiday in a replacement. What a pile of crap. No air-con, bits falling off it and a radio that needs a degree in computer science to work out how to use it. Luckily, the taped on wing mirror passed an inspection by the PCO's licensing team when I stopped for a cuppa at the Astral cafe.
I was glad to give the bloody thing back, although had a run-in with the garage. They are open on a Saturday morning, so having worked until 2am from Friday night, I headed in to hand it over by 12. Unfortunately a van had broken its rear axle in the Blackwall Tunnel causing me to have to go all the way up to Tower Bridge to avoid too much traffic before I could get to the garage. I managed to get there by 12:30, but they had phoned me to say they shut at 12 (they don't, I've paid my rent at well gone 12 on other Saturdays) and that I had cost them money because they couldn't get it out to another driver. "So charge me for the extra day then" I said with less patience than Naomi Campbell waiting for her baggage at terminal 5. "I'm stuck in Lewisham trying to get round a problem that's holding up South East London, and unless there's a "Fly" mode on this thing, I can't get to you by 12." Them telling me I should have left earlier didn't help matters.
It only got worse when a couple of other cabbies refused to take me to Charlton on the way home because they didn't want to get stuck on the way back. (Should I grass them up to the PCO or not? Nah, probably not, but I was in the right mood to do it by the time I'd got to the pub.)
One thing I did notice during the last month is that there are lot of people coming into town and only taking short trips. I've even suggested to a few people that it would be quicker for them to walk than to sit in traffic. Some are happy to take the advice and directions, others say, no we'll still take the cab anyway. No problem. The best of these was two lads on Oxford Street. While sitting at a set of lights behind another cab, I saw two men go to the first cab, have a conversation with the driver and then come back to me. They wanted to go to a club called "Blush". I couldn't remember straight off where it was, but since i was talking to my old callover Partner Brian, he reminded me it was in Duke Street.
I told the two that all they needed to do was walk up Oxford Street, turn left and the club was a little way up, and that it would take them less than 5 minutes to walk it. "OK, thanks!" they said, and then got into the back. "Fair enough" thinks I. The traffic lights go green, we roll forward about twenty yards to the lights at the junction of Duke Street, and I suggest to the passengers that I can either take them all the way round the block, or they could get out and walk to the club from there, saving themselves both time and money.
They ask where the club is, and I point it out to them. Embarrassed, they get out. The meter is still only at £2.20, not even having travelled far enough for it to change from the "flag fall". The passenger offered to pay, but I laugh and tell him I was going in that direction anyway.
Have had a few nice jobs in amongst the little runs, one to Kingston Hospital from The Oval after the cricket. I asked if he worked there or was a student in residence. He told me that he didn't, but that his wife had had a baby the day before but he didn't want to give up his ticket for the match. Balls of steel or what?
Another was a job up to Friern Barnet from Great Portland Street. Having previously taken a job to Villandry in the same street this just shows what you can get if you take something that might only come to £3.
Looking forward to working again after a couple of weeks off. Just wondering whether the garage will have the cab ready for me by 12 though.