Wednesday, April 22

Free Advice Included

You must know if you have ever travelled in a taxi that drivers by and large are always happy to give advice. This can be on any subject and is given free with the cab ride whether you want it or not.

Take today for instance, I had picked up a lady with her pet cat from one of the local vets. She was in shock after paying out £400 just to get the ginger toms teeth cleaned. I knew vets bills were huge but this amazed me and I started at first to think about maybe going into the moggie molar cleaning business. But no I decided to pass on building a tabby tooth scrubbing empire and help out my customer.
So I suggested she pick up a pair of pincers from the pound shop and remove the problem teeth. I then suggested a nice soft diet for the cat and reassured her by telling her that after all cats don’t smile much so no one would ever know.

A while later I picked yet another woman up from the vets with yet another pussy cat. This lady was again moaning about the vet’s outrageous fees. She wasn't happy at all and was having a good moan because she was due to go on holiday and before she could put her puss in the expensive cattery she would have to pay for its inoculations and a check up.  
 So coming to the rescue yet again I suggested that she could save herself lots of money by simply having the cat put down and buying a new one when she got back.
Strangely enough neither of the feline owning ladies seemed to appreciate my kindly advice; maybe they looked shocked because they were thinking how much money my useful advice would save them.  
I'm even sure that I even heard the last lady swearing as she got out the taxi, obviously because she hadn't thought of the idea first.

Monday, April 20

Chit Chat

You know sometimes it really is a struggle to find something to talk about with the passengers especially ones I have never met before.
A lot of people just don't want to talk and after a while driving a cab you can sense this pretty much straight away and just turn the radio up a bit and get them to where they are going.
But others are more than eager for a chat; some of the old folk we pick up have not spoken to a living soul for days and days on end.
But the thing is that you have to find something safe and neutral to talk about, something in the local news or something we drive past usually starts a good conversation off.
But when nowt is going on it tends to be the fare that starts up on their favourite subject and it goes from there.
But some things can run into problems and are best avoided, take politics for instance we all can get a bit heated on that and so it’s best not to go into it too seriously.
I have lost count of the times when I have had to bite my lip whilst listening to some ould dear complaining about all the foreigners coming over here and nicking our jobs. This in a town which is 99% white and has near full employment.
Still there is always that sure fire safe bet “Football” but problem is I am just not interested in football at all. I usually don't mention this and just let them amaze me with their vast knowledge and skills in management and just hope that they don’t notice my eyes glazing over.
 It’s best not to mention that I don't like football or I get the same open mouthed stupefied expression as if I had just casually mentioned that I knew their mother and wondered if I may be their real father.
The only real safe bet is of course the weather; everyone likes a whinge about it being too hot or too cold.  That is except for the women who I picked up the other day when it just happened to be very misty.  It turns out according to her that the government is causing it and using the mystery mist as a secret weapon to control and spy on us all.
What a load of rubbish eh!
 Everyone knows it’s the aliens that are doing it.      

Thursday, April 9

No Go Area

A while back now I had a job to pick up two people from nearby Ulverston and take them the hundred miles or so to Liverpool airport. When I arrived at the address I opened the boot ready to load the cases only to be told that they had none to load all they had was a plastic Tesco carrier bag.
Now to me a couple with no luggage going to the airport seems more than a bit strange.
So I asked them to pay up front and then enquired about the lack of luggage. Well the guy said we don't really want to go to the airport, we just said that for convenience but it’s not far from there though. 
He paid me no problem and told me he would direct me once we got off the motorway and into Liverpool. They were a bit of an odd couple with him being older and from this area she being a true scouse who swore every other word. I listened to them argue all the way down the motorway about nowt in particular and just as they were about to drive me mad at last we turned off the motorway. The guy started to give me directions which seemed to take us in circles several times this caused more arguments between them and it was decided that the lady( and I use the term loosely) would direct me the rest of the way. We drove into Edge Hill and then into what looked like a giant demolition site. Row upon row of terraced houses all boarded up with corrugated iron sheets, no sign of life not even passing or parked cars.
 I began to get a bit nervous and asked are you sure it’s round here, yes she replied “just a bit further. So keeping one eye on the road and the other on the passengers I drove slowly on. Ten minutes later she shouted “stop stop” and even before we had fully stopped she jumped out and ran swearing and shouting towards the only house in all the dereliction that had doors and windows. The guy handed me a ten pound note as he got out and said “thanks mate that’s for you none of the local taxis will come down here” I guess that explains the airport story they gave.

Sunday, April 5

Easter Parade

Easter Sunday and all the big supermarkets are closed and it was exactly the same ritual performance as last year, it’s what I call the Easter Sunday parade, with hundreds of cars full of desperate retail junkies driving around in circles looking for a supermarket that’s open for business.
They just can't believe that the stores dare have the audacity to close their temple of consumerism just when they want to go shopping as they usually do every single Sunday.
 They don't just look at the car park, see it’s empty and realise the store is closed, and drive away, nope they have to drive right up to the store entrance and stare at the locked doors with wide open mouths.
They actually form an orderly queue to do this and then they all drive off to the next supermarket down the road to repeat the mournful ritual. It seems that they just don't know what to do with their sad selves without their Sunday shopping fix; wonder what they did before the stores started Sunday trading!
Sunday shopping seems to have replaced church services and even the great British pub liquid lunch to become some people’s sole source of a social life. Whole family's seeking the great nirvana of retail therapy clog the aisles as they engage in epic gossip sessions with others who they only ever see in the hallowed retail cathedrals. Pity the poor layperson who actually just wants to dash in and out and grab a quick bite for lunch. None of the gossip congregation will give an inch to let anyone else past them and will use their empty shopping trolleys as a weapon to stop the philistines from invading the hallowed ground.   

 We taxi drivers could make lots more money if our phone operators just didn't tell customers that the stores were shut. We could then just take them on a nice leisurely trip round all the closed supermarkets and then back home again, but apparently that’s bad public relations so we don't do that.

It’s still a great pity though it would be a nice little earner eh!

Sunday, March 29

Furry Fright

I didn't take a lot of notice when the lady got into the back of the taxi and asked to go into town. On the way she asked me to pull up outside a post office and wait whilst she did an errand. 
 After about five minutes or so I was just sat there bored and daydreaming, when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I spotted something small and furry making its way quickly from in between the seats straight towards me. 
I was out of the taxi quicker than a Danish cartoonist leaving a mosque. 
I thought that maybe a rat or squirrel must have gotten in somehow.  After a minute or two of taking deep breaths I still wasn't prepared to get back in the cab to fight the furry intruder and was stood peering anxiously through the windows trying to spot it again. 
Just at that moment the lady walked out of the post office and up to the car and seeing my shocked expression guessed exactly what had happened.
Sorry she said “I should have told you I had my miniature Yorkshire terrier in my pocket and thought it would be ok to leave her in the car”.

Thursday, March 26

Made Up.

A young lass who I had picked up was wearing bright pink pyjamas, which believe it or not is not at all unusual in these parts.
 It’s mainly the Sunday mornings when they have stayed over with friends after a night out; they don't like to go home in the previous nights clothes.
 But this was on a Tuesday afternoon and she had not a hair out of place and was adorned in lots of fresh heavy duty makeup.
 She must have troweled that much on herself that even her hands were covered in the stuff  judging by the multiple handprints she left all over the back seats and doors.
 It must have been super industrial strength because it was a nightmare to clean off, pity the poor guy who gets any of that on his collar.

Saturday, March 14

Bootless

Why do our local Barrow lasses go out on the town in boots or shoes that are so very obviously uncomfortable.
 On the Sunday mornings presumably after a hard nights partying I always seem to pick up lots of young ladies  carrying the previous night’s footwear.
 Last Sunday morning I picked up three girls in a row all carrying high boots with big heels, if they hurt why wear them? 
 Still that’s women for you.
 Reminds me of a Sunday a while back when I picked up a lass going to one of the villages about six or seven miles away from Barrow, she had been out all night and was still pretty drunk. Still in a good mood she was talking away about her night and things that had happened and all the while she was emphasising points by waving her arms about. After about three miles she was still in full flow when suddenly she stopped and quickly put her hands down and went bright red. That was when I knew that she had finally realised she had her knickers grasped in her hand and had been waving them about for the last ten minutes.
 She slipped them into her pocket and didn't say much after that; they were red by the way!

Thursday, March 12

Nervous Tick

I was watching a TV programme called Terrets camp and it brought to mind an incident which happened a few summer's ago.
 It was a Saturday lunch time and I had picked up from the vast local gas terminal which was under construction, the male fare was a contractor from Newcastle, he was a daunting character, huge with a shaved head and lots of tattoos.
He asked to be taken to a pub in town and then on the way started to ask questions about the massage parlour which is near the pub.
He must have had some form of nervous tick when he got a bit excited; he dropped his head to his left shoulder and grunted loudly like a pig. I was startled but tried to just carry on just as normal as possible.
As we got nearer to town he asked more questions about the massage parlour and then squealed and grunted even louder.
 He said he was going to visit the massage parlour after a few beers. I wonder what the girls in the massage parlour made of him, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that visit!

Tuesday, February 24

Spellbound

Driving the taxi through Dalton with a lady passenger on board the other day, when she spotted a lone magpie.
 She saluted smartly and said aloud "good morning mister magpie how's your wife".
I looked at her with an open mouth so she gave me the explanation, that it was it was an old superstition more prevalent in the rural areas. Any more I asked? She told me a couple I already knew but another couple of fresh ones she gave me were never move on a Friday and never trust a man with squeaky shoes, that means he owes money.
Later that very day I had picked up a couple and the guy was getting dropped of before the lady. He was about to get out of the taxi when he was dragged back inside by the lady who got quite upset telling me that I mustn't drop him off when parked on the bridge. 
"Part on a bridge and you may never meet again" was the superstition  that had her under it's spell. 

Tuesday, February 17

Olde Times



Well after rereading our local council terms and conditions for taxi drivers here in Barrow in Furness I think that the whole thing needs a good update they use language such as the "term psychedelic and bizarre painting schemes" that one must surely be a hangover from the swinging sixties! 
 Then we have the total gobbledegook   "The track width and suspension characteristics shall be such as to provide good road holding performance and stability on cornering" surely if the taxi didn't it would not pass a taxi inspection or even the annual M.O.T test.
Then we have the requirement for the never used and cannot ever be used without danger of being sued, fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
Most modern council’s have now realised that drivers are not insured to use and cannot use these without proper training and have done away with the requirement.
"Radio scanners are prohibited" again that’s all a bit old hat nowadays most firms are on data and not voice nowadays so not much to listen to.

Then we come to the Hackney Carriage Byelaws they seem to have been written at about 1886 which was about the same time as our Town Hall was built.
“Cause the roof or covering to be watertight" and "cause the fittings and furniture generally to be kept in a clean condition, well maintained and in every way fit for public service" and how about this beauty “The taxi shall be fitted with a key flag or other device, the turning of which will bring the machinery of the taximeter into action and use the word hired to appeal on the face of the taximeter”
This was all obviously written by quill on parchment in the days of horse drawn hackney carriages and the last time they changed it and as it states at the bottom, hereunto fixed the common seal was forty one years ago!
I have saved the best bit until last "The proprietor or driver of a hackney carriage shall immediately after the termination of any hiring or as soon as possible thereafter carefully search the carriage for any property which may have been accidentally left therein."  
Then we have "carry it as soon as possible and in any event within 48 hours if not sooner claimed by or on behalf of its owner to the office of the council and leave it in the custody of the officer in charge of the office on his giving a receipt for it."
I and most other drivers have never heard of anybody taking lost property to the Town Hall and I bet this is another hangover from the dim and distant past.
So now I will have to find this officer in charge then handover the seven odd gloves, three single earrings, several soiled hankies and the cat box (the cat didn't survive its visit to the vets) that I have in my garage?

Thursday, February 12

Barking Mad

A middle aged guy gets into the taxi this morning constantly coughing his lungs up “are you a heavy smoker?” I asked when he finally caught his breath. "What do you mean"? He said. Well is smoking the first thing you do every morning when you get up.
 "No he said first I cough, then I smoke."

Thursday, February 5

Splashing Time

It rained constantly all day today and I was  getting peoples favourite comment to taxi drivers “I bet you drivers love it when it rains like this”.
 Well here’s one driver who doesn't, it’s no fun at all driving all day in the pouring rain you have to concentrate a heck of lot more to dodge all the people with umbrellas or hoods up who just walk out into the road.
 And if it’s raining from early morning people especially the older folk  just don't want to go out unless they have to and if they do they tend to be a lot more miserable than usual.
 But if it starts to rain when everybody is already out then that’s ok we have a busy time then. Showers are a mixed blessing people call a cab and then it stops so they walk and we get lot of no pickups.
 The only consolation is driving through deep puddles and splashing traffic wardens.

Thursday, January 29

Bucket

A lady I pick up now and again bears a remarkable resemblance to the TV personality Hyacinth Bucket both in character as well as looks. The first few occasions she went to great pains to tell that me “oh of course I am not from round this dump” and that the “yokels are a lot of dirty rabble not fit to walk Barrows filthy streets”.
 This went on for a month or two until one day she come out of her house with her husband close behind her. Poor devil I thought pity him he must have a dogs life. He got in the front and his wife in the back and I waited for the usual haughty remarks,” have you got everything” she said to him. I looked at him expecting to see a poor downtrodden sort of guy who daren't answer back. He looked back at me winked and smiled then said to her “as always darling”. 
When she answered I was shocked by the change in her voice and tone she sounded ten years younger and spoke to him with a permanent smile on her face. So she was human after all, I looked at her in a different light after that.

Sunday, January 25

Drugged Duo

I had picked up two guys this morning from what must one of the roughest blocks of flats here in Barrow. Both seemed to be heavily under the influence of some sort of drug and they proceeded to rap lyrics to some sort of extreme racist song.
I asked them politely to pack it in and tried to make a joke out of the situation before they got too far out of hand. So they kindly then moved on to religion and sang hymns whose words had been altered to mock various religious figures.
 This was all getting a bit too much for what should have a quiet Sunday morning and not a riotous Saturday night.
Thankfully after a couple of crazy miles one of the guys, the noisiest was to be dropped off first. Before he got out of the cab he leaned into the front and whispered to me in a weird sing song voice “never trust a man who standing in front of you turns round bends over pulls his pants down and sticks his finger up his bum then licks that finger” Shaking my head I gratefully waited for him to get the hell out of my taxi.
 Well he did, but he then stood in front of the taxi and did exactly what he had just so graphically described.

This all took place in front of an unwilling audience coming and going from the busy nearby newsagents!        

Thursday, January 15

Ancient Ruin

Our local ancient ruin Furness Abbey here in Barrow in Furness is always good for a wind up with the odd tourist, when I drive past it with them I always say that they are waiting for the builders to pebbledash it and install plastic windows. 

Tuesday, January 6

Short Trip

At least six or seven people that I picked up today, when asked" where to" gave me the address that they had just come out of.
 I usually say okay and then ask for the fare, they tend to look at me blankly for a moment or two and then realise what they have said. 
One of these fine days someone will pay me and then get straight out again.
Not that I would complain people could do that all day long for my liking!

Saturday, January 3

Furry Fright

I was a bit distracted and didn't really take a lot of notice when the lady got into the back of the taxi and asked to go to town, on the way she asked me to pull up outside a post office while she did an errand.
 I was just sat there daydreaming, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted something small and furry making it's way from in between the seats towards me. I was out of the car quicker than a Danish cartoonist leaving a mosque.
 I crazily thought maybe a rat must have gotten in somehow. Just at that moment the lady walked back up to the car and seeing my expression guessed what had happened,sorry she said I should have told you, I had my Yorkshire terrier in my pocket and thought it would be okay to leave her in the car.

Thursday, January 1

Payback Time

Instead of getting involved in the mayhem of New Years Eve I opted for an early start on New Years Day. This gives good opportunity for payback for all the Peter Kay taxi driver sketches that groups of giggling drunks always try to recreate in the back of the cab. It really does get a bit boring by the time you get to the hundredth time of "busy tonight mate” and "what time you on till” that bloody Peter Kay has a lot to answer for.
 But the tables are turned early next morning when the fares are a bit worse for wear after a full nights partying. Nothing too harsh you understand, just a bit of gentle mickey taking. Such as looking back at the hung-over wreck in the back and saying” we'd better get you back to the crypt before the sun comes up eh!" Or to the fella wearing the brightly coloured frilly shirt, "we'd better get you home before your mother misses her blouse.
 Or the useful advice given to the young lass who looked as if she had been dragged through a hedge backwards “I'd stay away from mirrors for a few days if I was you." One confused staggerer who was having trouble remembering where he lived and muttered "over the hill and round the bend" to which I replied "yes I know you are but where do you live,”
 But even I had to refrain from any cruel humour with my first fare of the day. This was from the crowded casualty department of Furness General hospital where he had been all night. It seems that he had a disagreement with a lass who promptly settled the matter by taking her shoe off and embedding the stiletto heel in his head several times, ouch.

Wednesday, December 31

Sex Talk

How many other people can say that a perfect stranger has got into their car and within five minutes ends up talking explicitly about sex
This happened to me on a dull wet morning recently,the passenger was a perfectly respectable middle aged lady who some how got on to the subject of how young people are too open about sex and that people of her generation just don’t talk about it.
But she then went on to mention prostitutes, transsexuals, gays and extra marital affairs, all within a short ten minute journey. I don't suppose she would do the same with a bus driver or a shopkeeper but with us cabdrivers it seems anything goes.
I used to find it strange but nowadays nothing surprises me eh!

Friday, December 19

Black Eye Friday 2014

Way up here in this part of the North of England, we tend to call the last Friday before Christmas “Black Eye Friday.”
 It's the day most people finish work for the Christmas holidays and they tend to finish work early about lunch time and they then head straight down to the pub for a long boozy session.
 I find it amusing when it gets to about four o'clock in the afternoon I then start to pickup some of the less hardened boozers when they have had enough and want to go home.  Lots of them are then telling me what a good night they have had; they are convinced that because it's dark that it must be very very late at night. I never tell them any different and just drive them home.
 Once a year drunks I call them the very worst kind of drinker because they just aren't used to it, give me a seasoned drinker anytime.  They take ages to come out of the pub shaking hands, hugging everyone in sight, and then going back into the pub several times for yet more emotional farewells. Then once you get them into the taxi, the struggle is then to get them out of the taxi at the other end, because you are, their new very best friend in the whole wide world and they want to tell you their life story many times very very slowly and emotionally. Then its handshakes and if I’m very unlucky big bear hugs, but of course none of my new found best friends ever recognise me ever again.
Still it's all good sport, Merry Christmas and a happy new year. 

Wednesday, December 17

Ould Pearls

I was talking to an old lady of about eighty today whom I had picked up in the taxi, when she used an expression I had never heard before, and definitely never by a respectable old lady.
 She said” I have just had visitors and I was a bit embarrassed because my house is as messy as a whore’s garret”  Some of the stuff that older folk come out with never ceases to amuse and amaze me. One old guy who I had picked up going to an old friend's funeral come out with the classic line "Aye I would rather go to a good funeral then a bad wedding." another one he used was "it's as cold as me mother in law's kiss"
But the one common ould folk saying that I hear far to often is "Don't get old it's terrible" so my standard reply to that one is "maybe so but I don't like alternative" I will have to keep my ears open for any more of these pearls of ould folk wisdom and jot them down maybe.

Thursday, November 13

The Next Day

Funny how people hurt themselves on a Saturday night but it doesn't seem to hurt them till the following Sunday morning.
 I had two trips to the hospital in a row this Sunday both had injury’s to the same leg, the first had been at a party where they played an old punk track and of course, the guy thought he would relive his youth and see if he could still pogo like way back in his teenage days.
The next said he had fallen over a kerb, bet he couldn't find it the next day though.
 Reminds me of a few months back when I picked up a guy still very much the worse for wear who had fallen the night before. When he woke up, he saw something white on his elbow so he tried to brush it off; unfortunately, it turned out to be his bone sticking out! He was still laughing about it but that will have stopped when the alcohol wore off and the stitches went in.

 On the way up to casualty, I said to him, you know when you get treated that the nurse will say to you that this wont hurt a bit. “Yes” he said expectantly “well she will be lying” I replied!

Monday, November 3

Lost

Now and again, I will pick some joker up who tries to catch me out by asking to go to a street with no houses on which very few people have heard of.
 A few local examples of these in Barrow in Furness are Water St, Reservoir St, Thomson St, and Wesley Place. The only time I do get caught out funnily enough is when at the end of a long busy tiring shift my mind will go blank when I am asked to go to somewhere I go to every single day.
But the fun really starts when I get jobs in the outlying villages and countryside especially when I am given vague directions to a place with just a house name.
 I always find that even in the most remote hamlets when I stop to ask the way it always turns out to be a stranger to the area or the local village idiot I pick.
 On one particular job a while back I picked a chap who looked sensible enough but when asked the way he replied “Ista gaan duwn yonder ginnel past meda wi sterks bur tat la left an gaas on abit lal git ta laurel hedge ista gaas onabit las lare. So that's exactly what I did and amazingly, I found it fairly easily.

But I couldn't  help keep laughing to myself after that thoughts kept entering my head of this guy doing the voice directions for those new fangled satellite navigation devices you get nowadays.

Friday, October 31

Card Trouble

I got a call to pick up from one of Barrow’s more expensive hotels this morning, when I got there my passengers turned out to be a couple with no luggage still in the clothes from what looked had been a wild night of gallivanting .
Well nothing unusual about that, but when they got in the car, he gets in the front and her in the back, and whilst she was quite chatty, he was a bit withdrawn. The girl who was a stunner, asked to be dropped off first, and then the guy was travelling on for another four miles. He was hard work at first, a bit morose but after a while, he comes out with the story.

 He had been out with friends and somehow become separated from them and then feeling a bit lonely, he ended up getting drunk and copping off with the lovely lady.
 "Great" I said," so you had a good night why the long face"? "Yes a great night he said beautiful hotel and champagne on ice". He was quiet for a moment and then holding his head in his hands he said; "only problem is that like a fool I used a credit card". "Never mind you won't get the bill for a month or so," I said, thinking he was worried about the money," problem is it's a joint card with my wife and she gets the statements," he said.
Whoops!

Sunday, September 7

Dumbphones

When someone seems to be talking to me from the seat directly behind nowadays, I have learnt not to answer straight away. 
This is after a couple of embarrassing incidents when I have answered them only to realise that they were actually talking to someone on their mobile phones and not actually to me. 
This mainly happens when they have the phone set to silent or vibrate mode and they then get a call, or they suddenly decide they desperately need to call someone right away and it cant wait a few minutes till I drop them off.
 Mobile phones to me can be very anti-social things, many times I have had three or four passengers in the taxi and instead of talking to each other they are all talking and texting to other people on their smartphones.
And I really really hate it when children are asking mum questions or trying to talk about their day and the mum completely ignores them because they have to urgently  update facebook or text back to some rubbish on messenger!
  The other anti-social thing that winds me up is when they get in the taxi wearing earphones and then turn the music down to tell you where they are going and then turn it right up to the max again for the rest of the journey.
 Some folk have it that loud that that I can hear the music louder than the car radio, that surely must be damaging these antisocial music fanatics hearing in some way.

Saturday, August 2

Black Gold

I noticed today that a coal truck had lost part of its load on Greengate St here in Barrow in Furness. 
Not that many years ago people would have appeared seemingly from nowhere with buckets and carried it off for use in the garden.
 But no not nowadays it was just left to be crushed under the wheels of passing traffic.  I sometimes wonder just how many people would actually know how to light a coal fire in this age of push button central heating.

Tuesday, July 29

The Dublin Connection

I was over in Dublin for a few days rest and recuperation (lots of Guinness) last week and spotted this!


This was seen on display whilst visiting the Dubliner museum next to Dublin cathedral. 
This is the fascinating  story of Lambert Simnel who was crowned king over there in Dublin and then sailed over to invade England landing at Piel Island, which I can actually see out of my window at this very minute. History is great eh!






Thus the tradition of having a King of Piel was born




Strangely enough our taxi driver friend over in Dublin  had posted photos of the very same  subjects that I had photographed on his excellent  blog. They include some of the same sand sculptures in the courtyard of Dublin Castle and good old Molly Malone.
He must have been one of the many thousands of taxi drivers who passed me by on the busy streets of Dublin.






Wednesday, July 16

Trapped

   I seemed to be picking up lots of people from all four corners of the globe this week, including Poles, Slavic, Chinese and a real nice Australian couple from Perth.
One among them was talking excitedly in a strange language that I could just not figure out whereabouts was from. After many times of asking him to repeat what he was saying slowly things just kept getting worse, he was talking even faster and much louder.
 This went on for quite a while until I realised that he wasn't speaking in a foreign tongue at all.  Unfortunately, I had shut the electric windows accidentally trapping his hand. 
He was simply swearing with what turned out to be a very strong Glaswegian accent
  

Friday, June 27

On The Street


I saw this strange sight today on a local  Barrow in Furness street and couldn't resist taking a photo.
 It reminded me of a tale from one particular busy Sunday a while back now.
 I had picked my fare up which was a guy who had obviously been out partying all night long. He was still very much the worse for wear but in a very good mood laughing and joking as we drove through to the nearby town of Dalton.
 The party animal was still laughing at one of his many unfunny jokes when we pulled into his street, then he suddenly stopped and the entire colour drained out of his face and he looked really shocked. 
What’s the matter I asked, his mouth was working but no words were coming out, he looked like he was going to have a seizure. But then I saw the problem outside what turned out to be his house was a pile of plastic bags with shoes clothes etc (his I guess) spilling out. 
 And to make it worse it was pouring it down with rain and there balanced on top of the sodden pile was a very expensive looking stereo. 

Wednesday, June 25

New Century


I wonder when some of the private hire firms here in Barrow in Furness will wake up and realise that the turn of the century took place a whole fourteen years back now.
Some are charging the same price for Dalton and Ulverston work as was charged way back then in the dim and distant past.

Are they not building up their little empires out of the pockets of the drivers who seem to want to pay 21st century prices for fuel, insurance, repairs etc and work for 20th century prices? 

Wake up folks, get into this century, and start charging realistic fares. A race for lower fares is a race to the bottom!    

Wednesday, June 4

Mirror Image

Driving down Barrow's main entrance, the lovely Abbey Rd going into town with a guy in the front. We were talking away when we both noticed at the same time something about the car in front. The driver’s side door mirror was pulled right in so that it would be impossible to see behind and as we got closer we could see that the young lady driver had also adjusted her rear view mirror towards herself. She was adjusting her hair and makeup as she drove along at forty miles an hour. 
She obviously couldn't see us behind and we were laughing away at her. This went on for about two miles and we were right behind her when she stopped at the many red lights and made even more adjustments in both mirrors.
 Eventually we were turning left so we were stopped at a red light on the inside lane right next to her, it took her a while to realise that she was being watched and laughed at and when she did she went bright red and set of before the light went green. I said to my passenger that if you could get hairdryers, hair tongs, or straighteners that plugged into the cars cigarette lighter then some of these women would actually use them.

Monday, June 2

Wednesday, May 7

Uber Madness

Lord help us if this madness spreads over here to the North of England. 
This would lead to part time amateurs cherry picking the trade and leaving the established taxi trade starved of trade. Utter madness and a licence for sex offenders to do what they want. 
 

Sunday, April 20

Gossip Congregation

Easter Sunday and all the big supermarkets are closed and it was exactly the same ritual performance as last year, it’s what I call the Easter Sunday parade, with hundreds of cars full of desperate retail junkies driving round looking for a supermarket that’s open for business.
They just can’t believe that they dare have the audacity to close their temple of consumerism just when they want to go shopping as they usually do every single Sunday.
 They don’t just look at the car park, see it’s empty and realise the store is closed, and drive away, nope they have to drive right up to the store entrance and stare at the locked doors with wide open mouths.
They actually form an orderly queue to do this and then they all drive off to the next supermarket down the road to repeat the mournful ritual. It seems that they just don’t know what to do with their sad selves without their Sunday shopping fix; wonder what they did before the stores started Sunday trading!
Sunday shopping seems to have replaced church services and even the great British pub liquid lunch to become some people’s sole source of a social life. Whole family's seeking the great nirvana of retail therapy clog the aisles as they engage in epic gossip sessions with others who they only ever see in the hallowed retail cathedrals. Pity the poor layperson who actually just wants to dash in and out and grab a quick bite for lunch. None of the gossip congregation will give an inch to let anyone else past them and will use their empty shopping trolleys as a weapon to stop the philistines from invading the hallowed ground.   

 We taxi drivers could make lots more money if our phone operators just didn't tell customers that the stores were shut. We could then just take them on a nice leisurely trip round all the closed supermarkets and then back home again, but that’s bad public relations so we don’t do that.
It’s still a great pity though eh!


Friday, April 11

Fancy Party

A lot of my fares today were parents with their children going to upmarket birthday parties. Not too long ago birthday parties consisted of a few friends invited for tea which would be sandwiches (cut into triangles with the crusts cut off if you were posh) and maybe jelly and ice cream to follow.
 Now they are picked up by chauffeur driven limousines and whisked to fancy Italian restaurants and then go onto bowling, swimming, laser games and other exciting activities.
 There seems to be a big money in this huge new industry and anyone that can come up with something new and different must be on to a sure fire thing.
 Only thing that makes me think slightly negatively is that a lot of the parents seem to be in competition with each other trying to impress each other rather than the children. For instance, it used to be the custom to take a small present for the child whose birthday it was, but now they expect to be given a present or goody bag in return for actually going to the party.

 The fancier the goody bag then the more popular the kid becomes nearer to the birthday party!  Again, there is fierce competition to outdo the other parents in the race for bigger and better offerings.

Monday, April 7

Lakes Hideaway

I still find it crazy in this area of Furness, the vast differences that occur between  fares and where they go.
One minute you are picking up a local smackrat  from one of the rougher housing estates and taking them somewhere even rougher in search of the next hit.
The next as on Sunday was a United Nations worker on leave from Bangladesh going to his Lakeland hideaway. Just twenty minutes from the urban sprawl of Barrow in Furness and we are in the Lake District national park, all this on our doorstep.
 Take a look at the video of the last bit of the drive into the  remoteness of Oxen Park. 

Wednesday, April 2

Different Folks

It still amazes me even after all these years driving a taxi just how different one fare can be from the next. A day or two back I picked up an Italian doctor up who was over here in the UK working at our local hospital for a while. During the short ten minute journey he was full of conversation on subjects as wide ranging as his home town and other places in Italy to the Barrow area  and the food he enjoyed cooking and his thoughts on the National Health Service.
All in all a great fare and a pleasure to deal with, and he gave a decent tip to!
Next job was a contract fare with a guy going the 80 miles or so up to Carlisle. Now this guy was a totally different kettle of fish, it was like grinding granite getting a single syllable out of him. All the way over the bleak and moody Shap Fell  with my equally bleak and moody passenger staring silently down at the floor.
At the highest remotest part of the grim hills the radio even lost signal and the silence became deafening. So I tried every conversation starter that I could think of, but all to no avail, I might as well have been carrying a parcel  for all  the reaction I got.
Boring boring boring, so on went a CD at high volume and  I tapped the wheel and screeched along with Bob Dylan as the parcel carried on staring silently at the floor for the rest of the ride. When we finally reached the grim north of Cumbria he got out without leaving even a thank you, never mind even a  tiny tip!
 The next day I  picked up a lady  going to her doctor’s surgery this was a trip of about three miles. As soon as she got in the car she started to tell me her complete gynecology history.
 This included her three pregnancies, two miscarriages and details of her various women’s problems.
 Luckily we had reached the surgery by the time she offered to show me her hysterectomy scars and I was able to decline her kind offer.
 It was about 12 am but I decided to skip lunch that day.

Wednesday, March 26

Duwn Yonder

Now and again I will pick someone up who tries to catch me out by asking to go to a street with no houses on which very few people have heard of.
 A few local examples of these are Water St, Reservoir St, Thomson St, and Wesley Place. The only time I do get caught out funnily enough is when at the end of a long busy shift my mind will go blank when I am asked to go to somewhere I go everyday.
 The fun really starts when I get jobs in the outlying villages especially when I am given vague directions to a place with just a house name. I always find that even in the most remote hamlets when I stop to ask the way it is always a stranger to the area or the village idiot that I seem to pick.
 On one job a while back I picked a chap who looked sensible enough but when asked the way he replied “Ista gaan duwn yonder ginnel past meda wi sterks bur tat la left an gaas on abit lal git ta laurel hedge ista gaas onabit las lare. So that's what I did and I found it OK.
 But I kept laughing to myself after that a picture kept entering my head of this guy doing the voice directions in his Cumbrian dialect for the new fangled satellite navigation devices you get nowadays!

Tuesday, March 18

Red Lady

I had picked a couple up very early on the Sunday morning , they had obviously been out all night long and both looked the worse for wear. They were both going to Walney Island the guy to the north and the lady a couple miles away further to the south of the island.
 When we stopped briefly to let the guy out he leaned back into the car and said to the lady in a really very loud voice "thanks luv best sex I have ever had"
 He did use an explicit old Anglo Saxon term really but lets not go there.
 He then shut the door and walked off, she then of course had to sit there embarrassed  for the rest of the journey, she went very very red and swore very quietly but vehemently for the rest of the journey.

Wednesday, February 26

Garden Calf


Walney Island's west shore park which is a kind of chalet retirement village has always had an unofficial competition for the wackiest garden ornament. Well I would say that this is the outright winner hands down so far!
 I will keep may eyes open when I am over there just in case someone acquires something even crazier.    





Tuesday, February 25

Kinky Dress

Two young ladies were deep in the middle of a conversation when they got into the back of the taxi this morning.
” Well you can borrow one of mine if you want” said one" I've got a nurse, policewoman’s and a French maid’s outfit at home” 
Then she must have spotted my widely gaping mouth or straining flapping ears.
 She laughed and said “hey it’s nothing kinky we've been invited to a fancy dress party tonight” .
Oh yes  and you just happened to have those type of outfits already at home did you, I laughingly replied ?
 They both then went bright red and kept bursting out giggling for the rest of the trip.
 Still who knows, maybe they belonged to someone else  her Dad maybe eh!.

Thursday, February 13

Sat Nav

Got myself a new sat-nav(GPS) the other day, and have been playing around with my new toy whenever I get the time. Not that I will use it much in town but I think it will be really useful for rural jobs and the odd out of town job.
 I had it switched on today when I picked up one of our regular fares a lady who happens to be blind. She heard the female voice from the sat-nav and asked me who else was there. I explained what it was and she was fascinated, so I programmed in her destination and let her listen as it guided us there.” How big is it” she asked so I handed it to her and she was amazed to feel how small it was.” Do you think I could use one” she asked”, it would be great for me to find my way round “I explained that she would not be able to enter stuff into it without sight. She was very disappointed, but as I said to her in the next few years you may able to get voice activated versions. She said this would be a boon to her and other people in a similar situation.
 Ain’t new technology great!

Sunday, February 2

Walk Of Shame

Around here, emerging from the place where you have spent a night of drunken passion is usually known by the local young people as the "WALK OF SHAME".
 I have come across this countless times picking many a red faced lady up in the taxi who is still dressed in her night be fore’s glamorous outfit.
But I had never come across one quite like this Saturday mornings walk of shame, nautical style.
The call was to the dockside way out down in the docks far away off the beaten track to a place most locals would never visit.  The place was guarded by a lift up barrier and a security guard on 24 hour duty, the guard when I opened my window to ask about a passenger just laughed and mumbled something into his radio.
Shortly after a smirking guy in bright orange overalls got in the taxi with me and said in broken English "to ship" and directed me to the waterside where a Cypriot registered ship was tied alongside. He asked me to wait and then boarded the huge ship and went below. Several of the crew were on deck and I watched as they laughed and joked pointing below and at my taxi. All was explained when a young woman walked out onto deck blinking and shivering into the freezing daylight.
 She wore a short skirt and a cropped top showing her bare midriff and definitely not the sort of shoes for walking the plank. She had to walk the full length of the ship and then totter across a rickety looking gangplank onto the dockside and then across the dock with its dirty water filled potholes before finally making the sanctuary of my taxi.. By this time, every porthole seemed to have a laughing or smirking crew member looking out watching the long walk of shame.
"Where the hell are we," she asked looking round baffled at the barren industrial landscape, I explained and then we reached the barrier with the security guy and again he couldn't stop himself from laughing as he let us out.
"Bloody hell I woke up with a hangover, the floor was moving and everyone was speaking a foreign language. I thought I'd been kidnapped,” she told me as I drove her the five miles home. 

I blame the alcohol myself; still she was lucky I noticed that the ship was heading out to sea later in the day, so she could have ended up anywhere. 

Tuesday, January 28

Dung Beetle


A nice easy job picking up from the local hospital and ten miles up the road to Ulverston, or so I thought!
My fare was waiting in the foyer shoehorned into what must have been a specially strengthened jumbo size wheeled chair. I would guess that she would have been maybe between 28st (390lb) and 30st (402lbs) and had her right arm in plaster and stuck out at an extreme right angle.
She was with her mother who at maybe 4ft 10in and 6st (84lbs) was the complete opposite to her in every way.
I can’t wheel her declared the mother and looked at me expectantly, so I took a deep breath and started to shove as hard as I could on the back of the wheeled chair. At first, it would not budge and so I closed my eyes and gave it all I had and was rewarded with some movement. I opened my eyes when the victim began shouting at me and found that all I had managed to achieve was turning her on the spot three times. Mother pointed out that one of the wheels still had its brake on so I released that and prepared to set off again.
By this time, the ladies of the WRVS had evacuated the rest of the patients from the foyer and were comforting them with tea and biscuits.
 Off I set with the huge load squealing and shouting directions looking like a dung beetle pushing an elephant turd up an anthill.
When I finally reached the taxi with my Convoi Exceptionnel and I was pondering just how I would load her without any mechanical assistance, she popped up out of the chair like a whale breaching the ocean and shrieked “I can walk you know it’s my bloody arm that’s broken”
With that, she climbed into the front seat of the now lopsided groaning taxi.
I set of staggering back with the chair wondering why she waited for me to push her in the chair when she could walk and why I was daft enough to do it!  
Mother was sat very quiet in the back and daughter sat waiting to be belted up. This was never going to happen even if I could reach round her the belt would never have stretched the vast distance.
Next was the problem of releasing the handbrake which was hidden beneath some unknown part of the daughter’s anatomy, this was achieved with much embarrassed and apologetic fumbling and straining.
“I was ran over by a truck,” the daughter announced when we had set off, now being a sensitive sort of guy I didn’t follow my first instinct and ask her if the truck driver survived, but I couldn’t help but wonder.
Daughter had a loud shrill sort of voice that just didn’t seem to want to stop talking at me. After a mile or two mother quietly tried to interrupt her to tell me directions to the place they were going. This seemed to be a big mistake as daughter shrieked “can’t I bloody talk now you old cow” and this started a full scale argument between them for the next nine miles of pure hell.
Every time daughter shouted at mother, she turned round to face her in the back and in doing so punched me with the heavily plastered arm.
I was mentally exhausted and black and blue by I finally gratefully dropped them both off.

Some days I would rather be a dung beetle!      

Thursday, January 23

Mobile Bad Manners

When someone talks to me from the seat directly behind me nowadays, I have learnt not to answer straight away. This is after a couple of embarrassing incidents when I have answered them only to realise that they were actually talking to someone on there mobile phones and not to me. This mainly happens when they have the phone set to silent mode and they get a call or they suddenly decide they need to call someone and it cant wait a few minutes till I drop them off. 
Mobile phones to me can be very anti-social things many times I have had three or four passengers in the car and instead of talking to each other they are all talking and texting to other people on their mobiles. The other anti-social thing is when passengers  get in and turn there MP3 players down to tell you where they are going and then turn it right back up again for the rest of the journey.
 Some have it that loud that that I can hear their music louder than the radio, that has got to be be damaging to peoples hearing.

Monday, January 20

Methadone Mad


I had picked an ould lass up from a local doctors surgery and she wanted to first go to the chemist (pharmacy) and collect the medication that the doctor had prescribed for her and then to be taken home.
Now it was late in the day, the woman had really struggled to get into the taxi, and so I offered to go into the chemist and collect her medication for her whilst she waited in the taxi. She was more than happy with this idea and so off I went into the busy chemist shop, only to be confronted by a crowd of people all waiting for prescriptions to be filled.
After a few minutes, I got to the counter and handed the prescription over only to be told that they were very busy and it could take up to half an hour before it was ready. Well the customer was paying for the cab so I went out and checked with her and she was okay with that since she would be sitting all nice and warm in the taxi.
I have not had a lot of experience of the etiquette of a busy pharmacy so I just followed the lead of what everyone else seemed to do. Well that sure opened my eyes to some strange human psychology and behaviour.
The idea seems to be that you hand your prescription in over the counter, then withdraw, and pretend to be looking at the display shelves whilst all standing in a sort of semicircle with all eyes looking towards the dispensing counter. When anyone fresh entered with a prescription, all ears and eyes gave them full scrutiny, with one young woman I noticed tearing her attention away from the male incontinence products she was browsing and stretching to tiptoes to see over the display. Folk seemed to be fascinated by it all and were magnetically drawn towards the counter whenever a conversation was taking place there.
The idea seemed to be that when your prescription was ready they called your name and you went to the counter and confirmed your address and then sometimes the pharmacist had a word about the medication which really seemed to fascinate folk no end. I could see the rapt concentration on the faces as they strained to hear every fascinating word.
Then I saw the look of absolute injury and outrage on all the faces when two people who had only just handed over their prescriptions were called forward within minutes. The agitation spread round the shop like a rampant noro-virus and mutterings were heard all the way from the cold creams to the condoms.  When the two had departed one woman who had more than a passing resemblance to Herman Goering dared to ask the staff why these two interlopers had been served before her.
Everybody took another step towards the counter and listened intently as it was explained that the shady pair had been in for a daily dose of methadone which is a heroin substitute used by addicts. Herman was still outraged and said that that was no excuse especially with “bloody junkies getting priority over us decent folk”.  The pharmacist came out and explained that if they don’t sort the people on methadone out quickly they tend to get very agitated and have been known to kick off and assault staff and cause major damage.  All fascinating stuff to me, then the entertainment continued with a rather seedy looking guy asking at the counter for a prescription to collect. The chemist brought the medication out and the now sweating chap reached for it eagerly, but it was held just out of his reach whilst he was asked for his address. We watched and listened open mouthed as he reeled off at least fifteen different addresses none of which were the right one. The meds were taken out of his reach and he shuffled out of the shop mumbling and swearing.
After what seemed like a lifetime, most of the crowd had been dispensed with and a handful and myself remained looking at the ear wax removal products. The chemist kept shouting out a name but everyone looked at each other and shook their heads denying that it was them. Finally, the thought entered my thick head that I didn’t know the name on the prescription that I was waiting for. So I checked with my fare and yep it was hers, when I went back in to collect it every eye looked at me suspiciously.

 Address please said the chemist you could have heard a pin drop during the embarrassed silence whilst I tried to unsuccessfully recall the customers address. Dohhh!!           
 

Thursday, January 9

Our Molly An Update




The piece on Molly below was posted way back in Oct 2005.
Some twelve months later Molly disappeared from sight and I sadly had to assume that she had either died or gone into a care home. Despite asking folk about her I heard nothing about her until today more than eight years later!.
An elderly lady I had picked up happened to know her well and told me that despite being nearly totally blind and deaf Molly still lives independently on her beloved Barrow Island. 
Because of her horrific experience of being in the care system for forty years Molly refuses to contemplate going into a care home.  Even though being totally house bound and dependent  on home carers she is the lady tells me still cheerful soul and is now well into her ninety's. 

                                 OUR MOLLY
This is our Molly,my favorite fare a happy lady who uses our cabs five or six times a day. 

But let’s look behind the smiling eyes, Born Salford in 1920 that makes her 85 Years of age.
 She lost both her parents at a very early age, mother when she was four and then father at six. Taken in by an aunt for a while she started to suffer from epileptic fit’s the aunt told her she was to go into a hospital for a short while, this ended up being for the next FORTY YEARS.
 Why? Because she suffered from epilepsy and back then you would be hidden away in an institute out of sight out of mind. 
Molly struggled when she was released because she had become institutionalized most things we take for granted like paying bills getting insurance, she had never ever done 
At the age of sixty Molly was talked into marriage , she never even knew her husband could neither read or write until he was unable to sign the marriage register on their wedding day . This marriage lasted for nine years and then because of her husbands death and the fact that she was living with his parents she became homeless, but instead of going into care Molly found herself a flat and a community who adopted her and she has lived happily ever since on Barrow Island.

Friday, January 3

Walney Floods 2014

Today must be the very first time that I have had to explain to customers that I couldn't take them where they wanted to go. They wanted to go to the far end of the island of Walney a place called North Scale, I had just come of the island so I knew that this would be impossible until the tide receded to clear the flooded roads.
I explained this to them but they just wouldn't believe that they couldn't get home somehow, they suggested different routes but every option they come up with I knew was flooded.
I explained that they would be okay to get home in half an hour or so but they unbelievably said "forget it we will get the bus" mmm wonder how they got on eh!   

Pictures below show just how bad it was over Walney today. 
 






Thursday, January 2

New Year New Revenge.

Instead of getting involved in the mayhem of New Years Eve I opted for an early start on New Years Day. This gives good opportunity's for payback for all the Peter Kay taxi driver sketches that groups of giggling drunks always try to recreate in the back of the cab. It really does get a bit boring by the time you get to the hundredth time of "busy tonight mate” and "what time you on till” that Peter Kay has a lot to answer for.
 But the tables are turned early next morning when the fares are a bit worse for wear after a full nights partying. Nothing too harsh you understand, just a bit of gentle mickey taking.
 Such as looking back at the hung-over wreck in the back and saying” we’d better get you back to the crypt before the sun comes up eh!" Or to the fella wearing the brightly coloured frilly shirt, "we'd better get you home before your mother misses her blouse.
 Or the useful advice given to the young lass who looked as if she had been dragged through a hedge backwards “I’d stay away from mirrors for a few days if I was you."
 One confused staggerer who was having trouble remembering where he lived and muttered "over the hill and round the bend" to which I replied "yes I know you are but where do you live,”
 But even I had to refrain from any cruel humour with my first fare of the day. This was from the crowded casualty department of Furness General hospital were he had been all night. It seems that he had a disagreement with a lass who promptly settled the matter by taking her shoe off and embedding the stiletto heel in his head several times, ouch.