Sunday, December 31
This morning at 9am I was stopped at a red light on Barrows Strand, it was raining and I had a drunk in the back of the cab who couldn't manage a full sentence; and it was raining. Then three hours later at 12am I was stopped at a red light on the Strand in the shadow of Liverpool's liver building, the radio was playing the Beatles's "Let it be"and the sun was shining. I could see the mouths of the drivers and passengers of the cars in front and either side singing the words to the song in perfect time. What a contrast, but what was I doing in the Beatles home town on a new eve years morning? Well truth is I was taking time out. I had taken a guy down to Liverpool's John Lennon airport, he was going home too he told me "the heel on the boot of Italy" The way he described it, it sounds a bit like Barrow "remote and hard to get to with bad roads and locals who speak a dialect others can't understand". When I asked him what he thought of Barrow he told me " very nice, but the girls they not wear much clothes when they go out". Well can't argue with that," maybe they are tough" he said "or maybe they are daft" I replied. And so after a nice trip down with my Italian friend I decided to detour back via Liverpool centre down past the Albert Dock and Maritime Museum, the town centre of Liverpool must be the biggest building site in the UK, when it's finished they say it will be spectacular,which to me sounds like a good excuse for a trip down there later on in 2007.
Saturday, December 30
Friday, December 29
Thursday, December 28
Wednesday, December 27
A tragedy seems to be unfolding in Morecambe bay I am listening live to coastguard and air sea rescue. So far one person has been reported missing and six bodies have been recovered from the site where the helicopter has crashed on it's way to a gas rig in Morecambe Bay from Blackpool airport. Our local lifeboat has just reported finding large pieces from the tail section of the helicopter. With lot's of local people working offshore on these gas rigs, including some I know, this is a worrying time for all concerned.
Monday, December 25
Sunday, December 24
Christmas Eve morning and the first few fares I picked up asked to be taken to a supermarket, thinking that they were going to get an early start with last minute Christmas shopping. None of them believed me when I told them that the stores didn't open until ten and eleven o'clock," but it's Christmas eve" they said "yes and it's a Sunday too" I explained. Some had lost track of the days with it being a holiday period, but others thought that the law should be changed to allow them to shop 24/7 every week of the year. Later on in the day I had a call to pickup at Furness Generals casualty dept, my fare was a young mother who fell whilst dancing with her seasonally overexcited son. She had managed to break her arm, but couldn't have it put in plaster because no plaster technician was available until after the holiday's. But from what she told me, even though it was only early evening vital medical staff were being tied up dealing with aggressive drunks and other time wasters. I say that we should charge anyone the full going rate, for any injuries they inflict upon themselves whilst drunk or drugged, and then perhaps we could afford to pay the plaster technician his vital overtime. And the last job of the day I couldn't help but overhear a couple in the back plotting how to open up their Christmas crackers and and get rid of any noisy gifts before before the kids pulled them. ( the picture is of the first upside down Christmas tree I have spotted, this is in the foyer of Abbey house)
Saturday, December 23
Friday, December 22
Thursday, December 21
We seem to be escaping the worst of the blanket of fog which is covering the rest of the UK, but it's still very grey and dismal. With hundreds of flights being canceled and delayed Christmas may be a tough time for travelers. Still it's the shortest day today so we can look forward to the days being lighter for two or three minutes more each day.
Wednesday, December 20
More weird and wacky ideas taken from actual patent applications , this time for flag devices to hail a taxi, I wonder how much these never to be heard of again devices cost to get patented and how much was earned from sales. (click to enlarge images)
Tuesday, December 19
Any reader whose granny has just passed away and who can't really afford a decent send-off should ring our local Cumbria County Council which recently issued a permit for one chap to dispose of his deceased grandma's dismembered body parts at the local tip.
Dave Straughton of Workington called the authority for a "waste permit". His description of said garbage as "general domestic waste" did not satisfy the operative at the other end of the line who said Straughton "needed to be more specific".
Straughton explained: "The man on the phone said they couldn't accept that and I wouldn't get a permit unless I could be more precise. They kept pushing me to be more specific. It's crazy - it was just a bit of household rubbish."
Straughton then duly specified he had a guitar and organ to dispose of and, in a fit of pique, "asked if they would accept dismembered body parts in bin bags".
"Amazingly, the council officer asked if that was what I was taking, replied okay and put the phone down."
When the permit turned up a few days later, it read: "The following waste can be disposed: Guitar, Organ, Grandma's dismembered body parts in bin bags."
A Cumbria County Council statement explained that Straughton "first applied for a van permit to take rubbish to the Clay Flatts household waste recycling centre.
"Mr Straughton made it clear that he was not a supporter of the [waste permit] scheme and, when asked for a description of the waste he intended to bring to site, he replied: some old musical instruments and dismembered body parts of his grandma in bin bags. Our call centre operative challenged this description, but Mr Straughton insisted this was the wording he wanted to appear on his permit.
"Regrettably, the permit was issued with this wording included. The following day this was discovered by management, investigated, and the operative was dismissed. We then wrote to Mr Straughton to apologise and issued him with a revised permit."
For those of you wondering why Cumbria's residents need a permit to turn up at the local tip with granny's remains, we should explain that the council reckons "waste being dumped at centres across the county has gone down by over 20 per cent" since the scheme's inception, leading to savings of "several hundred thousand pounds each year"
Recycling has, on the other hand, increased, so if your local council decides that dead relatives should not be disposed of at the local dump, try composting granny at the end of the garden.
Monday, December 18
Sunday, December 17
Saturday, December 16
Thursday, December 14
(Those with a strong stomach can click to enlarge and read the text.)
Wednesday, December 13
Some 60,000 condoms were available as part of the Safe Ride Home scheme in East Sussex. Supported by boxer Chris Eubank, it was operated by Brighton-based Radio Cabs after 2200 BST on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Former WBO super-middleweight champion Eubank, who lives in Hove, said: "I think this will encourage the young people of Brighton to have fun, but also behave responsibly. A spokesman for the contraceptive manufacturer Trojan, who provided the condoms for the scheme, said young people often found themselves on a night out without any condoms, leading them to take risks. By making them available on the way home means there should not be any excuses, he added. Chris Nutely, co-owner of Radio Cabs, said "We look after thousands of passengers every week, mostly young people out socialising at night. "If we can help make a difference then we're more than happy to help." If the Bristol drunks are anything like our local drunks in Barrow, I should think that the majority of the condoms ended being used in the party trick which is popular amongst local lads. This involves pulling the condom over the head and face and then blowing it up till it bursts. Yes daft I know but that's what drink does for you!
Tuesday, December 12
Looking for that last minute gift idea? Here's a few suggestions.
This unlikely Bacon Air Freshener is the perfect way to brighten any carnivore's day. Put one up in the family room and everyone will have a sudden craving for a BLT. Each has a handy string for hanging and measures about 4" tall.
And now one for the more spiritual amongst us.
Did you ever consider that the shrieking buzz that comes from your alarm clock is really the voice of Satan straight from the pits of Hell? No wonder you wake up grumpy! Well, this 8" x 4" plastic alarm clock will lull you awake with the Lord's Prayer in song form. It doesn't come with batteries, but it will surely charge your days with plastic pre-recorded religious power.
Windup Hopping Lederhosen
Lederhosen, which literally means "leather pants," are a traditional folk costume worn mostly in the mountainous regions of Bavaria and Austria. They are a happy sort of short trouser that love music and dance. So next time you have cause for celebration or revelry, wind up these 3", hard plastic folkpants and watch them hop about! After all, what good is a party without Lederhosen?
And last but not least here's one for the kids.
Monday, December 11
Sunday, December 10
Friday, December 8
You can't help but notice how much cleaner Walney channel has become in the last few years, not many years back Ferry beach was covered with a smelly slimy sludge and was not a place to linger long. But now the stopping of sewage discharge and tightening of emissions from local industry seem to be paying off. For the first time ever when I was parked on Walney Island's Promenade early this morning I was able to watch a seal basking on a sandbank and then swimming out toward open water. Wow I was spellbound, I had heard of seals on Walney's southern tip near the bird sanctuary but have never heard of them in the channel before.
Thursday, December 7
Today I went up the attic, as as lot of us do at this time of year, to dig the Christmas decorations out. And as usual whilst I was up there I had a root about, you know the story, long forgotten old photos "did I really dress like that"and "what was that drunk at the party called". Then from a box in a dark corner I pulled out two dusty old leather bound books with "Autographs" printed in gold leaf on the covers. Now when we see an autograph book we think of a collection of signatures of pop or sport stars, but these books date from 1912- 1930 and the idea back then was for friends, family and acquaintances to write a verse, draw a picture or cartoon. "So what" you may say, but what I find special about one of the books in particular is that a lot of the entry's are finished with "somewhere in France" and "on active service" obviously written by first world war soldiers fighting in the trenches and battlefields of France. I wonder if Horace Dickinson survived the war, he wrote on sept 16th 1915 " Our way is not perhaps the best, but if our aims are high, our disappointments are lest , and not to cause our hope to die" he was from Bolton but on active service in France. I have added a couple of picture from the books, as usual click to enlarge and if anybody wants to see more just say so in the comment box.
Wednesday, December 6
THE owner of the Mercedes in which Princess Diana died wants to sell the wreck for £1million.
Jean Francois Musa has begun a legal battle to get the limo shipped back to France. And he wants compensation for the nine years British police have kept it while investigating Princess Di's death.
The mangled car was shipped from Paris to England after the tragic crash on 31 August, 1997, for vital forensic tests.
But now that the long running case is coming to a close. Mr Musa, the owner of Etoile Limousines which rented Ritz hotel boss Mohamed al Fayed the car, has begun legal proceedings to reclaim it.
He said: "It is an exceptional wreck - like the one James Dean died in." "We were told it was worth at least £1million, it belongs to us. Now I want to sell it, we've been told a lot of people would pay a fortune for that wreck."
"We have never had any firm inquiries about it, but people have spoken to me about how much it could be worth." His lawyer, Jean-Luc Marchand is submitting an application to the Chambre D'Instruction Court Appel in Paris for the Mercedes to be returned to him. The appeal is due to begin next month.
"They don't know what they are going to do with it once their investigation is completed. We should be reimbursed at least for the money we have lost. They kept it and have not given us any money, it was not our fault."
"This is unfair, it is not justice and for me it does not seem legal. All this is just because we did not request the car early enough - but we felt it was right to wait." Met Police are thought to have the car garaged at a traffic investigation depot in South East London. Former Met Police Commissioner Lord Stevens is set to publish the report of his three-year investigation into the crash on December 14, when he's expected to conclude it was an accident - despite many theories that Diana was murdered.
Tuesday, December 5
Monday, December 4
You couldn't drive down a street in Barrow today without falling over a TV crew, here to stand in the rain with the docks in the background interviewing folk. This was of course about Tony Blair's world's worst kept secret, his announcement that the Trident nuclear submarines were to be replaced Mr Blair said between £15bn and £20bn would be spent on new submarines to carry the Trident missiles. All good news for Barrow of course, no doubt they will be built here and this means job security for a lot's of years to come. I have noticed that even some of our long time local taxi drivers are being tempted back into the shipyard, some going back after an absence of ten or fifteen years. This is because of the lure of a regular pay check, which is not a thing you can count on in the taxi trade, one week it will be steak and the next sausage.
Sunday, December 3
What a nightmare first thing on Sunday morning pouring down with rain ,pitch black and blowing a gale and having to pick up all the plants and stuff that had blown over during the night, before starting work. I wasn't looking forward to driving round all day in the high winds, but thought that things would be quiet, surely nobody would be daft enough to venture out in this storm. How wrong I was it turned into one of the busiest days for months, folk just weren't going to miss out on their weekend pilgrimage to the supermarkets. The roads were choc-a-bloc with cars all merrily dodging the falling debris which included roof tiles, wood, hoardings and even trees. One driver must have had a terrible shock when three storeys of scaffolding crashed down on his car, leading to the first road closure of the day. Later the whole of the main retail park was brought to a standstill with more road closures caused by the roof of the Tesco petrol station starting blow off.
Saturday, December 2
And this solves the mystery of the black cab which has been spotted driving around New Zealand. This is taken from an e-mail Kristina sent telling me about the cab she and her husband have imported for private use.
"I have included a couple of pictures of the cab he shipped over although he has since had the advertising taken off and the old girl spruced up a bit she's now nude lol....
He was never a taxi driver (he was a Tiler! ! ! ) but he owned a cab (same one) in the UK as he loved driving them to work as there was space in the front where passenger seat usually is for his tools and stuff and he could still keep back nice to use as family vehicle. It was quite amusing the amount of people that used to try to flag him down... Plus he got away with only one vehicle instead of two ! ! !
"He loves them although I must admit, in NZ you kinda feel like being in a goldfish bowl riding in the back. He is toying with the idea of hiring the taxi out now and again for wedding etc. but we'll see. Thing is anytime she breaks down, we send to UK for parts so unless you have a couple of vehicles one as a backup (although she rarely breaks down I must admit) I don't feel its too viable at the moment."