Sunday, October 29

Danger Mall



Back in June I wrote about the disgrace of Barrow's Mall, slap bang on one of the most prominent positions in the town centre this rotting seventies edifice continues to embarrass us to visitors to the Victorian heart of town. Nothing has been done with it and now it threatens the very lives and limbs of passersby. Over the weekend a large slab of concrete weighing many hundreds of pounds fell off this dangerous building and landed on the footpath right next to a well used bus stop. This time no one was killed or injured thankfully, but how many more of these huge lumps are ready to fall off onto folk who are walking past? The building they tell me is owned by an absentee landlord who has been making hollow promises for years to improve it.
The building next door which was built at the same time was found to be riddled with lethal asbestos and I wonder how much of this will now be exposed by this deterioration. Now is the time to send in surveyor's to determine just how dangerous this building is, and then have it demolished sending the bill to the owner. I don't think we can afford to take any chances like the one's taken with the adjoining Forum 28 which led to the death of seven people from legionaires disease.

Monster Weekend

Sunday morning and the clocks went back last night and so it's a bit lighter, but of course we will be paying for that at the other end of the day. Whatever they do with the clocks they can't squeeze any more daylight out of a day at this time of year. When the clocks go forward I usually pick up a few fares who are an hour late for work as they have "forgotten to change their clocks" but strangely I have never picked anyone up going to work an hour early when the clocks go back. With lot's of clever marketing Halloween seems to be getting as big as Christmas over here now, at one time it was called mischief night or duck apple night and instead of pumpkins hollowed out turnips were used as lanterns. Pumpkins! now that is clever marketing we import boatloads of the things, but all we do is hollow them out and throw the contents out because nobody wants to eat it. And now instead of one night the celebrations are lasting for several days with the grown ups using this weekend as an excuse to party, this morning all I seemed to pick up were disheveled devils and vanquished vampires, all with monster hangovers.

Saturday, October 28

Spookytours



Well we dared to take the Spooky Tour of Barrow's darkened Gothic town hall and along with the thirty or so other thrill seekers we really enjoyed the experience. Barrow's eerily rambling town hall must surely be one of the best settings you could wish for this ghostly walk sprinkled with tongue in cheek dramatics by the excellant Crashbang productions . Only two children were spooked but they were quickly guided to the brightly lit banqueting hall. All the kids were given a generous goodie bag at the end of the tour and a certificate which poignantly had been presigned by the late Mayor Bill Crosthwaite who tragically died after collapsing at the rehearsals for the tour the previous night. But of course you always get one don't you, we overheard one moron saying he had expected more for his money, but as my ten year old daughter said "it's all for charity, what do they expect a theme park?".

Friday, October 27

Speed Nuts



I'm no great lover of speed cameras, not many drivers are, but looking at a website run by an outfit called Motorists Against Detection, I think maybe they go a bit too far. In a press release the spokesman who calls himself Captain Gatso said amongst other crazy things "MAD have announced zero tolerance on all UK speed cameras and claim the destruction of 1000 speed cameras, and say they have perfected a way of destroying a roadside camera in seconds. The site is full of photos of destroyed cameras and supposedly the private cars of policemen parked illegally. Seems to me they are a bunch of nutters, and so is anyone who is daft enough to pay £24.75p for a can of anti flash masking spray which they say will hide your numberplate from the cameras.

Don't Panic

It still never ceases to amaze me the silly things that stress people out and by how much. I have had folk really upset that they are going to miss the start of their favorite TV show or the first game of bingo by two minutes. With some of them if they don't actually ask me to go faster they fidget and tut or exhale loudly when we are stuck in traffic or at a red light. The one's that do ask me to "put your foot down" are ignored there's no way that I will risk my licence for something trivial like the woman today who said at 4:55 "can we take a short cut or something I always feed my cat at five o'clock". At the other end of the scale some people are totally unfazed by anything and just take the view that they or I can't get there any quicker and they might as well just relax and enjoy the ride. One such chap was the guy I picked up from his workplace, he had been called by his wife who told him that their two year old daughter had locked herself in the car, on the drive with the keys inside with her. He said "the wife's panicking but what can you do if we make too much fuss the daughter will just think it's a game and laugh at us or end up upset."What will you do then have you a spare key? I asked. "No I will just try to talk her into opening the doors and if the worse comes to the worst, I will break a window." Now that's what I call a real cool character lot's of folk myself included maybe would be in a right tizz.

Thursday, October 26

Pelican Crossing


Rumours are going round Barrow that a collection is being taken towards the purchase of at least two white pelicans. These they suggest would be allowed to roam free on Barrow Dalton Rd where we have an ample supply of pigeons to keep them well fed. Some folk find these dirty looking town dwellers annoying especially when they fly straight towards the face. This reminded me of something I witnessed a month or two back, a hawk taking a pigeon whilst it was in flight and dropping with it into a town centre back St. As I watched fascinated a small crowd gathered most just watched as the hawk dispatched it's victim but one old lady waded in with her umbrella in an attempt to save the pigeon, but most agreed that it was just nature and it should be allowed to take it's course. Myself I would say let's encourage more hawks I would much rather see them patrolling the town than the fast food fed disease carrying flying rats.

Tuesday, October 24

Lakeland Cam

The images on this site by Tony Richards are nothing short of stunning photos are added almost daily. Check it out now and again. I've added it to my good un's links.

Love Shack


Residents of one our Hindpool Streets will be breathing a sigh of relief today. But not too far away a Barrow town centre Street will be in for some not so welcome new tenants. This is because one of the jobs given to one of our lucky drivers today was to hitch up and move a caravan. The local residents of the Hindpool St tell me that it has been there for months, complete with it's own wheelie bin and shopping trolley and plugged into someones power supply. They tell me that someone has been living and partying hard in this mobile love shack, even ordering takeaways to be delivered there, the shopping trolley by the way was used to carry fresh beer supplies from the local supermarket. I wonder if the new neighbours will be happy to see them set up home in their back Street.

Monday, October 23

CityCab





How how about this one for a strange looking design for a future taxi, a bit of an ugly bug but you never know you may see something similar on the streets in the future. The five-seater employs Toyota’s hybrid powertrain technology and is designed for the utmost ease in entering and exiting the cab. Using an air suspension system, the cab floor can be lowered to a desired height during a stop, which makes for better wheelchair accessibility. The ultra light body is made of a carbon-fiber composite, which weighs 75% less than a standard steel body. The cab is still an R&D project, not scheduled for commercial release.

Sunday, October 22

Fireworks

It's obvious to me after driving around after dark , that the new Fireworks laws are made to be broken. Every night now for the last week or so impromptu fireworks party's are seen and heard all over town, most of which seem to coincide with groups of people coming home from the pub. What I always notice is that it seems that the rougher the estate the bigger and louder the fireworks. Talking to local folk about this I have been told that every estate has it's "dodgy dealer" who sells fireworks, mostly of the type which are now illegal to sell to the public. None of these "dodgy dealers" is licenced of course despite the threat of six months goal or a £5000 fine and they will sell anything to anyone regardless of age or if they are intoxicated. I have been told of one character who keeps his huge stock of fireworks in a wooden shed along with gas bottles for his barbecue and petrol for his mower. Mmm I'll have to keep an eye on that estate , might be a good display this year.
The following is a notice that is sent out to all pharmacists at this time of year, now myself I would have thought that they shouldn't be selling this stuff at any time of the year.

"With the approach of the fireworks season, pharmacists are reminded not to sell any of the following substances: chlorates, nitrates, magnesium, potassium permanganate, sulphur, powdered aluminium and phosphorus, unless they are satisfied that they are required for a proper purpose and will not be used for making explosives or fireworks."
"Pharmacists are reminded that fireworks should not be sold from the pharmacy."

Saturday, October 21

Another Earner

Another good little earner is in the pipeline for our local councils, completely automatic traffic cameras to catch drivers blocking box junctions or ignoring road signs could be introduced across England and Wales.
The government is considering rolling out the use of the cameras already in place in London, where one million drivers were fined last year. Councils in England and Wales could begin using the cameras from 2008. Road campaigners said the move could be seen as a "revenue raiser" rather than a traffic flow and safety measure.
A Department of Transport spokesman said there would be a consultation next year on giving local authorities the powers. "We do not know how many will take up the powers, but we do not anticipate that many" Who are they trying to kid it's a foregone conclusion that if local councils are offered the revenue from this they will be queueing up to have them installed. I myself must see at least ten drivers a day doing things which would earn them this automatic £100 penalty and don't believe for one minute that any council would look this gift horse in the mouth.

Friday, October 20

Lost and Found

Last night(Thursday) I was up till late watching the police helicopter flying low overhead carrying out a search. Being nosey I made a phone call and found out that they were taking part in a huge search for a woman missing from nearby Rampside. As well as the police, coastguard teams and Duddon and Furness Mountain Rescue spent most of the night in a fruitless search, made difficult by the terrain and the pitch darkness. Next morning I had more or less forgotten about it until one of my fares was talking of it and they mentioned the small estate that the woman was missing from. Ten minutes later and my next job was to pick up from the White House Hotel and as soon as my lady fare appeared I recognised her as a regular who we pick up from that same small estate. Coincidence maybe or maybe not, she was carrying an overnight bag and was going the five miles or so up to Dalton. I couldn't really come straight out and ask her if it was her, she would have maybe been spooked and ran off. And so I introduced the subject into the conversation by asking if she had heard about it, "No", she said. But I could see by the look on her face that she knew more than she was prepared to say. As soon as I dropped her of I dialed the local police station, only I didn't get the local police station I got the call centre forty miles away in Workington and a lady who didn't have a clue what was going on or even any local knowledge of this area, I might as well have been talking to a call centre in Karachi. In the end she said someone would ring me back, they did ten minutes later, enough time for the lady in question to disappear all over again. It turned out that I was right and it was her, and it's too be hoped that she has returned home safely. But lets hope they give her a good ear bashing over the tens of thousands of pounds it must have cost searching for her. And let's not forget that a lot of these mountain rescue and coastguard folk are unpaid volunteers an apology from her and a thank you from the rest of us would go a long way.

Thursday, October 19

Round & Round

Don't follow that car my fare said pointing to the car in front, I thought I had misheard and that I was getting my first "follow that car"job. But no I had heard right, the car in front, he told me was being driven by his girlfriends ex partner. "He's following me" he said, I looked at him and tried to figure out if he was sane and said "no look mate he's in front". You'll see he said turn left here and then first right, and so that's what I did, and lo and behold that's what the car in front did too. Turns out he was waiting for my signal (yes honest we taxi's use them sometimes) and then turning the same way. The fare then asked me to lose him as he didn't want to be confronted by him when he met his girlfriend. And so that's what I was doing going round Ramsden Sq roundabout three times with no signals, just in case anyone asks.

New London Cab




A new improved London style cab has arrived this week LTI Vehicles is launching their new purpose built TX4 range of London taxis. The new TX4 is so named as a tribute to LTIs first purpose built Hackney Carriage, the FX4, launched in 1959, and also the fact that the new vehicle has a Euro IV compliant 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine. The new TX4 range of taxis replace the TXII models introduced in 2002. The new TX4 is available with four levels of specification; Driver, Bronze, Silver and Gold with prices starting at £26,995 on the road. The £2,000 price increase over the outgoing models is due to the use of a Euro IV compliant engine, new transmissions, the adoption of ABS braking and the vastly enhanced equipment levels. Wow lot of money that! £27.000 and that's just the basic model.

Wednesday, October 18

4x4 Shock


Go on let's add a bit more fire to the 4x4 debate this is a still from CCTV footage outside a school in Essex, the driver failed to stop. Read the comments here but notice the defence for 4x4 vehicles seems to come from the owners of them.

For Sale


You don't see many of these for sale nowadays but I guess someone will buy it for film location work or advertising. It's a 1960 Beardmore London taxi and it's yours for £4250.

No Ta


Well I don't think I will be ordering one of these stickers anytime soon, believe me you wouldn't want hugging by some of my fares.

Abbey FM


I see that Billy Clark, a driver from the same outfit as me is working for the new local radio station. Abbey FM has recently gone on air on 107.3 FM or listen via the net here . If I know Billy there should be some fun and games then, bit of a character is our Billy Boy.

Tuesday, October 17

Connections

During my weekend break in Scotland I noticed one or two differences from back here, the first being that they call a taxi rank a" taxi stance" which is a new one on me. The other was the huddles of smokers outside of the pubs and clubs which I guess is something we can expect to see next summer when we join Scotland in outlawing smoking in public buildings. I was surprised a few times by links back to Barrow, one being a huge marble coat of arms and carved family tree of the Jardine clan amongst the gravestones in the churchyard of Sweetheart Abbey. Branch's of the Jardine family are shown in Barrow in Furness, and quite a few epitaphs mention Barrow. Then on the way back we visited the Devils Porridge exhibition near Gretna. This tells the story of what was then the biggest factory in the world a full nine miles long this was built during the first world war to produce cordite for explosives. Two towns Gretna and Eastriggs were purpose built to house the thirty thousand mainly female munitions workers who did this highly dangerous work. But guess where most of this high explosive was sent to be made into the shells and munitions used in the 1914-1918 war, Yes you guessed it Barrow in Furness.

Dumfies

Stance

Jardine

Sweetheart Abbey



Gaerlaverock Castle

Smile


A smile? whilst trying a gas mask on at the Devils Porridge exhibition.

Monday, October 16

Long Weekend

For the first time in months I took the weekend off and we headed up to Southerness in Scotland just for a short break. The weather was kind and we had sunshine the whole time, it was great and I really enjoyed it except for one bad incident. When driving back from Dumfries where we had been for the day, it was a long straight stretch of road and all was quiet. Then all of a sudden I saw a deer jumping over the hedge from the left, right in front of the car. There was that moment when time seems to stand still, the deer was looking at me but was in mid flight at least six feet in the air. The deer knew what was coming and so did I but of course neither of us could do anything about it. I braked hard but to no avail the deer landed right on the front of the bonnet. As you can imagine this came as a big shock and I was at a loss as to what to do about the injured deer, the cars that were traveling behind stopped and other drivers agreed that I could not have avoided hitting it. One helped me move the injured deer onto the grass verge and we were just discussing what to do when a car coming from the other direction stopped and a women got out and started to give me grief for hitting the deer. Even the fact that she had not seen the accident didn't stop her from pointing to my taxi plate and shouting that" it must have been his fault" because "look he's a bloody taxi driver". Despite being asked to shut up by other drivers she continued to shout adding problems to an already stressful situation, she shouted that"you ran the deer down now it's up to you to finish it off" and that" this will cost you thousands in fines". Just then the situation was taken out of my hands ,when a local farmer drove up in his truck and within seconds and without saying a word got out and lifted the deer into the back and drove off.
I later rang the local police station and they told me that accidents like this happen with deer now and again and that I was lucky that it didn't come through the screen and injure me as has happened to other motorists in the past.

Thursday, October 12

One Year


Well it's one year and three hundred and eighty one posts since I started this blog. Time certainly does fly. This is the first picture that I posted of early cabs in Duke St Barrow, glad I wasn't about back then, they drove those things from the rear and were outside in all weathers.

Old Timer

A fare this morning was telling me how he used to be a taxi driver in Barrow way back in the early seventies. He was a partner in a local firm, now long since gone called Blue Cars and he was telling me how much the job has changed in the last thirty five years. Back then not as many taxis were about, but then again nor was their as much work for them. Even back then the rivalry existed between firms and they were always trying to pinch each others fares. One of the tricks back then when company's only had a single phone line was to ring from an obscure phone box out in the sticks and then leave the phone of the hook, this left the firm unable to receive calls until the offending phone box was found. He agreed that the advent of the mobile phone has changed the business altogether, back then if it was raining by the time you found a pay-phone you were wet anyway and so you carried on walking. The other thing of course is the cash machine, back then if you were skint you walked home, nowadays fares simply ask to stop at the ATM to get cash. He went on to mention that he knew the boss of our firm and used to work nights with him, and that one night he disappeared without trace. He turned up next day and told a tale of picking a group of visiting sailors up, they were going back to a ship down the docks and they insisted that he join them for a drink. This turned into a marathon boozing session and he woke up on the ship next day with a massive hangover.

Wednesday, October 11

Nice Earner


A new generation of speed cameras capable of calculating how fast a car has been travelling over any distance could be on the roads within months. The alternative system, which has been submitted to the Home Office for approval, costs around £20,000 which is a heck of a lot cheaper then either the fixed or mobile cameras that are in use now. It is also portable, which would allow the cameras to be shifted to newly identified accident blackspots or road works. If approved, it could lead to the number of average speed safety camera systems soaring from the 14 in operation at present. Oh dear, at that sort of price, it will lead to a multitude of these cameras which will be horrifying for the motorist but hey what an earner for the grandly named Cumbria Road Casualty Reduction Partnership. I can see them now, rubbing their hands together in glee, so watch out they will be going for these cash generators in a big way.

Tuesday, October 10

No Nuts?


This time last year I was amazed by the number Of squirrel's that I was spotting every day sometimes as many as three or four at a time. Before last year I hadn't seen any squirrel's either red or grey anywhere in Barrow. And yet last year the town was awash with the grey variety in fact I had a few near misses with them not having the sense to cross the road with care, a fact proved by lot's of deceased balls of fur. This year so far I haven't seen a single one grey or red ,dead or alive. What I wonder could cause this drastic swing from last years glut to this. Is their a shortage of food for them or has a new predator appeared, maybe one of the mystery giant black cats spotted in the area has developed a taste for them .

Monday, October 9

Dogs n Booze

One or two story's have hit the headlines this week about drivers, both in London and Australia refusing to carry blind fares because of their guide dogs. This reason they give is that their religion considers all dogs unclean. The law in the UK is very clear on this you cannot refuse to carry a dog used as an aid by any disabled person unless you are in possession of a Doctors note of exemption. And now story's coming from the USA and Australia tell of drivers refusing to carry passengers in possession of alcohol. How long before this spreads to this side of the world. As far as I am concerned they knew what they were signing up for when they got their taxi drivers licence, using religion as an excuse to pick and choose passengers is not an option. Mind you I couldn't see them getting away with telling some of the old lasses that we pick up from supermarkets that they weren't allowed their wee drop of mothers ruin!

Sunday, October 8

Walney Floods





It was a high tide last night of about ten meters the first two pictures were taken by Bill at 12;30 am on Walney, notice in the first that the boat looks like it's level with the road. The other two of the aftermath were taken by myself this morning about 11am.

Arthur St




Residents on this small terraced Street are protesting about the proposed demolition of their homes. Will they win the fight I wonder, they have been to the so called consultation meetings with Barrow council, but I and others think that maybe the decision has already been made. Good luck to them lets just see over the next few months whether or not might wins over rights.

Update I see that this one has been making national headlines read this piece in the Telegraph.

Saturday, October 7

Moan Line

A lady today I picked up was complaining about one of our taxi drivers. But from what she said I think she had a point, apparently his mobile phone rang and he did the safe thing and pulled into the side to answer it. Only problem was this lady was in the back of his cab and the meter was clocking waiting time at 20 pence a minute. By the time they set off again it had cost her 60 or 80 pence for him to receive his phone call. The lady never said anything to him at the time, why I don't know if you have a complaint say so and don't do as this lady did, she just moaned about it to every driver that picked her up for the next few days. Lets face it guys a lot of us taxi drivers seem to have some sort of fixation with our mobile phones, some even being daft enough to drive round all day looking like lemons and wearing bluetooth earpieces. The need to answer the phone at all when driving with a fare on board escapes me, after all most calls are not that important, the wife asking when you are coming home for tea can usually wait until you are clear and parked.

Friday, October 6

Drama

I had a spate of jobs from Barrows Furness General hospital today the first was a young slip of a lass going to maternity. I was quite surprised when she said she was due to give birth within a week or two, she didn't look that far on. It seems sometimes as if one minute they are playing with dolls and the next they have the real thing. As soon as I dropped her of my next pickup was in ten minutes from the same place. Right next to the maternity entrance is the accident and emergency entrance and as I waited I watched a male and a female prison warden with a young male prisoner handcuffed between them all having a crafty smoke. When my next fare come out it turned out to be parents with their premature baby, complete with oxygen cylinder and equipment to monitor the child's heartbeat and breathing. This all within ten minutes and a few yards, it makes me realise just how many dramas are played out in this small area of drab tarmac, some happy arrivals and some sad departures. Never mind your stupid reality TV shows this is real life and a place of everyday dramas.

Drips

It must be Murphy's Law to pour it down with rain just as the kids are coming out of school. This seems to have happened for the last two or three days now, and it really makes us taxis busy for an hour or so. Lot's of mums going to collect their offspring from school by taxi and on foot complain that some schools don't let the kids out on time, sometimes they are waiting up to twenty or even thirty minutes. I often see groups of parents standing outside schools looking like drowned rats, surely it's common courtesy to either let the kids out at the specified time, or to provide some sort of shelter for the poor folks. The other thing is of course that lots more people drive to school rather than wait in the rain, thereby adding to the congestion and pollution in the streets near to schools.

Thursday, October 5

Cutenfurry

It seems that every other blog I look at features cute furry animals, and so I thought it was time that I did the same. ~~~~~okay so it's dead but it's still furry and cute innit!

Mess


A year or two back now Barrows Cavendish Dock Rd had a large amount of cash thrown at it in an attempt to tidy up the entrance to what is hoped to be the towns new waterside development. New footpaths were built complete with expensive metal bollards and the road was resurfaced. Just look at it now overgrown and litter strewn, and up to half of the bollards are broken. I wonder why do we spend these huge sums of money on projects and then fail to mantain them?

Wednesday, October 4

oops

Perhaps the sign in the background should read oops instead of Hoops, photo by Bill of a local car somehow ending up over a school wall.

No Pasaran


Today is the 70th anniversary of the battle of Cable St, never heard of it?. Complete your education read this article

Tuesday, October 3

Lying in the Sun

This piece in the Sun a national boob and ballgame rag really takes the biscuit for creative reporting read this and then I'll tell you whats missing.
Kids dial up taxis for beer
" KIDS as young as 12 are ordering booze over the phone and having it delivered to their homes in a “dial a drink” craze. Alcohol is handed over by crooks working from mini-cabs and even ice cream vans when the kids’ parents are out. Youngsters tell drivers it is for their mum.
Last night the Government’s child health tsar warned the trend is putting the health of the nation’s teens in danger.
Dr Sheila Shribman told Nursing Standard magazine that youngsters must realise the dangers of binge drinking.
She said: “If this practice turns out to be widespread then it could be a very worrying trend."
“We need young people to understand there are dangers in binge drinking, which is on the rise.”

Yes you've guessed it no facts, no names, no places, and most alarmingly of all no truth.
Dr Shribman has been quoted out of context, here is the original text from her speech.

"Concerns have been raised that children as young as 12 could be buying alcohol over the phone with their takeaways.
Dr Sheila Shribman - the Government's National Clinical Director for Children, Young People and Maternity Services - said she had been told there was a particular problem in the North West.
She said: "Contacts have told me that it is possible in some parts of the country for young people to order alcohol on the phone with takeaways so the delivery doesn't arouse suspicion.
"If this practice turns out to be widespread then it could be a very worrying trend."

Notice that at no time does she mention cabs or ice cream vans, how they get away with this rubbish I don't know, the only use for papers like this is in the bathroom.

Monday, October 2

Hindpool Triangle




Whilst I was working today I was given a job which was about two hundred yards from me. I was on Barrows Hollywood Park and the job was at St Mary's church, great so off I set down the usual short cut which would take me straight to it, or so I thought. So off I drove up Clive St which I use about five or six times a day, half way down I was confronted by a line of trees right across the street. " Well they weren't there yesterday "I thought so never mind I will go up the next one McClintock St, but it was the same story there, more trees. And so I ended up going the half mile or so all the way round, I do wish they would tell us about these things before they do them. I picked up a fare from the area later and he told me that hundreds of cars had been lost in the Hindpool triangle that day with lots of swearing and near misses with frustrated drivers trying to reverse out again.

Sunday, October 1

Unlucky Card

I got a call to pick up from one of our more expensive hotels this morning, when I got there it was a couple with no luggage. 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.