Monday, December 31
Sunday, December 30
Brian Tate, 41, was about to drop his fare off in a restaurant car park when Stephen Heslop, 22, is said to have held a knife to his throat.
A female colleague of Mr Tate's, revealed: "Brian said to him 'Don't be stupid - I know you.'"
Having got out of his black Nissan, Mr Tate saw the car being driven up the road before it turned around and headed straight for him, forcing the stunned cabbie to run out of the way.
The carjacker then hit the kerb and crashed through safety barriers in South Shields, Tyneside, smashing the car on the rocks below.
After landing upside down, the car came to rest on its wheels.
Fire crews had to cut the roof to reach local man Mr Heslop, who was found dead inside. A friend said he had been suffering from depression in recent years.
Mr Tate's colleague added: "Brian has been left with no livelihood at Christmas. He's had to go off the road with two kids to support and no money coming in. The insurance will take months to sort out."
After the crash on Boxing Day evening, the wrecked taxi was recovered and hauled back up to the car park. Police are examining it.
The parking area is near a lift which takes customers down to the Marsden Grotto pub restaurant - partly built into the cliff at the former smugglers' cove."
Some folk really do get desperately depressed at this time of year, it's sad to hear of anyone ending their own life but to do so in such a spectacular fashion, this chap must really have been a tortured soul.
Saturday, December 29
That awkward time between Christmas and New Year is always a strange one; I call it the tweeny time. Folk are off work and stuck together the weather is awful and so they get restless. Most tend to herd on down for a mooch at the local supermarkets but others hit the ale for the full seasons holidays. This is guaranteed to lead to lots of domestic disputes and this often leads to one of the partners unloading their tales of woe to their taxi driver who is after all a captive audience. I have had my fair share of those this year and don't mind too much, after all it only takes a few nods of sympathy and one or two nods in agreement and they feel happier. But of course the ones every driver hates and dreads are the couples who have a full scale row right there in the back of the cab. I have had three couples do just that during this year’s tweenies. The first couple were driven to their destination in record time and continued bickering walking up their garden path. The second couple were the oddly matched type; he was small and weedy and obviously didn't want to argue in public. She on the other hand was very large and very loud and also very determined to win the row. The more he didn't respond the madder she got, and when he finally did pluck up the courage to tell her to shut up he was rewarded with a sharp slap round the ear. Last but not least were the warring couple who both decided that I should be asked "what do you think then." Not being a qualified referee or marriage guidance counsellor I answered with my usual "nowt to do with me, I don't do domestics." But as we were pulling up outside a busy town centre pub I did give them one piece of advice which I hope they heeded "Sort it out before you both start drinking, or it'll get blown out of all proportion, and you'll regret it tomorrow"
Thursday, December 27
Monday, December 24
As soon as I lay eyes on my fares that I was picking up from Barrow railway station I knew by their luggage, that they weren't returning holidaymakers. I had a hunch that they both might have been guests of Her Majesty. Both were carrying black bin bags containing all their worldly possessions, and both were covered in badly done tattoos. My hunch was confirmed when they told me that they had just been released from prison that day. Both told a story of being shunted from prison to prison and of time being locked up in various police station cells. "We would be loaded up in the sweatbox(jail slang for prison van) and driven away and not know which end of the country we would end up in." They then told me of the problems this caused them, with missing meals and medication. "I had a drug problem and was rattling (slang for withdrawal symptoms) but got no help." said one. Both were let out early because their simply wasn't any room for them in our overcrowded prisons. They were both over the moon to be released on Christmas Eve and laughed and said they were glad their was" no room at the inn. "
Saturday, December 22
The morning after the infamous black eye Friday and most of the time was spent taking the waifs and strays home after a heavy night on the ale.
One of these jobs was a young lady still dressed in all her partying duds from the previous night. The thing was that she wasn’t covering up much with the few scraps of cloth she wore; she had the shortest skirt and the lowest top imaginable. She was also exceptionally well endowed and her tiny top strained to keep her even partly covered. She sat up in the front with me and I strained to keep my eyes on the road and avoid any harsh potholes (honest really). We were on our way to
Friday, December 21
Strangely black eye Friday fell on the 21st of December this year which is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. This in ancient times was the pagan Saturnalia festival which involved the reversal of all order and dignities: a mock turning everything upside down. This was later carried to great lengths in the Church in the Middle Ages. In England it was customary to appoint a Lord of Misrule or Abbot of Unreason who presided over the tomfoolery.
The midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was nearly the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time.
Well going by the groups of crazy drunks I saw, all looking for kebabs and burgers not much has changed in the past few hundred years then eh!
Wednesday, December 19
Interesting views of Morecambe Bay from the air,I'm still laughing at the narrator calling Holker Hall Hooker Hall. I didn't know that Lord Cavendish was into that sort of business eh!
Monday, December 17
Sunday, December 16
Friday, December 14
My passenger was in a seasonally festive mood, and why not he was on his way to the firm’s annual Christmas knees-up in
I knew the answer as soon as the fourth and final passenger opened his front door. Dressed from head to foot in sombre black he looked like a funeral director who hadn't been paid for his services. The mood got noticeably heavier when he got into the cab and nobody tried to make conversation. After a few minutes our black clad man said to his pink shirted workmate,” I see your uncle died last week then eh! What did he die from then?" " A heart attack” he replied sadly bowing his head. Their was a minutes silence before the black suited ghoul said "aye well your a bit overweight yourself you'll probably go the same way in the next five years." As I then drove on towards
Wednesday, December 12
I can't help having the feeling that NATURMOBIL is trying to take the mickey with it's website advertising "Fleethorse" it's new range of horse driven vehicles.
Amongst the vehicles they say they are developing they have the taxi pictured above. What do you think would you use it? They say in broken English" Taking a normal horse riding for instance, the horse, due to the high jumping over the set barriers, sometimes falls off or flips over. This sometimes would result in injury. For thousand of years, horses have been of great help to humans. These animals were used for carriage, sleighs, sledges etc. Like slaves to their masters, these animals perform their toil regardless of their discomfort in weather conditions, weight they carry and pressure their masters give them." Mmm! I'm still not convinced but they also tell us "Today as well as we fulfill our needs, could be a new day for these adorable animals to be treated with more care and respect which they long deserved."
But the best laugh has got to be the technical details which sound like they were dreamed up by a ten year old, especially the waste disposal bit, have a read, what do you think eh? 1) In NATURMOBIL, no whipping is necessary to scare the horse to make it move and run. Instead, two 12-volt motors are used which are connected to the conveyor belt based underneath the animal feet. In order to make the horse move, the driver simply taps on the gas pedal and as a result the conveyor belt starts running together with the horse. 2) The smooth & continuous movement of the horse provides the reserved energy that is stored in the attached battery which is sufficient enough to run the vehicle for a fairly long distance. Without resorting to running, the horse can take a full rest while the vehicle is still moving smoothly. 3) No pressure will be built up upon the horse because the NATURMOBIL has the full suspension system that provides the horse with a very smooth walk or run on the surface. 4) The conveyor belt was designed with a lifting up ability to create a down slope condition to restrict the build up of friction that may harm the horse. 5) NATURMOBIL uses a 20-speed gearbox designed to decrease the over-all pressure on the horse. Because of the gearbox, the horse do not need to use its full power to achieve a faster speed. By running at a maximum 20k/h, NATURMOBIL can run at a fair level speed. 6) A gloss partition which serves as the animal cabin fitted with an air condition system was designed to keep the animal safe from adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, severe heat or cold, etc. 7) An easily reached and sufficient space was made right in front of the horse for feeding purposes at any convenient time. 8) The horse’s disposal is automatically passed into the container fixed below the conveyor belt far from the cabin to provide a full hygiene and clean condition to the horse while it’s running. 9) The driver of the NATURMOBIL is alerted by the digital displaying unit in case the horse is not in its good running condition. Two sets of temperature sensors gauge the heart pressure of the horse and it’s over all health condition which is attached to the body of the animal and inside the cabin. 10) NATURMOBIL can carry out unusual motion speed like up or going down the hill by using a clutch system. The animal can be totally at rest and free of any pressure by using the reserved energy stored in the battery. 11) An electrical motor that serves as the ignition for the initial take-off or movement of the horse provides the horse with an easy and smooth run that reduces any pressure. 12) A bower fixed on the top of the vehicle was designed to protect the horse from the strong heat or cold condition. However, it can also be opened if the horse needs to breathe some fresh air.
Tuesday, December 11
A German taxi driver tells us he had his cab taken over by none other then Michael Schumacher this week. The seven-time Formula One world champion took over from his taxi driver in order to make it to the airport in time for a flight, he tells us today. Cabbie Tuncer Yilmaz watched in awe as the racing legend, 38, took him for a ride. "I found myself in the passenger seat, which was strange enough, but to have 'Schumi' behind the wheel of my cab was incredible," Schumacher, who lives in Switzerland, had flown in to an aerodrome near Coburg, Bavaria, on Saturday and taken a taxi to Gehuelz to pick up a new puppy. On the 30km (19 mile) return journey, however, Schumacher felt they were short on time, and made a polite request to Mr Yilmaz that he be allowed to take over. Unsurprisingly, and perhaps with a view to bettering himself professionally, the driver did so. Famously, German autobahns have no blanket speed limits, so the driver was able to put the cab through its paces. "He drove at full throttle around the corners and overtook in some unbelievable places," said a white-knuckled Mr Yilmaz. Despite helping out as a test driver at old team Ferrari, Schumacher has ruled himself out of any return to Formula One.
Monday, December 10
Sunday morning and the aftermath of the Hatton-v- Mayweather fight. Picking up a weary fan from one local Pub amongst many which had stayed open all night for the fight fans, it seems that it wasn't just Hatton who never made it to the end of the fight. My fare told me that the pub was littered with snoozing fight fans knocked out by too much booze and defeated by tiredness who never even saw any of the big fight.
According to a lot of the Polish workers I pick up who work here in Barrow and the nearby Lakes, their will be a shortage of much needed Polish staff in the next few weeks. They tell me that Christmas is very important for them and that most will do their best to go home for at least a week or two. From what these folk tell me I can hardly blame them for preferring the traditional Polish Christmas, rather than the stress laden, greed driven, drunken, retail binge that we mockingly call Christmas.
My polish fares tell me that the Polish Christmas is much more about family and tradition rather than the trading of expensive presents. December 6th is the day when good children receive small presents, or twigs if they have been bad. Wigilia (Christmas Eve) is the most important day and is the day for sharing Oplatek" - a thin, white baked wafer with an embossed religious Christmas pattern. As each person shares pieces of the wafer with another person, they are supposed to forgive any hurts that have occurred over the past year and to wish the other person all the happiness in the coming year. Then comes the twelve course (one for each apostle) feast, a spare place is set at the table for a stranger or an absent member of the family, who may come unannounced. It was also customary to invite the lonely for the supper, because on Christmas Eve no one should be left alone. Another custom that has survived till this day is putting a little hay on the table as a remembrance of Christ's birth in a manger.
Then it's off to midnight mass and carol singing, sounds nice doesn't it maybe we should all go to Poland next Christmas eh!
Saturday, December 8
It will be possible to issue by post on the evidence of a "civil enforcement officer" - the silly new name being given to traffic wardens.
These grandly named officers will merely have to prove that they have "observed" a parking offence but were "prevented" from handing out the penalty charge.
This would not only apply to cases where an officer is threatened but also where the car has been driven off before the ticket was placed on the windscreen.
In a further blow to motorists, and citizens rights millions could also lose their right to an independent appeal under the shake-up of parking law brought in by the Government.
The new regulations will be brought before MPs before Christmas and in force by spring. They are expected to outrage unsuspecting drivers.
Drivers pay an estimated £1.2 billion a year in parking fines. Around 200 councils control their own parking and keep the money raised in fines, a move which many motorists regard as a stealth tax.
Another sneaky provision will allow councils to set up their own appeals machinery, rather than using the National Parking Adjudication Service. This has been likened to handing Dracula the keys to the National Blood Bank.
Friday, December 7
Well it's getting near to that time of year and so I thought I would do something festive. So here we have Barrow's very own Nativity scene, set in an Ormsgill bus shelter.
Picture courtesy of Bill
Thursday, December 6
Nothing to see here is a collaborative guide to some of the world's lesser-signposted places to go - attractions that may not be all that attractive; coastal towns they forgot to close down; high streets that haven't been homogenised; oddities and one-offs. The sort of places that are overlooked by guide books and given the bodyswerve by the tourist board. Places that still have a certain charm, a bit of je-ne-sais-quoi about them. They're a little bit special. No Been There, Done That, Bought The T-Shirt kind of places here. They won't cost much (if anything) to get in and you'll come away feeling a little bit richer. Plus there's plenty of peace to enjoy them.
It's nice to see that this little corner of the world is well represented with Ulverston highly praised along with the Keswick Pencil Museum. Our neighbours across the bay in the quirky seaside resort of Morecambe even get a mention and it's adjoining town of Lancaster is featured for it's wonderfully bizarre Knitted Village.
Have a browse you'll find something of interest.
Wednesday, December 5
Tuesday, December 4
It seems that Police in the London borough of Sutton are experimenting with a fleet of self-balancing Segway human transporters to patrol certain areas over the next month or so.
They say that the two-wheeled scooters trundle along up to 12.5mph and give officers greater authority by raising them 8in off the ground.
But even though the Segway is three times faster than walking,villains will not be unduly worried. They can escape simply by heading for the nearest stairs.
Up until now it has been best known in this country as the "idiot proof" machine that President George Bush managed to fall off. So far it is reported that the overwhelming response is howls of laughter.
In 1997, motorists incurred 712,000 fines at £40 each, making them liable to pay out an estimated £28.5 million.
In 2000, the government increased the level of fixed-penalty notices for speeding to £60.
In 2005, the most recent year for which the figures are available, 1.92 million fines were issued at £60 each, costing motorists an estimated £115.2 million.
Locally here in Cumbria the figure for 2005 was a staggering 27441 tickets compared to the1995 total of 4882.
Road deaths have fallen only fractionally over the period during which speeding tickets have increased and cameras proliferated. Some 3,172 people were killed on the roads in 2006, a fall of only seven per cent from 1998.
The Department for Transport insisted that speed cameras do not raise additional revenue for central government. The money is collected by the court service and passes through the DfT to the safety camera partnerships.
A spokesman said: "Safety cameras are there to save lives, not make money. The best safety camera is the one which takes no fines at all, but succeeds in making everyone slow down.
Monday, December 3
Anyway, the police noticed the car's test drive and thought to pull it over and check it out.
Good way of saving fuel if you ask me, but would my passengers be prepared to do the pedaling and still pay the fare?
Saturday, December 1
Ladies wondering what to get the man in your life for Christmas this year? Well according to a local barrow hairdresser who I took to work in the cab today she knows the ideal gift. It seems that a lot of Barrow blokes have a big secret. Their wife's and girlfriends don't know the secret and definitely not any of their workmates or drinking buddy's. But our hairdresser friend tells me that she and other trained hair stylists can spot the signs from fifty feet away. What's the big secret? well it seems to be the trend amongst some of our more vain menfolk to use those new fangled electric heated hair straighteners.
She works in a unisex salon and has had to mention to otherwise butch manly men that they are damaging their crowning glory with too much use of these heated gadgets. Most it seems blush and deny any knowledge, but still purchase the hair repair shampoo she recommends. This can only lead to one conclusion, they must be acting like a secret cross dresser and using the wifes or girlfriend or mums hair gear in secret. So the answer is girls"buy him his own"
This video featuring a strange rapping squirrel is meant to appeal to the younger potential visitor market. Myself I think it would frighten a lot of them into staying away.