Monday, April 30

Watching Men Burn

I see the Daily Mail, a respected National Newspaper has done a piece on local blogger Tony McNallys new book WATCHING MEN BURN. It seems a pity that our local newspaper hasn't seen fit to print a word about this so far.

"One press of a button should have saved 48 lives on the Sir Galahad troop ship. But Tony McNally's missile failed, and set him on a catastrophic course that 25 years on still make everyday a living hell...I concentrated on the lead jet. As it came on target, my sergeant screamed: 'Engage.' I pressed the fire button with my left-hand index-finger. "

"The attack came and went in the blink of an eye. The lead Sky Hawk's two bombs - 250 kg each - hit the Galahad and exploded. The second pilot missed, but the third struck home, adding to the inferno that was engulfing the ship.I was just 19 back then. Eager for the adventure my home town of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, couldn't provide, at 16 I signed up for the Army."

"I and many of the other lads were pretty unworldly. When fighting in the Falklands was first mooted, many of us believed the joke that some Argentinians had invaded an island off the coast of Scotland."

Sunday, April 29

Nightclub Taxi War

It seems that trouble may be brewing between rival groups of taxi drivers competing for fares coming off Barrows floating nightclub. Tensions have been rising for the last few weeks between hackney licensed taxis, who are allowed to pick up fares from the street and a group of private hire cars who by law have to be pre-booked. But it seems that this group of private hire drivers have a taxi freephone installed on the Princess Selandia and insist that this gives them priority on picking up fares . Heated words have been exchanged with both groups accusing the other of stealing fares. The busy Saturday night saw the police involved when complaints were made by hackney drivers about the private hire firm having huge orange flashing lights on their car roofs, and having touts directing fares towards them. It seems that the flashing lights were removed only after police intervention, to prevent a breach of the peace. Some hackney drivers allege that the touts are pinching fares illegally with the promise of a cut price taxi.

Saturday, April 28


Believe it or not they tell me that someone actually lives in this house. At first glance you would think that it hadn't been touched in years, but notice the satellite dish and the recent DIY on the doorstep. Well at least I hope it's DIY, and not one of our local cowboy builders. The step is now at least 18 inches high, you'd need a step to climb it.

Wednesday, April 25


My fare was a young mother who I had picked up going to a local primary school to pick up her two children. The two youngsters ran out of the school gates and jumped into the car both waving a piece of paper excitedly at their mum" we've got a letter for you mam" they shouted. The mother took the letters and read them, but didn't say a word. As we drove towards their home the kids were jumping about all over the place, and one of them kept straining forward and putting his head up to my ear to tell me all about what they did at school that day. "What was the letter about mam" asked the younger kid, she didn't answer and so he kept asking again and again. After a while the older kid ,who I couldn't help but notice kept scratching his head shouted "it's about the nits that are going round the school again!" The mother said nothing but went really red when they both started scratching like mad for the rest of the ride home. I know it was probably just physiological, but I was really struggling to stop myself from scratching my head until they had got out.

Monday, April 23


At last the demolition of Barrow's infamous grot spot "The Mall" is well underway, and about time too, it should have gone years ago. But where will all the hundreds of newly homeless pigeons go to I wonder? My guess is that they will join their feathered friends the short flight away at the burnt out former Presbyterian Church in School Street. Which will only add to the massive problem we already have with pigeon infestation in Barrows town centre. Disgracefully even some of the empty floors above shops in Barrows main shopping street, Dalton Road have been made home by these flying health hazards. But even so I was amused this morning to watch Barrow's bird lady, busy on her secret mission. Scattered about the town centre we have signs telling us that we should not feed the pigeons and that it's illegal to do so, and so our bird lady has gone undercover. She was walking round in big circles on the car park near to the old burnt out church. Why was she wearing an oversize coat with bulging pockets? at first I couldn't figure out what she was up to. But getting a bit closer I could see that she was doing her Gretal impression, leaving a long trail of breadcrumbs behind her. She must have had her pockets stuffed with sliced bread and was breaking it into crumbs and dropping it as she walked from a hole inside her coat.

Sunday, April 22

Sea Planes

One of the most romantic modes of air travel, which faded with the British Empire, is set to return as plans are made for a fleet of seaplanes that will fly to destinations across Britain.
AirSea Lines, which runs services in the Mediterranean and Canada, has unveiled plans to bring at least 10 aircraft to Britain during the next five years. The company has earmarked three areas around the country in which they will operate services. These are the Lake District, north Wales and London.
The company's president, said: "Seaplane transport is a hidden treasure for Britain. Water is a natural place to land and there are many places in the country that are well suited to them. They can be a real alternative to cars and trains as well as other forms of air travel. They are safer than helicopters and cheaper to operate. You can fit more passengers on board and they require very little extra infrastructure."
Flights from Cardiff to remote bays in north Wales and services in the Lake District will cater for tourists, while routes from London to lakes and waterways in southern England, are also intended to attract business and commuter use.
Flights from London to the Lakes are also possible from London's Docklands.
The company mainly uses the DeHavilland Twin Otter, a rugged and reliable aircraft developed for exploring northern Canada, which can carry 19 passengers and land on runways as well as on water. Production of the Twin Otter stopped in 1988, but restarted this month to meet the expected increase in demand over the next decade.
The company is in negotiations with Think London, a government-funded agency that encourages foreign companies to invest in the capital, as well as with the Welsh Assembly and Cumbria Vision, a company set up to encourage investment in the Lake District.
Moves to fly into the Lake District are likely to prove the most problematic. The company will have to secure permission from the Lake District National Park Authority, which has enforced a 10mph speed limit for boats on Windermere. Seaplanes travel at least six times that speed on landing and take-off . Now this idea really has a lot potential for boosting tourism round here.
Surely if these seaplanes aren't allowed to land on our nearby lakes for environmental reasons (as I'm sure the Friends of the Lake District will say) they could maybe land on one of our huge unused local docks. Now that would be something to see!

Saturday, April 21

Naked Rambler

A TAXI driver got an eyeful when the Naked Rambler tried to hitch a ride in his cab.
Ex-marine Stephen Gough had just been cleared of breach of the peace at Edinburgh Sheriff Court when he asked Callum Watt to give him a lift to Saughton Prison.
The 47-year-old naturist, who has been convicted of exposing himself in public eight times, was rearrested moments later.
Watt, 44, from Edinburgh, told of his shock when Gough jogged up to his taxi while he was dropping off an elderly passenger in the Grassmarket around 5pm.
The cabbie said: "I actually recognised the guy straight away - facially. When I asked him where he kept his money, he didn't answer and again asked for a lift.
"I said if he had a pair of shorts then he could sit quite happily in my taxi but otherwise, no."
A crowd had gathered, with some taking pictures of Gough on their mobile phones.
A police van was parked nearby and Gough walked straight over and got in it.
Watt said: "I would have liked to talk with the chap.
"In five years I would say he is the strangest passenger that's ever tried to get in my taxi. It certainly brightened my day up."
Police said Gough was arrested, charged with breach of the peace and kept in custody.

Friday, April 20

Wine not Cider

My three young lady passengers were discussing what they were going to do that evening as I drove them to school. The conversation went something like this"It might rain tonight, where should we go drinking if it does ? "Dunno the shelter in the park I guess, what are you getting" "I asked me mam to get me a litre of Lambrini but she said no not if it's cider, I told her it was wine and so she said it was OK then". Well that's all right then eh! mummy doesn't mind her daughter getting drunk on cheap wine, just as long as she keeps away from the cider, that would be far to common. You might think that was bad enough but worse was to come, the third lass said "I asked my mum for a litre of vodka, but she said that would be too expensive and that she might just get me half a litre." Bear in mind that these girls were no more than thirteen or fourteen at the most. Is it just me or does anyone else think that maybe the parents of these kids needs a swift hard kick up their backsides.

Thursday, April 19

Predictions from 1900

In December 1900, the Ladies Home Journal published a list of predictions for the year 2000. There are some real gems here, but the best relate to transport -- Elfreth Watkins, Jr, specified that locomotives would become "cigar-shaped." And that air-ships will be deadly war-vessels.

Prediction #4: There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities. All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city limits. In most cities it will be confined to broad subways or tunnels, well lighted and well ventilated, or to high trestles with “moving-sidewalk” stairways leading to the top. These underground or overhead streets will teem with capacious automobile passenger coaches and freight with cushioned wheels. Subways or trestles will be reserved for express trains. Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.

Prediction #5: Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. To go from New York to San Francisco will take a day and a night by fast express. There will be cigar-shaped electric locomotives hauling long trains of cars. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled. Along the railroads there will be no smoke, no cinders, because coal will neither be carried nor burned. There will be no stops for water. Passengers will travel through hot or dusty country regions with windows down.

Prediction #6: Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons, plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers. The horse in harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as the yoked ox is today.

Prediction #7: There will be air-ships, but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists making observations at great heights above the earth. What gems eh! click here for the full list.

Wednesday, April 18


This was found stuck down the back of my front passenger seat, with the probes sticking out just where a passengers butt would be. It had a fully charged battery and was in working order, just how long it had been there I don't know. I had had at least ten fares sat in that seat that morning, I guess they all had a lucky escape. Who left it is any body's guess, it may have been there for quite a few hours. What did I do with it? well I disposed of it pretty rapidly, apart from being dangerous I would have lost my taxi licence if I had been found with it in the car.

Monday, April 16

Easter Edinburgh

Over the Easter holidays, I spent a few days up in Scotland stopping near and visiting the beautiful city of Edinburgh. We visited the usual tourist attractions including the famous Edinburgh castle and then the city zoo, which I would say has a lot to learn from our very own South Lakes Wild Animal Park.
I was saddened to see the obvious signs of zoo madness or stress of pacing and head rocking,
in Mercedes the lone polar bear as she suffered in the heat of her small enclosure. Very depressing to watch and, to be honest, had that been the first thing I saw I don’t think I’d have gone any further. Best day out though had to be the National Museum of Scotland
right in the centre of Edinburgh, and not just because it was free; but it certainly did help that it was!
We in Barrow tend to moan about our single local speed camera but we should be thankful we don't live in big busy city's. When driving in Edinburgh I saw cameras everywhere, and not just speed cameras, they have cameras to catch you driving in the bus lanes, jumping red lights and entering box junctions when the exit isn't clear. The other thing is of course because this was Scotland not England the cameras aren't painted bright yellow like ours and aren't as easy to spot.

Sunday, April 15


It's not often you see something like this coming down the road towards you, but I spotted this steam traction engine on the road near Millom this morning.


A bright sunny Sunday morning and one of my first jobs was to pick a lady up from Furness General hospital and take her the twenty four miles to her home in Millom. She had been brought down by ambulance the night before, but unfortunately she was left to find her own way home. We tend to forget about these poor folks when we moan about having to travel the two or three miles up to the hospital. Now we Barrow folk do have a bit of a tradition of taking the mickey out of Millom and it's locals for some reason, we tend to think of it as a bit of a rural backwater. Some story's such as the one Barrovian visitors to Millom tell of following signs to the local leisure centre and then finding they lead them to two sheep tied to a lamppost, just don't help. But when you find that they have a clean working public toilet open at 9am on a Sunday morning in a town with a population of only 7000, you begin to wonder where Barrow with none at all for it's 60,000 people is going wrong.

Saturday, April 14

Big Race

Saturday and Grand National fever sweeps the town , with every passenger I pickup asking me "which horse have you backed?" and then after the big race it was "well did you pick the winner?" But as strange as it may seem I didn't have a bet on the race, and the only time I go into a bookies is to help one of our disabled customers up the steps. And even stranger, the only time I've ever backed a horse was for a fare whose leg was in plaster, and then I had to ask someone how to go about it!
I hear it time and time again from some fares, about how they have had a big win and fleeced the bookies, but still it makes them happy for a short while as they get dropped off at their grotty flat, but in the meantime the bookie gets into his Rolls Royce and drives home to his mansion in the certain knowledge that his money will be coming back the next day.
I also notice a lot of folk in the bookies and pubs and clubs feeding the slot machines in an almost hypnotic looking trance. I just can't figure it out, what do they get out of it, the lights flash a couple of times and their money has gone. Myself I would much rather watch my taximeter flashing away, and the numbers steadily increasing, now thats what I call a certain winner.

Friday, April 13

Long Trip

NEW YORK — Betty and Bob Matas have retired and are moving to Arizona, but like many New Yorkers they don't drive, and they don't want their cats to travel all that way in an airliner cargo hold.
Their solution: "Hey, cabbie."
They met taxi driver Douglas Guldeniz when they hailed his cab after a shopping trip several weeks ago.
They got to talking about their upcoming move, and "we said 'Do you want to come?'" said Bob Matas, 72, a former audio and video engineer for advertising agencies. "And he said 'Sure.'"
It was initially a gag, Matas said, but as they talked over the ensuing weeks it became reality.
They plan to leave Tuesday on the 2,400-mile trip to Sedona, Ariz., with Guldeniz driving his yellow SUV cab 10 hours a day for a flat fee of $3,000, plus gas, meals and lodging.
They're getting a break. The standard, metered fare would be about $5,000 — each way, according to David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety, a drivers' group. But city Taxi and Limousine Commission rules direct drivers and passengers to negotiate a flat fare for trips outside the city and a few suburban areas.
This job is not easy, and I want to do something different," said Guldeniz, 45, who has been driving a taxi for two years. "I want to have some good memories."
The Matases will ride in relaxed comfort in Guldeniz's sport utility vehicle while their cats ride in the back in their travel cases. A mover will haul their belongings.

Monday, April 9


You know learning is a two way thing, well that's what I found today anyway when I was talking to two of my passengers. They were both old lasses going to the bingo and the first who was wearing a bright red coat said "I didn't start wearing red until I was past seventy and a widow you know" The other lady looked at her for a minute before asking "why?"I strained my ears for the answer, I was curious, I mean why the heck not! "Well" she explained" back then only women of a certain type wore red, you know loose women the type that had a price on the sole of her shoe." Well that certainly learned me something, but then it was my turn to educate the other lady. I knew the ladies family, and had picked a relative up earlier, and so asked if she was pleased about her granddaughter being pregnant. She was stunned and stared at me open mouthed, obviously she hadn't been told by the family, whoops me and me mouth.

Sunday, April 8

Easter Sunday 07

Easter Sunday and the same routine as last year, what I call the Easter parade, loads of eager shoppers driving round looking for a supermarket that’s open.
They can’t believe that they have the audacity to close when they want to go shopping as they usually do every Sunday. They don’t just look at the car park and see it’s empty and realise the store is closed, nope they have to drive right up to the store entrance and stare at the locked doors with open mouths. Still it was a nice sunny day for a drive round, and the sun certainly brought people out in droves, and as the old lass said I picked up going to the bingo said "ayy first bit of sunshine an ther goin round half naked." She then went on to remind me of the old saying "never cast a clout till the month of may is out" and looking at some of the corn beef legs on the lasses a bit later in the day, when it got cooler I would say it still holds true! And at last it was the first super Sunday of the year with lots of all day boozers going up to Dalton, I 'm just glad I was only taking them up and not picking them up when they were full of drink, like the poor evening shift will be doing.

Easter Eggstra

Does anyone remember the old local custom of displaying Easter eggs in the front window? On my travels this week I haven't seen any Barrow houses with eggs on show . A few years back most houses with children used to have eggs in the window, and if you were really posh they were Cadburys. A daft place to keep them really the chocolate used to melt but as I found out recently it was not as I thought to make the other kids jealous but has its origins in earlier customs. I had picked an elderly lady up and she explained to me that in earlier times before the chocolate egg they had Pasch or past eggs, which were hard boiled eggs which where dyed and painted. Before they were rolled down a hill(locally this was the Amphitheatre) in the traditional Easter Sunday pastime of paste egging they were displayed in the front window. She also told me that empty pace-egg shells must be crushed as it was believed that witches used them as boats (mad eh). One thing I did see locally was Easter crackers for sale, which I have never seen round here before, wonder where that idea originates from, seems a bit daft to me.

Saturday, April 7

No Talking

A concept design for a new taxi was unveiled at the New York Motor show this week, will it or something similar hit the streets? Who knows but the designers said that they set out to solve communication problems between driver and passenger.
He said they did that by eliminating the need for driver and passenger to talk to each other. Their taxi has a computer screen in the passenger compartment. The passenger types in the destination. A screen in the driver’s compartment relays the information to the driver.
No, he said, the partition separating the two compartments is not bullet-proof.

Thursday, April 5

Follow up to Thug

This is a follow up to a post I did on the 5th March, read it here THUG
This is the a debate I had with an anonymous person via the comments on this post.
Anonymous said...

Ok the lad was wrong in running away without paying,BUT you failed to mention that when the driver caught up to him he hit him over the head with a bat and left a deep cut to the head and thats why the driver ended up getting a pasteing for it.I no for a fact that the police have taken photos of this head injury so in a way it will be classed as self defence

Bob said...
I know this driver personally and a nicer fella you couldn't hope to meet, very easy going and good natured. He is driving a taxi to pay his way whilst studying to be a teacher, not the type to carry a bat round. And if what you say was true his taxi licence would be suspended like a shot, and as I know it hasn't and that he is now driving days because he is too nervous to work nights now, so please don't try to defend the actions of this thug.

Anonymous said...
The young lad involed walked into the police station himself,the police had no idea who they were looking for.So the police have only just started there investigation so there's still time to take action against the taxi driver

Bob said...
Anon: At least he could walk the driver needed an ambulance, I will ask around and find out what the driver has to say though.

Anonymous said...
I guess you never found out then that the driver clubbed the lad

Anonymous said...
whats sup bob found out the truth and you don't want to comment on it anymore??

Bob said...
anon: NO contrary to what most people think, we don't spend a lot of time gossiping to other drivers, the one operator and two drivers I have spoken to are both of the same opinion as me about it. The best person to ask is the driver concerned which, I intend to do as soon as I come across him.

Well now we hear from the driver in question here is his email he sent me tonight. I have edited out his name for obvious reasons but would like to say that I never believed the bat story at any point and am pleased to set the record straight.

The Email
I have just been informed about my story in your blog. The comments are of course completely false. Firstly, thank you for defending me. It's nice to be thought of so highly!

Here's the truth,

After he ran off, I drove around the block to look for him. Once I found him, I parked up and got out of my car. I walked after the lad and asked him 'What are we going to do about this money you owe me?' he repeatedly stated 'I don't know what you're on about' so when I informed him I was going to tell the police, he turned around walked up to ME and started physically attacking me. After the attack I made way back to the car, There were two ladies there who I approached and asked them to call the police, also I flagged a Ulverston Cabbie down to help me.The Police swiftly arrived and ALL of them can vouch I had no bat or ANY weapon on my being. In fact the Police drove my car home so would of seen it there. (I went to hospital in Ambulance)

The police called me the following Monday to come into the Ulverston Station. On the basis of looking through photos of known criminals. I had no luck with this but the point is that if the attacker did go to the police because I supposedly 'hit him with a bat' why did I go to the Police on the Monday to try and get a positive ID? Its all plain Daft!

THEREFORE this anonymous person is not telling the truth, and I would like to add that I have never carried a bat in my car at any time! I have always got on great with customers and continue to do so, even have dropped people off at their doors when they don't have quite enough money to get home.

This has deeply saddened me, but I shall struggle on cos those bills never end.

Hope this straightens up this matter. The Attacker is in Court in the next month!

Cheers Bob, see ya on the road!

Wednesday, April 4

Space Family

I spotted this family on the coast road near to Aldingham, someone's gone to a lot of trouble. The sign says "visitors from your Anus" still we hope they come in peace!

Tuesday, April 3

The Secret

I couldn't help but overhear my lady customer being told as she walked towards the car to "remember keep quiet, tell nobody it's a secret." But of course being a women, within thirty seconds of getting in the cab she was revealing all, she just could not wait to tell me the big secret, even though I had never met her before in my life. She was only going a short distance, but she had enough time to give me every detail of what must be destined to be the worlds worst kept secret. As we stopped outside her destination she spotted some people she knew on the street and practically ran after them in her hurry to spill the beans. What was the secret? Well just between us, and as long as it goes no further, it seems that over Easter we should be looking out for Mick Hucknall lead singer from Simply Red, who is visiting relatives and friends in the Barrow area.

Monday, April 2

Full Moon

We tend to pickup quite a lot of care home staff, from both the private and local authority run residential homes. Lot's of these hard working folk do the night shift and over time you learn to keep the chat down if they look tired when you pick them up after a stressful night. But the one thing that they will all tell you is that they have the most stressful times on the nights when it's a full moon. It seems that the full moon has some strange sort of affect, sometimes even on the quietest least troublesome residents, and that strange things happen in the dead of night. They tell me of folk wondering down corridors who wouldn't usually leave their beds, and of the lustful words of men remembering loves from the dim and distant past. Folk who have shown no interest in the outside world for many years struggle towards windows, and some staff tell story's of residents stripping of to moon bathe. Who knows what causes this, do we become more sensitive to the moon and other forces when we get old? Who knows but their must be something in it because far too many staff from many different homes have been telling me these story's for far too long for it to be made up.

Sunday, April 1


Sunday morning and the 1st of April and of course we get the usual rash of phony phone calls for taxi's to fake addresses. This is to be expected, and we get them every April fools day, but it seems that some of these folk haven't cottoned on to modern technology. When they ring our office the number is displayed and if they have used us before, the computer matches that number with the name and address. And if it's a mobile every single address that it's ever been used to call a taxi to and from is listed. But when we get a phony call to an out of town address, as I did to Dalton this is when we see it as downright malicious. When I saw that there was no such number in the street, I called the office thinking that maybe the customer had mistaken the number. I was given the mobile phone number that had called and when I rang it a very drunk women answered, who was shocked when she realised that we had her number and hung up after trying to deny ringing us. A while later it suddenly come to me who the voice belonged to, it was definitely the crazy women who we banned in January. It seems that she has some sort of fixation with taxi's and used them even for short journeys of a few hundred yards. Only problem was she never seemed to have any money to pay for them, and always asked the driver if she could owe him the cash, which of course she never ended up paying. Still never mind the phone she used will come up as banned on the computer next time she tries to call a cab.

Nuclear Theme Park

Virgin boss Richard Branson has today unveiled plans to turn part of the Sellafield nuclear waste fool plant into a theme park. He spoke today in glowing terms of this, his biggest challenge up to date to turn this heavily contaminated eyesore into a world class fun palace. Complete with it's own casino, health spa, and top class restaurant serving dishes such as Gamma and egg he is hoping to attract rich visitors from the Irish coast and Norway. Some reports say that he has already contacted local farmers with a view to buying unusual animals for the zoo he hopes to have stocked with six legged sheep and two headed cows etc;
Local political activist Jim Hazelnut, who has been offered the post of media spokesman and chief herdsman said today "Bring it on I am radiantly glowing with happiness this will really brighten things up round here, and give me loads more photo opportunity's "