Thursday, May 31

Chateau Lalinde


Wow what a write up from Red Shoes over at the lovely blog from France Chateau Lalinde I have gone red with embarrassment reading it, pop over and check out life in the Dordogne region of France.
"This is a delightful and insightful blog, very well written - and yes, he is correct in saying he often sees what others overlook. I wanted to say that 'very original', but Bob is linked up to a whole range of taxi driver blogs, which is not really surprising -- how often have you yourself said -- "Ah! What they must see and hear! Taxi drivers should write books!" Well, here it is -- Bob is doing it. Do go have a look.
And while you are there, also click on his second blog, , a photographic version of taking a look at what others often miss --- here he takes two steps back and looks at things from a different angle. He is not only a good writer, but an excellent photographer".

Wednesday, May 30

Sign of the times


No smoking signs, get used to them because they'll be everywhere from 1st July. But what really is heavy handed is the fact that every public building must have them - regardless of what the building is. The government has decided on a new design for no-smoking signs and it also wants them put at the entrance of every enclosed public space, Buckingham Palace has to, so does 10 Downing Street, and even St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Even ancient monuments which the public have no access to must have them, but the thing is that they can't just be any old "no smoking" sign , rule's have to be followed and this applies to us in our taxi's as well.
SIGNS - THE RULES Signs Must be in colour Must be A5 size Must be a minimum of 70mm in diameter Must read: No smoking
Must contain, in characters that can be easily read by persons using the entrance, the words— " No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises".

Bag of Crap?


I was thinking maybe if I got myself a horse drawn taxi life, would be easier with no more silly council rules, but apparently not!
A horse-drawn taxi service in Bath risks losing its licence because the horses keep fouling the city's highways.

Bath Council says it has received "several complaints" from local residents and traders about dung left by horses of the Bath Carriage Company, owned by Davey MacDonald.
"It is part of the conditions of his licence that he clears up after his horses," said a spokesman for the council, "so we have reminded him of this."
The renewal of Mr MacDonald's licence is due soon. He says that the council's stipulation that he fixes a device to his horses to collect the droppings is "impractical.
"I'll put nappies on my horses on Thursday to get my licence but on Friday I'll leave them off," he said.
The device would resemble a canvass bag attached to the tail and suspended between the horse's legs.
"It's ridiculous and dangerous to have a bag of crap slung between my horses' legs," said Mr MacDonald. "It would chafe their skin and interfere with the harness. If they trot fast it could really unsettle them."
There has been public speculation that a bylaw might be introduced in Bath which could see all horse owners fined if they fail to clean up their animal's mess.

Tuesday, May 29

Monday, May 28

Whit a Night.

Well that's the last of the super Sunday's gone, no more now until late August. As with the last one I worked until the early hours,but for some reason this one wasn't quite as busy as the last, maybe folk were saving themselves for the traditional Whit Monday exodus to Cartmel races. I was amused that as the night wore on, that the young lasses that I picked up who were going into town seemed to be wearing progressively less and less. What most of them seem to do is to gather at one of the girls houses and then have a drink whilst getting ready to go out. One or two of them actually told me that "their was no way they would they would dare go out dressed in something so skimpy if they were sober" and so it seems that the more they drink whilst getting ready that the less they wear. Some on the way to town get a bit nervous and ask silly questions like the usual "does my bum look big in this"(no bigger than usual) and is "this skirt to short"(I'd have to get my reading glasses on to see it). But this super Sunday some of the questions were a bit more unusual, like the lass who told me that she was thinking of having a tattoo(I dared not ask where) and did I think she should have the colours done at the same time or later. Not a clue on that one but I guess it depends if your the type to chicken out when it's time to go back under the needle. One young lass who was of the more well nourished body type asked me if she "was too pink" in her cerise outfit," no you look great" I said, but couldn't help but think of a giant uncooked pork sausage when she got out of the cab.

Saturday, May 26

Rougth Ride Home

It seems that taxi driver's oop north in Carlisle have found a novel way of maximizing income by carrying extra passengers in the boot of their cabs!

"Matthew Champney, 41, was stopped by police and later convicted of overloading his Skoda taxi. Now he could be out of a job if Carlisle City Council’s regulatory panel revokes his taxi licence as punishment.
A report to councillors says: “A white Skoda taxi was seen in Collier Lane, Carlisle, and it appeared two people were getting into the boot. “Police officers attended and found the driver to be Mr Champney.
“When questioned he stated that he had finished work for the night and the two men in the boot were friends and just ‘larking about’. “There was no complaint from the two men.
“However, the officer reported Mr Champney for overloading his vehicle and he appeared before Carlisle Magistrates on April 13 when he pleaded guilty.” Mr Champney, of Whitberry Court, Roadhead, later told council officers that the two men were drunk.
He had, helped by two other friends who were already in his taxi, put them in the boot as a “light-hearted prank”. The incident took place in the early hours of the morning .
When the regulatory panel meets, councilors have a range of options from taking no action to suspending or revoking Mr Champney’s licence. He could also be ordered to re-sit his taxi-driving test."
Some folk might find that a bit extreme, but I am told by drivers who work the town centre ranks in the early hours that they would love to be able to carry local drunks like this. Some even go so far to suggest that some of the more subhuman drunks should be carted home in dumper trucks and unceremoniously tipped at their front doors. I think this is a bit extreme, maybe cattle trucks would be kinder, but even then I think they should give them a small discount on the fare.

Thursday, May 24

All Greek To Me


Well I'm a bit disappointed that I never got this little job , it would have been a nice run out.

"A retired teacher in her nineties took a cab to Greece to see the site where Alexander the Great took lessons from Aristotle.
Kathleen Searles made the trip from Britain to northern Greece accompanied by her nurse, spent half an hour at the site of Aristotle's School, then got back in the cab for the journey of several thousand miles home. Searles had a lifelong dream to visit the site in Isvoria, near the modern Greek city of Naousa, where the famous philosopher tutored the heir to the Macedonian throne and other nobles in 342 BCE. The teachings of Aristotle, one of the leading philosophers of Greek antiquity, are believed to have heavily influenced Alexander, who resolved to spread ancient Greek culture in the vast empire he subsequently carved out in modern-day Turkey, Egypt, Persia and India."

Tuesday, May 22

Chaos

Tempers are getting more and more frayed as Barrow's busiest Junction at Abbey Road and Rawlinson Street remains nowhere near finished and is controlled by badly setup temporary traffic lights. After all these months it really has gone beyond a joke now, I find that we taxi drivers just can't win, if we go round to save the frustrating wait we are moaned at about the extra on the fare, and if we brave the chaos and get stuck we get moaned at because of the extra charge for the waiting time. I think as a public service our local newspaper( the Evening Mail) should find and publish the names and phone numbers of the people who are in charge of this fiasco. Maybe if we had the home phone number of the boss of the Penrith based construction company, we could ring him whilst he's having breakfast and tell him exactly how many of his workers are actually working and just how many are stood around watching them.

Monday, May 21

FA Cup

FA cup final day is always a busy one for us with a rush to the supermarkets in the morning to get supplies of snacks and the all important beer. Then it's the rush to get to the pubs before kickoff, after that it's heaven on the roads with hardly a car to be seen. Then we get a mad rush at half time as fans try to race to the next pub in time for the second half, and woe betide the driver who doesn't get them there in time, especially if things don't look to good for their team. I find that after the match when I pick up the fans who have been celebrating or drowning their sorrows, it's always best to be a bit diplomatic. They invariably as soon as they get in the cab ask "who do you support then?"every time I look at the football top that they have on and always tell them that that's who I support. But some of them really do take it far to seriously, as proved by the wife of a supporter of the losing team who I picked up early on Sunday morning, she told me that her football mad husband had come home drunk and thrown her out and locked the door behind her. She had to spend the night with friends, and told me that this happened every time that his team lost!

Electric Chair

Well it seems that for £236.00 we can buy a set of seat covers which will turn our taxi seats into mobile electric chairs. The shocking seat covers are advertised for sale on E-Bay and are capable of giving fares a whooping 50KV shock up the backside. Now it does say that they may not be legal in some country's ,which I'm pretty sure would include the UK, but I'm sure some drivers won't be put of by the legal niceties. Drivers who have been robbed and assaulted in the past would surely love this system in their taxi, apparently all it takes is a press of a button on the dash and it's instantly the smell of frying flesh. It would be great if they were legal though, just think how some folks attitude would change towards their taxi driver. No more arguments with drunks who don't want to pay or won't get out of the car, and maybe we could just give the odd smelly fare we get a shocking reminder to take a shower.

Heres the link!
TASSY?
The new Taxi and Car Security System TASSY is a system for the protection of owners, taxis and cars. It´s a system with functions of Anti-Theft and Anti-Robbery by 50kV Electric Shock. The special taxi protection cushions with high voltage electric shock function can be easily fixed on the rear seat of the car by elastic belt directly without control unit. Covered on the seat and the backrest of the car, the driver can operate the cushions by remote control or manual to activate the high voltage electric function. In case of an emergency, the driver can activate the shocking function by pressing the shocking button. Then there will be high voltage pulse on the whole surface of the cushion and backrest. Electric shocks protect the car and its driver immediately from robbery and violence. The robber is forced to give up. The voltage, it emits, is high. It can shock the robber strongly and do little harm to health. So, it´s an easy and impressing solution for the safety of driver

Friday, May 18

Dangerous Lady

HELL hath no fury like a woman scorned... as hapless plasterer Jason Wilson discovered at the weekend.
His long-term partner Emma Thomason took exception to something he’d done on Sunday and let him know about it – by packing all his worldly goods into the back of his works van and letting it roll into Cumbria's Whitehaven Harbour.
Jason’s sympathetic boss Graham has given him the week off but will be expecting an explanation when he returns on Monday morning.
Graham Wilson said: “Basically the lad was out for a pint and she took exception to something. I don’t know the ins and outs yet, but it must have been serious for her to take this course of action and I’ll certainly be asking for an explanation.
“I have been to see the van – which is a total write-off – and all his clothes and possessions are in the back of it. She must have been really mad at him.
“I have never met her and he has only worked for me for a few months, but from what I can gather they have been together for a long time.
Astonished on-lookers could not believe what they were seeing on Sunday evening. One said: “I had just been for a meal in a Harbour restaurant and I was walking along the dock when a van pulled up on the slipway.
“This woman jumped out of it, slammed the door and walked away. It went rolling down into the water.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it.
“I was going to ask her what she was doing but I looked at her and she gave me an evil stare before I could open my mouth, so I decided I’d better not.”
The van rolled into the water, which is over 12ft deep, and was completely submerged.
The coastguard volunteers tried in vain to get the van out of the dock, despite the water level being dropped by a metre to try and aid the recovery.
The next day a professional diver attached winches and the van was hauled back up the slipway.
The final bill for the incident could run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Graham Wilson added: “I was furious at first but I can see the funny side now, and at least we’ll get some free advertising if the picture of the van is plastered all over the papers.
“I haven’t had the bill yet, but the diver was £400 and the recovery wagons cost a fortune.
“That van itself is worth eight or nine thousand, so the total bill will be massive.
“I just hope that the insurance company are prepared to pay out.”
The Whitehaven Harbormaster said “Thankfully they were able to get it out within 24 hours, so the environmental effect was minimal.”

Thursday, May 17

Bootiful

When I picked up at a Barrow supermarket today my fare had a full trolley of shopping. He looked at me hopefully and asked "will it all go in the boot" " No problem" I replied and opened the boot , he looked in the boot and said"wow thats a rare sight"this puzzled me and so I looked in the boot and said "there's nothing there it's empty" "Yes that's it" he said I get a taxi every day and most of them have stuff in the boot. As we drove, I asked him more about the stuff in the boot syndrome."what sort of stuff" I asked , "oh you know road cones,bricks, cement ,wood , tools,bowling balls, and last week one had a full set of golf clubs" I thought maybe he was exaggerating, and so I asked a few more regular fares during the rest of the day, and they told me of drivers with pushchairs, child seats, and in a lot of cases their own shopping in the boot. I was even told by one of our operators that they get fares ringing up now and again to say that they have taken the drivers shopping by mistake. It seems that I must be the odd one out with my empty boot

Tuesday, May 15

Five

A single-digit car registration plate was auctioned off for more than $6.8m in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, beating the previous world record by more than 10 times.
The number plate "5" was bought for 25.2 million dirhams ($6.86m) in Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the UAE.
Businessman Talal Khouri placed the highest bid in the first auction of its kind in the UAE, with the proceeds going to charitable projects for people with special needs.
When asked if number '5' had any meaning to him, his response was in the negative. "The number does not mean anything to me. I will keep it and after my death it will be re-auctioned and probably raise more money that will again be given to charity and humanitarian work," he added.The price beat a previous world record set last July in Yorkshire, northern England, where the numberplate "M1" was knocked down for £331 500 or $657 160 at current exchange rates.

Monday, May 14

Exiles

This seems to be the time of year when exiled Barrovians return to their roots, for a nostalgic look around their old home town. In the last few days I have picked up two fares both of which have long since moved to live on distant shores. The first Angus Anderson, now lives in Los Angeles California, but should be well remembered in Barrow because of his connection with the local music scene. He tells me he was a member of sixties local heartthrob group the "Roadrunners"a bit before my time, but I'm sure many local folk will remember him. The second was former Roose lad John Large and his family, who tells me that he emigrated to Canada in 1974. John seems to have settled well and told me that "Canada is the place where I can live out my boyhood dreams of hunting and fishing and enjoying the great outdoors. I love to Canoe and hunt and fish I build my own Bows and arrows and love to wood carve." John keeps in touch with old friends and with whats going on in Barrow via local website www.southlakes-uk.co.uk which has a message forum that many ex Barrow folk use to keep in touch.

Saturday, May 12

Fluoroman

What is it with some guys when you give them a fluorescent jacket and a hard hat, why do they suddenly think that they have the power to shut roads and direct traffic in directions that drivers don't want to go? I was driving up Barrow's High St today and as I reached the junction with Rawlinson St, when out jumps fluorescent man and places two cones across the road to block the way. Why I don't know, nobody seemed to be doing owt "maybe he wanted a site meeting with the rest of the fluorescent squad to decide whether they were having pies or buns from Diggles that day" I drove up to the cones and fluoroman starts to gesticulate wildly and shout in a broad Penrith dialect that I should turn right. Of course him being from the wild north of Cumbria, and a stranger to Barrow he wouldn't know that he was trying to direct me down a one way street would he! I gave him my best smile and waved at him nicely as I drove over his cone and on to the junction, the six cars behind me followed my example, leaving fluoroman dancing with rage.
Later on in the morning I had driven halfway down one of Barrows narrower terrace streets when a car turned in from the bottom, as there was no room for both of us to pass I stopped and waited for him to reverse the few yards back so we could pass. But oh no not this character he drove straight up to my front bumper and arrogantly waved at me to reverse. When I didn't he leaned out his window waving me back and shouting "go back go back". A couple who were walking past looked at him in amazement and said to me "what a cheeky bugger" Now this could have led to the classic Mexican standoff with both of us refusing to move, but I was on my way to a job and this was losing me money. And so after a few choice words in his direction I very slowly reversed back. But the shock was that this wasn't as you might expect the arrogant behavior of a local boy racer, but one of our well known local town hall council officials.

Pink Cab

A London cabbie who provides cabs for gay weddings told taxi manufacturers LTI Vehicles his new TX4 had to be pretty in pink.

The vehicle, finished by the company’s paint shop team in eye-catching luminous pink, is among the latest vehicles to roll off the production line of the Holyhead Road-based manufacturer in Coventry. It was ordered by London cabbie Carlos Oliviera after he spotted what he believes is a gap in the market, and his pink cab is already creating a huge buzz in the capital.

"It's certainly rocking London and women think it's absolutely fantastic," said Oliviera. "The Fairway was a fantastic vehicle but the TX4 is great and is a superb drive. It's an effortless way of working," he added.

With a registration plate of E10PER, Carlos has named his unique motor the Pink Eloper and hopes to attract some of the 4,000 gay couples who tie the knot in the capital every year.

London cabbie Carlos said: "I got a bit of a ribbing from my mates and it was a bit of a shock for them when they saw it. They said they thought it took some guts to drive a vehicle like this but I am not frightened. I know I will get stick."

Although the factory can produce vehicles of any colour, LTI were taken aback when they were asked mix such an eye-catching shade. They said: "We are sometimes asked to produce special colours but this one is the most outlandish.
"Having said that, we have had a lot of fun working on this one. It isn't exactly my choice, but my daughter loves it."
The pink cab is a rare, one-off special order for which the customer had to pay an additional charge, but LTI Vehicles already offers the famous taxi in twelve different colours.

Thursday, May 10

Word Battle


The highest pub in England has come out on top in a David-and-Goliath battle with Kentucky Fried Chicken over the right to call one of their meals a "family feast".
Every Christmas, the remote Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales serves a traditional meal of turkey with all the trimmings for £40 a head.
However, American fast food giant KFC threatened legal action against the quirky local for trademark infringement of the chain's own "Family Feast" - a mass-produced carton of crap adulterated chicken pieces, chips, coleslaw, potato with gravy, and a tooth rotting soft drink.
When pub landlady Tracy Daly, received a letter from a London, on law firm on behalf of KFC, she initially thought it was a late April Fool's joke. Even the solicitor's name, Giles Pratt, sounded suspicious, she said.
But she called him, and heard it was serious. "The solicitor told me I shouldn't take it personally, but I don't feel anything - it's just hilarious,"
"They are a multi-million-pound international organisation and I am just a little lady up a mountain."
KFC at first confirmed the lawsuit but a spokesman for the fast food firm said later the company had decided to drop its legal fight.
A spokesperson for KFC GB Ltd said this afternoon: “KFC has to protect its trademarks against those who seek to trade off its brand. KFC has spoken to Mrs. Daly at the Tan Hill Inn and confirmed that it will not take this case any further.You couldn't make stuff up like this, even if you tried!
"This means that Mrs Daly can continue to use the phrase “family feast” on the pub’s Christmas menu. It’s an unusual situation that has been blown out of all proportion.”
At 1,732 feet the Tan Hill Inn, on the Pennine Way long distance footpath in North Yorkshire, is England's highest pub. It is four miles from the nearest village and 42 miles from a Marks & Spencer, Mrs Daly said.
For more than a year, the pub has advertised its "Christmas Day Family Feast" on its website. The hearty meal starts with soup or Guinness and Stilton pate, followed by roast turkey with Yorkshire puddings, cranberry sauce and vegetables. Punters can choose between Christmas pudding and Strawberry Gateaux for dessert, with coffee or cheese and biscuits to finish.
Which to me sounds a heck of a lot better than KFC,s offering!
How on earth can anyone trademark two words and then say that they own them, it's about time some of these global Goliaths were brought back down to earth.

Tuesday, May 8

Late Nights

This super Sunday I decided I would have a change from working during the day and so I ended up working from 6:30pm until 1:00 am. And what a busy one it was,every pub in the town centre was bursting at the seams, and Barrows notorious Cornwallis St, or as it is known in the trade the Gaza strip was buzzing. As the night wore on the punters were getting the worse for wear and in some town centre streets it was a game of dodge the drunk, as I weaved round crowds of revelers staggering in the middle of the streets. I could have kept busy until much later, but with having to work early the next day and looking at some of the states that were wondering round I decided to cut and run. Back up and out again early next morning I spent a big part of the day picking up the leftovers, some who had woken up with a bad head in strange places, and in some cases with even stranger people. Some of them I recognised from the previous night, you know it's funny how the gorgeous girls just don't look gorgeous any more in the cold morning light of the next day. With having worked the previous night I was looking forward to 5:pm and my finish time. It reached five to five and so I went to collect what I decided was my last fare of the day" it was" but unfortunately for me it was going the hundred miles or so to Manchester Airport . That meant not getting home until 9:pm, and a late overcooked tea. Of course I could have turned the airport job down, but I suffer from taxi drivers constipation"I just can't pass a good job"

Saturday, May 5

Time and Tide



A Barrow driver, despite the loss of his car had a very lucky escape this week. He had driven out with his daughter and grandchildren on to the sands off North Walney to follow his hobby of scuba diving. Before he knew it he found that he had been cut of by the notoriously fast flowing treacherous tide from behind. Realising he could not hope to drive the two miles back to shore, even with the four wheel drive engaged, he had to abandon the car and make a desperate dash back to the safety of the beach. He was very very lucky to escape with his and his family's life's, and now wants people to know just how dangerous it can be out on the sands. As the old saying goes "time and tide wait for no man" and that includes the ones driving four by fours. After reaching safety he contacted the police who told him he should inform the coast guard. Since the danger had passed he decided not to ring the emergency 999 number, but to ask directory inquiries for the phone number. After being put through he had a ten minute conversation with a very confused lady phone operator. Only after he had tried to explain for the fifth time did she realise that he thought he was talking with the coastguard but in reality he had been put through to a local taxi firm called Coastline.

Friday, May 4

Another Driver Attacked

Another one of our drivers has been attacked and injured! Apparently at about 2am he picked up a group of young males and took them to our local Tesco supermarket and waited whilst they stocked up on beer. When he arrived at the address they asked to be taken to, none of them wanted to pay the fare. The driver of course told them that they couldn't have the beer until they had paid the fare. After a few minutes of this standoff these thugs appeared armed with nun chucks, with which before the driver could drive off they smashed his window and stole his taxi keys. Others broke the rear window and retrieved the beer, during this the driver was threatened, chased by thugs brandishing the nun chucks and then assaulted and left with a gashed face. All this on a Thursday night, which is considered to be one of the quieter nights, what's this town coming to! Myself I think that maybe Tesco should be thinking hard and long about it's twenty four hour alcohol sales, especially to groups like these who obviously had had far too much to drink already.

Wednesday, May 2

Sirens

Is it just me or does anyone else think that sirens in radio advertisements, or even those in the background of some records should be banned. We have one in particular on Barrow's Abbey FM, you know the type "had an accident contact us and sue some poor beggar for loads of cash". This one has a loud ambulance siren going for a minute or two before the actual advert, and every time it catches me out, I end up slowing down and looking all around for the non existent ambulance. Now I just turn the sound down as soon as I hear the siren, just in case it is the real thing. You can never tell which direction our sirens are coming from, and you see drivers looking all around them and you always get one that panics when they realise that they are in the way. You know the one, they always go the wrong way and end up blocking the road altogether , and then of course this makes them panic even more. Talking of sirens I thought the days of policemen hiding with speed guns was over, but no this Sunday morning I spotted one. There he was with his car hidden in a driveway, he was unsuccessfully trying to hide his portly frame behind a lamppost and jumping out when a car come along and pointing his hairdryer at it. But considering that it was 8:00am on a Sunday morning I would suspect that he wasn't really after giving speeding tickets. Maybe it would be an ideal opportunity to smell the booze on the breath of the drivers who had too much the night before. So be warned more drivers are being prosecuted for driving over the limit the morning after than ever before. Do the sensible thing get a taxi!

Tuesday, May 1

Talking Walking Benches

It seems that all of Barrows famous talking benches
have gone missing. Yes that's right the whole flock, herd, gaggle, whatever you would like to call them the whole bunch of talking benches has disappeared. For those folks who have no idea what a talking bench is, they are fitted with solar panels for power and the idea was that you plugged your headphones in and it told you a story or recited a poem.
There were about ten or twelve scattered about the town centre and they were a great source of puzzlement to local drunks who plugged into them on their way home. I didn't have a listen myself, but people who did, told me that they were ok, but the stories and poems they told were not locally based, which would have been a far better idea. Hey! Maybe our local bigwigs swapped them for the giant steel book and some folks in another lucky town are scratching their heads trying to figure out what the strange new seats are all about.