Wednesday, April 30

The Uno

It looks like a motorcycle that has been in a nasty accident, but the inventor of this electric bike believes it is the answer to urban traffic chaos and pollution.
Although it resembles a unicycle, the Uno has two wheels side by side and uses gyroscopic technology to stay upright. Check out the full story here.

Monday, April 28

Cute Kittens

My friends cat has had kittens but she can't keep them all. Can you help by adopting one of the cute little kittens? Give me a shout if you can help, and I will collect one for you from Windscale where she lives near to the local Nuclear plant. Check out the cute kittys here

Doorstep Drama

Amongst the usual flotsam and jetsam I picked up early on Sunday morning was a "pickup down the street job."
 This is when the fare for whatever reason doesn't want the taxi stopping outside the actual address that they are at. 
They usually ask for the cab to go to a house a few doors down the street and then walk down to be collected.
 The bedraggled young lass who after having crept out of a house four doors away got into the cab and told me the story. She had been dating her boyfriend for a few months, but still felt too shy to be introduced to his mother, hence the sneaky exit.
We had got a good few miles towards her house when she began rummaging in her bag and cursing. Turns out that she had left her mobile phone behind at the boyfriend’s house, and so it was a quick u-turn, and back to collect it. Unfortunately for her, but hilariously for me when she tapped timidly at the door, it wasn't answered by her boyfriend as she expected. It seems that his mum had decided to get up early to prepare the Sunday lunch.
 The poor lass nearly died of fright when the door was flung open by the huge figure clad in dirty dressing gown, slippers, curlers, smudged mascara and minus the false teeth.
 What made it worse was that the figure still had a huge blood stained carving knife clutched in her hand. I don't know who was the more embarrassed of the two, but it sure was fun to watch.

Sunday, April 27

Backwards Bus

Don't know about you but this would freak me out if I was behind it on the motorway. More photos here.

Winners and Losers

Now that Barrow's much criticized new one way system has been up and running for a few weeks the winners and losers are starting to emerge. The winners seem to be the car showrooms and garages which are on the new route, and now get a lot more passing trade. Two of the losers that I have noticed so far are the Barrow PC World branch and the popular Pub and eatery the Owl and Pussycat, along with its kids play area the Wacky Warehouse. Both businesses are marooned in a sea of traffic cones and unfinished roadwork’s. Folk tell me that they find that both are now hard to get to, requiring doubling back on yourself and going the long way round if you are coming from town. 
Staff from both outfits have told me that sales are well down since the new road system opened and looking at the empty car parks certainly confirms this to be so. Maybe when the roadworks are finally completed and the last of the dreaded cones disappear, things may improve, but I wouldn't bet on it. Oh and I still haven't heard one single word of praise for the detested road layout yet, and think it's highly unlikely that I ever will. One of my fares was right on the money, when he said"Two and a half million pounds would have been better spent on youth facilities for our kids, to keep them off the streets, they are the future, not tarmac and concrete."

Friday, April 25


Local Barrow youth’ stoning taxis and buses seems to have become an accepted occupational hazard. Most drivers don't even bother to report it to the police as they feel that they would be wasting their time.
But on the other side of the world in Australia as a result of a 22-year-old woman suffering a fractured skull and brain damage when hit with a 1kg rock thrown from an over-pass last year the law has been changed. The mere act of throwing a rock at a vehicle - whether it hits something or not - will now become a criminal offence carrying a jail term of up to five years. The Australian Government say "we will not tolerate this kind of idiotic behaviour. To deter rock throwers, we will legislate to make it a crime to throw an object at a car, boat or train, even if nobody is harmed."
Under legal changes which remove the need for prosecutors to prove intent to injure or cause damage, anyone who simply drops or throws a rock toward a moving vehicle will be guilty the minute the missile leaves their hand. It will no longer be a defence for the yob to claim they didn't mean to hurt anyone. The prosecution will not even have to prove that the accused was aware their conduct risked the safety of any person, or that the object made contact.
Maybe our lawmakers should be taking a long hard look at following suit over here and the sooner the better. We have had many cases in the UK of drivers being killed and injured by objects being thrown at vehicles, isn't it only right that we should have the same protection from these mindless yobs.

Thursday, April 24

Iraqi Traffic

This is a major junction in Iraq. hey who needs traffic lights? Traffic seems to find it's own way quite well without any help.

Wednesday, April 23

Strange Visitors

Barrow seems to have beeen the target of some rather unusual military activity over the weekend. First we had this sinister looking US B2 bomber checking us out several times, from a low level. Then we had an unmarked but obviously military landing craft skulking in the local docks.
 Mmm conspiracy theory anyone?

St Georges Day

Barrow has never been big on celebrating St George’s day unlike our neighbours in nearby Ulverston who had a St Georges festival on Sunday. But Ulverston likes to be known as the festival town, and so they don't need too much of an excuse for any form of festival. This year’s events include a Flag, Dickensian, Beer, Charter, International Music, Folklore, Comedy, Walking, Buddhist, Print, Fashion, Soot juggling and the Furness Festival of Tradition.
 OK so I lied about the soot juggling, but wouldn't be surprised to see it in the list next year.
 I was taken by surprise to actually see St George’s day greetings cards on sale in Barrow town centre this week, perhaps we’re slowly warming to the idea. Heck we’ll be having festivals next eh!

Tuesday, April 22

Manx Derv

Bill sent me this photo from the Isle of Man which he visited this week. £1.24p for diesel! we are moaning at £1. 13p over here, still I suppose the cost of transporting it must be taken into account.


I thought I was reading a chav joke when I come across this piece from the Blackpool Gazette. It seems that "Karen Mintos" dog, a cross eyed rotweiller called "Abso" has been stolen. Her kids Angel Louise, Morgan Lee and Gypsi Rose and another on the way are missing him. Ms Minto 22 said"I can't believe anybody could be so heartless, Asbo must have been terrified."The thieves did not take the family's other pet, a nine-year old Alsatian cross. Asbo was given to the family by a friend but Ms Minto believes the pups are quite expensive to buy. What a chavtastic story, you couldn't make it up could you?

Monday, April 21

Crazy Horse Corner

Our new statue of Emlyn Hughes, on what some folk are now calling "crazy horse corner” has been there for a week or so now. Whilst driving past I have been asking locals and visitors what they think of our newest work of art. Funnily I could tell what some folk were going to say before they said it. Some of our fares like to take any opportunity to have a moan and groan about just anything, and so it was no surprise to hear their out of hand dismissal, as rubbish with barely a glance. One grudgingly said "aye alright, somewhere new for pigeons to crap eh!" A lot said "but it doesn't look like Emlyn" and so I asked if they would rather have a formal lifelike statue of him sat down dressed in a suit and tie instead of the sculptors impression of him in action. 
Most then agreed that it did capture his character, spot on. But most of Barrow's hard to please locals seem to like it and feel that it's an asset to the town. One chap summed it up by saying “it looks as if it has always been there, it’s at home." Visitors to town, who I pointed it out to, were all without exception well impressed. But sadly anyone under twenty who I asked for an opinion looked blank and asked "who is it?"

Sunday, April 20

A Bridge Too Far

The plan was when they needed to close Michelson Rd Bridge was to do it on the Sunday when it's nice and quiet. But nobody seems to have told them that nowadays there’s no such thing as a quiet Sunday. A modern day Sunday is actually busier than the midweek, and the loss of this busy main route caused traffic pandemonium. Most folk were caught unawares by the closure and most of my fares apart from grousing about the extra cost of the longer journey knew nothing about the bridge closure. 
The diversion signs on the route from Walney were next to useless, a "road closed ahead" sign, a mile before didn't tell folk that the actual bridge was closed and many aggravated drivers wasted their time going the wrong way.
 Then to add fuel to the fire, drivers got trapped at the now much cursed Hindpool Road temporary traffic lights. Every little job to or from Walney and Barrow Island become an epic journey which would have been quicker on foot. 
Perhaps next time something more than a diminutive announcement in the” Public Notices” column of the Evening Mail is necessary to tell folk to stay home and avoid wasting their time.

Friday, April 18

Hot Date

It was 9 am and the two ladies who fell into the back of the cab laughing and giggling, surprised me when they told me their destination. "The crematorium quick as you can we don't want to be late for the kick off" they said sniggering. “It's a bit early for us to be going to a funeral” they told me and then asked me "do you think they will have had time to stoke the fire up yet?" "Oh so it's not someone you were very close to you then? “I asked. "No not really, we're only going because the bun fight is at the Lisdoonie Hotel, and they always put on a good spread" was the cheerful reply.
 After this there was a minute or two of what I took to be a reverent silence, maybe the sorrow of the loss was sinking in and they had just been putting on a brave face? 
 But no, just as we drove through the gates of the cemetery one gripped the others arm and with panic in her voice groaned loudly “hey I hope that the bar will be open this early.” Her friends face went pale and she said”Oh my god I hadn’t thought about that, I hope so too”

Wednesday, April 16

Bent Bentley

Five police officers were injured when they crashed three patrol cars during a high speed chase with a £120,000 Bentley Continental stolen by three teenage joyriders. The supercar, which has a top speed of 195mph, careered off the road and flew through the air before coming to rest on its roof. Is it me or am I the only one thinking that a car with this sort of price tag, should have come with a foolproof anti theft system. Not only that just what does anybody need with a car capable of 195mph, we just ain't got the roads for it.

Tuesday, April 15

Lemon Lady

It's always a pleasure to pickup the lady that I know as the "Lemon Lady." I call her that because of the bag decorated with pictures of lemons she always caries as her souvenir from Sorrento
 It would be rude to give away a lady's age, but at 21 she was assembling pieces of WW2 Wellington Bomber in Barrow's Hunters yard. Her fella, she has told me, bravely fought his way through the desert campaigns of North Africa and went on to survive the bitter fighting all the way up through Italy. Sadly after all this he went on only to lose his life at an early age from something which nowadays is survivable. She says he couldn't be replaced and has lived as a widow ever since.
 She likes to reminisce of holidays she has taken with her son to places where her fella served, one of them being Sorrento, hence the lemon’s bag. This week she asked “what day is it" "Friday" I replied, "oh good “she said "the taxi mans story's will be in the Evening Mail." Beaming she went on to tell me of some of the tales which amused her.
 Suddenly all the hours of slaving over a hot keyboard and struggling with my poor spelling and bad grammar became somehow worth while.

Monday, April 14

Another One Gone

Yet another once thriving Barrow pub closed its doors at the weekend, and I hear ominous rumours of at least two more heading the same way. We all know that the loss of any local pub is a blow to the social life of many folk, but looking deeper there’s far more to it than the loss of just a drinking, and up till recently, smoking den.
 Far more jobs were obtained "down the pub" than at any Job Centre or Labour Exchange. Many a Barrow father, bought a foreman a pint or two and got a promise of a start for his sometimes unwilling offspring. How many business ideas and plans were dreamt up over a quiet pint down at the local pub? away from the pressures of work and family life, with a beer or two for lubrication the pub is the ideal thinking place. I know of half a dozen or more thriving local well established business partnerships which were forged down the pub over a beer. Not all local wheelers and dealers who trade down the pub are the "fell off the back of a lorry" variety.
You name it , builder, window cleaner, gardener etc they all could be found via the local pub, if they didn't drink there someone who did, knew which pub they could be found in.
Many a local tradesman who worked from home used to call their local "the office" and never needed to advertise for work, inquiry's and phone calls were passed on via the bar staff. Reputations could be made or broken by what the regulars said about the work he did, do a bad job and you had to find yourself another pub. Do a good job and your reputation was embellished and grew as the pints were supped to seal the deal.

Sunday, April 13


Octav over at Smokingcoolcat in Romania has sent me a cartoon he has done with a taxi theme. Excuse the swearing, I didn't think it polite to censor someone else's work.


THE first car to be registered in Cumbria is to be sold by descendants of the Edwardian magistrate who bought it from new 106 years ago.
With the registration plate AO1, the two-seater Peugeot has remained in the county ever since and is expected to fetch around £150,000 from a veteran car collector.
Boasting a three-speed gearbox and spare oil lamps, she represented cutting-edge technology in 1902. The dark blue two-seater, with just 2,000 miles on the clock, was shipped to England from France in 1902, the year the Boer War ended.
Now this one-family-owned Peugeot 5HP has proved she has staying power too by cruising through her first MOT test – 106 years since taking to the road.
It was bought in 1902 for around £185 by William Parkin-Moore JP, of the former Whitehall estate near Mealsgate.
The car has been handed down through generations of the family and remains in virtually original condition complete with wooden bodywork and oil fuelled head lamps.
The family also owned the second car registered in the county – a Daimler with the plates AO2 – which has long since gone and the plates were auctioned in 2002.
The decision to sell the piece of family history has been a tough one. “We’ve thought long and hard about it. It’s only been over the last year we’ve become aware what it is worth.
With the number plate alone expected to fetch between £60,000 and £150,000, the family found the potential sum too much to refuse. “We’ve no interest in veteran cars – we’d like to see it go to a collector who would appreciate it.”
The family would like to see the car and plate stay together and for both to remain in Cumbria.
“Since we put it up for sale we’ve had all sorts of things come out of the woodwork – people have sent in photos and information about seeing it.”
Offers have already started to roll in but none have yet been accepted.
To register interest in the car call Gavin McGuire on 01892 770310.


A teenager reportedly ended up with a cabinet instead of a taxi because she asked directory inquiries for a "cab, innit". According to The Sun, the Londoner, 19, wanted a taxi to take her to Bristol airport, and first used the Cockney rhyming slang "Joe Baxi".
When the operator told her she couldn't find anyone by that name, the teen replied: "It ain't a person, it's a cab, innit."
The operator then found the nearest cabinet shop, Displaysense, and put the girl through.
She then spoke to a bemused saleswoman and eventually demanded: "Look love, how hard is it? All I want is your cheapest cab, innit. I need it for 10am. How much is it?"
The sales adviser said it would be £180 and the girl gave her address and paid with a credit card. The next morning, an office cabinet was delivered to her South London home.
The firm, of Bishop's Stretford, Hers, has now apologised and refunded her cash after the mix-up two weeks ago.
Marketing manager Steve Whittle said: "We thought it was a joke at first but the girl was absolutely livid. We have suggested that maybe she should speak a bit clearer on the phone."

Saturday, April 12

Wind Up Radio

Bill Clark part time cabbie and local radio DJ is notorious for his live wind-ups. In this one he rings the taxi company and asks for a nine seater cab. They tell him that they don't do them, undaunted he asks if he can add his own seat. Anyway have a listen click the link.

Still Life in Moving Vehicle

Take a look at this one by an artist and professor who enjoys snapping photos in Bangkok taxis.
Hers a sample; "If you get into a taxi in Bangkok and see a mirrored ball hanging from the rear view mirror, you shouldn't get the wrong idea. It's not there to turn to the rhythm of Donna Summer or the Bee Gees on the radio, or to use to check if you have any pad Thai noodles stuck between your teeth. Mirrored balls in Asia, the kind found in homes, businesses, and cars (not the ones in the dance clubs) are commonly used in Feng shui. If you're not familiar with Feng shui, it means "wind-water", and is the ancient Chinese practice utilizing the laws of heaven and earth to help improve your life."
"The mirrored balls are believed to reflect negative energy away from you, bringing you into alignment with harmony. In cars, the mirror reflects away evil forces that cause accidents. Another reason they're used in the taxis is because of the low ceiling which is believed to have a pushing down effect on you. The idea is that the mirror reflects the ceiling back before its pushing effect reaches you. The mirrors are also used to reflect natural elements outside, such as fresh air, back into the car."
Pretty cool eh? The photo above strongly reminds me of one or two local Taxi drivers I know!

Friday, April 11

Hump Dodge

I wonder just how many tens of thousands of pounds have been wasted on new road humps recently installed on Barrows Holker Street. I say wasted because that's exactly what they have done with most of these shiny new humps. I wondered what was going on at first, was I getting paranoid? But no it seems that every time I drive down Holker, St random cars coming from the opposite direction will deliberately veer across the road, kamikaze style and head straight towards my cab. Had I upset someone, was there a reward for crashing into me? But no it seems that maybe some council bod has got his sums wrong and left just enough room in the middle of the road between the concrete humps for a car to pass, without it's occupants being shaken to bits by the bone shaking humps(comically they are actually called speed "cushions"). Barrow's local drivers will do anything to avoid the dreaded speed bumps, even playing chicken with each other and competing for who gets to the gap first. I wonder just how long it will be before these road humps, which are meant to prevent accidents are the cause of a collision themselves.

Thursday, April 10


A report in the local paper tells us that a young man of 19 appeared in Furness magistrate’s court and pleaded guilty to carrying an offensive weapon. It also tells us TWICE that he hails from Egerton Court (pictured) which by any stretch of the imagination can't be mistaken for luxury penthouses.
 The report also gives us the information that he appeared in court wearing a tracksuit and trainers. The reporter might as well have said that the offender was a chav from a slum.
 If the guy was from one of our more leafy suburbs, would we have been told that he appeared wearing a suit, tie and shiny shoes, I think not somehow!

Cars That Never Were.

Car Prototypes From 1898 (!) To 2001. - video powered by Metacafe

Train Pushers

Traveling by taxi must be seen as the height of luxury after viewing this video of Japanese train travel.

Tuesday, April 8

Pie n Mushies

Want to take a look at Barrow and learn a little bit about the area?
Then check out Pie n Mushies the new site by local Rosalind Mitchell.
Rosalind is a crime writer, fell walker, beachcomber, fine photographer, film and music buff, bridge player and connoisseur of fine ales and stouts.
Don't know how she makes the time myself eh!

Arligton House

Driving up and down Barrow's Abbey Road this week, I have watched as they stripped the fixtures and fittings from the once proud Victorian landmark of Arlington House ready for demolition. It seems they are to tear it down and build a dozen or so bland modern houses in its place. What a criminal act of vandalism, all in the name of short term greed. Another fine piece of Barrow's history bites the dust. This large detached house dates back to the 1870s and was last used as a popular hotel. Sir John Fisher the man responsible for the civilian boats used in the Dunkirk rescue was born there in 1892. The motley fleet he assembled included fishing boats, fire ships, private yachts, barges, merchant marine boats, pleasure craft, and even the Isle of Man paddle steamer, 338,226 soldiers were saved from the beaches of Dunkirk. Their valiant rescue has sailed into history. For his part in Operation Dynamo, Sir John received a knighthood in 1942. He then went on to advise in the planning of the D-Day landings from amphibious vehicles, and handling the transportation of guns, tanks and armoured cars.

Monday, April 7

The Mutterer

By now I'm used to picking up the odd fare that likes to have a little chat to themselves, and tend to try and ignore it. 
But one particular chap I have picked up a few times lately tends to freak me out a bit. From the moment he gets in the cab he starts to have a long wild rambling discussion with himself, this carries on until he reaches his destination. 
The big problem is that he speaks in a low monotone consisting of one never ending sentence, this makes it hard to tell when he is speaking to you or himself. This unfortunately means that I actually have to concentrate and listen to his garble and try to pick out where he is going etc. 
This is part of an actual sentence he said to me one day "Gypsy gypsy cage fighter me fight with dogs fight with men champion cash money stop at shop get some tinnies walk the dog bit the postman going home off licence." 
 Much more of the same followed for the next never ending two miles. My head as always, on coming across this character, was spinning by the time I finally gratefully deposited him outside his house.

Shoe Swap

Not all taxi jobs actually involve carrying passengers, bunches of keys and parcels are often the only ones along for the ride. 
We get some strange jobs like this and today’s was one of the strangest.
I had pulled up outside the house from where a taxi had been called and pressed my call-back button to ring their phone. After a minute or two the taxi back door opened and shortly after closed again. Thinking my fare had got in I asked "were too please" I got no reply and so turned around, only to be met by the sight of a pair of lady's high heel shoes sat on the back seat. Baffled I sat there for a minute or two and then knocked on the door of the house which had ordered the cab. The lass that answered said "didn't they tell you? The job is to take the shoes to a house in town where the fare will be paid and you will get a pair of boots to bring back for which I will pay the fare." There’s probably a perfectly simple explanation for this but I can’t fathom it! But knowing what some lasses are like about shoes maybe it's normal for women to swap footwear via taxi.

Sunday, April 6

Sweet Revenge

This weekend I had a bit of a swap round with the hours that I usually work. This had me working on the busy Friday and Saturday evenings. It was strange to see some of the folk going out that I usually pick up the morning after their night on the ale. I could hardly recognise some of them without the red bleary eyes, toxic breath, and that just dragged through a hedge backwards look. One lass who was dressed up to the nines, and plastered with make-up, revelled in the admiring glances from the lads stood ogling her outside the pub where I dropped her off. If only like me, they had seen her in the mornings after a heavy night out, she wouldn't get a date off a calendar.
 But the best one of the weekend for me, were the two lads who I picked up from Hawcoat going to a town centre pub. One was a loud mouthed obnoxious drunk, and the other just couldn’t get a word in edgeways. As soon as they got in the cab Mr Loudmouth said “I’ll pay the taxi driver and sort him out if he tries to rob us.” He then yelled constantly to his embarrassed mate that I was deliberately stopping at red lights and slowing for pedestrians, just to rob him by making the fare higher . He went on to loudly inform his pal that “all taxi drivers are thieves and robbers...” Feeling sorry for his pal who was obviously squirming with embarrassment, somehow I resisted my urge to throw them out. When we reached the pub Mr Loudmouth was still muttering about highway robbery and thieves as he patted his pockets and fumbled for his cash. After a few minutes of agonised silence he squeaked “Oh no I’ve forgotten my wallet.”
Time for sweet revenge I thought and turned round with a stern glare and said loudly “oh yes, trying to rob me are you eh?” He blustered and stammered as I threatened him with the law and a night in the cells instead of the pub. 
I could see his pal enjoying every minute of this and trying hard to hide his smirk. After a few more minutes of savouring this well deserved humiliation his pal paid the fare and with a huge smile added a big tip.

Thursday, April 3

What There'sTwo?

It seems that a dozy taxi driver has let the side down by taking his fare to the wrong destination. The driver made the mistake of thinking that his sat-nav was infallible, but the biggest mistake he made was to get it wrong when working for high profile landed gentry. It turns out that the fare was the daughter of posh toff Earl Spencer, brother of the late Princess Diana and owner of the 300-acre Althorp estate. The hapless taxi driver ended up taking the blue blooded heiress to the wrong end of the country, Yorkshire instead of London to watch a Chelsea football match. The Spencer lass and a pal had tickets to watch Chelsea play Arsenal at their famous Stamford Bridge ground on Easter Sunday. But a mistake by the taxi company meant they missed the game and ended up in the Yorkshire Village of Stamford Bridge, 218 miles away from Chelsea's home ground "The driver, from Mayfair Taxis, took them to Stamford Bridge, in Yorkshire, instead, so they missed the game. Mayfair's owner has apologised, and has promised to sort this matter out amicably." He said: "We do 20,000 journeys a month and mistakes do happen every now and again. But I admit this is a big one. But the fault was with my control staff, not the driver. He ended up there by putting Stamford Bridge into his sat-nav and it said it was in the north of England. He checked that was right and it was confirmed by the controller.
"I'm still trying to figure out how that was possible, it's baffling."
The Village of Stamford Bridge is in the East Riding of Yorkshire, a whole 147 miles away from Althorp.

Tuesday, April 1

Who's the April Fools?

Well April the 1st as well as being April fools day was the day for price rises. What with the cost of a TV licence, postage, prescriptions, council tax, water rates, and car tax amongst many others all rising, folk were left reeling. That's maybe why I found that nobody moaned or groaned when they found that taxi fares had gone up by a modest amount.
 Not that we drivers will feel any benefit from this rise, it's been long overdue, and has already been swallowed up by massive rises in fuel and other running costs. 
Maybe someday someone in government will wake up to the fact that taxi’s and private hire cabs are the greenest most efficient, available on demand form of public transport. Maybe then they will realise that they need to give the taxi trade a rebate on fuel duty, which we could then use to keep fares low, especially for our many elderly, disabled or disadvantaged users. This week in Barrow we have been paying the staggering price of £1.12p a litre, over 70% of which is taxation, so I think they can well afford it.