Saturday, May 31

Up North

Whilst Barrow suffered the wind and rain all Whit week, I headed north to Scotland and basked in the glorious sunshine. A trip to the Isle of Arran in particular seemed more like being on one of the Greek isles. Its strange how most folk head south when they go away for a UK break, there's a lot to see and do up north if only they would just give it a try. Despite driving for a living, I was a sucker for punishment and did quite a few miles around Scotland. Two things I noticed on my travels are soon to be introduced down here anytime soon. The first is the dreaded average speed camera; this differs from our fixed speed trap camera, in that it consists of two cameras which can tell if you have broke the speed limit anywhere between the two cameras. The two cameras can be miles apart, so rule out the usual trick of slowing down to go past the camera and then putting your foot down again. Whatever your opinion of them good or bad, you can’t but agree that they are definitely a lot more effective than our present speed traps. The other thing I saw was lots of examples of the thing which is causing lots of controversy here in Barrow at the moment. It seems that whether we want it or not we are going to end up with a new academy school here in Barrow sooner rather then later. But let’s hope that the design for the new building is a lot better than the examples I come across up north. Without exception every one of them could be mistaken for a cheap factory building, something like smaller versions of our own local submarine factory, the D. D.H. Some folk might argue that’s exactly what these large academies are “factories for kids”

Monday, May 26


This super Sunday turned out to be a bit of a damp squid, a lot quieter than the previous ones we have had. Maybe this is another sign that folk are starting to feel the effects of ever increasing rises in the cost of living. The night time economy is always the first to suffer.
But one of the fares I picked up was a more than slightly sloshed Scotsman and his bonny wee girlfriend, who the lucky dog was taking home.
I tell you what, she was so beautiful...... he could barely keep his eyes on the meter!!

Sunday, May 25

Bench for Sale

Recently a letter was published in the Evening Mail complaining about drinkers and smokers spilling onto the streets outside local town centre pubs. Word must have reached the joking jester landlord of Barrow's Victoria Hotel in Church St, known locally as the Little Vic (just to save confusion with its grander namesake.) The letter writer had complained that a bench had been placed outside for punters to rest whilst they refilled their lungs with fresh nicotine. Next day a big sign in the pub window tells us in bold red writing “Bench for Sale"

Bus Spotters

As I drove past the Cornwallis St taxi rank on Saturday morning I was surprised to see a throng of camera wielding Roy Cropper (Coronation St) look-alikes. I stopped and looked around for the object of their affections. I couldn't see any scantily clad young ladies anywhere, so just what were they photographing? After a good ten minutes of watching the eager anorak bedecked snappers it finally dawned on me just what they were drooling over. All zoom lenses were focused adoringly on one of our local single decker buses. It seems that the local bus depot was holding an open day with a free bus shuttle ride from Cornwallis St, and this had attracted a flock of lesser known bus spotters. Hey just kidding guys, but it did surprise me to learn that you can get bus spotters as well as the more well known train spotters.

Saturday, May 24

A to Z

These days it seems that everyone that I pickup from local supermarkets is complaining about the increasing price of food. Combined with huge price hikes in gas and electric bills, Barrow folk are really starting to feel the pinch now, and believe me they are really grousing about it, I know, I get the same old story all day. But then again it's all part of the job, if folk can have a good old moan and groan to the taxi driver they always feel better at the end of the ride. But lately I have had quite a few folk, old dears especially, bending my ear about the local paper, who have moved the births and deaths columns from the first page to page ten. It seems that they just don't like to see things change. But I had to laugh at some of the things they say such as. "I only buy the paper to see who's dead, now I will have to read it all to find the deaths “or "it's been on the inside page ever since I can remember, why change it now." But the best was from the old lass who said in all seriousness “I wouldn't like to see my obituary on page ten.” Trying hard to stifle my amusement I come back with “isn’t it strange how they all seem to die in alphabetical order." Looking at me as I struggled to look solemn she thoughtfully nodded and said “aye strange that isn't it."

Friday, May 23

They're Paying.

My fare on Walney didn't seem to want to come out and so I got out and knocked on the door. The door was opened by frail looking ould lass using a walking frame, who asked me to wait whilst she got ready to go. Ten minutes later and she was ready to go and so I helped her as she struggled at a snail's pace up the path and into the cab. This took another ten minutes and then she told me that she needed to be at Furness General hospital, which is five miles away for an appointment in ten minutes time.
 By the time we had negotiated the heavy traffic she was already a few minutes late when we pulled up outside. It would have taken her at least another fifteen minutes to make her way down the long corridor to the orthopaedic department, and so I decided to go the extra mile for the poor ould dear. So risking a parking ticket I double parked and found a wheelchair to take her and her Zimmer down myself. Parking her in the waiting area I handed her appointment card in and went back over to her to be paid the fare. "Seven pounds please" I asked politely, and was answered with a blank stare. I asked again explaining that it was for the taxi fare. "They're paying it" she replied pointing vaguely in no particular direction. "Who are they?" I asked baffled, only to be told again and again that "they were paying it." By this time the roomful of waiting patients were starting to take an unhealthy interest. The fifth time I asked for the fare I realised that I was getting nasty looks from the now hostile crowd, which told me that they thought I was a nasty man mugging a poor frail old lady, and so cutting my losses I beat a hasty retreat empty handed. Aye well I guess you win some and you lose some, it all comes out in the wash, but I would still love to know who "they" were.

Wednesday, May 21

Easy For You To Say


  • 1. Specificity
  • 2. Anti-constitutionalistically
  • 3. Passive-aggressive disorder
  • 4. Transubstantiate


  • 1. No thanks, I'm married.
  • 2. Nope, no more booze for me!
  • 3. Sorry, but you're not really my type.
  • 4. Doner Kebab? No thanks, I'm not hungry.
  • 5. Good evening, officer. Isn't it lovely out tonight?
  • 6. Oh, I couldn't! No one wants to hear me sing karaoke.
  • 7. I'm not interested in fighting you.
  • 8. Thank you, but I won't make any attempt to dance, I have no coordination. I'd hate to look like a fool!
  • 9. Where is the nearest bathroom? I refuse to pee in this car park or on the side of the road.
  • 10. I must be going home now, as I have to work in the morning.
  • 11. Thank you Mr. Taxi Driver, that was a very reasonable price.

Tuesday, May 20

Jet Pack

How about one of these strapped onto your push bike. It's a 50lb thrust pulse jet engine. The 140 decibel clatter tube is capable of propelling a bicycle and rider up to 75 MPH. Rather you then me, but if you are the daredevil type it is available now on E-Bay current bids stand at $650.

Sunday, May 18

Paper Shirt

Two o clock Sunday afternoon and my fare had woken up in the local police station cells. He tells me it's an awful feeling when you wake up and at first don't realise where you are and how you got there. When the truth finally dawns, fright sets in and you try to think what you have been arrested for. Frantically racking your hung-over dehydrated pounding brain to try and recall what took place last night. From time to time flashbacks of blood and some sort of struggle come and go and you start to really get worried. Then you realise with growing horror that you aren't wearing your own shirt, it's been replaced by a police issue disposable paper top. You know the type that you've seen on TV that they give murderers and rapists. Panicking you start to bang on the cell door and yell, asking why you are locked up. Nobody will tell, that has to wait until you are deemed sober enough to be charged. Hours later you are led in font of the desk sergeant to be charged, and you stand there sweating and with shaking hands. What a relief when you are only charged with being drunk and disorderly and you are handed a bag with your own torn and bloody shirt inside. What an experience eh? But my fare seemed to think that the worst bit was going home in the paper shirt. That's why he ordered a taxi; he just didn't want his street image damaged by being seen in the paper shirt.

No Chance.

Sunday one a clock and I pull up outside a well known local pub in Barrow's Abbey road. What are supposed to be my fares come staggering towards the cab holding each other up. One of the two twenty something guys was gagging and sputtering and looked about to be sick.
 They reached the car and opened the door then staggered backwards again. I took the opportunity to lean over and slam the door in their faces and drive off. When I radioed in to tell our operator that I wasn't picking them up I was told that they couldn't even manage to talk on the phone, someone else asked for the cab for them.
 Now then you might think that this is par for the course on a weekend night in Barrow, and that it's a taxi driver’s job to pick up drunks like these. But no it wasn't one o clock in the morning, it was one pm Sunday lunch time. We are well within our rights to refuse to pickup anyone that we feel is so intoxicated that they will cause trouble or soil the cab.
 But how did they get that way in the first place is the question, by law the pub should have refused to serve them when they saw the state they were getting in.
 I won't say which pub it was, but let’s just say that maybe some of the big pub chains should be told that the law also applies to them.

Saturday, May 17

Telsa Electric Car

This is the Tesla Roadster. 100% electric, 0-60 in 4 seconds, 130mph top speed, no clutch and instant torque, equivalent to 135mpg, 200 plus miles per battery charge. But the bad news is that the price tag is about £45K - £50K and there is a long waiting list,so get your name down now. Congestion Charge free as well - for now. I don't think it would be too practical as a cab maybe but still I can dream.

Friday, May 16

The Back Way

There's nowt as strange as folk is there? The fare I picked up mid-morning was two guys who said they were going into town. Neither of them looked to be full of the joys of spring, probably as the result of the previous heavy night out on the town. But when we got into town I thought it a bit odd when asked to stop near a dead-end back street.
 One of the guys jumped out the cab and ran down the back street. A moment later he reappeared shaking his head and ran off down another nearby back street.
 His pal who was still sat in the taxi muttered something about him losing his wallet. After a few more back street searches and head shaking they carried on with the journey. Mmm maybe he had lost his wallet, but fancy not knowing which back street he had been down, and why was he there in the first place eh!

Wednesday, May 14

Eco Friendly Bikes

They say that the hydrogen powered car for everyday use is twenty to forty years away yet.
But in the next year or so hydrogen fuel cell powered motorbikes and scooters will be on the market. Some will be a hybrid of electric and hydrogen but will still have zero emissions. Pity about the British weather, which unfortunately will be the biggest obstacle to sales over here.

Tuesday, May 13

Locked Out

Barrow's taxi drivers are gnashing their teeth and cursing this week, and not just because of the closure of Hindpool Road which is one of Barrow's main routes. This is causing stress and chaos enough, but the thing causing the most upset is the loss of one of our traditional rat runs. One of our best little traffic avoiding back street short cuts has fallen victim to the alley gates scheme. The back street between Greengate St and Harrison St known as Field St has been used for years to gain access to the end of Dalton Rd our main shopping street. This is a favorite dropping of point for our passengers and will now cost more to get too and take longer to reach. But as usual we are the last to know and are never consulted, so it's like it or lump it.

Monday, May 12

Fragrent Fare

My fare was late and in a rush to get to work but first he had to make an important diversion. Even though the fare only lived within a few hundred yards of his workplace he just couldn't go straight there. First he told me that as a matter of life or death, he had to go to the supermarket for something crucial. He dashed in whilst I waited outside happily watching the meter ticking away.
 As I waited, I wondered what the heck could be so important that he had to make this dear detour. Surely it must be something more essential than cigarettes, lunch, coffee or tea.
 The answer came when he dashed out tearing feverishly at the packaging of a bottle of Galvin Cline aftershave,” cant go to work without this" he said spraying himself blissfully, like a junkie who has scored. Mmm guess it's his fragrant part of the day eh?

Sunday, May 11

Keswick to Barrow 08

We had the annual Keswick to Barrow walk on Saturday and again it seemed to be the biggest, best organized event yet. It always amazes me to see people arriving back after actually running the whole forty mile route. One tired walker I picked up later in the day had been to watch Barrow's triumph at the soccer match down in Burton and had not arrived home until 2am, and then had to rise at 4am for the start of the huge hike. He told me several folk had done this, wow what heroes they must be. What puzzles me is why the occasion doesn't seem to get more nationwide publicity, when you see the coverage given to events such as the London marathon, which at 26.22 miles is by comparison a stroll in the park. This hugely popular event brings in folk from far and wide, with local hotels all full and businesses benefiting by the cash the walkers spend. Maybe after the recent local elections some of the keen new faces will hopefully push to get the event promoted further afield. Many folk I took to cheer the walkers on told me "the atmosphere is fantastic for the crowd watching as well" so maybe it should also be promoted as a spectator event. Pity about the lack of a proper taxi pickup point again, it was a struggle to get anywhere near the finish point and the exhausted entrants had to walk even further to be collected.
” The Keswick to Barrow Walk is a 40 mile sponsored stroll through some of the country’s finest landscapes. The route starts on the southern side of the Lake District town of Keswick and winds its way through some of the most beautiful scenery to the Victorian town of Barrow in Furness on the coast of the Irish Sea.!
The idea of walking from Keswick to Barrow originated in 1966 as a result of a statement made by the late US President, John F Kennedy to the effect that "every American should be capable of walking 50 miles a day". At this time the first Polaris Submarine - HMS Resolution was being built at the shipyard in Barrow and several American experts were resident in the area assisting with the project.
With the idea now conceived, plans were soon under way to organise a walk and build relationships with the crew of the submarine and the workers at the then ‘Vickers’ shipyard. The initiative was taken by the Installation Manager (Submarines) to formally challenge the Commanding Officer of HMS Resolution to form a team and walk from Keswick to Barrow on 1st April 1967.”

Saturday, May 10

Wet Patch

Being out on the road all day without any loo facilities can be a bit difficult at times. So at some point during the day most drivers can be seen dashing cross legged from the taxi and into Fell St toilets which is one of the very few public toilets left in the town. This means that the Fell St area has become a bit of a tribal gathering place for gossiping taxi drivers. 
That's when the local traffic warden is busy elsewhere that is, if not no one hangs around too long for fear of getting a parking ticket. But it seems that the plumber in charge of maintenance of the toilets has a really wicked sense of humour. The water pressure on the washbasin taps has been turned right up, and when unsuspecting visitors go to wash their hands they end up with a high pressure soaking.
 New victims are caught out hourly and it's become something of a sport to spot the red faced blokes walking out whilst trying to cover up the embarrassing wet patch in the crotch area.

Friday, May 9

£5 Loss

A bloke and his date were parked on a back road some distance from town, doing what blokes and girls do on back roads some distance from town.

Things were getting hot and heavy when the girl stopped the bloke.

"I really should have mentioned this earlier, but I'm actually a hooker and I charge £20 for sex," she said.

The bloke just looked at her for a couple of seconds, but then reluctantly paid her, and they did their thing. After the cigarette, the bloke just sat in the driver's seat looking out the window.

"Why aren't we going anywhere?" asked the girl.

"Well, I should have mentioned this before, but I'm actually a taxi driver, and the fare back to town is £25

Thursday, May 8

Snakes Alive

After five days on the run the mysterious missing snake was finally found alive and well on the back seat of my cab. Local garage Cumbria Car Centre fearlessly but nervously took on the job of searching every nook and cranny of the cab. After two days searching they were about to give up, obviously thinking that I must be going round the bend and imagining the ginger slippery snake. But late Thursday afternoon it seems that Rio, which I have now found is his name decided to come out and bask in the sunshine, and lay stretched out the full width of the back seats. Graham the boss, asked the stunned mechanics for a volunteer to capture the wayward reptile and when they all took several steps back, he fearlessly took hold of the vanishing varmint himself. Luckily I had left a pillowcase in the taxi which they tell me is the safest way of containing a snake. After Graham had posed for photos with his new found friend, he told me that this is the most unusual job he has ever done. I have to say that it ranks as one of my strangest fares yet, but unfortunately even though Rio had been an unwelcome passenger in the cab for five days he still managed to wriggle out of paying the fare. Rio was returned safe and sound to his relieved owner the same day.

Tuesday, May 6

The Missing Snake

It was Sunday afternoon and the two guys I picked up had an unusual request. They wanted me to take them over to Walney to buy a snake and then back to town.
 For the purposes of this story let’s just call the guy in the front of the cab Stanley, and the one in the back Ollie. 
I agreed to the job and we drove to a house on Walney where the deal was struck. Stanley emerges carrying a large box housing the 3 foot corn snake and places it on the back seat alongside Ollie. We had not got far from the house when Ollie nervously yells that the snakes head was peering out from its housing. Stanley reaches back and pushes it in and closes the door again. All seemed well for a mile or so until Ollie now sounding panicky tells Stanley that he can't see the snake. Stanley tells him not to talk daft, and that it will be hiding in the box. We reached the snakes intended new home and out they got with the box. 
After a frantic search of the box and twenty minutes looking in the car no slithering reptile was found. Finally I left Stan and Ollie scratching their heads and drove back to the house on Walney where the snake had come from.
 They assured me that the snake had definitely been in the box, and then helped search every nook and cranny of the car. No sign was found and so reluctantly I started work again. But somehow the thought of a slithering snake sliding up my trouser leg kept freaking me out. The other big problem was of course was, what if it frightened one of my fares to death. And so at first I thought maybe it would be best to warn them. All I said was that "if you spot a snake in the taxi, it's OK it's harmless." But the screams started to get on my nerves after a while and so I just kept quiet and checked the cab before every job. I had intended working till late with it being a super Sunday, but the thought of the snake slithering up someone’s leg in the dark didn't seem a good idea and so I finished at dusk.
 As soon as my local garage opened on Tuesday I asked them to remove the seats and check the car out. They were a bit reluctant but gingerly they checked the whole car, and found nothing. And so it remains a mystery, where did the snake go and where is it now?

Monday, May 5

Party Poppers

Well the bank holiday weekend turned out to be a really crazy one for me. It started off with the job from hell on Friday lunchtime. Picking up two couples from Barrow Island, and the problems began without further ado, with one guy insisting that he get in the cab with a can of lager.
 After much drunken shouting and swearing he was finally persuaded by his less inebriated pal to ditch the beer. Unfortunately the wild eyed over the top lager drinker got in the front with me and then the fun started. " To the sex shop in town and then on to Dalton" he said turning the radio up full blast. I turned the radio down and set off, before getting to town the radio was turned up by him and down by me another dozen times. We reached the sex shop, and Mr Over the top went in and I waited outside with bated breath to see what he came out with. When he emerged carrying just a small package I wrongly started to relax a little. "I've got the poppers" he announced and I had visions of party poppers exploding all over the car. "Not in here" I told him as he tore at the package "But its legal" he said over and over again as we headed towards Dalton. Next minute a phial was shoved towards my nose and Mr Over the top said "here try some."
 A vile chemical stench which they later told me was Amyl nitrite nearly knocked me out as I reeled back, head spinning. Luckily his pals realised that even though this was supposedly a legal drug, shoving it up your taxi driver’s nose at forty miles an hour might not be safe. They calmed Mr Over the top down and I grudgingly carried on to Dalton, where I was more than happy to see the back of them. After that the weekend just got madder and madder.

Friday, May 2

Dear Nap

Our neighbours in the nearby town of Kendal seem to be having problems with over enthusiastic traffic wardens, whoops sorry we have to call them “civil enforcement officers” nowadays. It seems that one eager beaver crept up on a pensioner who was actually asleep in her car and sneaked a ticket on it. Jean Raine, 82, was legally parked in a disabled bay, but was fined because her orange disabled parking disc had been inadvertently displayed upside down.
Miss Raine took a nap in her Vauxhall Corsa after feeling unwell on a shopping trip to Kendal.
”I cannot understand why the parking attendant didn’t wake me up. I wouldn’t have got a ticket then,” Miss Raine of nearby Burton-in-Kendal said.
”He must have been on tip toes, so quiet that he didn’t disturb me.”
Miss Raine, a retired nurse, and Martin Westgarth, 88, her companion of 30-years, had been driven to Kendal by a neighbour on their weekly shopping trip.
Mr Westgarth, also from Burton-in-Kendal, said: “I went in to do the shopping and when I got back to the car there was a ticket on it.
”Why did she get a ticket while she was sitting in the car? Because the card in the window that shows she was disabled, it turns out, was upside down.
”The person who put the ticket on the window didn’t talk to Jean. You would have thought that he would have said something to her. This is intolerable. She is legally entitled to park there car where she was, why should her right be taken away from her just because the card was upside down?”
”We were in a disabled space. The disabled badge was valid. If this idiot, who pinched her, had spoken to her and said that the card was the wrong way round that could have been it.”
He added: “Why on Earth didn’t this civil enforcement officer - a traffic warden when said and done - ask her to move her parking disc. Why did she get a ticket when she was sitting in the car?”
The couple appealed to South Lakeland Council but their appeal was rejected.
In the end they paid the fine, but are considering whether to take the case to an independent tribunal.
Recently, a South Lakeland Council parking warden was soaked with two buckets of water when he put a ticket on a fishmonger’s van while it was being loaded outside a store in Kendal town centre.