Tuesday, November 23


A shortage of taxi drivers across the Lancaster and Morecambe district is being tackled with a recruitment campaign and other action by Lancaster City Council including an appeal to former drivers with expired licenses to return and cut-price training courses.

The shortage of hackney and private hire taxis is creating risks to public safety, people getting home safely, and disorder and crime, according to a licensing team work plan and report being reviewed by councillors on the district’s Licensing Committee.

Other issues such as the impact of Covid-19 on taxi drivers, rising fuel costs hitting drivers’ earnings and firms’ profits, the level of passenger fares, vehicle tests and driver training courses are among factors being looked at.

Councillors on the Licensing Committee are being asked to approve a licensing team work plan for 2022. It highlights various issues relevant to taxi passengers and drivers, gives updates on recent work and suggests priority tasks for next year.

Local authorities regulate the taxi trade which includes fares and checking the that drivers are ‘fit and proper’ persons. Checks include drivers’ character and history, their right to work in the UK and criminal convictions, cautions or reprimands.

The transport and driving sectors are undergoing various changes, with shortages seen locally and nationally with long distance HGV drivers and bin lorry drivers hitting the headlines.

Regarding taxi drivers in Lancaster and Morecambe, the city council’s Licensing Committee report states: “There is a reduced number of drivers, locally and nationally. One project has been to increase the number of licensed drivers operating in the district, both hackney carriage and private hire. The scope of this work has been to promote the role of becoming a taxi or private hire driver and to work alongside partners to assist applicants.

“A college course is full in November, due to reduced cost of £100 instead of £220. The council wrote to all expired drivers, 97 of them, and asked them to use a fast-track application procedure. A social media and Job Centre campaign is highlighting the work.”

A shortage of staff in the city council’s own licensing team is another priority issue, the report states. The team aims to fill the post by February 2022.

Taxi vehicle tests represent another factor which might be putting off drivers. The current system is described as labour intensive with excessive steps in the process. Changes are needed to the city council’s on-line vehicle test booking system to make it easier for drivers to book tests. The council will also reintroduce a paid service called Licensing Direct and personal licensing courses. with the aim of re-launching in April 2022.

Taxi ranks on streets are also being looked at too.

The workplan report states: “The reason is to improve availability of hackney carriages to the public. Lancashire County Council intends to conduct a review of hackney carriage ranks across the county. The city council welcomes this and would seek to work with the county council and Lancaster’s hackney carriage trade. The trade should be invited to provide written proposals regarding taxi rank provision at the earliest opportunity .”

It adds that road works on central Lancaster’s ‘gyratory’ road system could lead to significant changes which would cause disruptions. So consultation about taxi ranks with the trade should be done as-and-when needed. A number of taxi ranks have already been updated, the report adds.

The city council’s website shows there are currently 373 registered dual-license drivers. The hackney carriage register has 108 license-holders and the private hire register has 38.

The city council has registered with the National Anti-Fraud Network. Its services include providing information on taxi and private hire license refusals and revocations, DVLA driver and vehicle information, number plate recognition, fraud and crime prevention, investigations, credit and bank account checks, and trading standards work.

Friday, November 27

Taxi to Church

 An interesting piece here from the Church Times, believe it or not. Colin Dobson is interviewed on his life of taxi driving.


I fell into taxi driving following six years of looking after my father when he became ill. By the time he’d passed to glory, I’d run out of money. It was the greatest privilege of my life to care for him, as he slowly lost his powers. In many ways, the dad became the son and the son became the dad, but I gained so much.

I already had my licence from part-time work as a chauffeur, driving the great and the good. I thought it would only be a temporary thing for a few months. Eleven years later, I’m still at it. I might have found my vocation.

The best thing about it is the people. Every week, in ordinary times, anywhere between 100 and 200 souls are moving in and out of my taxi. Each one has a story to tell, and they often share them with me. There are some extraordinary human beings living among us in Oxfordshire, and my passengers are a great blessing to me. Many have become friends.

The worst thing is the people. I’ve seen some dreadful things — especially between the hours of one and five in the morning: drunkenness, violence, and abuse of all kinds. A very wise fellow, working in a senior role for one of the many Christian organisations based in Oxford, once said to me, as I collected him at 4 a.m. for an airport run after working all night, that I have to guard my soul. He’s right.

In the main, I take people safely to airports, cruise terminals, festivals, pubs, restaurants, and schools — but they’re all closed during coronatide. A customer insisted on paying me more than five times the cost of his fare, to help see me through until September. It’s one of many extraordinary acts of generosity of the time, some of which I’m sworn never to disclose. But God knows.

It’s been economically devastating — the worst stress of my life. A thriving business disintegrated overnight with £35,000-worth of work cancelled before the lockdown began. Bookings are slowly returning to about one third of their usual level. Many customers have decided not to book holiday airport travel; and there’s no business travel.

I’ve only survived financially because of the generosity of my customers, friends, and church family. I was able to operate a shopping service free to the vulnerable, thanks to other people’s donations.

As my living depends on it, it’s necessary to be pedantically practical about my car and not overly concerned with aesthetics. I run a Hyundai I40 estate, diesel, which has loads of boot space: enough for four check-in suitcases and carry-on baggage. The fuel economy’s great, but I’m not wedded to the brand. My next taxi may be something completely different — even electric, if only it were affordable.

A coffee break can be a brief stop at a drive-through on the motorway, or something more life-enhancing, like a four-hour walk around Guildford Cathedral on the way back from Gatwick.

My last holiday was for the canonisation of St John Henry Newman, a former assistant curate of my church — St Clement’s, Oxford — in Rome, last October. The cost of holidays isn’t just the travel, but also the lost income. There’s no holiday pay for the self-employed. None of my holidays since I became a taxi driver would have been possible without the kindness of others.

Writing is cathartic. In the past four years, I’ve written over 30,000 words in the local paper as “The Rank Insider” — published every Wednesday in actual newsprint in what used to be the North Berks Herald. I’m not afraid to write about my faith and my work.

I still live in Oxford, where I was born and went to Church of England schools till I was 13. As children, we played in the ruins of Holy Trinity Church. Almost the entire parish was razed in the ’60s and early ’70s, but I still see the old street pattern. These days, I live in a village on the outskirts, with my two beautiful, spirited cats. They saved my mental health.

I’ve never been unaware of the existence of God. I didn’t become a believer until August 1988, but, at primary school in the 1970s, there were traditions such as an annual nativity play, and daily assemblies with songs like “Lord of the Dance”. This contains the entire message of the gospel, and I’ve known my entire life that it’s the greatest story ever told.

The most significant thing to happen to me in recent years was rolling up to one Ash Wednesday evening service at St Clement’s, where they’ve shown me over years the actual meaning of “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples”. They’re extraordinary people.

God’s been nagging me for years, but discernment is the hardest thing about attempting to live the Christian life. It’s my intention to work as hard as I can for the next three years, to raise enough to retire to a slightly down-at-heel seaside community, to pursue photography and writing and whatever else comes along. I will still probably be driving for people, too. God has a habit of upsetting the best-laid plans, though.

There’s such a thing as righteous anger, though I spend my life trying not to get angry, as there’s far too much to get angry about. Eleven years of taxi-driving tells me that it’s best to remain calm, wherever possible, even in the face of the most dreadful provocation. But I can’t abide the greed and injustice which appears to be endemic in the provincial taxi industry. That’s why I now work for myself.

I’m happiest when I am at the all-night petrol station buying the bread for holy communion, or at the holy table setting up for it. There’s an extraordinary sense of the Lord’s presence there, though we’re not at all High, and the surroundings are quite different from Newman’s day.

One of my achievements during the first lockdown was digitising my 14 boxes of comedy and music records, cassette tapes and CDs, many of which belonged to my mother and grandmother. Spotify is marvellous, because you can carry your entire music collection around with you. And, yes, I do listen to music while I’m driving. I only listen when I have no customers. I listen to poetry and podcasts, too.

My hope is in God who provides in wholly unexpected ways. I’ve seen “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” in this desperately stressful year.

I do pray, but not nearly often nor systematically enough, nor even, probably, for the right things. I do suffer from a dreadful level of shyness when praying with others; but my church home group have been extraordinarily gracious and kind.

I carry a battered old Bible in my taxi, and sometimes a rosary hangs from the rear-view mirror; so I’m often asked to pray for others who don’t feel that they can offer prayer themselves, because “I don’t quite believe enough.” I tell them that they’re good enough for God. I pray most often for peace.

I couldn’t be locked inside my own place of worship: I’m a keyholder. But I wouldn’t mind being there with Newman, who raised much of the money to build it. Inside, it’s quite different from his day, and I wonder what he’d make of it, and of Oxford in 2020. I also have quite a few questions for him about his prodigious writings.

Colin Dobson was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.

Wednesday, June 10

Cabs Are For Kissing: The Rhinoceros Story

Cabs Are For Kissing: The Rhinoceros Story: Here's a story from the vault.  I've told it many times to passengers in my cab over the years, but I've actually never written...

Sunday, April 12

Wednesday, January 22

Cabs Are For Kissing: Why The Medallion Tanked

Cabs Are For Kissing: Why The Medallion Tanked: For several years now the most talked-about topics of conversation with passengers have been Uber and the fate of the once coveted taxi med...

Wednesday, January 15

Cabs Are For Kissing: How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?

Cabs Are For Kissing: How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?: I stopped for a couple of passengers the other day on the Upper West Side who announced with some enthusiasm that their destination was Car...

Thursday, August 15

Many of Barrows taxi drivers gathered on Thursday morning at the Town Hall in protest at another proposed hike in taxi fares.
Drivers are disappointed and upset with the licensing department at Barrow Town Hall constantly going against the wishes of the trade, even after agreements have been reached at so-called trade liaison meetings. The taxi trade recently reached an agreement with local taxi operators to increase fares to a more reasonable level. The trade then asked the Town Hall to postpone any further increases to the rank rate until at least a year had passed. This has been ignored by the licensing department and a further hike in fares has been proposed. Our aim has been over the last few months is to create a level playing field, so that the public can be assured that if they phone hail or hire a taxi from a rank they will be paying about the same rate.
If the council implement this unwanted rise then this becomes impossible. 

Saturday, September 3

Itsy Bitsy

I don't mind spiders at all, they just don't bother me, but going by the reactions I have had in the back of the cab lately, they sure do bother some people. Apparently, I have had a spider as a non-paying passenger for the last week or so. I've never seen it but going by the screams and quick exits that some fares make it must be a scary one. Every time someone mentions it I check the car out and despite searching high and low all I have found are a few silky threads. They tell me it's small and red and very quick, it must be to survive my weekly assault with the hoover. But one thing its good for is keeping kids quiet in the back after the first scream most get to the furthest corner and just watch in silent horror. Think I might get some more and keep them in a matchbox just to threaten the kids with.

Oh, the photo is one the daughter nearly scared to death by screaming when she found it innocently sharing the bath.

Thursday, September 1

Sign of The Times

I picked lots of noisy kids up this week, it's the week before the schools go back and so it's the last minute rush for school uniforms. One woman was totally oblivious to her three unruly brats in the back, she just seemed to go into a trance looking at her phone as her kids fought screamed, and then rolled both back windows down and started to throw things out including the taxi firms business cards. Still, she just stared at the darn phone deaf and blind to the chaos in the rear. That was when I braked and pulled over and without saying a word got out rolled up the back windows and placed my new sign that I bought a while back from Lancaster Castle, onto the dash, then I just looked at them for a minute without saying a word. They looked at me and then at the sign and that was it not a peep out of them for the rest of the journey. Funny thing was the mother never said a word, but she gave me a good tip with the fare.

Saturday, August 6

Pub or Home

It was a slow Sunday with few rural runs but two jobs stand out from today.
The first was from Walney Island, I got to the address and was waiting for a minute or two when a guy walked down the garden path towards the car, then he stopped and went back inside presumably to answer his phone which had started to ring. I seemed to be then for waiting ages after that and so I blew the horn, just then another car pulled up behind me and also sounded his horn. Then I spied the guy sneaking out of the house and who then actually climbed over the hedge and into next doors garden to use their gate to make his getaway. What I think happened was that his mates had rung him and offered him a lift instead of paying for a taxi and he was too spineless to tell me and then maybe have to pay the no pick up fee. All to save a couple pounds, I hope he ripped his pants and gets a dodgy kebab for supper. 
The last job of the day was from a pub in Dalton and when the couple finally come out and get in the cab they both say different destinations,” Which one first” I asked no he said” just the one we’re going home” “oh no we are not she says we’re going to the Railway pub”. This went on back and forth between them and got increasingly heated, now then which one do you listen to? After a minute or two I worked out that the guy was the  soberer of the two and took them home, with the women getting more and more abusive to him I was glad when they got out, but as I drove away I could still hear her shouting that she wanted to go to the pub from a few hundred yards down the street.

Thursday, July 28

Muck Magnet

As I pulled up outside an address to pick up a fare today I noticed a big black dirty oil patch outside and so I parked just past it to save my fare walking through it and messing the car up. The fare turns out to be a harassed mum and her three young kids, the two older boys got in the car and told me that they were going to a party meanwhile the girl of about two ran around and danced in excitement outside. Then, of course, the muck magnet which is built into every kid kicks in and she goes head over heels into the oil, she is covered from head to toe and all over her party clothes. And so the harassed mum finds a clean bit, picks her up and takes her in to wash and change.
Ten minutes later she runs out dancing and giggling and whilst harassed mum is locking her door she tumbles straight into the oil patch again if it wasn’t for the little girls tears and cries of” mum, mum” I would have laughed. Harassed mum decided enough was enough and just wiped her down and said she’d have to go as she was.
I guess that she never did a good job of the clean up judging by the perfect black child’s footprint on the less than perfect butt of my next lady passengers white jeans, I almost felt guilty but it was the last job and so I went home laughing.


Overseas readers might know an operator as a dispatcher.


We sit behind glass windows like being in a goldfish bowl
Sat glued to our seats looking at our console
Taking calls galore from our work stations

Sometimes it feels like the United Nations
Chinese and Italians not to mention Irish and Scots!
We’ve got to decipher these bloody clots.
Then we have our drunken friends
Most named “harpic” because they’re right round the bend

You know when they’ve had too much beer
When asking for a taxi from “Here,”
Some can’t even get the words out
Whilst women just continually shout

And we have to listen to complaints and abuse
At times you feel like putting your head in a noose
It’s worse when your drivers go without saying
And the angry hordes for your blood are baying

We’ve got to sit and pacify screaming people
I think I’ll jump off the highest steeple
But no we can’t let down the others who matter
The lonely old folk who just want to natter,

Then of course there’s the drivers our bread and butter,
They’re not bad apart from the odd nutter,
So please spare a thought for your operators,
And keep us free from these masturbators.


Friday, June 24

Brown Eyes

I had picked my very first job of the day up this morning at about 7.30 am and it was to be just a short ride into town, I was talking away with the fare when I saw a guy with a loose dog on the pavement up ahead, luckily I braked and slowed just in case.But yes you’ve guessed it the dog runs straight into the front of the taxi, I could see it coming but couldn’t stop in time, then comes the sickening bang and the dog disappears. Luckily for the dog, I was driving a modern car with a plastic bumper which is shaped to help save pedestrians by hitting low and scooping them up onto the bonnet and saving them from going under the car.
And so in what seemed like slow motion to me a large brown dog appeared on the front of my bonnet looking straight at me with surprised big brown eyes. Apart from a few brown hairs, there was not a mark on the car, oh and the dog was okay too. The guy with the dog was as drunk as a skunk and didn’t say a word he just stood in the road swaying gently back and forth until his wife led him away. All was well and so we set off again and only got a few hundred yards when the local postman who was walking along sorting his letters sauntered out straight in front of us, after another narrow miss I considered making the first job of the day my last.

Sunday, June 19


Now you may not believe this but the taxi drivers here in Barrow aren’t really well known for their sense of style. But what with the heat wave which we have been experiencing for the last week or two, some of them have really surpassed themselves some of the tee shirts and shorts look like they were bought on some long ago foreign holiday at a time when the driver had had a good sample of the local tipple. Maybe at some time, they may have fitted as well, who knows but sadly with the ravages of too many pies and fries that’s not the case now. One driver I saw today broke all the rules cargo style three-quarter length pants (guys when you reach a certain age and size just don’t do it) and a black and white vest top way too small, looking down past the glimpse of white calves revealed black socks (pulled well up) and open toed sandals. But all was explained when I saw that he was proudly sporting in his left ear the biggest shiniest bluetooth I had ever seen, the radio waves from this must have caused temporary insanity.

Saturday, June 11

Testing Time

I went out on a job to a country lane near the small town of Dalton-in-Furness when I got there it was a driving school car which had broken down miles from anywhere. The two passengers wanted to go to the Driving Test Centre and they explained that one was a driving test examiner and the other was actually taking his test when they had broken down. Well this was a first for me but I guess it does happen now and then, funny thing was that I felt a bit nervous with a driving examiner in the back of the cab and found myself driving as if I was on some sort of test myself. When we got back to the test centre the driving school instructor, who owned the car was waiting outside and you should have seen his face when his pupil and the examiner got out of the cab, he must have been thinking that his car had been wrecked. I ended up driving the instructor and the pupil home after that and the instructor was telling me that it was going to work out rather expensive for him as they are self-employed like us and like us no car no work, which means no income.

Tuesday, May 24


I picked up an old German lady today and a good old stick she is too we were cracking away as we drove along. I was about to turn off down a street when she said “no de judderbutts” this had me baffled for a minute or two and then I remembered that this street had lots of large speed humps on it. I laughed when I realised that this is what she meant. Judderbutts what a great word it describes speed bumps perfectly, go on just say it a few times, isn’t it a great word. Watch out for those judderbutts!

Wednesday, May 18

On The Meter

A 15-minute drama, written by Nicholas Hargreaves and Tabitha Konstantine. - We follow the journey of a black cab and it's driver, through three different jobs which are all inspired by true events. Everything that happens, all happens inside of the four doors of the taxi.


Tuesday, May 10

Gone Fishing

My first job this morning at 7; 30am was to take a guy up to High pond Roanhead he was going fishing. I knew where he was going straightaway I had picked him up many times before the amount of stuff he had with him seems to multiply, enough this time to fill the boot (trunk) and a good bit of the car as well. It has always bemused me the dedication of this guy he’s out fishing in all seasons breaking the ice if need be. Knowing nothing about fishing myself I’ve asked him about it on the many trips to Roanhead and was amazed when he told me that he doesn’t even get supper out of it the fish are put back in the water. The biggest fish caught there was a carp weighing 35lb 9oz “that would feed me for a day or two” and the pond isn’t natural it's flooded iron ore workings last worked in the 1920s. I was still not sold on the idea of sitting there all day and kept asking him what he gets out of it “relaxation” he says. So today when I dropped him off I got out and had a walk round the pond and took a few photos, then I sat down for a while and you know what it really is relaxing. Still couldn’t be bothered 
carting all
that gear about, though.

Tuesday, May 3


A customer I picked up today never ever tips, so I was very surprised when the fare was £3.40p and he said here's £4.00 keep the change.  But when I looked at the four "pound coins" I was not shocked to find that one of them was a worthless lead forgery,  Ah well nothing changes eh!

Monday, April 25

Road Kill

I took a fare out to the village of Baycliff today and on the way out down the coast road, we came across a beat up looking car parked haphazardly on the road with the hazard warning lights on.   As we got closer and slowed to go around it the driver got out and went to the rear of his car and stood looking down at a dead seagull on the roadside. So after that, the fare and I laughed and tried to figure out what on earth he was doing. "Giving it the last rites, " said the fare “no he wants to make quills with its feathers "I replied" or an Indian headdress" he answered.  Or maybe he's one of these guys that likes to eat road kill I said "not much of a meal there" he said, " unless he puts it in a stew."  On the way back into town I checked, and sure enough, the seagull had gone.


Awww how sweet you may say, yes but after the fifth or sixth time of being held up within a few hours that's not exactly what I say.


Loads and loads of pretty girls out and about today I seemed to pick lots of them up one after another. This seems to happen when the sun shines but where are they at other times I wonder, or is it that they look better in the sunshine. You tend to have to drive a bit more carefully to as you get lots of guys whose eyes are on the girls walking out in front of you or driving erratically. Yes,I would say that it’s definitely spring.

Tuesday, April 12

Time Out

A lady who I pick up now and again asked me what the time was, I told her the correct time and she went to adjust her watch. I noticed that she set it five minutes fast. Why do that I asked "so I know the time" she said, this had me puzzled and so I asked a few more lady fares and they all seemed to think it normal quite a few said that they had different clocks and watches set either fast or slow” so they know the right time". This must be a female thing because it baffles us guys I can't figure the logic in this even the wife thinks it's perfectly normal. I wonder how many guys check the time at home and assume that the clock is set right.

Thursday, April 7


Picked up three passengers early this morning and they all had garish eye makeup on and lots and lots of glitter and blusher.  The only problem was that only one of them was female. The tale they gave me was that they had fallen asleep at a party and someone had given them a makeover, but the guys one of whom carried a bunch of carnations made no attempt to wipe it off and promptly fell asleep on the drive to the nearby town of Ulverston. I had a bit of a struggle to wake them to find the address they wanted and they kept muttering and falling asleep again. We had driven well past it so I let them out and they set off walking through the busy streets, getting lots of amused looks from passers-by.

Thursday, March 31


I took a guy through to the nearby town of Ulverston today and he was telling me along the way that he was in the army and had recently returned from a tour overseas. He told me that nowadays a lot of soldiers are fed up with the political correctness that has started to find its way into army life. Apparently the old idea of the sergeant shouting or even swearing at new recruits is now frowned upon and a lot feel that this is undermining discipline and in a combat situation could endanger life.
But what did shock me was when he told me that the military no longer keeps a record of confirmed kills on a soldier’s service record. I wasn’t aware they did and if so that’s one that should definitely be consigned to the history books. He then went on to tell me that he had two confirmed kills and I found myself not knowing how to react to that. At the end of the day that’s what these guys are trained and paid to do but no congratulations from me, sorry.

Sunday, March 20


I took a guy round to the local Magistrates Court building this week and he had with him a large bag and what looked like all his worldly possessions with him. Are you off somewhere nice I asked little thinking that he would reply" no I'm going to jail." Maybe not I said they may look kindly on you and you may get off lightly, no he said, "I have been found guilty already and I'm up for for sentencing today and they have said it’s pretty certain that it’s time in jail". Not a lot I could say after that I could see that he was worried and nervous, but as they say, if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime. 

Wednesday, March 9

Chav Sense

I had a local chav couple in the back of the cab today and I couldn't help but overhear the bizarre conversation that they were having. Girl chav" why didn't you eat the dinner I made you?" Guy chav "cos it was crap luv" Girl chav "but starving people like what you see on the telly would be glad of grub like that” Guy chav" I’ve got no sympathy with any of em why don't they just move like, get a bus or somethin an go somewhere a bit more lush" Girl chav "oh yeah" and she sighs and looks at him all admiringly and is gob smacked at him for solving the world's food crisis.

Friday, March 4


My passenger was a young lass of about eighteen years of age and she looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Where do you want to go I asked?  "Dalton” she replied and so off we went to the next town along which is about six miles away, as we got closer to Dalton I asked her whereabouts she would like to be dropped off at. “The lacquer knacker” she replied brightly, I looked at her blankly and said I have never even heard of that, it’s a pub she said looking at me as if I were daft, I still never had a clue and so she said “The golden ball” and then the penny dropped. That was the first time I have ever heard it called that,it must be a local Dalton thing.

Saturday, February 27


In stark contrast, to yesterday's run of funeral jobs I had a few wedding runs today. One was with the bride, chief bridesmaid and the bridesmaids brother going to the bride’s mothers to get themselves ready for the big ceremony. They were going a nearby village which is a six-mile ride away.
The two girls seemed to get more and more stressed for every yard that we drove along, they were on the phone making last minute arrangements and asking each other if they had forgotten anything all in all in a total flap. On the way, we stopped off at the posh hotel where the reception was to be held and when the bride and bridesmaid got out of the taxi to drop something off there was silence for a minute or two then the brother and I looked at each other and just burst out laughing. Talk about stress give me a good funeral do anytime.

Friday, February 19

The Coin Juggler

I had what I always refer to as a coin juggler in the back of the cab today. I pick this particular type of folk up maybe once or twice a week, and they can be of either sex and old or young, rich or poor but they always sit in the back and try to be discrete. What they do is they watch the taxi meter obsessively and every time it clicks over they move the coins from one hand to the other so that they have the exact fare ready in small change, minus the tip of course! You don’t get very much conversation out of a coin juggler just the soft obsessive clinking of coins, but still they always amuse me no end. What does catch the juggler out now and again is when the meter adds the waiting time on when we stop at lights or in heavy traffic and the meter goes up a few bob, that’s when they tend to juggle faster and then panic and drop all their precious coins on the cab floor.

Monday, February 8


Today was one of the very few occasions when I found myself lost for words, I usually have no problems understanding just about any nationality, but today the two lasses who got into the back of the cab might as well have been speaking broad Martian. In the end, they had to point to where they wanted to go. They started to talk to each other and it dawned on me that they were actually Irish, I’m usually Ok with the Irish brogue but this dialect was one I had never heard before. Still we had a laugh and got there in the end, but this reminds me of the drunken lady I picked up a while back one rainy day.
She was so drunk that she could not speak at all and she just waved her hands in the direction that she wanted to go. When we eventually got to her house she wasn’t capable of counting the fare so she just threw her bag at me to get the cash out for myself. Next comes the bit I was worried about, there was no way she could walk and I didn’t fancy carrying her rather large bulk into her house, you never know what you may be accused of later. After banging on a few neighbours doors, I managed to get some folk who knew her and her drunken habits to help her in. If this is the state she gets in the middle of the afternoon I wouldn’t like to see her after a heavy night out!

Thursday, February 4


I was talking to another driver one day this week, he works for one of the last firms in town which still uses the old voice over the radio airwaves system to dispatch work. After about five minutes sat in his car listening to the squeaking of the high pitched voice on the radio my head was hurting and it made me really glad that the firm I work with now uses computer dispatch.
 Some drivers say they miss the banter on the radio, but that’s a small price to pay for a whole lot less stress. Back when we used radio we had some operators whose voices tended to really grate on your nerves especially after four or five long hours you felt like you had to get out the cab and bang your head on the pavement to stop the torture. You know the type of voice I mean the one that you just wouldn’t want them shouting you up for breakfast in the morning after a boozy night on the town.

 We can still talk to the office by radio if necessary to make bookings etc, but some days I can work all day and not know who the dispatch operator is. This works the other way as well some of the operators tell me that drivers come into the office and they haven’t got a clue which driver they are talking to.

Thursday, January 28

The Grim North

One of my fare's today was telling me that she was a barrister up here in Barrow on a business trip from that there London and that it was her first time oop north. “Well, what do you think of the grim north?” I asked,” well I was baffled when none of the taxis stopped when I hailed them I had to take the number off the side and ring for one myself,” she said. I explained that most cabs here are private hire and that most hackney cabs also work for company’s when not on the rank. Then she went on to say (which a lot of visitors also say) how green it was and that she had been expecting a grim grey industrial town. Shortly afterwards we were going down from a high point at the top of Hawcoat looking out seawards over Walney Island towards the Isle of Man, and she was impressed by the fabulous views of the miles of empty sandy beaches. “I bet it gets busy during the summer,” she said and was very surprised when I told her that we get very few visitors.” Well someone sure wants their butt kicking “she said anywhere else and they would be promoting it for all they were worth.

Wednesday, January 27

The Rose

A young girl passenger was telling me about her crazy Saturday night out this morning. It involved lots of alcohol, drunken fallouts, regrets and only hazy recollections. But I think the rose she left behind on the back seat of the taxi tells the story much better than words.

Tuesday, January 19

Lost Tip

A very nice ould lass who had enjoyed her cab ride went to give me a nice tip today, unfortunately as she went to hand it over she dropped three of the pound coins. They rolled down the middle of the front seats out of reach, never mind I reassured her I will get them later. I had forgotten all about them and had picked up three or four fares in the next hour or so. That is until a lady in the back seemed to be bending down and taking a long while to get out of the cab at the end of the ride. Yes, you guessed it the three coins had gone, she stole my tip, what a dirty trick eh! The tip actually came to more than she had paid for her short taxi ride, what a darn cheapskate taking food from my mouth. I could have had gravy on me chips tonight!

Wednesday, January 13


Another busy Sunday and the morning started off with lots of leftovers from the Saturday night. One of the first was from a house in the next town five miles up the road, but the fare had still not appeared after ten minutes of me waiting patiently. It was 8: am and so there was no way I was going to blow the horn and rudely wake the poor local folk up. I was pressing ring back which calls the customers phone every few minutes and after a while I faintly heard a phone ring, it was coming from the backyard of the house where I was supposed to pick up from. I got out and opened the door and there was my disheveled drunken lady fare sitting on a dustbin, she must have expected me to drive into the back yard to collect her. 
She was only going up the road a half mile or so to a local hotel, as we got nearer alarm bells started in my head when she slurred that she was going to collect her car. But as we pulled into the hotel car park she swore when she saw that her car was blocked in by four or five others. I let out a sigh of relief because I knew that the hotel staff wouldn't even consider waking up the paying guests to move the cars for some drunken lady. I was proved right and returned her back to her dustbin within a few minutes.