Tuesday, May 30

Holding the baby

Some stuff will never find its way onto these pages, some stuff which I see and hear would just be too hurtful to the folks involved. Other stuff can be told after the passage of time this is one such story. This took place three or four years back now and maybe the people involved have changed for the better, who knows let,s hope so. The job was to pick a fare up from a large house which was split into flats it was a rough sort of place and I had to wait a while before someone come out. Then two guys walk out carrying a girl between them who looked unconscious, they heaved her in the back of the car and told me the address she was going to. I went to set off but one of them almost as an afterthought shouted me to wait and went back into the house. The two guys both of whom were drunk then staggered out with a baby held between them.The baby of no more than twelve or thirteen months old was thrust on the lap of the semi-conscious girl. The girl was that far gone she could not speak or even keep her eyes open and so when we got to the address I was given, I took the baby off her and knocked on the door expecting someone to be there to look after both of them. After knocking for a while with no response, the girl roused herself enough to stagger to the door open it and fall in. She then tried to take the baby from me, but looking at the state of her I was not so sure that was a good idea. I had a look around the house in case someone else was about but found nobody. I then tried knocking on the neighbour’s door to see if they could help, but they didn’t want to know. Reluctantly I put the baby down and left, I suppose I was guilty of not wanting to get involved. But my mind wouldn’t settle I kept thinking about what could happen, but then I kept reminding myself that the child would probably be taken into care if the authorities found out. I radioed into the office and had a talk to the lady operator she didn’t hesitate “phone the police you’ll never forgive yourself if anything happens to that child” she said. I drove around for a bit longer but the more I struggled with it the more I realised that something had to be done. The phone call was made and I never did find out what happened over it, I just hope I did the right thing.


A driver’s number or call sign can be very important to him; some drivers want their lucky number or a number that means something to them. This leads to drivers trading numbers and even in some cases swapping firms if they can’t get the number they want. One of our drivers swapped from number sixty-one to number fourteen because he said "it was too many syllables in sixty-one to say on the radio." You will find that not many taxi firms have a driver thirteen; I guess we are a superstitious lot, but round here thirteen is reserved for a call for help. So if you hear your driver shouting for a thirteen and giving his location you know that you have spooked him and that you will be surrounded by twenty bloodthirsty cabbies within minutes.

Monday, May 29


Early this morning I had to pick up from what I thought was a dodgy place. My screen just said school field Dalton and when I got there I could see nobody about, and was just about to give up when four lads appeared as if from nowhere. They all wore hoodies with most of their faces covered and looked dishevelled, I was half inclined to drive off but I decided to chance it. They all climbed in the cab and they asked to go to Askam which was about a £7 pound fare. I was pleasantly surprised when they paid up front and turned out to be a nice bunch of lads well spoken polite and friendly. So I guess it’s true sometimes you can’t always go by appearances.

Sunday, May 28

Blocked In

Another super Sunday and the morning started off with lots of leftovers from the Saturday night. One of the first was from a house in Dalton but the fare was still not out after ten minutes, it was 8 am and so and no way I was going to blow the horn and wake people up. I was pressing ring back every few minutes and after a while I 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 drunken lady fare, she must have expected me to drive into the back yard for 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 in the car park she swore when she saw that her car was blocked in by four 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.

Saturday, May 27

Lost Tip

A nice old lady went to give me a nice tip today unfortunately as she went to hand it over she dropped two-pound coins. They both rolled down the middle of the front seats, never mind I said I will get them later. I had forgotten about them and had picked up three or four fares until a lady in the back seemed to stoop and take a long while to get out of the cab. Yes, you guessed it she stole my tip, what a dirty trick eh! The tip actually came to more than she paid for the fare what a cheapskate taking food from my mouth I could have had gravy on me chips tonight

Friday, May 26

oop North

A fare today was telling me that she was a barrister on business up from London and that it was her first time oop north. “Well what do you think” 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” 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 grey industrial town. At that point we were going down from the top of Hawcoat looking over Walney 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 wants their butt kicking “she said anywhere else and they would be promoting it for all they were worth.

Wednesday, May 24


I was talking to another driver this week, he works for a firm which still uses voice over radio. After about five minutes in his car my head was hurting and it made me really glad that the firm I work with uses computer dispatch. Some drivers say they miss the banter on the radio, but that’s a small price to pay for a lot less stress. Back when we used radio we had some operators whose voices tended to grate your nerves especially after four or five hours. You know the type you wouldn’t want them shouting you up for breakfast in the morning believe me. We can still talk to the office if necessary to make bookings etc, but some days I can work all day and not know who the 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.

Tuesday, May 23


Today was one of the few occasions when I was lost for words, I usually have no problems understanding any nationality, but today the two lasses who got in the back of the cab might as well have been speaking 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 Irish, I’m usually Ok with the Irish brogue but the accent was one I had never heard before. Still we got there in the end, but this reminds me of the drunken lady I picked up a while back one 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 myself. Next comes the bit I was worried about there was no way she could walk and I didn’t fancy carrying her into her house, you never know what you may be accused of later. After banging on a few doors, I managed to get some neighbours to help her in. If this is the state she gets in the middle of the afternoon I wouldn’t like to see her at night.

Monday, May 22

Small Change

I had a change juggler in the back of the cab today. I pick these up maybe once or twice a week and they always sit in the back and try to be discrete. What they do is they watch the 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. You don’t get much conversation out of a change juggler just the clinking of coins, but still they amuse me. What does catch them out now and again is when the meter adds the waiting time on when we stop and the meter goes up a few bob, that’s when they tend to panic and drop all their coins on the cab floor.

Sunday, May 21


They say that the windows of a house are the eyes to its soul.
This house stands in the village of Leece whose only claim to fame in the last hundred years is that it was the scene of the infamous lady in the lake murder. Your car breaks down on a dark wet night and the only dim light is coming from this house “do you knock and ask for help”? “Go on tell me do you, really?
(click to enlarge)

Saturday, May 20

Goth Moth

My daughter who's nine has the usual girl’s thing about creepy crawlies, and so when we heard her piercing screams we knew what the problem would be. But we were a bit surprised when she ran from the room shouting “Goth Goth.” We looked around and all we could see was a little moth on the ceiling, she heard us laughing and so popped her head back in and said” I meant moth “and ran upstairs. A bit later when the offending insect had been removed she ventured back down “where is it” she asked and was told that it had gone to hang around outside Forum 28 with the other local Goths.

Wedding Jitters

In contrast, to yesterday's funeral jobs I had a few wedding runs today. One was with the bride and chief bridesmaid going to the bride’s mothers to get ready for the ceremony. They were going Urswick which is a six-mile run and they seemed to get more and more nervous as we drove, they were on the phone making last minute arrangements and asking each other if they had forgotten anything. On the way we stopped at the hotel where the reception was to be and when they got out dropping something off a young chap that was with them and I just burst out laughing. Talk about stress give me a good funeral do anytime.


A busy Saturday morning and it gets to 9.30 and I need the loo and so it's a two mile dash to Fell St public toilets. I get there and three or four other drivers are already there standing outside the locked loos and swearing at the locked doors. I don’t know the reason they were shut but the ancestry of the attendants was traced and cursed back to the Stone Age. They were shut for the rest of the morning and tell you what it’s hard driving with your legs crossed.

Friday, May 19

Bun Fights

Today was a busy day for funeral runs, not to the actual service but picking people up from the bun fights afterwards. You never know how the drinking afterwards will affect the mood of the fare and so I am always careful not to say too much until I have gauged how they are. Four jobs from three funeral do’s today and they all seemed to have had a drink and a laugh and enjoyed themselves. I think it’s something to do with the tension leading up to the funeral and the relief when it’s all over, and they can loosen the black ties have a fag and renew old friendships and reminisce with seldom seen relatives.

Thursday, May 18


My passenger was a young lass of about eighteen and she looked as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. Where too I asked "Dalton” she replied and so off we went, as we got close to Dalton I asked her whereabouts she would like to be dropped at. “The lacquer knacker” she said “never heard of that “I said it’s a pub she said, 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, must be a local Dalton thing.

Wednesday, May 17

Free Samples

My day off today and so I had a wonder to the visiting French market which is being held in the town square and quite a good one it was too. Two of the local professional cider tasters (alcoholics) were wondering round and I overheard them at various stalls asking for free samples, the French stallholders wisely decided to forget any English they knew. They seemed to quickly remember it again when paying customers needed serving.
Couldn’t help but notice that the fairly new stone paving is loose and dangerous in places, why this is I don’t know because the square is not overused a lot of my passengers complain that it’s like a wind tunnel. If these expensive surfaces are used surely they must be kept maintained, but I find the same in a lot of areas of the town centre, grants are used to put down these surfaces and then they haven’t the money to maintain them.

Tuesday, May 16

Hot Brick

First job for me this morning was a trip down to Manchester airport to collect a fare. Before I got the job three or four drivers threw it back like a hot brick when it was offered to them. This was because the job was to collect someone from the airport and there’s always the risk of a delayed flight or even a no pick-up leading to a two hundred mile wild goose chase. Luckily I recognised the name of the fare and so knew it was genuine. The guy had the good sense to arrange to be picked up from one of the airport hotels (what a stroke of genius) and this made it really easy to find and collect him from one of the countries busiest airports.
He had flown in from Australia via Singapore which is a heck of a long flight and one I wouldn’t fancy myself but he seemed quite chirpy but I guess the jet lag will hit him soon enough.

Monday, May 15


Aww how sweet you say, yes but after the fifth or sixth time of being held up that's not what I say.


I had a chav couple in the back of the cab today and I couldn't help but overhear the 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 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 yeh" and she looks at him all admiringly and is gob smacked at him for solving the world's food crisis.

Sunday, May 14

Wrong Man

Had to laugh at the story about the London cabbie who suffered an awkward few moments of fame when the BBC mistook him for a computer expert and interviewed him live on the News 24 channel.
The real expert was Guy Kewney, a journalist specialising in computer issues who had been invited to comment on Apple Computer's legal battle with Apple Corps. Awaiting his moment in a back room of the BBC studios last Monday, Kewney glanced idly at the television and was astonished to see that the presenter was supposedly already interviewing him.
But the uneasy-looking black man on the screen bore no resemblance to the bearded, ginger pundit, though he was doing his best to answer questions.
In fact, this 'expert' was the taxi driver who had come to collect Kewney after his interview. But as soon as he had arrived at the BBC building, an excitable assistant had bundled him into the studio and equipped him with a clip-on microphone before he had a chance to protest.

Saturday, May 13

Strawberry Jam

I see that the men with clipboards have been "adjusting” Barrows Strawberry lights at the Junction of Abbey Rd and Hawcoat Lane. They are now nearly as bad as the last set of lights at the White House that they "improved" with long delays at peak times. Why don't they just leave these things alone whilst they are working alright? It fills me with dread when I read that they also want to "improve” Barrows busiest junction at the Astra lights they might as well make Abbey road a pedestrian route and have done with it.

Friday, May 12


Women at a nuclear plant claim that they are being discriminated against - over their underwear.
Some of the female staff at the Sellafield site in Cumbria many of whom are from Barrow go in and out of potentially hot (radioactive) areas.
But while those employed by British Nuclear Group are entitled to an annual underwear allowance of £70, those brought in by agencies are not. At the same time, under a 30-year-old union deal, every man at the plant is entitled to both boxer-style briefs and vests.
One female agency worker wrote in her local newspaper on the ''hot pants'' issue: "Males, whether they are contractor or agency, are provided with underwear. Surely this is discrimination."

Floral flannel

I spotted this van today and the sign writing tells me that they are called Efflorerescence. Now that's a mouthful in any language but then they tell us they are into Floral Architecture I wonder what on earth that is. We used to call them florists but as my Mother used to say if you call it something fancy you can charge twice the price.

Thursday, May 11


I see the ball has started rolling with the local Tesco supermarket expansion, lots of construction gear is arriving on site. It seems to me that Tesco has been riding roughshod over local planning for years now. To start with we had a rather nice local brick and slate building complete with clock tower this was destroyed when they imposed a cheap nasty grey steel box and called it an improvement. How on earth this was passed I will never know what an eyesore next they decided that it was OK for them to attach advertising banners to railings on the highway, if anyone else did this they would be ripped down and the offender sent the bill for doing so. It has been five years as I know of since we have been promised improvements to this junction and another entrance to the estate dominated by Tesco and here we are with another expansion started and not a sign of any road works. Obviously, this expansion will attract even more traffic to this shambolic bottle neck. It should have been a condition of planning permission that the road works were carried out before any expansion.

Tuesday, May 9


I took a guy round to the Court building today and he had a bag packed and his stereo with him. Are you off somewhere I asked little thinking that he would reply" yes I'm going to jail". Maybe not I said you may get off yet, no he said, "I have been found guilty already and this is for sentencing 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.

Monday, May 8


I took a guy through to Ulverston today and he was telling me that he was in the army and had recently returned from a tour in Iraq. He told me that 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 they no longer keep 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.


Spotted this beauty today whilst at the garage, it's an early 1960/s Morris Traveler

Sunday, May 7


I pick up quite a few door supervisors or bouncers as they are known locally, and have no problems with them they all seem nice chaps. But I had to laugh when I read about the new dress code which is being introduced by local authorities the nearest being Lancashire. That means we in Cumbria won't be far behind I wonder how the local boys will react when they hear I don’t think they will be amused but saying that they seldom are. Police want bouncers to ditch their traditional uniform of a tuxedo and long, black overcoat, in favour of less menacing, high-visibility clothing. Door staff say the fluorescent jackets, waistcoats and bibs, which have already been introduced in some parts of the country, undermine their tough-guy image, make it harder to do their job and leave them open to ridicule. Cheryl Hall, from Lads UK, a trade association that represents more than 750 door staff, said: "Our members get a lot of derogatory comments when wearing this clothing. They get called Bob the Builder and people ask where their lollipop sticks are.

Saturday, May 6

Made up

Picked up three passengers this morning and they all had garish eye make up on and lots of glitter and blusher. 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 too Ulverston. I had 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 getting lots of amused looks from passers-by.

Keswick to Barrow

It was the Keswick to Barrow walk today and it seemed to be the biggest event yet. It was amazing to see people actually arriving back running just after 10 am. I picked a few walkers up later in the day they were tired but justifiably jubilant at having completed the full tortuous forty mile route. Heroes’ every last one of them full credit to them. Pity about the lack of a proper taxi pickup point 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 underway 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.
The Commercial Department of Vickers heard of this challenge and joined in the walk making it a three-cornered contest with the crew from HMS Resolution.
The Crew of HMS Resolution finally won the contest in the face of severe competition.”

Friday, May 5


Loads of pretty girls 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, it’s definitely spring.

Red Boat


A really nice day today the first of many we hope. Lots of folks were loaded up with beer, wine and meat for barbeques when I picked them up from the supermarkets. But what’s a barbecue other than an excuse to have loads to drink with food burnt outside and raw inside. You can kill two birds with one stone, food poisoning and a hangover all at the same time.

Wednesday, May 3


A lady who I pick up now and again asked me what the time was, I told her 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 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.


You just can't get the staff nowadays

Tuesday, May 2

Astute Bit

I think I would be a bit nervous going round corners driving this.
It's a small piece of an Astute submarine.


I took a guy out to Baycliff today and on the way out down the coast road, we came across a beat up looking car parked 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 staring 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.

Monday, May 1

Dud Tip

A guy I picked up today never tips so I was 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!