Monday, July 31


I took a Spanish lady down to the Conishead Priory today, she was telling me that she had travelled over from Madrid and that she was attending the big Buddhist festival that is being held down there. When we entered the priory it was like an instant town had sprung up with mobile loos and a huge camp site, apparently up to three thousand people are attending this festival at the Manjushri Centre. I don’t think people in Barrow realise just what a world centre for Buddhism this is complete with the Kadampa world peace centre and the huge events held right on our doorstep with people visiting from all over the world spending money on hotels and food mainly in Ulverston. Maybe we should be promoting the area to them whilst they are here with free transport into Barrow and tours of the area and lots of multilingual flyers.

Sunday, July 30


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!

Saturday, July 29

Goth Game

We had our first bit of rain in what seems like weeks today, this soon cleared the streets and kept us busy. Being a Saturday afternoon the usual flock of Goths were moping in the town square in front of the forum. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went past when the rain was at its heaviest there was a gaggle of Goths playing football, now for a group of people who abhor any form of physical activity this seemed really strange (breathing usually stresses them too much) I even thought I saw one smile. But when I passed later after the rain had stopped things were back to normal they were back in the shadows hiding from the light and looking suitably suicidal again.

Fishing Fleet

What remains of Barrows fishing fleet not that it was ever a large one.

Friday, July 28

Operator's Lament

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.


Thursday, July 27

Driving Test

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.

Wednesday, July 26


On my day off I had a wonder up to South Lakes Wild Animal Park which is only five miles away in Dalton. It still amazes me that most of the visitors are from out of the area travelling hundreds of miles to see the top visitor attraction in the Lake District, and yet most local folk especially those from Barrow just don’t seem to be able to drag themselves the five miles up the road. There’s just no excuse especially with the half price admission for locals offer that they run in conjunction with local stores. Every time I visit more has been added and improved and you have to agree with the name its not a zoo it really is a wild life park where animals are kept in conditions as near as possible to the wild even to the extent off speakers playing the sounds of their natural habitat and food being hidden or animals being made to climb to reach it. Come on folks get off your butts and go and get to see wild animals up close and dirty. Ooh and it's only £6 in a taxi to get there from Barrow.

Tuesday, July 25

Vickers Fortnight

It’s been very quiet round here this week and I was wondering what was up with the trade, and then it dawned on me that it’s the old Vickers fortnight.

Despite many changes of name and ownership over the year’s local folk still persist in calling the shipyard, Vickers. Many years ago during the annual fortnight’s holiday the place used to shut down, and so did all the other local businesses, leaving the town virtually a ghost town. Even though this is a relic of the past and they no longer shut up shop folk seem to stick with the original Vickers fortnight to take holidays. Younger people wouldn’t know what you were talking about if you said Vickers fortnight to them but because their parents used to holiday at this time they seem to follow in the tradition.

Sunday, July 23

Road Block

Not too long ago Cumbria County Council acquired a big lump of our local dockland for redevelopment. Nothing wrong with that I’m all for progress but today when I had a pickup down in the docks area I was startled to see that signs have gone up to tell us that it is now private land and that we have no access or right of way. What a damn cheek the people of Barrow have always had access to the docklands and there have been rights of way going across them for as long as living memory. I thought that they were going to develop the land for the people of Barrow, not steal it from them. Is this an indication of how they mean to go on, maybe the waterside housing estate they talk of developing is going to be exclusively for offcomers and will have security guards manning the gates to keep, us local yokels out.

Friday, July 21

Dress Senseless

Now you may not believe this but the taxi drivers of 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.

Wednesday, July 19

The Big Plan

I see that plans have been unveiled to overhaul part of Barrows road system, now some of it I like, particularly the right turn into Rawlinson St from Abbey Rd being reinstated. But it doesn’t go far enough we have a great opportunity to smooth the flow of traffic on Abbey Rd by getting rid of one or two sets of lights. How about we stop up the Dalton Rd end of Hartington St that would do away with the need for traffic lights there, next we stop up the Abbey Rd end of Cheltenham St (it’s only a bottleneck with parked cars anyway) and maybe put in a mini roundabout. Or am I being cynical in thinking maybe it’s not about making things easier for the motorist at all! Whatever they do it will lead to lots of confused motorists scratching their heads for a month or two.

The End Result

And the end result is Barrow taken back in time to the war-torn 1940,s

How It's Done

A view of how it's all done from behind the scenes.

The Motors

Some of the vehicles used in the production of what I now know is to be called Housewife 49

Market Scene

Victoria Wood stars in a scene featuring a street market in Barrow.

Victoria Wood

Tuesday, July 18

Red Light Fever

The new traffic lights at the junction of Abbey Rd and Dalkeith St are up and running now, not that some people have noticed. I have counted at least four near misses now as people drive straight through the red lights without even noticing that they are there. Maybe it’s because they have been driving that route for so long that they do it on autopilot, and since there are no signs to say that we have a new set of lights they just don’t notice. I have found that if you are unlucky enough to hit every one of the seven sets of lights on red at junctions and crossings it can now take up to sixteen minutes from Tesco roundabout till the last set of lights at the Strawberry. This is to cover the grand distance of one and a half miles, this takes us back to the times of the horse and cart makes me wonder what with today’s fuel prices it might be worth thinking about investing in a horse drawn cab. Do you have to stop at the red lights I wonder and can the traffic warden ticket a horse?

Monday, July 17

Nella Last

I wondered what was going on when I dropped a fare off near Barrows Parade St today, what with a crowd of people in forties dress and cars from the same period. Being the nosey devil that I am I drove round a few times and asked someone what was going on. Turns out that they are making a TV drama based on the true-life wartime diaries of Nella Last and so I will be eagerly waiting for that to appear on TV. It was great to see how they recreated the forties for the day by covering the road markings and even painting doors and covering up modern features on people’s houses, even Duddons tyre depot became Vickers shipyard for the day. I read a few extracts of Nella diaries on the BBC website and think I will try to find a copy of the book.
Here an extract
"Wednesday 7 May: Nella heard that a friend was killed in a bombing raid on Barrow.
Poor Kathleen has gone - went the other night in that direct hit in Hawcoat Lane. I'm not a melting woman but I felt for one split second that I'd melt and pour out of my clothes. Kathie Thompson - the sweetest and most loveable and only 21 now. We are, indeed, all in the firing line.
There were public shelters in Barrow for only 3,500 people - out of a population of 70,000. As a direct result of the Blitz, 83 people were killed and 330 injured; 10,000 houses were damaged."

Parade St

Notice the thirties bike and the gas mask box all bits that add authenticity

Sunday, July 16


Here's one from Peggy in Cumbria it's a view from the other side of the fence about how so-called taxi drivers tried to rip her off in Eygpt.

Saturday, July 15

Brown Eyes

I 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. Yes you’ve guessed it out runs the dog straight in front, 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 the rather 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 OK 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.

Friday, July 14


I was coming back through the village of Urswick and braked hard when I thought I saw a burglar in action and in broad daylight at that. When I stopped and looked a bit closer I realised that it was a dummy, this had me baffled for a while until I spied, even more dummies in all sorts of odd places and then a notice which solved the mystery. Apparently, it’s the Urswick scarecrow festival, and the more I looked around the more of these works of art revealed themselves, what a brilliant idea I hope this one goes from strength to strength and I will be taking time out this time next year to go scarecrow spotting again.

More scarecrows

Thursday, July 13


I paid a visit to the visiting continental market today; it was set up in the town square right in front of the town hall. Whilst I was there I noticed a TV cameraman filming the scene of the crime which occurred four years ago now seven deaths and one hundred and seventy-two made ill with legionnaire’s disease some of whom may be permanently affected. Yet no one is willing to stand up and say that yes it was their fault, just this endless buck passing and hoping it will all go away.
Four years have passed and maybe it’s working after all its, yesterday’s news now isn’t it? You know it’s not that long ago when town squares such as this would have a gallows and in some country’s they still do. Maybe in place of a memorial we should erect just such a gallows right in the middle of the square in view of the lair of the perpetrators.

Wednesday, July 12

London Cab

The London Taxi is now available in the states, I wonder how many they sell.


This one from Bill is of a drunk who decided to have a rest on a plastic bollard which promptly collapsed.


The back seat of a taxi is one of the worst places to be for exposure to ultrafine particulate pollution, a new study has revealed.
People on buses and those riding bikes are also exposed to a lot of the pollutant, while pedestrians and, ironically, those in private cars, are exposed to the least. Or so says a very unscientific "to me anyway" sounding survey in the New Scientist

Tuesday, July 11

Muck Magnet

As I pulled up outside a house to pick up a fare today I noticed a 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.

Sunday, July 9

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 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 he 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. But still all it took was a call to the office and when he rings next time hard luck the computer won’t send him a cab he’s on the banned list.
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 more sober 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.

Friday, July 7

What Fare Rise?

After a piece appeared in the Evening Mail reporting that taxi fares are to rise by 12.5 % I have had quite a few people moaning to me about this and asking when our fares go up. Well, I for one am sad to report that it doesn’t affect pre-booked or private hire fares, this fare hike is solely for hackney fares from a taxi rank. Passengers from the rank are a small proportion of the total of daily fares and this rise will only benefit a relatively small number of drivers.
In the past private hire rate rises used to follow on the heels of hackney increases but always at a lower rate, this has fallen by the wayside over the last few years due to fierce competition between taxi firms. None of them want to be the first to raise fares for fear that the others may not follow suit. This has left us the poor self-employed drivers as the piggies in the middle with rising fuel prices and ever increasing overheads without a fare increase for more years now than I care to think about. This has to stop its not good for the taxi trade and in the long run its not good for the customers, I’m sure people would rather have small regular fare rises that are in line with inflation rather than at some time in the future have one big fare hike, because that’s what will happen, eventually the piggy in the middle won't want to play anymore.

Thursday, July 6

Easy Stripper

I see another one of our Taxis has been damaged to the tune of £1000 along with other cars in the area. Again the dreaded paint stripper had been used and I wonder when the suppliers of this dangerous chemical cocktail will come to their senses and register the details of the buyers of this stuff voluntarily before they are forced into it by legislation. Apart from the many hundreds of thousands of pound of damage done to cars every year it’s a known fact that this stuff is used as an ingredient in some recipes for home made explosives readily available on the internet. On visiting our local Asda supermarket I was gob smacked to see this lethal stuff on sale actually in an aerosol , just to make it that much easier for our local vandals to use. Great idea eh and all for the bargain price of £5 98p and no proof of age required buy a can and you could be doing thousands of pounds worth of damage in the car park within seconds

Tuesday, July 4

U.S Chavs

. Whilst I was waiting in line for stuff at the theme parks in Florida I amused myself trying to spot the US version of the chav. And I was rewarded with rich pickings, the Latinos, in particular sported lots of vest tops and bling that our local boys would die for big five inch crosses with gold chains thick enough to hold back five frenzied pit bulls. No bare chests though because it’s against the state law for public places in Florida, a lot of folks would like to see that one over here.
It seems to be the practice to have a tattoo on the back of the right shoulder (which was great when I was behind them) always badly drawn and sometimes miss-spelt usually it consisted of their name and someone else's in either a crucifix for the Latinos and something from the occult for others. I hope I’m not being none PC here but why use black ink for a tattoo on black skin I found these hard to read but daren’t put my reading glasses on or they may have taken offence. Never heard any swearing like our local chavs do but then again most seemed to speak Spanish.

Sunday, July 2

We Lost

There seemed to be a mist in the air this morning which smelt very much like barbecued England flags and shirts, then most of my early morning fares insisted on telling me why England lost last night's game. This gets a bit boring after a while so I amused myself counting the pools of broken glass and snapped saplings, which marked the route home of last nights broken hearted soccer fans. Come on guys its only a game.

Latest Crazes

The latest craze with the kid are trainers with wheels which click out of the heels, youngsters were just gliding past as if they were floating on air and as my daughter says they are cool I think maybe they will be big over here for this next Christmas. They are called Heelys and believe it or not one of the biggest suppliers in Europe is right here in Barrow Kate’s Skates of Dalkeith St.
Texting never did catch on the US probably because they don’t get ripped off to the same extent with call charges, what a lot of younger people seem to be using on their mobiles is a system that has just become available over here it’s called PTT. The idea is that your phone acts just like a walkie talkie you select who you want to talk to from a list press a button and that’s it no dialling or waiting connected in under a second, after that its just press to talk and no need to hold your phone to your ear the speaker chirps up when the other person talks. I would use that myself as I am useless at text slang I need a dictionary of textspeak to decipher any texts I get, and as for sending them for me it’s quicker to use voice.

Saturday, July 1


This is the sight that greeted me this morning on one of my first jobs of the day.

What's not changed

I was surprised to see that sheets and blankets are still in widespread use, for years now we seem to have gone over completely to the continental quilt or duvet as we call them. I’m a bit puzzled by this especially in hotels just think of the labour and cost savings that they bring. What with no chip and pin with credit cards security seems to be very poor I was asked to sign even when I was totally blind, that could only have been a scribble and when the wife handed my card over in the pharmacy no one questioned why her name started with Mr on the card. Also, I found myself waiting for doors to open all the time we have got used to automatic sliding doors on nearly every public building in the UK but not so in Florida, I wonder why

Whats Changed

It's been seven years since my last visit to Florida, so let's take a look at what I think has changed in that time. For a start,far less smokers which is a good thing, and alcohol seems to come with a compulsive health warning on the bottle, but I have noticed they are doing this voluntarily on some brands in the UK. Quite a bit less obesity and a lot more lower fat foods on offer. We were having a meal at the Kennedy Space Centre when the boy of six or seven at the next table looked wistfully at another table and said "remember when we used to eat hamburgers mum" then continued picking at his salad. But it's the same as in the UK when you go into the poorer areas the smoking and obesity are still there; I guess fat; sugar and baccy are cheaper than the healthy option. I see they have started to charge for parking in the theme parks now $10 what a cheek, but the motorist has no other choice, talk about a captive market. Cars are definitely getting smaller and lighter and a lot like the so -called Pontiac I was driving seem to be far eastern imports with a US badge stuck on. One big difference was the much tighter security everywhere with bag searches and photos and fingerprints taken at the airport. They had so-called fingerprint scanning at the theme parks with lots sophisticated looking gadgets but when we swapped passes it still let us in so I would suspect that this may just be bluff The main language isn’t English anymore Spanish is rapidly catching up if not taking over in a lot of places with signs in both and more Spanish heard than English.