Sunday, December 31

The Strand

This morning at 9am I was stopped at a red light on Barrows Strand, it was raining and I had a drunk in the back of the cab who couldn't manage a full sentence; and it was raining. Then three hours later at 12am I was stopped at a red light on the Strand in the shadow of Liverpool's liver building, the radio was playing the Beatles's "Let it be"and the sun was shining. I could see the mouths of the drivers and passengers of the cars in front and either side singing the words to the song in perfect time. What a contrast, but what was I doing in the Beatles home town on a new eve years morning? Well truth is I was taking time out. I had taken a guy down to Liverpool's John Lennon airport, he was going home too he told me "the heel on the boot of Italy" The way he described it, it sounds a bit like Barrow "remote and hard to get to with bad roads and locals who speak a dialect others can't understand". When I asked him what he thought of Barrow he told me " very nice, but the girls they not wear much clothes when they go out". Well can't argue with that," maybe they are tough" he said "or maybe they are daft" I replied. And so after a nice trip down with my Italian friend I decided to detour back via Liverpool centre down past the Albert Dock and Maritime Museum, the town centre of Liverpool must be the biggest building site in the UK, when it's finished they say it will be spectacular,which to me sounds like a good excuse for a trip down there later on in 2007.

Saturday, December 30

Tesco Value

It seems that Barrow's latest set of new traffic light's at the new Tesco junction have been financed by Tesco themselves. What a pity that they seem to have installed the Tesco value, economy model ,traffic lights. Most traffic light controlled junctions for a lot of years now have had sensors built into the road which gave priority to main road traffic and only changed the lights when needed. Not so this junction pity they didn't spend that extra few bob and save local drivers from fuming at the unnecessary delays caused by these lights turning red even when no other traffic is waiting. This seems to be driving some drivers to distraction, especially in the rush hours when it is causing long delays. Then we have the ludicrous situation of having another set of traffic lights within a hundred yards, which because they are only used by a private company (BAE) should have been removed altogether or made part time and only used at their start and finish times. Then we seem to have run out of cash altogether and the nice new two lane highway abruptly ends and goes down to one lane, or is this just to test our brakes and reactions.

Friday, December 29

Sick Parrot

Need a tux for your parrot or a diaper for your goose or maybe just a feather protector for the cockatoo. Try here:

Thursday, December 28

Time and Motion

One of our local Taxi drivers, who shall remain nameless, picked a fare up from a local nightclub going to Dalton. She gets in the car and asks if its double time with it being boxing day and he confirmed yes and thought no more about it. It wasn't till they got to Dalton and £14.20p was on the meter and he was just about to ask for the fare when she said "Don`t worry I can work this one out for myself." then she casually handed him £30 and said keep the change. He was about to explain that the fare was only £14.20 when she said "IS that OK, I know its double rate so there's £14.20 on the meter so if I double that then its £28.40p, Here's £30 I know its not much of a tip but you deserve it working over Christmas"
At the beginning of the journey when she asked him if it was double time the dizzy lass must have assumed the fare would be double what the meter said. I`m not saying whether he corrected her or not.
And another one from the same driver on the same night, he had picked a tipsy young lass up from the rank and was taking her to Hindpool. She was asking how the meters worked and he explained that the fares are set by the town hall. She then asked if it made any difference when the clocks went back or forward an hour and he scratched his head and replied that" no it didn't." He was speechless when she then she asked if the meters stopped working if the town hall clock stopped.
When he said to her the town hall, he meant that the fares were was set by the people that work there and not the actual clock.

Wednesday, December 27

Morecambe BayTragedy

A tragedy seems to be unfolding in Morecambe bay I am listening live to coastguard and air sea rescue. So far one person has been reported missing and six bodies have been recovered from the site where the helicopter has crashed on it's way to a gas rig in Morecambe Bay from Blackpool airport. Our local lifeboat has just reported finding large pieces from the tail section of the helicopter. With lot's of local people working offshore on these gas rigs, including some I know, this is a worrying time for all concerned.

Will it Blend

Monday, December 25

Two Dinners

Christmas day was for me was just another working day, the alternative was dinner at the mother in laws which I think I considered for about ten seconds. Someone's got to do it and besides I only worked for six hours, a nice quiet day just ferrying people round visiting their relatives and back and forth from restaurant's. Two or three kid's I picked up were having two Christmases, one at each parents house, great they said, but not the two huge competing Christmas dinner's they were expected to eat. This year I never had anyone moaning about the fares being double, and I should think not either, everyone else when they work a holiday expects double time and so why not your taxi driver. ; Oh just joking about the ma in law, honest!

Sunday, December 24

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve morning and the first few fares I picked up asked to be taken to a supermarket, thinking that they were going to get an early start with last minute Christmas shopping. None of them believed me when I told them that the stores didn't open until ten and eleven o'clock," but it's Christmas eve" they said "yes and it's a Sunday too" I explained. Some had lost track of the days with it being a holiday period, but others thought that the law should be changed to allow them to shop 24/7 every week of the year. Later on in the day I had a call to pickup at Furness Generals casualty dept, my fare was a young mother who fell whilst dancing with her seasonally overexcited son. She had managed to break her arm, but couldn't have it put in plaster because no plaster technician was available until after the holiday's. But from what she told me, even though it was only early evening vital medical staff were being tied up dealing with aggressive drunks and other time wasters. I say that we should charge anyone the full going rate, for any injuries they inflict upon themselves whilst drunk or drugged, and then perhaps we could afford to pay the plaster technician his vital overtime. And the last job of the day I couldn't help but overhear a couple in the back plotting how to open up their Christmas crackers and and get rid of any noisy gifts before before the kids pulled them. ( the picture is of the first upside down Christmas tree I have spotted, this is in the foyer of Abbey house)

Saturday, December 23

Eve and Sprouts

Will somebody please tell the DJ,s on our local radio station(Abbey FM) that there's no such thing as Christmas Eve Eve. They have driven me mad today, I thought at first that they had all developed a speech impediment, but no apparently this is their idea of a modern term of speech. The shops and supermarkets were crazy today and apart from a few hungover leftovers from black eye Friday that's all I seemed to pick up all day. You wouldn't believe the amount of stuff some people were cramming into the boot of my cab, the boot is huge but still some had to resort to filling the back seats as well. Some passengers told me of gaps starting to appear on shelves and and no doubt this will lead to the usual fighting over the last bag of sprouts. The other trade which I noticed was very busy was the car washes, big queues for all of them. Are they treating the car for Christmas? or could it be the huge amounts of rock salt which Cumbria Council have kindly spread over our roads. What a waste ,what with not a sign of ice or snow round here, are they watching the weather forecast for somewhere else? or are they just on commission from the road grit suppliers. ( the driver of the car pictured, which was parked on a Barrow St this morning must have been following the gritter all night)

Friday, December 22

Black Eye Friday 06

Well another fun filled black eye Friday, which for those who don't know is what the Friday when most people finish work for the Christmas holidays is nicknamed, they tend to finish work early about lunch time and they then head straight down to the pub for a long boozy session. They keep us busy shuffling them from pub to pub, and as the day wears on they get the worse for wear. It gets to about four p.m and then I start to pick some of them up to go home, and they are telling me what a good night they have had, they are convinced that because it's dark that it must be late at night. Then some want you to book a taxi for them in an hour or two's time, "because they are going back out again after a shower or meal" and you just know that in ten minute's time they will be fast asleep and snoring. Once a year drunks I call them the worst kind because they aren't used to it, they take ages to get out of the car because you are their new best friend and they want to tell you their life story many times over, very slowly.

Thursday, December 21

Foggy Days

We seem to be escaping the worst of the blanket of fog which is covering the rest of the UK, but it's still very grey and dismal. With hundreds of flights being canceled and delayed Christmas may be a tough time for travelers. Still it's the shortest day today so we can look forward to the days being lighter for two or three minutes more each day.

Wednesday, December 20

Eureka 2

More weird and wacky ideas taken from actual patent applications , this time for flag devices to hail a taxi, I wonder how much these never to be heard of again devices cost to get patented and how much was earned from sales. (click to enlarge images)

Call Me

One of my passenger's was telling me that she worked in a directory enquiry's call centre today, and I thought to myself wow that must be boring. Are you working over the Christmas holidays I asked, "yes I drew the short straw" she said "I will be working right through". "That must be a drag" I replied" no one will need to find numbers then surely." How wrong I was, apparently this is one of the busiest times of the year. A lot of people when they are off work and are perhaps mellowed by one or two drinks start to get a little sentimental about long lost family members and old friends. They then spend hours on the phone chasing up names and addresses that they can barely remember and in a lot of cases are long gone. She then went on to tell me of the busy period they get in the late evenings, when young males in particular arrive home from the pub and start to ring them for the number of their local escort service or massage parlour. "Some of them either get angry or very disappointed when told that there's nothing in their area" she hesitated for a minute and then said " and then that's when they start to ask about me where I am and other personal stuff and I end the call" Well this got me interested and lo and behold my next fare also worked in a call centre, this one a travel agents specializing in luxury cruises. After some chat she told me the tale of a regular customer who had booked a cruise with her that day, as he has every December for the past ten years. He always books a double cabin for him and his partner, nothing but the best and no expense spared. Only thing is that it's a different partner of less than half his age every year and he's now seventy eight! Yes I know I'm jealous too.

Tuesday, December 19

Down in The Dumps

Any reader whose granny has just passed away and who can't really afford a decent send-off should ring our local Cumbria County Council which recently issued a permit for one chap to dispose of his deceased grandma's dismembered body parts at the local tip.
Dave Straughton of Workington called the authority for a "waste permit". His description of said garbage as "general domestic waste" did not satisfy the operative at the other end of the line who said Straughton "needed to be more specific".
Straughton explained: "The man on the phone said they couldn't accept that and I wouldn't get a permit unless I could be more precise. They kept pushing me to be more specific. It's crazy - it was just a bit of household rubbish."
Straughton then duly specified he had a guitar and organ to dispose of and, in a fit of pique, "asked if they would accept dismembered body parts in bin bags".
"Amazingly, the council officer asked if that was what I was taking, replied okay and put the phone down."
When the permit turned up a few days later, it read: "The following waste can be disposed: Guitar, Organ, Grandma's dismembered body parts in bin bags."
A Cumbria County Council statement explained that Straughton "first applied for a van permit to take rubbish to the Clay Flatts household waste recycling centre.
"Mr Straughton made it clear that he was not a supporter of the [waste permit] scheme and, when asked for a description of the waste he intended to bring to site, he replied: some old musical instruments and dismembered body parts of his grandma in bin bags. Our call centre operative challenged this description, but Mr Straughton insisted this was the wording he wanted to appear on his permit.
"Regrettably, the permit was issued with this wording included. The following day this was discovered by management, investigated, and the operative was dismissed. We then wrote to Mr Straughton to apologise and issued him with a revised permit."
For those of you wondering why Cumbria's residents need a permit to turn up at the local tip with granny's remains, we should explain that the council reckons "waste being dumped at centres across the county has gone down by over 20 per cent" since the scheme's inception, leading to savings of "several hundred thousand pounds each year"
Recycling has, on the other hand, increased, so if your local council decides that dead relatives should not be disposed of at the local dump, try composting granny at the end of the garden.

Monday, December 18

That Eureka Moment

There have been some weird and wonderful designs for taxi's over the years, this is only a few of the many which people have tried to patent over the years. They date from 1922.1924 and 1953 (click to enlarge.)

Sunday, December 17

Bouncer Wars

Bouncer war's broke out at a Barrow town centre nightclub on Saturday night, with the result that police actually shut the place down. Local door staff turned up for work as usual at Barrow's Scorpio nightclub only to be confronted by new bouncers shipped in from Newcastle, who told them that they were to replace the local staff. This led to arguments and scuffles throughout the night and culminated in an all out fight, with some witness's telling me that baseball bats and hatchets were being brandished. Some innocent clubbers were caught up in the violence and this led to the police attending in force and the club being evacuated. This coincides with the news that a businessman from Newcastle has bought from the receivers, the town centre hotel and nightclub chain started by local Rick Lucas , which includes Scorpio. I wonder if this is a coincidence or are we to look forward to more of this imported mayhem and violence. After the chequered history of this portfolio of now run down clubs and hotels maybe Barrow officials should be taking a closer look at this outfit before they transfer any licences to them.

Saturday, December 16

Bleary Eyes

Quite a few mornings this last week I have had jobs which took me down the many narrow rural lanes which surround Barrow. And It's been the same story every morning, lots of extra traffic all busily avoiding the main roads into town. The first time I come across this I wondered why would they all be down these back lanes, are the main roads blocked, has there been an accident. But early the next morning it was just as busy, and when I slowed to let traffic pass in some of the single track sections the truth became apparent. Bloodshot bleary eyes struggling to focus and the way they struggled to get through the adequate gap told me that a lot of these drivers had been to the firms Christmas party the previous night. The back lanes are being used as a rat run to try and avoid the police spotting them on the main routes and breathalysing them. Most of these fine upstanding citizens would have booked taxi's or arranged transport to take them home the previous night, and yet here they are taking exactly the same risks and breaking the same laws the next morning. The fact is that it's the next day when most drivers are caught and prosecuted, and going down the back lanes is not the safe option, you never know you may bump into another drunk driver. Come on folks get a lift or better still get a taxi.

Thursday, December 14


Some may find this image shocking or even offensive, but that just shows that we live in a different world from the one in which the cartoonist lived eighty seven years ago in 1919. Most of the young folk back then, like generations before them, had never left their native town or village until being sent as cannon fodder to the trenches of Belgium and France during the great war. Most had never seen a coloured face before then and racism was something which was taught to them by the US troops they fought alongside. And before the PC brigade start shouting at me I am not and never have been racist. When you look at his clothes and cane I wonder maybe whether the artist was insulting the upper class as much as the race. I think you just have to accept that this was part of our history and not try to gloss it over or airbrush it out. Which I have seen done with some of our great figures from history lately, such as Winston Churchill losing his trademark cigar or De-Gaulle his cigarette. Hey maybe I should have airbrushed out the cigar! The picture is taken from one of the autograph books I wrote of on Thursday 7th in Forgotten Treasures
(Those with a strong stomach can click to enlarge and read the text.)

Wednesday, December 13


Last year taxi drivers handed out free condoms to late-night passengers as part of a sexual health project.
Some 60,000 condoms were available as part of the Safe Ride Home scheme in East Sussex. Supported by boxer Chris Eubank, it was operated by Brighton-based Radio Cabs after 2200 BST on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Former WBO super-middleweight champion Eubank, who lives in Hove, said: "I think this will encourage the young people of Brighton to have fun, but also behave responsibly. A spokesman for the contraceptive manufacturer Trojan, who provided the condoms for the scheme, said young people often found themselves on a night out without any condoms, leading them to take risks. By making them available on the way home means there should not be any excuses, he added. Chris Nutely, co-owner of Radio Cabs, said "We look after thousands of passengers every week, mostly young people out socialising at night. "If we can help make a difference then we're more than happy to help." If the Bristol drunks are anything like our local drunks in Barrow, I should think that the majority of the condoms ended being used in the party trick which is popular amongst local lads. This involves pulling the condom over the head and face and then blowing it up till it bursts. Yes daft I know but that's what drink does for you!

Tuesday, December 12

Gift Ideas

Looking for that last minute gift idea? Here's a few suggestions.

This unlikely Bacon Air Freshener is the perfect way to brighten any carnivore's day. Put one up in the family room and everyone will have a sudden craving for a BLT. Each has a handy string for hanging and measures about 4" tall.

And now one for the more spiritual amongst us.
Did you ever consider that the shrieking buzz that comes from your alarm clock is really the voice of Satan straight from the pits of Hell? No wonder you wake up grumpy! Well, this 8" x 4" plastic alarm clock will lull you awake with the Lord's Prayer in song form. It doesn't come with batteries, but it will surely charge your days with plastic pre-recorded religious power.

Windup Hopping Lederhosen

Lederhosen, which literally means "leather pants," are a traditional folk costume worn mostly in the mountainous regions of Bavaria and Austria. They are a happy sort of short trouser that love music and dance. So next time you have cause for celebration or revelry, wind up these 3", hard plastic folkpants and watch them hop about! After all, what good is a party without Lederhosen?

And last but not least here's one for the kids.

Monday, December 11


You know the scenario, you or your partner will be guilty of this one!. The guilty party is watching TV with the remote in their hand and off they nod, fast asleep and soon they are snoring loudly. You do the kind thing and gently go to take the remote from them to switch off the TV, and every time they will jump up and shout "I was watching that" and snatch back the remote only to fall asleep again within seconds. Another driver Billy, who works mainly at night was telling me about his partner Jen, who takes this to a whole new level. Both being heavy sleepers they have a heavy duty industrial strength alarm clock, which Bill tells me can be heard from outside on the street. Bill had gone home for a short break at 4am in the morning, and could hear the alarm as he got out of his taxi, thinking that something must be wrong he rushed up the stairs only to find Jen fast asleep and snoring. Breathing a sigh of relief he reached across and switched off the infernal din , only for Jen to sit bolt upright and shout at him "hey I was listening to that"

Sunday, December 10

Weekend Millionares

It was the last pay cheque for lot's of folk before Christmas, and boy can they not wait to spend it. They all seem to become what I call "weekend millionaires" and we get busy as a result, it's taxi's everywhere and they can't seem to wait to get rid of the cash that's burning a hole in their pockets. All weekend I will be struggling to change crisp new twenty pound notes as they rush down to the shops or pubs in the headlong pursuit of spend , spend, spend. And then after a week or so it's back to grim reality, and waiting for buses in the pouring rain. Then instead on crisp new notes it's back to small change, and even smaller tips. As I say every year I can tell when we get close to Christmas by the old lasses moaning that "they'll be glad when it's all over and done with". You know if it was left up to us fellas, Christmas would be very different, for one thing the shop's and supermarkets would go bankrupt and the brewery owners would be million's of pounds richer. It's the women who make all the fuss and end up getting stressed about it all, us blokes would just go down the pub for a pie and a pint.

Friday, December 8

Seal Sighting

You can't help but notice how much cleaner Walney channel has become in the last few years, not many years back Ferry beach was covered with a smelly slimy sludge and was not a place to linger long. But now the stopping of sewage discharge and tightening of emissions from local industry seem to be paying off. For the first time ever when I was parked on Walney Island's Promenade early this morning I was able to watch a seal basking on a sandbank and then swimming out toward open water. Wow I was spellbound, I had heard of seals on Walney's southern tip near the bird sanctuary but have never heard of them in the channel before.

Thursday, December 7

Forgotten Treasures

Today I went up the attic, as as lot of us do at this time of year, to dig the Christmas decorations out. And as usual whilst I was up there I had a root about, you know the story, long forgotten old photos "did I really dress like that"and "what was that drunk at the party called". Then from a box in a dark corner I pulled out two dusty old leather bound books with "Autographs" printed in gold leaf on the covers. Now when we see an autograph book we think of a collection of signatures of pop or sport stars, but these books date from 1912- 1930 and the idea back then was for friends, family and acquaintances to write a verse, draw a picture or cartoon. "So what" you may say, but what I find special about one of the books in particular is that a lot of the entry's are finished with "somewhere in France" and "on active service" obviously written by first world war soldiers fighting in the trenches and battlefields of France. I wonder if Horace Dickinson survived the war, he wrote on sept 16th 1915 " Our way is not perhaps the best, but if our aims are high, our disappointments are lest , and not to cause our hope to die" he was from Bolton but on active service in France. I have added a couple of picture from the books, as usual click to enlarge and if anybody wants to see more just say so in the comment box.

Wednesday, December 6

Di's Death Limo for Sale

THE owner of the Mercedes in which Princess Diana died wants to sell the wreck for £1million.
Jean Francois Musa has begun a legal battle to get the limo shipped back to France. And he wants compensation for the nine years British police have kept it while investigating Princess Di's death.
The mangled car was shipped from Paris to England after the tragic crash on 31 August, 1997, for vital forensic tests.
But now that the long running case is coming to a close. Mr Musa, the owner of Etoile Limousines which rented Ritz hotel boss Mohamed al Fayed the car, has begun legal proceedings to reclaim it.
He said: "It is an exceptional wreck - like the one James Dean died in." "We were told it was worth at least £1million, it belongs to us.
Now I want to sell it, we've been told a lot of people would pay a fortune for that wreck."
"We have never had any firm inquiries about it, but people have spoken to me about how much it could be worth." His lawyer, Jean-Luc Marchand is submitting an application to the Chambre D'Instruction Court Appel in Paris for the Mercedes to be returned to him. The appeal is due to begin next month.
"They don't know what they are going to do with it once their investigation is completed. We should be reimbursed at least for the money we have lost. They kept it and have not given us any money, it was not our fault."
"This is unfair, it is not justice and for me it does not seem legal. All this is just because we did not request the car early enough - but we felt it was right to wait." Met Police are thought to have the car garaged at a traffic investigation depot in South East London. Former Met Police Commissioner Lord Stevens is set to publish the report of his three-year investigation into the crash on December 14, when he's expected to conclude it was an accident - despite many theories that Diana was murdered.

Tuesday, December 5

Tesco,Stable Door

From what the local Tesco supermarket staff I pick-up tell me it seems that Tesco are shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. After embarrassing security CCTV found it's way onto the Internet a few weeks back security has been drastically increased. But staff are unhappy about being subjected to compulsory searches as they leave the store. This is leading to staff being delayed, leaving work by up to thirty minutes and outrage by some female staff having to be searched by male security staff. This my source tells me is due to a female security staff shortage. If staff request being searched by a member of the same sex they are told they will have to wait, leading to even more delays in leaving for home. Obviously the security problem was caused by the security staff themselves, so who watches the watchers?

Monday, December 4


You couldn't drive down a street in Barrow today without falling over a TV crew, here to stand in the rain with the docks in the background interviewing folk. This was of course about Tony Blair's world's worst kept secret, his announcement that the Trident nuclear submarines were to be replaced Mr Blair said between £15bn and £20bn would be spent on new submarines to carry the Trident missiles. All good news for Barrow of course, no doubt they will be built here and this means job security for a lot's of years to come. I have noticed that even some of our long time local taxi drivers are being tempted back into the shipyard, some going back after an absence of ten or fifteen years. This is because of the lure of a regular pay check, which is not a thing you can count on in the taxi trade, one week it will be steak and the next sausage.

Sunday, December 3


What a nightmare first thing on Sunday morning pouring down with rain ,pitch black and blowing a gale and having to pick up all the plants and stuff that had blown over during the night, before starting work. I wasn't looking forward to driving round all day in the high winds, but thought that things would be quiet, surely nobody would be daft enough to venture out in this storm. How wrong I was it turned into one of the busiest days for months, folk just weren't going to miss out on their weekend pilgrimage to the supermarkets. The roads were choc-a-bloc with cars all merrily dodging the falling debris which included roof tiles, wood, hoardings and even trees. One driver must have had a terrible shock when three storeys of scaffolding crashed down on his car, leading to the first road closure of the day. Later the whole of the main retail park was brought to a standstill with more road closures caused by the roof of the Tesco petrol station starting blow off.

Saturday, December 2

NZ BlackCab

And this solves the mystery of the black cab which has been spotted driving around New Zealand. This is taken from an e-mail Kristina sent telling me about the cab she and her husband have imported for private use.

"I have included a couple of pictures of the cab he shipped over although he has since had the advertising taken off and the old girl spruced up a bit she's now nude lol....
He was never a taxi driver (he was a Tiler! ! ! ) but he owned a cab (same one) in the UK as he loved driving them to work as there was space in the front where passenger seat usually is for his tools and stuff and he could still keep back nice to use as family vehicle. It was quite amusing the amount of people that used to try to flag him down... Plus he got away with only one vehicle instead of two ! ! !
"He loves them although I must admit, in NZ you kinda feel like being in a goldfish bowl riding in the back. He is toying with the idea of hiring the taxi out now and again for wedding etc. but we'll see. Thing is anytime she breaks down, we send to UK for parts so unless you have a couple of vehicles one as a backup (although she rarely breaks down I must admit) I don't feel its too viable at the moment."

Friday, December 1


This morning I picked up a schoolteacher going to work at one of our local schools, and on the way there she asked to stop at a corner shop. A few minutes later she emerged carrying what she told me was her breakfast, this consisted of a bag of crisps and a chocolate bar. Well talk about double standards, our kids are constantly taught about healthy eating and the need to eat a balanced diet, perhaps that's what they mean by balanced a choccy bar in one hand and a bag of crisps in the other. I guess it's something some of our teachers may have in common with some of the health care professionals I pickup, a lot of these people are overweight and rank as some of the biggest drinkers and smokers in the town. I guess with these folk who should know better that it's a case of do as I say and not as I do.