Friday, March 30


When I picked a couple up from outside one of our edge of town discount shops, the guy was carrying a bag with the stores name printed on it. "Where too" I asked, and this started off a bit of a tiff, she wanted to go straight into town shopping and he insisted that they went home first. He got his own way in the end and we headed off away from town so he could call home first, this cost them four or five pounds more than if they had headed straight into town. And the reason they did this really tickled me, It was because he(yes thats right he not she) didn't want to be seen round town carrying the bag with the discount store name printed on it. This is the first time I've come across a guy worried by this, it's more common with lady passengers, but as usual they always come prepared with their own bags with designer shop names on, to hide the discount store bags inside. On a few occasions I have seen them take the shopping out of the discount shop bag and turn it inside out, to hide the name. A bit later something similar happened, but this happens a lot more often. We had reached the street that my young male passenger said that he wanted dropping off at, instead of giving me a number he pointed to the flashiest car in the street and said "drop me by the BMW". He paid the fare with a nice tip, in keeping with a rich BMW driver, and then walked towards the flash car. But before I turned out of the street I looked back in my mirror and there he was opening the car door of a battered old Ford

Tuesday, March 27

Bad News

The main topic of conversation with the passengers all weekend was the clocks going forward. But one couple I picked up said they knew nothing about it and wouldn't have known about it unless I had mentioned it to them. They both said that no newspapers were read by anyone in the family and absolutely no news was watched on TV, they only ever watched reality TV shows and soaps. I was shocked by this admission ,which by the way they seemed proud of, and asked about how they knew what was going on in the world. The answer they gave me was that"if it didn't affect them they didn't care, and it's only ever bad news that they tell you anyway" They went on to proudly tell that they had four children, up to the age of fifteen and that they had never read a paper or watched the news in their life's. Myself I don't think that they should have been allowed to breed at all with that outlook on life.

Monday, March 26

Red Light Anger

Local drivers have been left fuming whilst waiting at temporary traffic lights on Barrow's Bridgegate Avenue. But the question is why are they even there? no workman digging holes, as a matter of fact no holes have appeared and no work has been done since the traffic lights appeared SIX days ago. Surely the lights could have been installed on the day they were needed, instead of needlessly causing even more traffic jams, on Barrow's already traffic cone infested roads.

Sunday, March 25

The Prisoners

Two characters that I picked up one after the other early this Sunday morning had something in common. One had been a prisoner and the other was wishing that he had been one as well. The first I picked up from outside Barrow police station, where he had been a guest in the cells for the night, you can always tell when they come out carrying a plastic bag with their belt,shoelaces and lighter in and holding a charge sheet. He told me a tale of being caught urinating in the street, which usually just involves a fixed penalty fine, but he had made the stupid mistake of making racial remarks to a black police officer. His feet didn't touch the ground he was in the van and then locked in a cell within minutes, and as he realised when sober they were right to do so, racial abuse won't and shouldn't be tolerated. The second guy had woken up in a strange bed with an even stranger women, and what made it worse was the thirty missed calls from his wife on his mobile. He was frantic and during the ten miles or so we spent driving to his doom he tried alibis out on me to see if they would be believable. His first was that he had spent the night in the cells, and he looked at me strangely when I said "no you haven't got a plastic bag" but we dismissed that one when I said that maybe his wife had rung the police station looking for him already. The story's got more and more crazy as we got closer to his inquisition, and included being locked in pub toilets, and knocking himself unconscious for the night. I won't reveal the winning pack of lies, just in case his wife reads this.

Saturday, March 24

Giant Steel Book

Barrow's giant steel book which has been erected as a monument to the long gone local steel industry, certainly looks more impressive at night.
But with the cost being estimated at something in the region of £300.000, it's little wonder that the lights to Barrows older statues are switched off and they are left in the dark, along with a lot of of our towns streets.Let's face it the biggest most outstanding monument to steel working in Barrow is the huge slag bank which dominates a lot of the views of our town. As one of the former biggest producers of steel in the world ,I guess it's only fitting that we are left with what some say is the biggest slag bank in Europe.


Well we have it in black and white now, we have all received letters from the local council regarding the smoke free legislation which comes into force on the 1st July. A lot of taxi drivers have been under the impression that they only have to stop smoking when they are actually working or have a fare on board. This letter makes it clear that even when using the cab as a private car or as a family vehicle the regulations and a £50 fixed penalty apply. They also tell us that it will be an offence not to display a no smoking sign and that it must be a minimum of 70mm in diameter, failure to do so and we get a £200 fixed penalty. Oh and they took the opportunity to remind us not to drop fag ends outside or that's a £75 fixed penalty. Some folk might be forgiven for beginning to wonder if this could be turning into a nice little earner for the council. But they do tell us that their is an exception to the rules, the letter states "Vehicles will not need to be smoke free when they have a removable roof during the time the roof is completely removed" So there you go guys just cut the taxi roof off and you can chuff away to your hearts content.

Friday, March 23

Hot Madness

Well we can now confirm that America has now gone totally round the bend, the latest craze it seems is outdoor fireplaces. I for one just can't seem to see the logic in spending money to heat the atmosphere, have these folk not heard of global warming. Or maybe it's just a case of trying to outdo their friends and neighbours.
Fire pits have been popular for years, especially in California and the South, where a small blaze makes it possible to relax outside on cool winter nights. What is surprising (some say foolish) is that the demand for free-standing fireplaces seems strongest in Northern states. where winters are too cold for backyard fireplaces to do any good, and summers are too hot to use them. The tall stone chimneys suck the smoke up and away; most of the heat escapes up the chimney, too. No humble pits-in-the-ground, these. The new breed of outdoor fireplace has evolved rapidly from a stone chimney, about 10 feet tall, and a starting price of around $8,000. In the last 18 months they have begun to sprout refrigerators, surround-sound stereo systems, and fireboxes to display lumber that is rarely actually burned because most homeowners prefer the convenience of gas. The amenities and the costs grow apace. A contractor in the San Francisco area, Tony Bertotti, built an $80,000 fireplace as the centerpiece of a $750,000 patio.

Thursday, March 22

Treesa green

I've noticed that a lot of the trees in Barrows Hartington St are being cut down, but I nearly choked when I read the reason they give for doing this. They say that the trees are not evenly spaced, and are not all the same size. I can't believe they are wasting money on replanting fresh trees, even if they will be evenly spaced on what must be one of the worst maintained roads in the town. The speed bumps are worn out and falling apart, and deep potholes are every few yards, and since this street is being used as a major road diversion a lot more traffic passes through, wearing it out even quicker. But still as we scrape and bounce along, at least we will soon have the evenly spaced trees to admire.

Tuesday, March 20

Burtons get the Blame

Another one in the series of strange signs placed in peoples front windows, this one painted on a board covering the broken window. I wonder could this be called slander or something, is it legal?

Monday, March 19

Boo Boos

Well what a crazy busy weekend we had, everything seemed to happen on the same weekend, we had red nose day(comic relief) on Friday and then St Patrick's day on Saturday followed by one of our busiest days of the year on Sunday, Mothers day. And as usual I managed to put my foot in it, in a way to suit all the occasions. Friday morning I was seeing and picking up lots of people who were dressed up for red nose day, a lot of them, kids going to school. One pair I picked up weren't dressed up at all, they were with the mother and I happened to say to the kids "aren't you getting dressed up then?" The mother nearly snapped my head off "we're catholics and we don't support it because that charity funds birth control" she said, whoops that was the first boo boo. Next day and lots of folk out to have a good time on St Patrick's day, one of my fares was an Irishman and so of course I said "which pub are we off to then"and "don't get too drunk tonight" Their was a loud silence as he looked at me stonily for a while and then he said "I'm a alcoholic and I've never touched strong drink for ten years now, please don't tempt me" that was the second boo boo. And last but I think the worst was with the two women I picked up laden with flowers and cards, "ahh! off to see the mother then eh! get some brownie points, where too?" Again the silence for a minute or two then one said " the cemetery please"

Sunday, March 18

Lazy Fellas

Sunday morning's I usually call in the drive thru Maccy Ds for a coffee at about eight. This Sunday I couldn't get anywhere near for the huge queue of cars lined up, this was surprising because usually I can drive straight through. I gave up in disgust and drove off, scratching my head and wondering what was going on. All was revealed when I picked up a young lass going to work there a bit later. From what she tells me, it seems that a lot of lazy fellas, instead of making breakfast in bed for the wife or mother, on mothers day prefer to go to the drive thru and buy it there instead. Still I suppose it's the thought that counts.

Saturday, March 17

Lonely Hearts

Do you think that maybe I should set up a mobile dating agency, a sort of lonely hearts club on wheels? So far within the last week or so, three ladies and one fella have told me their partners had ran off with somebody else, and that they were now trying to rebuild their lives. But the amazing thing is that all of them I had never seen before, and yet they were telling me all the details of the breakup within minutes of getting in the cab. All of them had been in relationships for many years, one for over thirty in all, but they all told me that they felt they were too old to be going out clubbing to look for new friends. As one lady put it she hadn't been out as a single person for a lot of years and she felt awkward and vulnerable going round the usual town centre pub circuit. Maybe I should give them a card to fill in with their details and requirements and swap them between the sexes. Hey! maybe if I asked them to put how much they had in the bank on the card, I might even be able to sell the richest one's details to the highest bidder.

Friday, March 16

Two Steps Back

Check out my photo blog "Two Steps Back"
Feel free to copy or use any photos you want as long as it's not for commercial use, and remember to click to enlarge to full size. The link will be added to my local blogs and sites.

Thursday, March 15

Dangerous Job

What with the recent attacks on taxi drivers locally let's hope things don't get as bad as they are in Yorkshire.
Father-of-five Younis Khan is the third taxi driver to be murdered in Yorkshire in the past year.

Mahmood Ahmed, 36, was stabbed to death in Keighley in April 2006, while Mohammed Parvaiz was murdered by a gang in Huddersfield in July.
Editor of trade magazine Taxi-Today, Tony Mite, said he believed the profession had become the "most dangerous" in the country.
He said attacks happened at any time during the day and night.
One driver who survived a vicious attack was Bill Simpson who was attacked in Leeds while at work three months ago.
Mr Simpson was stabbed in the back of the head by the hooded man who tried to rob him of his takings.
He said: "I was so scared. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."
Police in Sheffield have said they will increase patrols following the murder of Mr Khan, who was shot in his cab as he drove along Scott Road, early on Wednesday.
Mr Mite said more needed to be done to protect taxi drivers.
"Drivers are being abused on the school run right up until kicking out times of the pubs.
"They are asking for cameras and also asking for anything else that can be done to bring down the numbers of incidents."
Installing CCTV cameras into taxis was crucial to reducing attacks on drivers, he said.
"The biggest problem is the funding of the CCTV, but it is going to give them a lot of security.
"If there is an issue within the vehicle it picks up the speech, it picks up the pictures and can be used later in any court case.
"It is a big issue, I believe it is the most dangerous job now going - that includes the police and firemen - where more people are injured and verbally abused and even killed."

Wednesday, March 14


My daughter Emma won a competition with the Beano, the long established kids comic. The prize was a set of collectible key rings, fourteen in all, but it seems that they are meant to appeal to the grubbier nature of kids nowadays. They are called Bogies and some of the keyring character's are named Slipsnot, Roland Flick, Gobzilla, and Loves me Snot. What can you say charming eh!

Tuesday, March 13

Worst Patients

The guy who struggled into the cab going to the accident and emergency department was obviously in a lot of pain, his wincing and grinding of teeth worried me so much that I drove at a crawl and nearly stopped when we went over the speed ramps. He told me that he had badly broken his arm, and then went on to tell me that he and a friend had been arm wrestling and somehow his friend had managed to break his arm. Now like me you will probably think that this was a bit silly, but it gets worse, he was actually a doctor who worked at the hospital that I was taking him too. The lady who was with him was quite amused and said that it would be interesting for him to see what it was like from the other side of the fence, especially since he worked in the orthopedic department, who of course would be tending to his broken arm. I bet he got some stick from his department, and as they say that doctors make the worst patients you can bet that he took a keen interest that they did a good job on him.


Another strange sign in a Barrow window, this one in the window of a second storey flat(apartment) and it tells the world "LIP" Mmm.

Monday, March 12

Not Aloud

You have got to wonder about what goes on in some folks minds , why would you put a sign like this in your house window? and if you really had to wouldn't you spell it right? And who the heck is Alice, is she really a dog?

Sunday, March 11

Gullible and Embarrassed

Sunday seems to be the day for picking characters up, well it does for me anyway, and this Sunday was no different. First one of the day was the girl who I picked up with her boyfriend, from a house in Dalton. As we drove up Market St she pointed at Dalton's ancient castle up on the hill,"why is it covered with scaffold" she asked" what are they doing with it". Jokingly I replied "they are going to pebbledash it and put plastic windows in", her boyfriend kept a straight face and added "yes and a plastic conservatory on the back" She fell for it hook line and sinker and started saying "what a disgrace" and "how can they do that to a listed building" After a minute or two she spotted the smirk on the boyfriends face and set to work slapping him. In between the blows the guy told me that the previous night he had said to her "look at this bottle of Bud the label is written in American" and she had taken the bottle and was looking at it closely for a while before she realised that she had been suckered. Next up was the guy who come out to the car and asked if it was alright to bring his dog, I agreed it was OK as long as he kept it on his knee but as the guy looked the macho type with the shaved head and tracksuit, I was worried he would come out with some rottweiler or pit bull type dog, but his missus and little girl got in the back and he then got in the front holding the dog. "Don't say a word" he said and went red, the macho dog was a pure white boxer but it was wearing a pink dress and a polka dot bow tie. He muttered that his little girl had been playing dress-up games with the dog and that she insisted that the outfit stayed on.

Saturday, March 10

Swiss Cheese

Someone must have told the contractors who dig trenches for the gas people that we have gold buried under the streets of Barrow. Our local streets are like a Swiss cheese with holes having been dug all over town, some of them having been left untouched for weeks at a time. Salthouse Rd is one of the worst affected areas with huge holes right on a dangerous bend and partly blocking a busy junction, it looks like a first world war battlefield with it's water filled trenches, but not a sign of the prospectors for days on end. God help any of our local drunks who happen to fall into these long term flooded mine shaft's, they would have no chance of escaping.

Thursday, March 8


Day off today and so as Emma my daughter has broken her wrist in a playground accident, and is off school we had a run up the Lakes. We did a round trip starting at Bowness and going north up through Grasmere to Keswick and then back home via the west coast passing Egremont and Wabbertwaite. The photo is of Thirlemere which we passed on the A591 on the way to Keswick.

Peace Bonus for Cabby's

Well we would not have believed it just a few short years ago, but now it seems that Belfast has become a tourist attraction. And Belfast cabby's have not been slow on the uptake, it seems that a tour by taxi is one of the more popular options. "Over there is the Protestant area. And there, behind the wall in the middle of the road are the Catholics," says Alan Hoy with a smile as he tells tales of Belfast's hardest working-class areas.
His taxi carefully parked on the kerb, Hoy works for one of seven cab firms that now take the curious to north and west Belfast to explain all about what is still called "The Troubles".
From the Crumlin Road, to Shankill, the Falls Road and Ardoyne, Hoy's route is well-planned. He stops in front of the derelict court house in Crumlin Road and the famous jail opposite, which is no longer taking guests of Her Majesty.
He then stops at the main murals painted onto the mish-mash of small brick houses in the fiercely Protestant Shankill area.
Next stop is the Ardoyne, former stronghold of the IRA, where more gable-end frescoes celebrate the opposite political point of view.
His tour ends by the largest so-called "peace wall", which still separates the two communities along the Shankill Road. In the last few months, it has even got longer and higher.
"The Germans are jealous of our wall," he jokes, referring to the old Berlin Wall that separated West from East at the height of the Cold War. "You can take pictures. It's safe to walk around."
Locals going about their business don't even look at the visitors. They've got used to it.
About 3 500 people died between 1969 and 1998, when the Good Friday peace accords were signed, largely ending the sectarian violence.
One of the most recent, less political murals was of George Best, the genius Northern Ireland and Manchester United footballer who died in late 2005 .
Another was of the doomed ocean liner Titanic, which was built in Belfast, or even of CS Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia.

Wednesday, March 7

Road Block

It seems to be a case of piling on the agony for local drivers in Barrow. Not content with just one long term major road closure, we now have to suffer the closure of the whole of Dalton Rd from Buccleuch St to Abbey Rd. Unfortunately this is just the section where all the major banks and building society's are located, and this is causing big problems for our disabled and elderly customers, surely they could have come up with something more sensible than a complete closure.
One worrying thing I did notice was that the completion date on the signs had been taped over , so I would say be prepared for long wait until it's finished. One unexpected and probably unplanned bonus, that most drivers haven't cottoned on to yet is the opening up to traffic of High St, this saves driving all round the town centre to get from one side of town to the other.

Rogue Gunner

Well known local blogger and Falkllands veteran Tony McNally has brought a new book out, the title is "Watching Men Burn". Check his blog out and pre-order his book HERE

Tuesday, March 6

Not for Sale

The wife was in the kitchen listening to "murph in the morning" and trying to win the mornings special prize of a nasal and nose hair trim from Ken Riley's. A loud banging coming from the front of the house, alarmed her and so she went to investigate, out in the front garden was a guy hammering a huge for sale board into the garden. "This house isn't for sale" she told him and so he checked his paperwork, "yep this is the one" he confirmed after asking the house number, after a few more minutes of "oh yes it is "and "oh no it isn't" he swore and and said "I'm sick of this it's the fourth today". As the neighbours sadly lowered the flags and cancelled the parties, he moved up the street to remove another wrongly placed for sale board from some other victims house. That's four that we know of in this street alone in the last few months, if it wasn't so frequent you'd take it as a joke, you could forgive the odd mistake but this is bordering on incompetence. You can only imagine the stress and worry this could cause some folk, tenants in a rented house may think the landlord is about to make them homeless or if they are a bit behind with the mortgage, is their home about to be repossessed? Then those in even slightly shaky relationships are bound to think that their partner is selling their house and home behind their backs

Monday, March 5


It seems that one of our drivers has been viciously assaulted by a thug he had driven to Ulverston on Friday night. The thug, aged around 20, asked the driver to stop at a Bank in Ulverston on the pretext of getting some money from the cash machine to pay his fare. But he ran away, obviously having had no intention of paying the fare in the first place.
Our driver managed to catch up with him nearby but the thug then attacked him, leaving our driver badly beaten.
He suffered head and internal injuries and was detained overnight for observation at Furness General Hospital.
Police describe the attacker as male, white, approximately 20 years old, heavily built, with short dark hair and clean shaven, but of course we can add to that our opinion that he is both a thief and a coward. Let's just hope that he is caught quickly and that he gets the punishment he deserves, there really is no excuse for attacking a man like like this who after all was doing him a service.
Unfortunately I can see the day coming when drivers will ask for the fare up front before agreeing to carry passengers at night, this I know happens in some of our bigger cities, but we really shouldn't have to go down that road in what was once our safe friendly area.

Saturday, March 3

Totally OTT

It seems that the Blue Lagoon's "totally OTT adult party nite" was a success. well according to the folks I have picked up who told me they enjoyed it anyway.
But some folk might say this is the stuff of health and safety inspectors nightmares , just think several hundred well oiled revellers let loose below decks on a steel ship, late at night running wild on bouncy castles, bungee ropes, barfly, and a rodeo bull. It might sound like a recipe for disaster but apart from some colourful bruises, and one young lass who was convinced that she was gored by the rodeo bull I have not heard of anything too serious. Mind you they tell me that there was no sign of the promised fire eaters, maybe they decided that that was going a bit too far.

Friday, March 2

Drive in DMV

Most people called to take a driving test at the DMV park their car in the lot and take a seat inside to wait their turn, but an 80-year-old woman was caught on camera skipping one crucial step - she drove her 1990 Mercury right through the wall of the Deerfield Beach DMV office in Florida, smashing into the waiting room and injuring 11 people.
The state supplied videotape from a surveillance camera shows people waiting patiently to take their test or get a license renewal on Valentine’s Day. Without warning, the wall disintegrated and the woman's car smashed right into the people in the waiting area.
The camera shows people rushing up to the woman, Therese Smith of Boca Raton, Fla., who was still buckled in with her seat belt. Inexplicably, a man in a Superman costume could be seen walking around the car, but he did not stop to help the driver or any of the victims.
None of the people waiting in line were seriously hurt.
Smith had been summoned to the office to retake a driving examination, and was leaving the office at the time of the accident. She had been unable to take the test because of a mechanical problem with her car, but her license remained valid.
Investigators say she apparently stepped on the gas as she was easing out of a parking space, causing her to smash through the window. She was charged by the Broward sheriff's office with careless driving.
There is no word if she eventually was allowed to take the test, or why she has been summoned to be retested in the first place.

Thursday, March 1

Old Saying

I was up at our local crematorium to attend the funeral of an old mate this week, and as usual it felt freezing up there, I don't know if it's all in the mind, or because of the occasion or maybe it really is five degrees colder up there even in summer. A large group of folk waiting respectfully were chatting amongst themselves and renewing old acquaintances as seems to happen at most funeral's. Then it was the time for the funeral to begin, but unfortunately the cortege had not yet arrived, and so all that could be done was to wait outside a bit longer, this went on for another ten or fifteen minutes. People were anxiously looking down the hill and checking their watches, no one had known this happen before and everyone was wondering what was going on. Finally the hearse and family limousines were spotted coming up the hill, but when they drew alongside every body's eyes were drawn to the huge scrape and gouge down the side of one of the cars. It turns out as I was told later that they had been crashed into by an empty car which had been left with the handbrake off. And so the chap in question really did make the old saying come true "you'd be late for your own funeral"