Wednesday, October 31


It was just another local supermarket pickup and I thought nothing of it until one of the three lady fares opened the boot. I was just getting out of the car to help with the bags when a blood curdling scream pierced the early morning gloom. When I reached the back of the car, I was shoved out of the way by the three portly panicking ladies. When they had calmed down I explained that the grisly, blood stained leg in the boot was only a very lifelike fake. I had bought it for Halloween and put my foot in it by forgetting to take it out of the boot. They saw the joke and couldn't stop laughing all the way home. Of course after this I should have hidden the grisly limb, but no I couldn't resist leaving it in place. This led to lots more squeals and giggles for the rest of the day. The jokes were coming thick and fast, about taxi's costing an arm and a leg and that the best place for a foot was in a boot etc. But still it was Halloween eh!

Sunday, October 28

Mr Nostalgia

The bleary eyed guy I picked up early this Sunday morning was reminiscing about Sundays as they used to be. "Aye they've ruined Sundays with these new all day licensing laws, you know" he said. "I used to love the traditional English Sunday" Getting interested I asked him what he meant by the traditional Sunday. "Well I used to have a late lie in bed and then the wife would fetch me a big fried breakfast." "Aye then she would iron me best shirt and I would be off down to the pub for 11:o-clock opening" He paused and went misty eyed at the tender memory's of happier times. "Aye then it was a good few pints and the landlord would ask us to stay for a lock-in." Humouring him I said "no such thing as a lock in nowadays what did it mean back then" "Oh aye it was illegal you know, but that was part of the attraction, they all did it, the doors were locked and curtains drawn and you were there for the full days drinking." After another pause to savour the memory he continued "and then it was stagger off home for a big roast dinner and fall asleep whilst reading the Sunday papers as the wife did the washing up." By this time we had reached town and I asked him where he would like dropping at. Bearing in mind that it was 8:45 am, I was surprised when he said "the Furness Railway they open at 9:am you know." "Why are you going for your fried breakfast, won't the wife make it this morning?"I asked. "No I'm going for a pint or two, and the wife, well she cleared off years ago."
Mmm wonder why, I thought as I drove off.

Saturday, October 27

Dodgy Tar

It seems that we have to thank a dodgy batch of tarmac for causing a week of yet more long delays on a Barrow road. The much used Low road between town and Walney was a no go area between 8am and 4pm every day. They tell me that the work was done at the contractors expense because of the faulty materials used when it was surfaced a few months back. Some folk would point out that the work should have been redone during the nighttimes and not at the whim of the contractors. This would have been much more convenient to the town's motorists during what was a busy school half term week. But some would say that as this was a Cumbria County matter, and had no effect on the roads in the ruling north of the county, that they weren't too bothered.

Friday, October 26

About Time

Well it looks as if at long last that new safety rules are to be brought in to govern the hundreds of pedicabs touting for hire in London. After concerns were voiced that the rapid growth of the bicycle rickshaws - there are now about 600 - is putting people at risk. Even though they carry passengers, the pedicabs are classed as and have the same legal status as bicycles. Believe it or not drivers do not have to be licensed, or even have insurance. The rules are being proposed as part of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Bill, which will be presented in Parliament on 27 November. It would enable councils to serve fixed penalty notices for parking on yellow lines, jumping red lights or driving in bus lanes. The move comes after a string of accidents involving pedicabs. In one, a passenger was thrown out and knocked unconscious. In another, a pedicab overturned after a collision with a bus. It also follows two weekends of action last month by police and Westminster council, which led to seven arrests and 43 warnings.
A Westminster councillor said: "We have been lobbying the Government for some time for further powers to help us tackle rogue pedicab operators, but we do need more weapons... to deal with them before somebody is killed." TfL's Public Carriage Office said a planned licensing scheme would become mandatory if the High Court declared pedicabs a type of hackney carriage. A spokesman for London Pedicabs, said: "We welcome the new rules but we do need to have allocated parking space and ranks." What a cheek eh! they don't want to pay for licenses and have police checks like cab drivers but they want all the benefits. Some pedicab riders are against the plans. One said: "It just feels like they are trying to choke us out of business. Clubbers and tourists love us."

Tuesday, October 23

NYC Taxi Logo

Well what do we all think of the new New York City taxi logo then? It's the top one with the old one pictured below. I quite like it myself.

Monday, October 22

The Hero and the Fool

Sunday mornings hero of the week award must go to one of our taxi drivers. He took the chance of taking the 22miles 40 minute drive out to Flookburgh to rescue a stranded drunk from a vague address. The job was turned down by other drivers, which is not surprising, we have all had experiences with Sunday morning drunks. Many a time we have been called time and time again to an address by a drunk demanding "wheres my taxi" only for it to be the wrong street or in some cases even the wrong town. Luckily our hero found his passenger, lets hope the drunk remembered to tip him well.
But the fool of the week must go to the aggressive young guy on our local Asda car park. He was involved in a minor bump between a car and van. It seems that as the other folk involved were female he had no one to take out his anger on. I was amused when he suddenly decided to vent his temper on the solid steel van. He ran to the front and kicked the bumper and then landed a punch on the bonnet. Ouch!

Saturday, October 20

Empty Pub

Two of the characters that I picked up on Saturday afternoon were the type that empty pubs in a hurry. The first got in the cab and asked to be taken home "going home early have you had enough?" I asked. No I've been chucked out of the pub again, he replied. After a minute or two's chat during which I tried to see what sort of state he was in I cheekily asked him why he had been thrown out of the bar. Well he said, after I have had a few beers I start to growl. "Growl who at and why?" I asked intrigued. "Nobody and no reason" he said " I just stand at the bar and growl, and people just leave or move away from me." "Not very good for the pubs trade then" I remarked to which he replied "aye I guess that's why they ask me to leave after a while."
Next up was a sad faced man who got into the cab and gave his address and slumped back with a weary sigh. "Tired are you?" I asked to which he just sighed again and shrugged his shoulders. Some folk just don't want to talk and so I gave up and drove on in silence, apart from the odd sigh from Mr Happy. When we pulled up outside his house he handed me the fare without a word and got out of the cab. I was about to gratefully drive off when he opened the cab door again and leaned in. "You're born alone and you die alone, so don't stop and wait for anybody" he said with a knowing look. "Yes OK" I relied sombrely and drove away with a heavy heart.
Needless to say if I come across either of these characters in a pub at any time I shall hurriedly leave.

Tuesday, October 16

No Cash

Lol who is a big country and western fan is one of our more colourful local taxi drivers. His cab sports a sticker on the rear which he bought on his travels to Australia. It says "Driver carries no cash, He's Married." Well as they say "many a true word spoke in jest." Every time I see the sign I'm reminded of a now departed local taxi driver who had a bad case of bookie constipation , "he just couldn't pass one." It got so bad that his wife made him go home up to four times a day to give her any money that he had made, in case he gave in to temptation.

Free for All

Now we have it in writing officially, it seems that we can look forward to a 20MPH speed limit in every urban area and hundreds of extra speed cameras, so says an influential road safety group.
It also calls for a huge blitz on drivers more likely to cause accidents - such as "fat drivers who are prone to nodding off and elderly drivers who may no longer be safe behind the wheel."
The biggest impediment to dropping the speed limits and expanding the 20mph network is that, at present, standard cameras are not type-approved to enforce limits below 30mph," it says.
Traffic humps and chicanes are used instead but are unpopular, expensive, cause problems for emergency vehicles and add to emissions. (You can say that again)
"Time-over-distance cameras offer an effective alternative enforcement tool," it concludes.
A camera blitz on speeding must be accompanied by a war on motorists' dangerous lifestyles - with the very fat, the very old, and the very young to be targeted, adds the report.
The report says "sedentary lifestyles make drivers more prone to an accident.
On the problem of older drivers it notes:” The UK population is ageing and likely to keep driving further, in larger numbers and for longer than previous generations.
The report, called Beyond 2010 - a holistic approach to road safety in Great Britain, as far as I can tell says nothing that we didn't already know. But it does give more than enough justification for a huge new revenue source for so called safety camera partnerships.

Sunday, October 14

Instant Experts

As sure as night follows day if it's a bumper weekend for sport this leads to a busy weekend for Barrow's taxi's as well. What with football and both flavours of rugby games going on this weekend, folk were saying they couldn't remember a busier time for sport. I know nothing about rugby but on Sunday, the day after England's victory over France in the semi final, I was picking up fares who were instant experts by the dozen. Every one of them it seemed had become a die hard England fan and a font of knowledge about Rugby Union overnight. Several took pains to tell that me they could have obtained odds of eighty to one and have won a fortune, if only they had backed England to win early in the tournament. When asked "why didn't you then, if your such a big fan" the subject was quickly changed. Mmm wonder why!

Saturday, October 13

Dear Smoke

Well I guess this is the end of the honeymoon period for the non smoking laws. I say this because a North West taxi driver has fallen foul of the recent legislation and been fined £50 for smoking in his own cab.
The man was handed the penalty after a council officer in Oldham saw him smoking a cigarette in his private hire taxi while parked in Rochdale Road. There were no passengers in his cab at the time, but this of course makes no difference.
The new laws make it an offence to light up in any workplace at any time - this includes taxis and private hire vehicles.
The purpose is to protect members of the public against the effects of second-hand smoke.
Some taxi drivers in Scotland have been fined after flouting smoke-free legislation, but this is thought to be the first case in England since the ban was introduced on July 1.
This leaves me wondering just how long it will be before they start getting tough on smoky drivers up here in Barrow.

Thursday, October 11

Blue Murder

Lots of Barrow folk moan about the local bus service, mainly when the bus is running late and they end up getting wet. They should thank their lucky stars that we don't have the same bus system that the poor folks in Delhi have to suffer. Owners of the 4.500 privately owned Blueline buses rent them out to drivers, just as they would a taxi. This means that the drivers are paid according to how many passengers they pick up, thus encouraging them to speed. As a result, 334 people were killed in the past three years. The toll so far this year stands at 96. . This has led to intense competition, with buses racing each other to the next bus stop. In the worst recent case on Sunday seven were killed and eight injured when a bus lost control when trying to force past a rival bus and crashing into a bus shelter. Police had to use teargas to disperse an angry crowd of 3000 that wrecked the vehicle and beat up the driver. On Tuesday, police had to intervene again when a crowd attacked a Blueline bus that had killed a motorcyclist. Three hours later, another Blueline killed a Pizza Hut delivery boy.
“What can we do?” said passenger Ranjit Das-gupta, 33. “You want to get to work on time, but is it worth risking your life?” Mmm maybe our buses aren't that bad after all then.

Wednesday, October 10

Russian Roulette

We think things are bad on our roads, but you should thank your lucky stars you don't live in Moscow. There drink-driving and speeding have made roads among Europe’s most dangerous, but now locals face a sinister new threat" armed drivers."
Three pedestrians are the latest victims when a driver shot them from his car after complaining that they were walking too slowly on a zebra crossing in the city.
Witnesses said that the driver shouted at the pedestrians to get out of his way, then pulled out a pistol and shot them when they ignored him. Two were shot in the chest and another his arm and leg. The driver sped away but police later arrested an Azerbaijani man in connection with the shooting. The incident is the second in two weeks in which people have been shot by motorists in Moscow.
Locals are outraged about the serious escalation of road rage in this congested city, where drivers daily suffer two-hour traffic jams. Pravda, one of Russia’s popular newspapers, commented: “Stupidly, disgustingly, a real war on the streets of Moscow is continuing.”
Russia’s roads are already dangerous, mainly because drivers can pay a bribe to acquire their licence instead of having to pass a test.
Personally I think it's a bit harsh shooting slow pedestrians like that, a good jolt with a tazer would be much more civilized.

Tuesday, October 9

Smugglers Den

Well the recent increase in the age that folk can legally buy cigarettes, up from 16 to 18 doesn't seem to be having much affect. Three young uns of 14 or 15 were telling me in the cab on the way to school this morning about how they are getting round the new rules. Gangs of the more enterprising of the little dears are pooling their cash and buying their supplies in bulk from the local tobacco smugglers. They are then sold in lots of five or even individually at a good profit. Worse thing is that they tell me that it's actually the parents of some of the kids who are the suppliers. The so called responsible adults are buying the fags whilst on holiday and then selling them at a profit to any one who has the cash.

Sunday, October 7

Bin Smudge

Local character "smudger" models his latest creation. He tells me that the style is heavily influenced by traditional Arab garments and is from his winter Bin Laden collection. Expect to see cheap Chinese copies on your high street any time now. (click photo to enlarge and admire closer)

Never Again

Sunday morning and it was the usual leftovers from the Saturday night. And of course the usual moans about hangovers and vows about "never drinking again." And even without gazing into a crystal ball I can reliably predict that they will do exactly the same next weekend. This constant repetition, when it's obvious that it going to end up in another painful hangover has always baffled me. This is even though I myself have admittedly done the same daft thing in the dim and distant past. But all was explained to me today when I picked up a fare who was a health professional specializing in drug and alcohol abuse. She explained that the brain has a built in defence mechanism which tells itself to forget about pain quickly. Go on test it yourself, try to remember exactly what your last toothache felt like. Yes you know it hurt, but your brain won't let you recreate that pain. But it still doesn't explain the guy who I picked up later on that same day. He staggered out of the pub as drunk as a lord and fell into the cab. "I haven't seen you for a while" I remarked "aye I just got out of rehab after six weeks" he slurred. Then as shook my head in puzzlement, he told me, as if it was quite normal that "he had been out for a good drink to celebrate!"

Thursday, October 4

Hitching Rail

A lot of my passengers have been remarking on the strange new railings at the end of Barrows newly pedestrianised bit of Dalton Rd. The biggest question is what on earth are they for? Fashioned from expensive stainless steel and looking like they were designed for a ship instead of a street, some folk just shake their heads in disbelief and say "whatever next." But some make suggestions about what the intended use may be. Most popular is the theory that they are there to support Barrows drunks as they lurch between the many nearby pubs and bars. But the best I think is the theory that they are to be used by the cowboy road builders to hitch up their horses.

Tuesday, October 2

Lemon & Puppys

I knew it was going to be one of those days as soon as I picked up my first fare. Obviously still suffering from the effects of the previous nights chemical and alcohol cocktail she began to rummage in her pockets. Expecting the usual handful of leftover shrapnel as payment I held out my hand. "Here you are"she said and placed a well past it's sell by date lemon in my hand. "Err no thanks" I said "it's OK have it later" she replied. It took ten more minutes of patient explanation of why we preferred cash to fruit and veg before she finally coppered up.
Then the day ended with me falling for a classic sucker manoeuvre. My fare a young lass had a load of stuff to go in the boot, tins of paint and lots of bags. When the boot was stuffed full she said "right I'll just go and get my puppy you don't mind do you?" I of course thinking of a cute little ball of fluff said "yes OK no problem." It was of course a big problem and too late when I saw her dragging the uncontrollable 13st (180lb) Rottweiler onto my nice clean back seats. Vainly trying to stop it slavering over the upholstery she grinned and said "big for a puppy innit," Grr that was my day over with, I had to then go and clean the car out.
Still even this pales into insignificance when compared with the tale of bare faced cheek inflicted on another local cabbie. He had picked up a couple with an ancient long hared Alsatian which insisted on spreading hair and slaver all over the cab and driver. When he got to the destination only one passenger got out with the dog. The other then asked to be taken back to where they had come from, to collect his car. The driver was puzzled by this and asked why they hadn't taken the dog in their own car. "Oh no! We couldn't risk that, the dogs incontinent” was the matter of fact reply. Angrily the driver told them about the £75 soiling charge they had risked. "But that’s for people not animals" was the indignant reply.

Monday, October 1

Ugly Taxi?

Check out the Ugly Car Company.
Click the pic to see the great website.
They seem to be referring to the cars they use as Taxis, the controversially styled Fiat Doblo. They may not be pretty in the conventional sense but after a test drive in a brand new one today, they are really starting to grow on me. Cheap to buy and run, bags of room inside and comfortable high driving position seem to be making it into one of Europe's most popular taxi options. Well what do you think ugly or just a bit plain?