Tuesday, July 22

On the Road

Well folks that's me on holiday as from Wednesday 23rd July for two whole weeks. Good eh! I'm off to Morocco which should be interesting. I will post all about it when I get back, but in the meantime behave yourselves folks.

Sunday, July 20

Witless Wellie

All weekend I had been asking my fares if they had heard anything about or been to Barrow's big outdoor music festival "Furnessfest" Strangely no one seemed to have heard a thing about it maybe I was asking the wrong people. 
Finally on Sunday morning I got a job to pick up a fare from the huge festival site on Rakesmoor Lane. The fare was a young fella who looked like he had gotten drunk and slept in a windy field all night, which of course was exactly what he had done. But as for finding out about how the event was going, I might as well of asked one of the nearby trees.
 I should have known when I noticed that the typical muddy festival wellies he wore were on the wrong feet. 
The conversation went like this; firstly I asked "was it busy in there then, plenty of people then?" Fare "Err don’t know really." Me "was the music good then?" Fare, frowning and looking like he was thinking hard “Music, Mmm music eh, err don’t know really." Me "so did you have a good time then?" The Fare, predictably answered "don’t know really." And when I finally asked him if the beer tent was OK he smiled slightly and said “don’t know really, we took our own”

Mystery M

For the last few weeks or so mysterious red stickers have been appearing on lampposts, windows and buildings etc the length and breadth of Barrow. The stickers consist of a red background and a curious white design which looks like the letter M scrawled by a drunk.
But finally I have gotten to the bottom of the mystery stickers; a source in the local nightclub scene has given me the low-down. He tells me that the long closed Martinis night club on Barrow's notorious Gaza Strip is undergoing a massive revamp and will open shortly in a new guise as Club- M. So the sticker campaign is a form of cheap and cheeky advertising campaign, 
I say cheeky because they have also been sneakily slapping them all over rival night clubs and bars.

The other sign which has appeared along the length of Barrow's Abbey road tells us that major road works are about to begin. I believe that bit and I believe the bit that tells us to expect long delays. But I really am having a hard time swallowing the outrageous claim that the road works will only last for ten weeks. Long suffering local motorists know for a fact that this optimistic claim is stretching credibility. We all know from the previous history of many similar signs that have appeared on our over excavated roads that this is nowt but a fairy story, with not a happy ending in sight.

Friday, July 18

Strangely Remote.

When I went to collect my passenger from a Walney pub on Friday morning it wasn't quite what I was expecting. A red faced guy walked from the pub and opened the passenger door and dropped a TV remote control onto the front seat. I looked to him and then the remote quizzically and patiently waited for the story. None was forthcoming, I guess he was a bit embarrassed, he just handed me some cash and told me the address where the remote was to go. When I reached the home of the remote control the door was half opened by a puzzled looking woman in pyjamas, who stared blankly at the remote. But then a little girl appeared who looked delighted to see the wayward remote, and so without another word I handed it over and left. Who knows what the story was, your guess is as good as mine is.

Tuesday, July 15

Electric Taxi

The first electric powered taxi has been launched by Glasgow based Allied Vehicles which builds thousands of taxis each year, the new E7 taxi.

The electric taxi will be available from October 2008 and is the result of three years research and development by Allied, which is already looking for local authority partners to install recharging networks locally to help drive down urban emissions.

However, a recent snub by Transport for London’s taxi licensing division, the Public Carriage Office, means the UK’s first zero emission taxi will not be appearing on the capital’s streets anytime soon.

The E7 is powered entirely by cutting edge Lithium-ion batteries. These give the electric E7 a range of up to 100 miles from a single charge and a top speed of 60mph.

Producing no carbon, particulates or other pollutant emissions, the E7 is eligible for a 100% discount from vehicle excise duty, as well as lower daily running costs.

With rising fuel prices an increasing problem for taxi drivers, the electric E7 is cheaper to run than a traditional black cab. Allied’s confidence in the technology is underlined with batteries featuring a six-year warranty and the base vehicle boasting a two-year unlimited mileage Peugeot warranty.

The electric E7 also provides full wheelchair access. Thanks to its large rear-passenger area wheelchair users can enter the vehicle more easily and be turned into the correct position for travel, before being secured safely with high-quality wheelchair restraints and passenger seat belts.

“We’ve had a positive response to electric vehicles from many local authorities, both in the UK and in Europe. However it’s a shame that London looks set to miss out, especially since its famous taxi fleet is currently responsible for 4% of all emissions in the capital,” he added.

The E7 will cost £39,450. To put this into perspective, a London style black taxi based on a TX4 silver automatic is in the region of £35,455 on the road.
Sounds OK until you look at the mileage between recharges, myself and most drivers I know do a lot more then a measly 100 miles in a day. Plus in reality the top speed of 60MPH would feel like you were going backwards on the motorway. Nope come back when they can do 250miles and 80MPH and then maybe there would be some interest.

Monday, July 14

Another Tin Shed

Now that Barrow's Mall frontage has been completed after its thirty year overdue renovation I have been asking my fares what they think of the new look. The vast majority like me think it’s a cheap and nasty bodge up. Comments from my fares include “It doesn't go with the red brick and sandstone of the surrounding buildings" and "It looks like a giant washing machine or fridge" or "It's just been covered with cheap and tacky white tin sheets."
 I suppose anything is an improvement over what went before but Barrow folk deserve better than yet another tin shed, we seem to have cornered the market with those already. What makes it look even worse is the nasty splodge of badly laid cheap tarmac masquerading as a pavement outside the front.

Sunday, July 13

Railway Club Hits the Buffers

After over a hundred proud years Barrow's oldest social club is to finally close its doors for the last time. The Railway Club on Barrow's St Georges Square was originally formed as the Furness Railway Employees Sick Club and Benefit Society. The club was in existence even before Barrow Central Station was opened in the 1880s.
 It was then accommodated in part of the building that was the railway offices in St.George’s Square and the present premises were those of the departure station of the old Furness Railway company, which date back to 1864.
 After surviving two world wars and the decline of the railway industry the club has finally hit the buffers.
 Ursula the club secretary tells me that unfortunately along with a lot of other local working men’s clubs the place just isn't paying its way.
She tells me of a photograph in the club taken of some of its members in its heyday back in 1963, amazingly after 45 years one of those members still pops in for a pint every evening. Lets hope the building itself is preserved, it would be a crying shame to lose this important part of Barrow’s history.

Saturday, July 12

Fare of the Week

The "Fare of the week" award must go to a guy that I collected from Walney on Saturday. I had arrived bang on the time that he had booked his taxi and was waiting patiently outside the address. 
I could see the fare moving about inside the house and so pressed call-back to remind him that I was outside. A good five minutes later he opened his front door, as if he was about to come out, but then promptly went back inside again. I then watched in disbelief as he slowly combed his hair in the mirror and then made a snack from the fridge and sat down to slowly eat it. Finally with his hair in place and his belly full he headed towards the still open door.
 But no, when he reached the door he looked at me and pointed to his mouth, turned back and dashed back in and upstairs to brush his teeth. Some time later he strolled out and finally got into the waiting cab. As we drove toward his workplace I was stunned when he had the unbelievable cheek to say "can you put your foot down I don't want to be late for work." Needless to say my foot didn't go down at all even though I couldn't wait to get this sloth of a man out of the car. When we arrived at his workplace insult was added to injury when he was 20 pence short of the cab fare.
 Mmm some customers you can live without eh!

Friday, July 11

The End is Nigh

Another small piece of British history is about to be consigned to the dustbin, Westminster City Council will next month use new legislation to remove sandwich boards from the streets. Unfortunately it's said that the rest of London will soon follow suit, wiping out a colourful form of performance street art. Anybody who has studied any of the weird and wonderful characters who do the job will know what I mean. Under the new laws, sandwich-board men and the companies they advertise face fines of up to £2,500 if they fail to comply with the ban. The change is part of a £10 million plan to improve the so called ambience of the shopping district. It sounds more like a case of joining the rest of the England’s bland cloned high streets to me. Sandwich boards in years gone by were often used to carry spiritual messages with zealous wearers often using them to tell passers-by that the end of the world was nigh, doom was upon us. So finally after all these years they have been proved right, but unfortunately it’s the sandwich board men themselves that are doomed. I only wish that we were allowed to carry advertising on our cabs here in Barrow as they are in the bigger cities. They tell me that big money is to be made using your taxi as a mobile poster, I for one would be up for it, but maybe not a ”The End is Nigh” type poster.

Thursday, July 10

Granny Wars

Two grandmothers on mobility scooters had to be dragged apart after getting into a fight where they were "ramming each other like dodgems" in a supermarket.

The women were separated after they started trading blows in front of shoppers in an aisle of the Iceland store in Crawley, West Sussex.
They were prized apart after staff heard screams.
A store worker said: "It was shocking.
"Seeing these two old ladies going for each other like that was truly disturbing."
The shelf-stacker, who did not wish to be named, added: "They could have been seriously hurt - they were ramming each other like dodgems."
Cops were called to the scene after the warring pensioners - who were pals - fell out over money.
They arrested one of the pensioners, who has not been named, on suspicion of assaulting the other 78- year-old woman who suffered an injury to her arm. She was later taken to hospital.
The grand-daughter of one of them said: "The two of them met some months ago and this lady was always at grandma's house.
"They became really friendly but fell out massively over money."
It is not yet known whether charges will be brought.
It is not the first time mobility scooters have been used dangerously.
In Rugby, Warwickshire, the policy introduced a speeding clampdown on mobility scooters, which can reach a top speed of 8mph, after a series of collisions and near misses in the town centre.

Monday, July 7

Phoney Nee-Naw

Over the last few weekends it seems that we have had a lot more blaring sirens and blue flashing lights than usual.
 Has a crazy fire bug been at work or have Barrovians turned into clumsy klutzes constantly injuring themselves? 
 Nope I don’t so, especially not since I saw that the vans being driven at breakneck speed through the busy streets of Barrow aren't actually bona-fide emergency vehicles.
 But still the laughing drivers seemed to be having the time of their life’s charging through red lights and ignoring all the normal rules of the road. From what I have since been told, it seems that Barrow’s streets are being used as some sort of training ground for would be emergency services drivers.
 We all know that these guys have to practice to gain the necessary skills but a little advance warning would have been nice. After watching the way some drivers react when they hear a siren coming up from behind them it could end up needing the real emergency services, to deal with the heart attacks caused.

Sunday, July 6

Too Pink?

A local Barrow taxi driver has had a serious complaint made about her car. She was told to take it to the Town Hall where the evidence was photographed for a decision to be made by council licensing officers. Pretty serious stuff huh! But what was the complaint, which was made anonymously direct to the Town Hall by someone all about, to justify being taken this seriously? Was the car filthy or smelly or worse still, in a dangerous condition? Were the tyres bald or the steering faulty; did a spring from the upholstery pierce some passengers butt? Well surprisingly it was none of those. The person had complained because the taxi was in their opinion TOO PINK! What sort of miserable sad sack would go to the trouble of writing and complaining that a taxi was TOO PINK? Maybe someone with way too much time on their hands or maybe some macho type guy who didn't like the idea of riding in it because it would make him unsure of his own masculinity. The taxi in question has been personalized by one of our lady drivers, who has a soft spot for the Pink Panther cartoon character. Pink accessories inside include a steering wheel cover, seat belt protectors and furry dice. Most folk wouldn't find it over the top or too garish in any way and lots of her fares, especially the young and the young at heart love to ride in the Pink Panther.
We drivers spend the majority of the day in our taxis and some like to add the odd personal touch to the cab to brighten up the place and make it feel more homely. In my opinion anyone who can seriously object to this must surely have big problems in their own sad grey little lives.

Saturday, July 5

Wrong Footed

Whoops! Looks like I’ve' gone and put my big foot in it yet again. When I went to pickup from a local supermarket the fare turned out to be a couple, and the man happened to have a wheelchair. They both got quickly into the car, out of the rain, him into the front seat and her into the rear and I got on with loading the wheelchair into the boot.
 As I did so I noticed something wrong and thought I would be helpful and tell the couple. "One of the wheelchair footrests is missing" I shouted through the open driver’s door. No response and so I shouted it again this time louder. Absolutely no response, they both stared straight ahead and seemed to blank me out. "Oh well some folk just don't want to be helped" I thought as I got in to drive away.
 I was just thinking that this would be one of those awkward silent journeys when the guy in the front started to chat about the awful weather. It was when I turned to look at him that I noticed that he was lacking one of his legs.
 Doh! That’s why the wheelchair only had one footrest; me and my big mouth eh!