London Trivia: First cabbage patch game

On 2 October 1909, the first match was held at Twickenham Rugby Ground between Richmond and Harlequins. Twickenham is affectionately known as the ‘cabbage patch’ because the grounds were originally used to grow cabbages.

On 2 October 1899 the first two motorised double-decker buses ran from Victoria to Kennington Park, they were red!

There are five prisons in London and four of them were built by the Victorians (Wormwood Scrubs, Wandsworth, Pentonville and Brixton). Brixton is the oldest prison in London still in use

It was Lord Byron’s valet – James Brown – who established Brown’s Hotel in 1837. Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel is based on Brown’s Hotel

Mayfair’s most eccentric dentist was Martin von Butchell, when his wife, Mary, died in 1775 he had her embalmed and turned her into a visitor attraction to drum up more business

‘So hour by hour, be thou my guide, that by thy power, no step may slide.’ The words to Big Ben’s chimes known as the Westminster Quarters and is the most common clock chime melody

A blue plaque commemorates the site of the Tabard Inn, immortalised in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, in Talbot Yard, Southwark

The George Inn is a National Trust-owned, medieval pub in Southwark and one of the few Grade I listed public houses in England

For the London 1908 Olympics there was the first purpose-built Olympic swimming pool, at the Paris Olympics of 1900 the competitors had to race through sewage in the River Seine

A spiral escalator was installed in 1907 at Holloway Road station, but linear escalators were favoured for the rest of the network. A small section of the spiral escalator is in the Acton depot

In 1809 as part of a hoax a resident of 54 Berners Street was visited by hundreds of maids requesting jobs and tradesmen delivering goods

Medieval London’s streets moral impurity was underlined by their names: Codpiece Lane, Sluts’ Hole, Cuckold Court, Whores’ Nest, Maiden Lane

CabbieBlog-cab.gifTrivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog.
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.

Previously Posted: “Say Cheese”

For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.

“Say Cheese” (18.03.09)

There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain – about one for every 14 people – making it one of the most watched places on earth.

London alone has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million. While England has the distinction of owning 20 per cent of the world’s CCTV cameras.

But an analysis of the publicly funded spy network, which is owned and controlled by local authorities and Transport for London, has cast doubt on its ability to help solve crime.

A comparison of the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.

A recent piece of research found that during a journey across London 300 cameras recorded your movements. Police now say they can track potential suspects on their entire transit across the Capital. We have cameras for police detection, red routes, traffic lights, council by-law infringements, monitoring customers in and out of shops, and yes we even have them in cabs.

So with all this monitoring of our movements I was concerned recently when the Government announced the publication of a White Paper which proposes now to monitor all our telephone calls, texting, e-mails and internet activity, to “combat terrorism”.

Now please correct me if I’m wrong but these terrorists seem to have done far less than the IRA, and even at the height of the IRA atrocities when they were killing members of Parliament, such draconian measures were not proposed.

Recently one such “terrorist” has been found guilty after blowing himself up in an Indian restaurant toilet, giving a whole new meaning to having a dodgy curry.

The proceeds from traffic cameras go to National Government and Swindon Borough Council have said it is a blatant tax on motorists and have proposed removing these devices as the borough does not receive any financial benefit from them.

Surveillance now comes in many forms: 4.2 million CCTV cameras in England; 300 CCTV appearances a day; Registration plate recognition cameras; Shop RFID tags; Mobile phone triangulation; Store loyalty cards; Credit card transactions; London Oyster cards; Satellites; Electoral roll; NHS patient records; Personal video recorders; Phone-tapping; Hidden cameras/bugs; Worker call monitoring; Worker clocking-in; Mobile phone cameras; Internet cookies; Keystroke programmes, even in his wildest imagination could George Orwell have dreamt this up. In fact you are probably recorded on over 700 data bases each.

Now forgive me for asking a rather stupid basic question . . . isn’t the tired motorist always being told to take a break on long journeys? A young woman recently thought she was doing the right thing when she pulled into a motorway services at midnight on the way home from London to Preston. Good so far, but then she made a horrendous mistake and caught some sleep. After dozing off in the car park, she awoke at 1.30 a.m. and drove the remaining 35 miles of her journey – only, wait for it, to be sent a £50 fine a few days later. She had been caught by the service station spy cameras, which had snapped her number plate for overstaying the two-hour parking limit at Lymms Services on the M6. The CCTV shows her fast asleep in the car. All motorists who wish to stay longer than the free two-hour period have to pay a flat rate of £15 for up to 24 hours . . . sigh and goodnight!

All look at the camera now, say “Cheese”!

September’s monthly musings

🚓 What Cab News

Bilking, a funny name, for a not-so-amusing practice of running away without paying the fare. Website Taxi Point has collected bilkers who got their comeuppance. Alan Clark said: Had a lad run off, vaulted a 2ft wall and disappeared, he didn’t know it was about 20ft drop on the other side. Cabbie Jason Lake had a guy run on an £8 fare, he picked him up 16+ years later and told him. In all fairness, he paid me £20 plus the fare on the day. I asked ‘what’s the £20 for?… he said interest! Adrian Roberts had a similar scenario: I had a lad who paid me £20 upfront for an £8 fare but paid me as I started driving and said sort the change when we get there. We got to his house and he legged it shouting I’ve got no money!

🎧 What I’m Listening

For years I’ve been trying to get Suggs to submit a London Grill, but it looks like I’m going to have to satisfy myself with his Love Letters to London on BBC Sounds where he shares his fondest memories of the city with his unique wit, charm and musical highlights from his career, celebrating of what it means to be a true ‘Londoner’.

📖 What I’m Reading

Diamond Street: The Hidden World of Hatton Garden by Rachel Liechtenstein. For six years as an apprentice I worked a stone’s throw from this iconic street, home to diamond workshops, underground vaults, monastic dynasties, subterranean rivers and forgotten palaces, and before reading this book little did I realise what went on behind those unexceptional doors.

📺 What I’m watching

Passport to Freedom. Aracy de Carvalho was a young clerk at the Hamburg Brazilian Consulate. For two years during World War II she secretly issued passports to Jews without the dreaded “J” stamp, which not only wouldn’t allow them to travel but doomed them to the horrors of concentration camps. When newly appointed diplomat, João Guimarães Rosa, arrives the two fall madly in love. Loosely based on a true story, the parallel with today’s Ukraine is obvious. Why the BBC didn’t screen it not so plain, leaving its transmission to the niche Drama Channel. Aracy would later be honoured by the Yad Vashem with the Righteous Among the Nations Award. João would be known as the greatest Brazilian writer of the twentieth century.

❓ What else

One of my earliest memories is of my first year of primary school being given a ‘Coronation’ pen set. The pen’s bodies were deep red with a huge crown on their top. The trouble, in those pre-plastic times, was these heavy metal adornments ruined the balance of the writing implement. Today if I’d have found the now lost pen it could have been used to write in Her Majesty’s book of condolence, that’s if the ink hadn’t dried up and Her Majesty’s crown could be removed from the pen’s top.

Toilet Roll Turmoil

Something which is guaranteed to irritate me are toilet rolls. Go a an 3-star hotel owned by an international chain, and the underpaid room maids have been instructed to fold the paper in a triangle. Why? Another irritation is that when cretins replace a roll, they put a new roll onto the holder on the bathroom wall, arranging it so the paper does not hang in the air at the front, but is hung at the back, where it soon gets stuck to the wet bathroom wall. And while I’m on the subject I’ve noticed Waitrose are now selling for £9.50, Andrex Classic Clean Mega Toilet Roll XL Longer Rolls Big Pack12 after the manufacturer has been reducing the roll’s size for a decadeSeems like a sensible proposition to me.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Hamleys

HAMLEYS (n.) Costermonger that doth purvey accoutrements designed to silence excitable children.

Dr. Johnson’s London Dictionary for publick consumption in the twenty-first century avail yourself on Twitter @JohnsonsLondon

Taxi Talk Without Tipping

%d bloggers like this: