Effluvia

We just learned a new word: Effluvia: ‘an unpleasant or harmful odour or discharge’. Homes across London remain at risk of being flooded by effluvia as a result of the capital’s Victorian sewage system and heavy rainfall. The London Flood Review concluded current infrastructure is unfit for purpose, especially in extreme weather. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Previously Posted: Journey to the Mystic East

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.

Journey to the Mystic East (13.11.09)

“Olympic Route Network”, the phrase just conjures up a route for graceful athletics to compete on. The Greeks would have given the road from Marathon to Athens an appropriately romantic title.

As predicted by CabbieBlog priority lanes are proposed between the West End and Olympic Park.

The Olympic Committee has argued that the distance and time taken necessitates giving Olympic officials and organisers a dedicated priority lane on London’s already overcrowded roads.

So while anybody foolish enough to drive in London during the 2012 Olympics sits in a traffic jam, the Olympic Lane will be quieter than the London Mayor’s Cycle Fridays, which aimed at encouraging commuting by bike. Unfortunately some days only two bikers showed up at a cost of £68.80 each. Olympics officials wouldn’t get out of bed if a derisory amount like that was going to be wasted on them.

But the reason that the Olympic organisers are staying in the West End and not the myriad of decent hotels built in London’s Docklands is simple: Wives; their husbands idea of a perfect day might be to watch men throwing spears or hammers, but the wives want to shop. And while all the hotel chains have 5-star hotels near the Olympic Park there is no Harrods or Harvey Nichols.

While we are constantly being told that 2012 is going to be the greenest Olympics in history, its organisers intend to gridlock large parts of central London with stationery traffic pumping out high levels of fumes by taking away 50 per cent of the road capacity. And if you have the temerity to venture into these acres of empty tarmac you will get, courtesy of Transport for London a fine of £5,000.

All this to enable a favoured few to drive 16 miles every day back and forth to their hotels unimpeded.

As they say “it’s not the winning that counts, but the taking part”. Unless that is, you are trying to work in London to pay for their “taking part”.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Coffee House

COFFEE HOUSE (n.) Purveyor of an expensive liquid refreshment said to invigorate one who doth partake.

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

November’s monthly musings

🚓 What Cab News

Recently in just one week the Public Carriage Office issued just seven new taxi driver licenses and plated 32 new black cabs. Conversely Transport for London licensed 539 new private hire vehicles and 400 aspiring drivers in this one mammoth week of licensing in London netting over £125,000 in new private hire licensing fees. The Capital’s traffic congestion can only get worse.

🎧 What I’m Listening

Goldsmiths have produced a series of street sounds titled London Street Noises, compared with those made in 1928, which at the time, drew attention to London’s rising noise levels. Leicester Square in 1928 has horses, noisy vehicles and many horns sounding, Goldsmiths’ recordings taken at the same location, day and time have people enjoying their leisure in 2018 and only the sound of pigeons during the lockdown in 2020. Fascinating.

📖 What I’m Reading

With all the razzamatazz of the opening of Battersea Power Station, I’ve revisited Up In Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station by Peter Watts. Well-researched and effortlessly entertaining Peter Watts tells the whole, long sorry story of the site, from its industrial past to its future as a gated millionaires’ reserve. Saved from demolition by Michael Heseltine who gave it a heritage listing to annoy Margaret Thatcher who hated the edifice. So big you could, should want to commit suicide, accelerate a car from 0-60 within its walls. He relates how four owners over many years saw their best-laid plans frustrated by the sheer scale of the project they’d taken on. This is the story, not only of a building but of a city.

📺 What I’m watching

Fellow blogger BeetleyPete pointed me to the BBC’s London Collection, a personal compilation by Simon Jenkins comprising old documentaries. First transmitted in 1996, Modern Times: Streetwise looked at the tough training regime undertaken by black cab drivers as they prepared for one of the hardest examinations they will ever take – The Knowledge. It was filmed during my last year on The Knowledge, so I knew many of those featured.

❓ What else

For years FeedSpot has been devising tables from data on the number of ‘hits’ that a website receives. On their 100 Best London Blogs and Websites, CabbieBlog has usually languished around 50ish pushed into that place by all the female ‘influencers’, even Diamond Geezer has rarely made it into the top 20. Now recently I find CabbieBlog at number 26, probably due to the fall in long-form blog posts with influencers moving on to Instagram and their ilk. Another table, the World’s 60 Best Taxi Blogs and Websites finds CabbieBlog at the heady position of number five. Blimey!

London in Quotations: Charles Dickens

I landed in London on a wintry autumn evening. It was dark and raining, and I saw more fog and mud in a minute than I had seen in a year.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Taxi Talk Without Tipping

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