As another year draws remorsefully to a close I’ve taken the opportunity to draw inspiration from my journal.
I have extracted some of the strange behaviour that Londoners are prone to exhibit. Some of the public’s antics have amused or provoked and others just exasperated me.
These are a few as seen by me through windscreen while driving my cab.
[I] had a family of Germans in the cab tonight. Dad wanted to know what is Foxtons? He was quite surprised when I told him they are just estate agents. He couldn’t work out why an estate agent would have a plasma screen and a bar at the entrance.
[A]re they all mad? Driving down Marylebone Road with its 6 lane dual carriageway at 28mph (honest officer) having just passed Baker Street Station, some idiot runs across the road having to swerve to avoid me. There were at least 30 people by the pedestrian crossing waiting for the lights. He just couldn’t wait his turn, must have a death wish.
[I] have just seen a man riding a customised bike up Tottenham Court Road with two children on board, one in front sitting on the handlebars the other as a pillion passenger, none wearing head protection, and no rear lights in the dark.
[O]ccasionally, just occasionally a rather strange series of events play out in a working day. My first job was to pick up actor Ralph Fiennes and take him to an editing suite in Soho. Within yards from dropping him off I was hailed by a guy in a wheelchair. As I was lowering the ramp he told me, and you’ll just have to suspend disbelief here, he had just been asked by a beggar for £15. Whatever happened to “Got any spare change Gov’nr?” Half an hour later, in the back of the cab, I found a camera case with a digital camera memory card within, but no camera. I inserted the card into my own camera that I always carry for the blog. Returning to the rather swish restaurant (OXO Tower) where my fare was dining I proffered my phone showing the punters image to the Maître’d and got him to scour the darkened restaurant. Errant punter found I returned to my cab with a self satisfied smug look and little else.
[L]ots of traffic as there often is in London after heavy rain. Trying to join a major road the brand new Ferrari next to me has stuck his shiny red nose across the major road’s bike lane. Lycra Man on his £2,000 bike spits on his bonnet as he passes – only in London eh?
[A]bsolutely pouring with rain today, so what do I get? I get an idiot crossing the road in front of me with a cardboard box over his head; he hadn’t even cut out some eyeholes so he could see me bearing down upon him.
[I]t is twenty minutes past midnight and just when you think you’ve seen every possible stupid trick a cyclist can make along comes one that leaves you agog. I’m joining Piccadilly from Bolton Street and a cyclist jumps the lights heading towards Hyde Park Corner. But unlike most of the kamikaze traffic light jumpers he has his mate sitting on the handlebars. Without lights – naturally – he peddles furiously around one of the world’s busiest intersections, wobbling as his 12 stone passenger is preventing him move the handlebars effectively.
[I] don’t think a day has gone by since the Romans arrived in London that Bishopsgate has been free of roadworks.
[W]alked through the Blakemore Hotel’s foyer as water started pouring from the ceiling the manager was booking a minicab at the time – poetic justice
[T]onight I was hailed as I drove through Eaton Square and shown a picture of a car park taken on an i-phone. Do I know where we have parked our car? The usual question and answer game ensured whereupon we were all agreed that it was under Kingston House opposite Hyde Park and we were proved right.
[A]fter re-opening Farringdon Road to vehicles after six months, so concerned were they that traffic would start to flow again, they have changed the sequence on the Blackfriars Bridge southbound lights to remain green for only 12 seconds.
[T]esco the ubiquitous retailer has its shops in almost every location. Take the one in Covent Garden it has because its loading bay in a road so small I defy most cabbies to be able to locate New Row. To stock their store Tesco despatch an articulated lorry the size of a small house, its driver just about managing to manoeuvre his vehicle into the tight space. If that wasn’t enough the geniuses in charge of logistics send their lorry at the height of the evening’s theatre going public arriving, so the driver has to contend with negotiating the vehicle as hundreds of people try to squeeze past and then try vainly to get into Strand past dozens of parked cars.
Cab cartoon: Walkabout Crafts – The online gift shop for buying and selling arts and crafts