Statistics 2018

It’s been an eventful year for CabbieBlog. In February I retired promising to write more insightful posts. About then, I invited readers to become patrons, with the incentive of gaining access to extracts from Pootling around London.

[R]egular readers might have noticed that the site’s typography has changed, it was something I’ve been wanting to do for some time. I am using Noto Serif Regular as it is a classic font style that’s perfectly suited for reading longer articles as it was designed for displaying on a website. Contrasting Noto serif font is Montserrat Bold a stylish sans face for use in headlines both displayed in 16pt with 1.6 leading, a combination with abundant white space should make it even faster to read and absorb the information, including this fascinating post. Whether reading on a laptop, tablet or phone I feel the new layout is considerably easier to read.

Here’s the annual blogging statistics for 2018. As before, with the data amassed over the last year, I’ve broken it down into bite-sized chunks with comparable figures for the previous year.

Blog visitors and page views

The numbers of visitors have increased slightly and those willing to loiter around CabbieBlog have increased quite substantially, which is been very encouraging. (Average hit rate per visitor: 2017 – 1.630; 2018 – 1.737).

Visitors – 32,951
Page views – 53,718

Visitors – 34,255
Page views – 59,503

CabbieBlog’s readers from abroad

The slight increase of foreign visitors could be the result of residents of poorer countries gaining access to the web, or that CabbieBlog is getting recognised around the world. The different countries whose residents have viewed CabbieBlog again include Jersey and Guernsey as if they were sovereign countries and curiously the European Union with 1,166 visits, a huge rise from the 308 visits last year, presumably the result of what they are about to lose when we Brexit. The United States leads our curious cousins with 12,851 a substantial rise from last year’s 7,727 hits.

2017 – 131

2018 – 137

Number of comments

The yardstick of a blog must be, how many of its readers decided to metaphysically put pen to paper and comment. To all of you, again a huge thank you for your encouragement or discouragement. Your comments keep me submitting posts for your perusal. Social media is increasingly reactive these days, and a much smaller proportion of people now write long-form posts providing the original material that everyone else comments upon. But at least what comments CabbieBlog receives are intelligent, relevant and insightful. I’m delighted, obviously.

2017 – 76

2018 – 124

Number of ‘likes’

It would appear that some of you have taken to the cyberverse to mark your approval of CabbieBlog in the form of a ‘like’, a huge thank you. In 2017 CabbieBlog was ‘liked’ less than for 2016, but curiously as I write this in mid-February 2019 CabbieBlog has already attracted 12 ‘likes’.

2017 – 38

2018 – 12

Followers of CabbieBlog

I seem to have found a number of followers who were hiding that had previously signed-up for regular e-mail updates. My e-mail updates only include a brief description so many of your will have had to peruse the site to read the full post. I can’t calculate how many times you have taken the trouble to follow these notifications and read my incitful posts, but thanks for following CabbieBlog.

2017 – 174

2018 – 1,252

Posts written

Having promised to produce more during retirement, due to a trapped nerve, I lost the use of my hands, clearly, this restricted my ability to write, and so I resorted to re-publishing old posts. Many are now being read for the first time and I have received many compliments. Before you all start writing ‘get well’ messages I am now on the road to recovery. So the total posts and number of words do not reflect new material. Having said that, included are new 52 trivia posts, published on Sundays.

2017– 157

2018 – 156

Most viewed and least viewed posts and pages

It has to be said that some subjects take on a life of their own while others just sit in cyberspace minding their own business. At the bottom of the table lie many posts with only one view a year, and some I suspect just sit there patiently waiting to be noticed.

Highest post
London’s top secret tower – 2,295
Lowest Post
White bikes – 1
Highest page
Green cab shelters – 4,536
Lowest page
Time Out – 12

Highest post
London’s top secret tower – 1,440
Lowest Post
London Trivia: Bear fight– 1
Highest page
Green cab shelters – 2,328
Lowest page
Time Out – 34

Pages written

Due to having to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) a number of new pages have had to be written.

2017 – 8

2018 – 3

Number of words written

As I mentioned before I have written substantially less this year so the word count includes new material and re-published work. It does not include Sunday’s trivia posts.

Words – 71,809
Characters – 408,300

Words – 71,329
Characters – 415,241


If you ignore the search engines (with Google clocking up an impressive 25,311 hits). The next highest referrers are Twitter at 411 and just behind them is Facebook at 347.

Taxileaks – 223
Londontopia – 157

The Hackney Hack – 48
The Telephone Box – 46

Sitting in the back

Now retired there has been no ‘bums on seats’.

Thandie Newton (actor)
Ol Parker (writer, director, producer)

In conclusion

This post is, of course, my highlight of the year. Unfortunately my readers don’t share my enthuiasm. Last year only 13 of you bothered to click on to read Statistics 2017.

London Trivia: For Valour

On 24 February 1857 Buckingham Palace announced that 62 veterans of the Crimean War would be the first-ever recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest award of the honours system. Crafted from Russian guns seized at Sebastopol. Awarded for gallantry ‘in the face of the enemy’ the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients. Only 15 medals have been awarded since World War II.

On 24 February 1601 Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, was beheaded at the Tower of London for leading a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I

Architect Harry Newton in 1861 suggested building a pair of massive mid-stream islands on the Thames to house the Central Criminal Courts

Next to Barclays on Fleet Street is a half-timbered house over the gateway to the Temple, it survived the Great Fire and dates back to 1600

London is the greenest city of its size in the world, literally – 40 per cent of Greater London is made up of green, open spaces

On 24 February 1920 Nancy Astor, the first woman MP made her maiden speech, becoming the first woman to speak in Parliament

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote I want to hold your hand and Eleanor Rigby at 57 Wimpole Street (McCartney’s attic flat)

On being shown Louis XIV’s embalmed heart the Dean of Westminster eat it claiming “I’ve eaten most things, but never the heart of a king”

Only two MPs have run the London Marathon under 3 hours, best Matthew Parris at 2:32.57 in 1985 and Doug Henderson achieved 2:52.24 in 1989

Only 45 per cent of the Underground is actually in tunnels and the deepest station is Hampstead on the Northern line, which runs down to 58.5 metres

Cockfosters is a very old area, previously known as ‘Cock Fosters’ and is believed to have originally meant the residence of the cock, or chief forester

The $100bn International Space Station controlled from Korolyov, Moscow, and Houston, Texas is operated using Greenwich Mean Time

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.

Bonaparte’s Body Parts

All cabbies know the location of Napoleon Bonaparte’s nose but few would have realised that at Christie’s in 1972 an appendage belonging to the Emperor of a more personal nature appeared at auction.

[N]APOLEON BONAPARTE DIED in May 1821 and with claims as to the manner of his demise no fewer than 17 witnessed the autopsy which was carried out the day after he died by his own doctor, Francesco Antommarchi in the company of seven English doctors and two of Napoleon’s aides, a priest named Vignali and a manservant. The Emperor instructed that his heart be removed first and sent to his wife Marie-Louise but that vanished before it could be delivered. The stomach was examined next and it was generally agreed that cancer was the cause of death, although recent claims include the suggestion that he was poisoned. Nothing else is recorded as having been removed during that surgical examination.

Stored away for posterity

Decades later it was commonly rumoured that Napoleon’s penis had been cut off and had been stored away carefully during the autopsy. No recorded confirmation exists of this and if true one can only suppose that when all 17 had their backs to the corpse Boney’s manhood was quickly snipped off with nobody noticing afterwards he had something important missing.

However, in a 1913 lecture, Sir Arthur Keith, conservator of the Hunterian Collection at the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons (certain Napoleonic organs were supposedly in the museum’s possession), ventured what seems to be the indisputable opinion that, given the number of witnesses, the brevity of the autopsy (less than two hours), and the fact that the guy was, come on, Napoleon, the loss of the penis would not easily have escaped notice.

Napoleon’s friend Vignali who administered the last rites was left a large sum of money in Napoleon’s will as well as numerous unspecified “personal effects”, and later Napoleon’s manservant claimed In a memoir published in 1852 in the Revue des mondes that Vignali had indeed been the culprit who removed the body part, although the claim was never corroborated.

In 1916 Vignali’s descendants sold his collection of Napoleonic artefacts to a British rare book firm, which in 1924 sold the lot for about $2,000 to a Philadelphia bibliophile, A. S. W. Rosenbach. The inventory at the time refers to “the mummified tendon taken from Napoleon’s body during the post-mortem”.

One inch long and resembling a grape

During the 1930s A. S. Rosenbach was displaying the “tendon” in a blue velvet case and describing it as Napoleon’s penis. It later would be the centrepiece of a display at the Museum of French Art in New York, how that could have been described as art is anybody’s guess – but Damien Hurst get away with it. A newspaper at the time contradicted Napoleon’s assertion that he was well endowed describing the exhibit as “something like a maltreated strip of buckskin shoelace or shrivelled eel . . . one inch long and resembling a grape”.

Not tonight, Josephine

At Christie’s the London auction house in 1972 the putative penis was put up for sale complete with the velvet-lined case, but having failed to reach its reserve price was withdrawn – probably not for the first time when it was in full working order – leading a scandal mongering British tabloid to trumpet, “NOT TONIGHT, JOSEPHINE!”. Eight years later it popped up again in a Paris auction house and was brought rather appropriately, by John K. Lattimer, a retired professor of urology for $3,000. At the time of writing the penis is still, as it were, in the family of the late Professor Lattimer’s hands.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 22nd July 2011

Marie Colvin’s church

Most of us would derive some amusement from watching a wedding cake disaster on YouTube – well as long as it wasn’t our own – but for the inspiration of the tiered wedding cake that we know today it is no laughing matter.

[T]he extraordinary tiered spire of St. Bride’s Church just off Fleet Street was used by a local baker, a certain Mr. Rich, as the inspiration for the bridal cake design that we now take for granted. St. Bride’s didn’t get its name from the cake; the cake design copied the church spire and made the baker rich in more than just name.

Now the church spire is starting to collapse and the building has become so precarious that an appeal called INSPIRE has been formed for crucial maintenance.

Designed by Christopher Wren

The present building is probably the seventh St. Brides to stand on the site dating back to the 7th century and is one of only six churches that Wren is believed to have worked on alone: St Martin Ludgate, St Antholin Budge Row (which is now demolished), the incomparable St Stephen Walbrook, St Clement Danes, St Mary-Le-Bow and St Bride’s.

St. BridesSt. Bride’s Church’s famous spire was added in 1701-1703 and originally measured 234ft but in 1764 a lighting strike knocked off the upper 8ft.

This section was bought by the owners of Park Place, Berkshire, where it still resides.

The estate of Park Place was recently sold for a reported £140 million and also featured in the St. Trinian’s film.

Benjamin Franklin’s conductor

Presumably in an effort to stop the steeple being damaged again, the surviving spire has a lightening conductor designed and fitted by the American republican and inventor Benjamin Franklin (he was also a printer), but only after a row about whether American blunt-ended conductors or British pointed-end conductors should be used. I haven’t as yet climbed to the top to find out who won the debate.

Printer Wynkyn de Worde set up his first press beside the church and diarist Samuel Pepys was baptised there and was a regular member of the congregation. The church’s association with printing and journalism go back to the times that Fleet Street was the centre of Britain’s newspaper industry.

But where news gather Reuters former building has a sparkling clean stone frontage, St. Brides, lying just behind, stands mouldering away, with cracks appearing inside and out, with many of its lions’ heads and other grotesques high on the spire eroding almost unrecognisable and in danger of falling to the pavement.

Despite previous restoration efforts, St Bride’s has faced major problems since the Second World War. In 1940 it was almost completely destroyed by German bombs. The roof was lost, as was the original interior, and a long-sealed crypt was blown open. The bodies found there are now objects of study for the Museum of London. In the basement of the church today are the skeletons of hundreds of medieval Londoners, lying beneath the new concrete foundations.

The Fourth Estate

As the journalists’ church, St. Bride’s is a poignant reminder of the profession’s connection with Fleet Street and the importance of the Fourth Estate. An altar in the north aisle commemorates journalists who lost their lives in the line of duty.

Marie Colvin

Marie Colvin who died in the Syrian city of Homs made this speech at St. Bride’s on 10th November, 2010 on the importance of war reporting:

Your Royal Highness, ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured and humbled to be speaking to you at this service tonight to remember the journalists and their support staff who gave their lives to report from the war zones of the 21st century. I have been a war correspondent for most of my professional life. It has always been a hard calling. But the need for frontline, objective reporting has never been more compelling.

Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction and death, and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks, not just for yourself but often for the people who work closely with you.

Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children.

Our mission is to report these horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice. We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado?

Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices. Sometimes they pay the ultimate price. Tonight we honour the 49 journalists and support staff who were killed bringing the news to our shores. We also remember journalists around the world who have been wounded, maimed or kidnapped and held hostage for months. It has never been more dangerous to be a war correspondent, because the journalist in the combat zone has become a prime target.

I lost my eye in an ambush in the Sri Lankan civil war. I had gone to the northern Tamil area from which journalists were banned and found an unreported humanitarian disaster. As I was smuggled back across the internal border, a soldier launched a grenade at me and the shrapnel sliced into my face and chest. He knew what he was doing.

Just last week, I had a coffee in Afghanistan with a photographer friend, Joao Silva. We talked about the terror one feels and must contain when patrolling on an embed with the armed forces through fields and villages in Afghanistan … putting one foot in front of the other, steeling yourself each step for the blast. The expectation of that blast is the stuff of nightmares. Two days after our meeting, Joao stepped on a mine and lost both legs at the knee.

Many of you here must have asked yourselves, or be asking yourselves now, is it worth the cost in lives, heartbreak, loss? Can we really make a difference?

I faced that question when I was injured. In fact one paper ran a headline saying, has Marie Colvin gone too far this time? My answer then, and now, was that it is worth it.

Today in this church are friends, colleagues and families who know exactly what I am talking about, and bear the cost of those experiences, as do their families and loved ones.

Today we must also remember how important it is that news organisations continue to invest in sending us out at great cost, both financial and emotional, to cover stories.

We go to remote war zones to report what is happening. The public have a right to know what our government, and our armed forces, are doing in our name. Our mission is to speak the truth to power. We send home that first rough draft of history. We can and do make a difference in exposing the horrors of war and especially the atrocities that befall civilians.

The history of our profession is one to be proud of. The first war correspondent in the modern era was William Howard Russell of the Times, who was sent to cover the Crimean conflict when a British-led coalition fought an invading Russian army.

Billy Russell, as the troops called him, created a firestorm of public indignation back home by revealing inadequate equipment, scandalous treatment of the wounded, especially when they were repatriated – does this sound familiar? – and an incompetent high command that led to the folly of the Charge of the Light Brigade. It was a breakthrough in war reporting. Until then, wars were reported by junior officers who sent back dispatches to newspapers. Billy Russell went to war with an open mind, a telescope, a notebook and a bottle of brandy. I first went to war with a typewriter, and learned to tap out a telex tape. It could take days to get from the front to a telephone or telex machine.

War reporting has changed greatly in just the last few years. Now we go to war with a satellite phone, laptop, video camera and a flak jacket. I point my satellite phone to south southwest in Afghanistan, press a button and I have filed.

In an age of 24/7 rolling news, blogs and Twitters, we are on constant call wherever we are. But war reporting is still essentially the same – someone has to go there and see what is happening. You can’t get that information without going to places where people are being shot at, and others are shooting at you. The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people be they government, military or the man on the street, will care when your file reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen.

We do have that faith because we believe we do make a difference.

And we could not make that difference – or begin to do our job – without the fixers, drivers and translators, who face the same risks and die in appalling numbers. Today we honour them as much as the front line journalists who have died in pursuit of the truth. They have kept the faith as we who remain must continue to do.

It is a monument to a city in flux, retaining the memory of the great press men and women who once made Fleet Street a unique place. St. Bride’s must be saved. Support the appeal and preserve one of London’s greatest buildings.

To find out more about the INSPIRE! appeal or to donate, visit

Featured image: Marie Colvin by Democracy Now (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US)

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 2nd March 2012

London Trivia: Naked Tamils

On 17 February 1987 Tamils from Sri Lanka seeking asylum in Britain protested at Heathrow by removing their clothes as they were being deported, stripping off on the tarmac in freezing weather conditions. Amid a frenzied scuffle with security personnel, they were forcibly placed onto the awaiting aircraft which was bound for Dhaka. They were removed soon afterwards after their loud protests onboard drew complaints.

On 17 February 1932 the Twit Club at 18 Piccadilly advertised for new members: ‘wishing to partake in the delights of the Capital’

Bells are rung at Grays Inn and The Tower of London every evening to warn citizens to extinguish their fires. Ritual dates from Norman times

Brydges Place named after Catherine Brydges daughter of 3rd Baron Chandos at 15 inches at its narrowest point is London’s tightest alley

In an attempt to clean up London, an Act of 1829 means that you could be fined £200 if beat your carpets outside in the street before 8am

Frederick’s Place is an 18th century house where Disraeli once worked, now home to a pop up repertory season

In 1938 the first 1,000 miles of motorway was planned by surveyors using a crayon on a map given away with the saucy men’s magazine Tit-Bits

From the top of the London Eye you can see up to 40 kilometres in all directions (that’s as far as Windsor Castle on a clear day)

A race by ‘running footmen’ from Clerkenwell to St. Albans in 1618 was said to have won the Duke of Buckingham £3,000 in bets

Cabs have to be designed with adequate headroom enough for a gentleman passenger sporting a top hat should you get a job for Ascot

In 1812, the London and Westminster Gas Light and Coke Company became the world’s first gas company, chartered to light the City, Westminster and Southwark

The nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel refers to the act of pawning one’s suit after spending all one’s cash in the pubs of Clerkenwell

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.