London Trivia: Moorgate tragedy

On 28 February 1975 the 08.37 tube from Drayton Park to Moorgate, packed with commuters overshot the platform and ploughed into a dead-end tunnel at over 30mph. The driver and 42 passengers died, a further 74 were injured, many seriously. Working to relieve the dead from the train took until 4 March before the last body, that of the driver was recovered. No cause of the crash was ascertained.

On 28 February 1948 King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, his two daughters went to see Danny Kaye at the London Palladium, the first non-command performance attended by a reigning monarch

Gallows Corner so called because the crossroads was popular with highwaymen holding up stagecoaches erecting gallows saved transporting them

When constructed the QEII Bridge was the longest cable-stayed bridge in Europe and the first bridge built east since Tower Bridge in 1894

London’s doctors prescribe 116 million items a year with amlodipine for heart disease/hypertension in the lead with 3,517,000 pills @ £1.42

During World War II 77 Baker Street was requisitioned by the Special Operations Executive, using it as a Homing Station for message-carrying pigeons

The 007 stage at Pinewood Studios is so large it housed the entire Greek fishing village in the 2008 musical Mamma Mia!

Ambassador Coach Travel of Great Yarmouth offered orbital coach tours of the M25 when it opened, the excursions were sold out for months

The placename Millwall originates from the windmills that previously lined the western embankment of the Isle of Dogs

Between 1984 and 2004 Russ Kane travelled 1.5 million miles of the M25 without any delays in the Flying Eye reporting on traffic jams

Truefitt & Hill at 71 St James Street are the world’s oldest barbers having been established in Long Acre in 1805

St Pancras was a 14 year old Christian orphan who was martyred in Rome in AD 303, his relics were returned to England in the 7th Century

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.

The End of the Beginning

Journeys. Everyone is always talking about a journey: Life’s journey; journey of a lifetime; a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. To add to that canon of sayings I give you ‘A blog’s journey’.

My on-line journey has taken in being contacted by three BA students, whose courses somehow covered something of the cab trade, to an MA student using CabbieBlog in part for their thesis. While participating in a French travel guide, I had to sign a consent form in French (I suppose it was, not understanding the language). An American website, devoted to England, featured a piece by me about Green Cabbie Shelters and an international credit card company took it on themselves to feature this humble cabbie.

Naturally, most London centric magazines and newspapers have popped into CabbieBlog’s virtual office requesting information or a quote. The national broadcaster once had me sitting at the side of the Thames in my cab asking for my opinion, something I can supply to my customers for free.

Talking of television appearances, I’ve turned down Tony Robinson twice, nothing personal, I just wasn’t available. And surprisingly for the bible of lost cultures, National Geographic wrote a piece about cabbies after interviewing me I suppose they considered the London cabbie is now on the endangered list.

Her Majesty the Queen was given the benefit of my thoughts when I wrote for a book which was presented to her during the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, the wider public has been denied this as my memoir which was due to be published by Michael Joseph will not be seeing the light of day.

CabbieBlog’s journey started with a single step in June 2008 and really has travelled a thousand miles. I’ve turned down as many opportunities as I’ve accepted and my voice has been heard on a podcast produced over 4,000 miles away.

So what is the point of this post, or indeed the reason to blog?

Obviously, vanity, thinking the world wants to know your opinion of London and discover the life of a cabbie. Writing regularly does help you organise your thoughts rather than have random ideas. For me, it has certainly improved my English, although reading this you might wonder how bad it was before I started all those years ago.

The 1 per cent rule

Uploading matter does set you apart from the crowd with the 1 per cent rule. This estimates that only 1 per cent upload new content, while the other 99 per cent merely read or pass it on, this is self-evident on social media sites. Not that this post is all that original much of which regarding CabbieBlog’s history I’ve featured before.

But it does discipline you, here I post three original posts a week and regular posting brings you into the orbit of like-minded souls. You get together, and nerd out about things that only you and a chosen few can get so excited about. You create material and share what you have. You swap stories. It’s also hugely satisfying to introduce people to the culture of sharing and discovering something about London.

The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

What I get back from these blogger’s relationships goes beyond the affirmation of my written word, or the occasional piece of well-received advice. It’s a gateway to a community that keeps helping me do what I like doing, furnishes me with the tools and know-how, and supports me to get better at it, so obviously it’s the End of the Beginning.

To me, that’s exactly what a hobby is, and should be.

Featured image: End of Story by Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0) Alpha Stock Images

On This Day

Twelve years ago, or to be precise, at 13.50 today CabbieBlog published its first post on WordPress. After tinkering around on different platforms the URL had found its perfect spiritual home.

So apart from this momentous event, what else happened on 23rd February 2009?

It was Feast Day of Saint Polycarp of Smyma, who died in 510AD and Brunei celebrated its National Day.

Australia’s bush fire casualty rose to 210 deaths, and perversely American Express offered a bribe of $300 to a limited number of cardholders to pay off their balances and close their accounts.

Considering I was still a typesetter at the time of this first posting, I’m rather pleased that it coincided with when Johanne Guttenberg first put ink to paper on his bible on 23rd February 1455, and just like this blog he didn’t make any money from his enterprise.

But probably the most important event that happened was on 23rd February 1963. Peter Hicks, who sold his produce in Covent Garden market, attached a mechanism to his car, normally used by farmers to electrify fences, as part of a private vendetta against traffic wardens. Paying £30 a week in fines for parking his Land Rover and 50 lorries he was getting parking tickets almost every day.

He electrified his car initially as an anti-theft device and had not had a parking ticket since he made sure all his lorries also were electrified by being parked bumper to bumper behind his Land Rover.

London in Quotations: Charlotte Brontë

The City seems so much more in earnest: its business, its rush, its roar are such serious things, sights and sounds. The City is getting its living – the West-End but enjoying its pleasure.

Charlotte Brontë (1815-18560) Vilette, 1853

London Trivia: Gentleman in velvet

On 21 February 1702 while horse riding at Hampton Court Park, William III’s horse stumbled on a molehill, throwing the King from his mount. The King broke his collarbone, his health, which had never been strong, deteriorated rapidly and he died 15 days later on 8 March. The Jacobites, supporters of James II who had died in exile, still raise a toast to ‘The Little Gentleman in the Black Velvet Waistcoat’, who made that little hill.

On 21 February 1934 the German ambassador’s dog Giro was accidentally electrocuted, given a full Nazi burial, Giro now lies at 9 Carlton House Terrace

In 1836 a sewer worker penetrated the Bank of England’s bullion room and was given a reward for showing how he breached the bank’s security

Adelaide House completed in 1925 was the first building in the City to employ the steel frame technique at 141ft the tallest block in London

Christopher Wren’s tomb in the crypt of St Pauls Cathedral is inscribed “Reader, if you seek his monument, look about you”. How very true

In 1940 from Room 36 at Brown’s Hotel the Dutch exiled government declared war on Japan since it wasn’t broadcast Japan was hardly terrified

The Beatles A Day in the Life immortalises Tara Brown, Lord Oranmore’s son who in Redcliffe Gardens “blew his mind out in a car . . .”

On the London Eye capsules travel at a leisurely pace of 26cm per second, which is twice as fast as a tortoise sprinting

Only seven Wimbledon Championships since 1922 have not been affected by rain delays promoting Centre Court’s retractable roof

Cabbies are still required to carry sufficient foodstuffs for their horse, so our luggage compartments can still accommodate a bale of hay

World’s first fire insurance company was started in London after The Great Fire, it employed firemen to protect only policyholder’s property

The Mayflower pub is licensed to sell American postage stamps for allowing the Pilgrim Fathers to leave for America from its landing stage

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.