Turned out nice again

I don’t know about you, but it always seems to be raining here. It wasn’t so long ago when you could identify a prospective fare from an American tourist due to the light beige raincoat draped over the arm.

So it’s come as a surprise that London is the second driest city in Western Europe. At 21.9 inches of rain a year, just behind Marseille at 20.3, and gratifying way ahead of Paris and Berlin.

Glasgow leads the way when it comes to rain at 44.3 inches a year. Glasgow also leads the way as the least sunny of Europe’s major cities, with an average of just 1,203 hours of sunshine a year, from June to September it receives less sunshine per month than any other European city. London trails along in 4th position with 1,410, even Manchester gets six hours more sunlight a year.

Unsurprisingly London doesn’t come anywhere near the top for the coldest city in Europe but can claim to be one of the hottest. The first four positions have been taken by France: Marseille, Nice, Lyon and Paris, with London at an average of 59.5ºF.

London in Quotations: Paul Verlaine

A flat black bug, that’s London.

Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), The Sky above the Roof

London Trivia: Bomb death

On 29 August 1975 Roger Goad, an explosives officer with the London Metropolitan Police, was called to look at a suspicious package on Kensington Church Street, he attempted to defuse the bomb, but it exploded, killing him instantly. The bomb had been placed by the IRA unit that was eventually captured at the Balcombe Street Siege.

On 29 August 1963, John Fowles complained to his diary that there were no houses available in Hampstead for under £15,000

Shad Thames was known as Jacob’s Island a notoriously dangerous place, featured in Oliver Twist where Bill Sikes meets his end hanging by a rope above Folly Ditch’s mud

The 1.8km long Limehouse Link tunnel cost £293 million to build in 1993, around £163,000 per metre, making it Britain’s most expensive road scheme

Cock Lane opposite Bart’s is where John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, died of a fever in 1688

Catholic monarch Mary Tudor watched Protestant martyrs burn at the stake at Smithfield from the gatehouse of St Bartholomew-the-Great

In An American Werewolf in London (1981) its lycanthropic protagonist, David meets his timely end in Winchester Walk, Borough

The Savoy Hotel’s Chef Escoffier created the dish Peach Melba for opera singer Dame Nellie Melba who was a regular guest

Oldest surviving regular contest in the World Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race rowing up the Thames between two Swan pubs: London Bridge to Chelsea

The London taxi must have a turning circle no more than 25 foot to enable it to U-turn from a cab rank and to complete a single turn outside the Savoy Hotel

The toothbrush was invented in Newgate prison by William Addis in 1770. Inspired by a broom, he inserted bristles into an animal bone

Petticoat Lane is not on any London map as it was renamed Middlesex Street in 1830, though known to Londoners it doesn’t officially exist

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.

Where to Now, Gov?

Last January I wrote Parting company with TfL, laying out the demise, as I saw it, of the London black cab.

Little did I realise then just how successful Transport for London would be in reducing the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles on London’s streets.

On 1st August TfL published its fortnightly statistics covering the number of vehicles and licences in service on London’s streets.

The previous week there was a decrease of 20 licences (22 surrendered and 2 issued}, while 13 vehicles were taken off the road and 14 new vehicle licenses issued.

On the face of those figures not much seems any different from any previous week in August.

Until you drill down to the cumulative figures. Comparison with 10 years ago show a very different story: 2011: 22,558 vehicles (2021: 13,461), all London drivers’ licences 2011: 21,499 (2021: 18,341). Private hire record an even more dramatic change with operators numbering 3,111 in 2011 (2021: 1,955) and drivers recording a dramatic rise to 61,200 in 2011 (2021: 105,329).

All this has not gone unnoticed in the national press. The Daily Telegraph ran a piece by Oliver Gill, their chief business correspondent with the headline ‘Black cab slump to the lowest level since 1983 as a quarter of drivers quit’.

The transport union RMT have called on ministers to work with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to introduce emergency support measures following Department of Transport figures showing a catastrophic 29 per cent drop in the number of licensed vehicles, the lowest since 1983. From that, they extrapolated there has been a drop of more than 5,000 wheelchair accessible vehicles operating in the capital.

So there you have it. Get caught on a TfL vehicle without a face mask, and a valid excuse, you get fined or refused transportation. Find yourself in the vulnerable position of needing some kind of aid (wheelchair accessibility, low steps or swivel seats), and I’m afraid you’ll have to wait some considerable time.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Self-Isolate

SELF-ISOLATE (v.t.) Diktat imposed by His Majefty fervants to thwart fair maidens doth displaying their charms to produce happinefs to men in publik

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