London in Quotations: H. V. Morton

To us London is a hundred different places. It is never easy to know exactly what we mean when we use the word. Indeed, to the question ” What is London? ” there is no satisfactory answer, unless it be that it is the original little walled city that still exists. It contains St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Mansion House, the Guildhall, the Bank of England and London Bridge. Thousands of people work there in the day-time, but no one sleeps there at night but the Lord Mayor of London and a few hundred caretakers. Yet the physical boundaries of this ancient city are still visible. It is still possible to walk along the line of the Roman Wall that centuries ago limited the size of London to one square mile.

H. V. Morton (1892-1979), In Search of London

London Trivia: The Lady of Justice

On 27 February 1907 the Old Bailey, at a cost of £392,277 was finally opened by King Edward VII. On top of the 67ft high dome a 12ft gold leaf statue was placed of a ‘lady of justice’ holding a sword in one hand and the scales of justice in the other; she is not, as is conventional with such figures, blindfolded. Over the main entrance to the building figures were placed representing fortitude, the recording angel, and truth.

On 27 February 1557 the first Russian Embassy opened in London, within a year a trade mission brought sable skins opening up trade routes between England and Russia

The Neckinger River and the street get their name from ‘devil’s neckinger’ London slang for a handkerchief or the hangman’s noose

Marble Arch was built as the entrance to Buckingham Palace until it was realised that the arch was too narrow for Queen Victoria’s carriage

At Holy Sepulchre Church lies buried Captain John Smith who was rescued by Pocahontas when he was Governor Virginia, Pocahontas is buried at Gravesend

On 27 February 1975 PC Stephen Tibble, a policeman for only 6 months, was shot in Baron’s Court, hours later London’s first bomb factory was found

The gargoyles on the façade of The Natural History Museum depict the extent of palaeontological knowledge at the time of its construct

Chelsea buns originate from the Bun House which stood on the junction Lower Sloane Street/Pimlico Road and patronised by royalty until 1839

Millwall (Rovers) were formed in the summer of 1885 by workers at Morton’s Jam Factory on the Isle of Dogs

The Austin FX-4 taxi was introduced in 1958 and remained in production until 1996, only the Mini surpasses this record for a British vehicle

The term ‘Black Friday’ was first used in 1866 when the private banking house of Overend, Gurney and Co collapsed causing panic in the City

No throughfare is called a road in the City. Road is a corruption of the word ride and the streets of the City were too narrow for carriages

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.

Previously Posted: My Enlarged Hippocampus

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.

My Enlarged Hippocampus (21.03.09)

London Black Cab drivers are renowned for being ultra-brainy: we are expected to memorise the routes of up to 25,000 different roads in the capital, along with places of interest, important buildings, miscellanea, and we are not given a licence until we have demonstrated we have “The Knowledge”. And boy, can we talk politics and solve the world’s wrongs! With 70 per cent of trainees dropping out along the way and some Knowledge “boys” taking up to five years to qualify. Although your blog author only took 4 years 10 months and 13 days, I wasn’t counting!

Scientists have now discovered that cab drivers have a strong internal sense of direction that in many people is absent. The scientists found the brain area known as the hippocampus was larger than average in cabbies. This area of the brain starts firing neurons like mad as their cab driver owners ruminate on what route to take from A to B.

Researchers at the Wellcome Trust put dozens of cabbies in a brain scanner, asked them to play a computer game recreating London streets and then analysed their brain activity.

“The hippocampus is crucial for navigation and we use it like a ‘satnav’,” Dr Hugo Spiers of the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience at University College London told the BA Festival of Science in Liverpool. “London taxi drivers have powerful innate satnavs, strengthened by years of experience.”

He identified three types of cells behind the satnav effect: place cells map our location, direction cells tell us which way we are facing and grid cells how far we have travelled.

In addition, it is said that if you can drive in London, you can drive anywhere. One notable London cabbie was Fred Housego an ordinary working-class London Taxi Driver who won the BBC TV programme Mastermind, normally populated by posh lecturers and civil servants, with his amazing memory for random general knowledge, and his ability to memorise his chosen subject for study.

A recent study also found that an enlarged hippocampus might be the reason why people with dementia might not show signs of the condition. “A larger hippocampus may protect these people from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease-related brain changes,” announced Deniz Erten-Lyons, MD, with Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, at the American Academy of Neurology 60th Annual Meeting in Chicago.

So you see CabbieBlog has an amazing brain compared to the rest of humanity, or has Alzheimer’s and is unaware of it . . . now where DID I put my glasses!


Statistics 2021

This last year will go down in the history of CabbieBlog. It started with a fairly healthy number of hits, with the previous month (December 2020) having the highest number ever, with everyone at home the hit rate was bound to rise. Unfortunately with everyone returning to the home office numbers have been on a downward slide this year, although it is reassuring that CabbieBlog has attracted a core of regular readers and commentators. Thank You All.

Never content with CabbieBlog’s appearance again minor changes have been made: social icons, a Ko-Fi donation button and weekly London Quote. London Grill has made a reappearance and at the start of every month a quiz titled Test Your Knowledge, thank you all for contributing and taking part.

On a less upbeat side, I’ve been trying to cope with WordPress’s Block Editor and found it impossible – see last Tuesday’s post.

So with more information than is reasonably necessary, here are the annual blogging statistics for 2021. 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

Difficult to gauge, for instance, CabbieBlog has 173 followers on Bloglovin’ so none of their views will be recorded, but according to my basic counter the numbers of visitors has increased, but those willing to loiter around have also increased.  CabbieBlog has attracted a number of regular readers, which, I suspect have found their way from BeetleyPete, which is very encouraging. (Average hit rate per visitor: 2020 – 1.6118; 2021 – 1.6216). This year sees an increase of 13 per cent I the number of visitors and page views.

Visitors – 28,403
Pageviews – 45,781

Visitors – 31,986
Pageviews – 51,871

CabbieBlog’s readers from abroad

The different countries whose residents have viewed CabbieBlog again include Jersey (at 19), Guernsey (at 5) and Isle of Man (at 10), as if they were sovereign countries in their own right and curiously the European Union (at 14). The United States leads our curious cousins with 7,133 a rise since last year’s 5,544 hits.

2020 – 137 individual countries

2021 – 140 individual countries

Number of comments

The yardstick of a blog must be how many of its readers decided to metaphysically put pen to paper and comment, and this year, despite, or because of COVID-19, has seen exponential growth of 76 per cent. I’ve said it before,  one of the delights of blogging for me – and one of the things that keep me going – is the interaction with others that it gives us. There is a number who regularly comment on my posts, and whose posts I visit and comment on too. I’ve never met any of them in ‘real-life,’ or even spoken on the phone or by one of the messaging apps, but they feel like friends like we’re in a community together. And sometimes we get a kind of chat going in the comments too, which I always enjoy. To all of you, again a huge thank you for your encouragement or discouragement. Your comments keep me submitting regular posts for your perusal. I’m delighted, obviously.

2020 – 169

2021 – 296

Number of ‘Likes’

When you have a super, intelligent and engaging blog that is blessed with visitors that clearly repeatedly like to Like, you are in a favourable position. On 15th November 2021 the Burghers of WordPress informed me that CabbieBlog has received a total of 1,000 Likes during its lifetime. So you see the Likes are on a huge upward trend, again a huge thank you for touching the ­­­Like button at the foot of every post.

2020 – 359

2021 – 739

Followers of CabbieBlog

My e-mail updates only include a brief description so many of you 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 inciteful posts, but thanks for following CabbieBlog.

2020 – 1,315

2021 – 1,368

Posts written

Most of this year’s output has been new material, although Monday’s Quotations were not obviously written by me and therefore are not included in the count. This year’s increase is mainly from the addition of Wednesday’s Johnson’s London.

2020– 209

2021 – 231

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 lie many posts with only a few views a year, and some I suspect just sit there patiently waiting to be noticed.

Highest post
London myths debunked – 2,282
Lowest Post
Site Unseen: Gwynne House– 15
Highest page
13 Survivors – 1,491
Lowest page
Privacy Policy – 15

Highest post
London’s top-secret tower – 1,303
Lowest Post
Extreme London – 17
Highest page
The Knowledge – 2,846
Lowest page
The small print – 20

Pages written

This year no new pages have appeared on CabbieBlog.

2020 – 0

2021 – 0

Number of words written

My average output of about 1,500 words written each week has remained virtually the same this year as for last year.

Words – 84,748
Characters – 489,994

Words – 83,468
Characters – 487,420


If you ignore the search engines, clocking up an impressive 25,300 hits, social media referrers are Twitter at 413 and, surprisingly, as I haven’t an account, Facebook at 1,739.

Diamond Geezer
The Telephone Box

Diamond Geezer

In conclusion

This post is, of course, my highlight of the year, it also takes the longest to write, unfortunately, my readers don’t share my enthusiasm. Last year only 42 of you bothered to click on Statistics 2020, with only 4 viewing this incisive post since last March.

The Knowledge

Knowledge numbers are down 95 per cent from their halcyon days. Is anyone surprised? Back in the 1960s and 70s, it took on average 9 to 12 months to complete The Knowledge. Move into the 1980s and 18 months was average. Learn the first 5 pages on blue book apply for your first 56 appearance, no idiotic map test, no silly redlines, no stupid turnarounds in the back end of Hackney, Highgate or Herne Hill.

I’m 100 per cent convinced The Knowledge has been purposely made much harder which has led to a massive drop of candidates.

Throw in private hire, ply for hire apps and London grinding to a halt with reductions in road widths, and who will bother doing The Knowledge? And just to make absolutely sure force us into a £70,000 cab.

I’m expecting the usual nonsense about it will mean lowering standards if The Knowledge is made quicker, and the crap about learning 20,000 obscure silly points necessary.

Ask yourselves are you a better cab driver having just completed The Knowledge recently, than me or someone older who has done it in less than 12 months.

Remember they want us gone that’s why it takes years the pass The Knowledge, if it’s not reformed and quick we will be in gone and London’s taxis will be like every other city.