Previously Posted: Journey to the Mystic East

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.

Journey to the Mystic East (13.11.09)

“Olympic Route Network”, the phrase just conjures up a route for graceful athletics to compete on. The Greeks would have given the road from Marathon to Athens an appropriately romantic title.

As predicted by CabbieBlog priority lanes are proposed between the West End and Olympic Park.

The Olympic Committee has argued that the distance and time taken necessitates giving Olympic officials and organisers a dedicated priority lane on London’s already overcrowded roads.

So while anybody foolish enough to drive in London during the 2012 Olympics sits in a traffic jam, the Olympic Lane will be quieter than the London Mayor’s Cycle Fridays, which aimed at encouraging commuting by bike. Unfortunately some days only two bikers showed up at a cost of £68.80 each. Olympics officials wouldn’t get out of bed if a derisory amount like that was going to be wasted on them.

But the reason that the Olympic organisers are staying in the West End and not the myriad of decent hotels built in London’s Docklands is simple: Wives; their husbands idea of a perfect day might be to watch men throwing spears or hammers, but the wives want to shop. And while all the hotel chains have 5-star hotels near the Olympic Park there is no Harrods or Harvey Nichols.

While we are constantly being told that 2012 is going to be the greenest Olympics in history, its organisers intend to gridlock large parts of central London with stationery traffic pumping out high levels of fumes by taking away 50 per cent of the road capacity. And if you have the temerity to venture into these acres of empty tarmac you will get, courtesy of Transport for London a fine of £5,000.

All this to enable a favoured few to drive 16 miles every day back and forth to their hotels unimpeded.

As they say “it’s not the winning that counts, but the taking part”. Unless that is, you are trying to work in London to pay for their “taking part”.

December’s monthly musings

🚓 What Cab News

Rishi Sunak has said the so-called ‘golden era’ of relations with China is over. His speech, at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, came after a BBC journalist was arrested, beaten up and kicked by police while covering a protest in Shanghai. The Prime Minister told the audience: “We recognise China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism.”

Website Taxi Leaks then asked: So where does that leave the Taxi trade in regards to the LEVC TXE, the only London Taxi on the market produced by the Beijing company Geely?

Geely is already struggling after losing £118m last year, forcing them to lay off 140 of its staff. It’s also been reported in ‘Wired’, that the company may concentrate on manufacturing an electric vehicle for Uber, which it sees as a much larger market, compared to the Taxi trade.

With the danger of a monopoly, London’s regulator was asked: “What plans have TfL in place should Geely stop production of the only available London Taxi? So far, no reply!

One alternative would be converting ‘classic’ taxis from diesel to 100 per cent electric, which is what Clipper Cabs does, but this has not been approved by TfL.

🎧 What I’m Listening

London Undone is a podcast about City of London churches. Twice a month journalist and Blue Badge Guide Catherine Cartwright takes you to a church and gives you an in-depth tour.

📖 What I’m Reading

The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers: A Question of Knowledge by Ruth Finnegan. As an anthropologist, Emeritus Professor of the Open University, Finnegan takes a detailed look at the intriguing subject of taxi drivers’ lives, considering work practices, life stories, immigration and their social mobility. The work is claimed to be the first piece of research into those behind the wheel hidden in plain sight.

📺 What I’m watching

Mark Monroe on his Secrets of London YouTube channel has made a video titled ‘London’s most famous taxi driver!’ It is a great watch featuring among others Fred Housego.

❓ What else

This year on 1st January, for reasons that now escape me, I decided to blog every day. Now at the 364th day I’m nearly there, despite also taking the decision to self-publish my memoir with all that entailed. In fact it wasn’t until I read Cathy Cade’s piece: My Fourth Mini Bloganuary in late January I realised WordPress were encouraging one to daily blog. So here it is, my penultimate post of 2022

Mapping black spots

The London Cycling Campaign has named the most dangerous junction systems in London. They are in King’s Cross, the Shoreditch Triangle and Holborn. The London Cycling Campaign held an event at the House of Commons where they announced plans to publish ‘a full list of more than 20 dangerous junctions via an interactive map covering all of London in early next year’. It’s about time someone did it.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Temple Bar

TEMPLE BAR (n.) Much travelled struckture found now by St. Paul’s Cathedral that despite its name is neither a place of worship nor an obstruckson to one’s perambulations.

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

What I didn’t blog this year

Or what I couldn’t be bothered to blog about. A lot has happened in London this year from the Queen’s funeral to having three residents living in Mr Chicken’s old pad in Downing Street, much of this has not been mentioned here on CabbieBlog.

So here in no particular order is what this year has escaped the attention of this website.

With far more resources than CabbieBlog, I thought I’d let Hugh Edwards and the BBC cover her late Majesty’s final journey, and watched it on Sky News.

Having made the occasional appearance here, Sadiq Khan’s trip to a cannabis farm in America was studiously ignored.

Likewise, the decision to remove the controversial Euston Road cycle lane was greeted by the merest smirk at CabbieBlog Towers.

Shamefully no mention was made of the report that London’s rough sleepers have jumped by 24 per cent, studying The Knowledge and seeing how many homeless there were once shocked me.

The long-awaited completion of Crossrail – sorry Elizabeth Line – only got a mention regarding its corporate colour.

The cable car had three names this year without being acknowledged here: starting with Emirates Air Line, by June it became the prosaic London Cable Car, transmogrifying into the snappy named UFS Cloud Cable Car.

Despite having read Up in Smoke: The Failed Dreams of Battersea Power Station by Peter Watts the official opening of yet another rich man’s gaff in London passed with barely a backwards glance.

Wennington village became the poster boy for climate change when 20 per cent of the properties were destroyed by fire on Britain’s hottest day, as the much-visited Rainham Marshes by this website is nearby, a paragraph or two should have been devoted to the most important concern of our lifetimes.

Should I have told the world of the death of ‘Gorgeous’ George Vyse, London’s most colourful and sartorial elegant cabbie? Ironically he died following a collision with a moped, the very vehicle used on The Knowledge.

Despite featuring CabbieBlog on several occasions, the demise of Time Out on London’s streets after 54 years didn’t even get a shout-out.

Sadiq Khan’s new HQ, the pretentiously named The Crystal opened without fanfare, so at CabbieBlog we didn’t celebrate the event.

And did I mention reaching an age milestone this year? Thought not.