All posts by Gibson Square

A Licensed Black London Cab Driver I share my London with you . . . The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

No litter matter

Imostly write about London as any regular – or casual – reader of CabbieBlog would have realised. I’m also in the fortunate position to be able to walk every day in suburban London and have reached an age to be categorised as a ‘grumpy old man’.

My greatest bugbear, in a closely contested long list, is litter. Brought up in post-war suburbia when any waste was considered a crime, dropping anything in the street was punishable by the loss of privileges.

During lockdown I’ve taken to walking around the local roads, only to be greeted by the overly familiar sight of litter-strewn streets. This has been exacerbated by our local London authority’s inability to source brooms, at best once a month they now stroll around brandishing a grabber and plastic bag which enables them to remove any large items.

Once it took over two weeks of correspondence between me and a local councillor and then a direct notification that I instigated to the refuse department to remove rubbish [ pictured below]  which clearly couldn’t be lifted using a hand grabber.

Bottles and wrappers lie but feet away from bins – the extra few steps it would take to throw the rubbish away being evidently one step too far for many.

Beyond simply ruining my walks, and allowing my dog to supplement his diet, should I not be looking, it has had many grave environmental, economic and social repercussions.

In my opinion, the worst outcome is the damage done to animals, LitterGram claims that 70,000 animals are killed or injured annually by litter in the UK, whilst the RSPCA receives 14 calls a day regarding animals affected by litter.

Out of a total of 7,200 sites surveyed by Keep Britain Tidy, 14 per cent were found to be at an unacceptable standard for litter. While 48 per cent of respondents admitted to dropping litter, this number is only increasing, with a new incident of fly-tipping occurring every 12 seconds.

Beyond the cost to life, the financial cost is also shocking. Litter-strewn roads on average have been found to decrease the value of a property by 12 per cent, although looking at the rubbish in front gardens of many who have bought a house around here, rubbish-strewn streets seem to be an attraction.

Picking up litter is estimated to cost local authorities in the UK on average £1 billion a year, but certainly not by my council.

Another piece of research has found that if a company’s product is often seen on the street as litter, it is estimated that this can result in a 2 per cent drop in the company’s turnover, clearly McDonald’s where not included in the findings.

As was espoused by Rudolph Giuliani, New York’s mayor in the late 1990s, litter can be attributed to a lack of general safety. Dealing with minor crimes like dropping litter helps to reduce larger crimes and improve public safety, in addition, litter can damage a local sense of pride and worth, resulting in further anti-social acts.

So there you have it. Is dropping litter an ageist propensity, cultural trait or just my geographical location?

London in Quotations: Joseph Hatton

London’s like one of the flash women at Frisco – fine to look at, cruel as the snow.

Joseph Hatton (1837-1907), Cruel London

London Trivia: First doctor

On 25 July 1865 Dr James Barry, former Inspector General of Hospitals, died, it was affirmed that Dr Barry was a woman. If this was the case, then technically Barry was not only the youngest, but the first woman to graduate in medicine.

On 25 July 1914 W. G. Grace battled for the last time for Eltham Cricket Club, he was the first English captain to surrender the urn when England lost in 1891/2

Shoddy axeman Jack Ketch who bungled the execution of the Duke of Monmouth lives on today as the hangman in the Punch and Judy puppet shows

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is the most densely populated area in the UK-13,200 people per sq. kilometre (London average 5,000)

When Polly, resident parrot of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, died in 1926 her obituary appeared in numerous Fleet Street papers

The British Legion introduced the first artificial poppies in 1921 raising £106k. The Poppy Factory has been at Richmond for almost 90 years

Billy Elliot rehearses dance moves at a youth centre not in the north-east but at Hanwell Community Centre, Hanwell

Kew Gardens is unique on the Underground being the only station with its own pub The Railway which has a door that leads out onto platform 1

West Ham home ground once formed part of Anne Boleyn’s grand manor house known as Green Street House, which was demolished in 1890

Edgware Road is London’s oldest road 2,000 years ago it was a grassy track, the Romans incorporated it into their major road, Watling Street

The Post Office Research Station, Dollis Hill, built the world’s first programmable computer known as Colossus Mk 1 the size of a small room

The Fairlop Oak one of England’s most famous trees was blown down in 1820, it was used to carve the pulpit in St. Pancras Church, Euston

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.

Amy Winehouse

It seems hardly possible that it’s been 10 years to the day that Amy Winehouse died.

She was one of the most talented singers of her generation. The daughter of a London cabbie, himself also a musician, she went to the local Susi Earnshaw Theatre School before attending the famous Sylvia Young Theatre School.

Her debut album Frank, mostly co-written by her was released on 20th October 2003, with the record going on to be nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and achieving platinum sales.

She was subsequently nominated for the Brit Awards in the categories of British Female Solo Artist and British Urban Act. In 2004 she and her co-writer Salaam Remi won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song, for their first single together Stronger Than Me.

Three years later, she released her album Back To Black, featuring the singles Rehab and You Know I’m No Good, and it went on to become the biggest selling album in the UK in 2007 and to win the Grammy for record of the year for Rehab.

In the early hours of 23rd July 2011 her bodyguard found her unresponsive in her London home in Camden Town, she was pronounced dead at the scene, having, it was subsequently discovered, more than five times the legal drink-drive limit. A shocking waste of a colossal talent.

All About You Podcast

According to Diamond Geezer, blogging is endangered and outdated, because what’s the point of reading something when you could be listening to it instead?

Taking his advice I’ve made a podcast (well, strictly speaking, I just talked about myself, Sheila actually made the recording); All About You: Everyone has a story.

So instead of reading about a London cabbie and any eclectic capital centric subject that’s taken his fancy, how much better to simply sit back, press play and let my words wash all over you in handy audible chunks.

No longer will you need to find your reading glasses or pinch your smartphone screen so that the text appears in a legible size before you can read about The Knowledge. Instead, just press play and absorb my journey as a cabbie without expending any effort whatsoever.

Listen on your morning commute assuming you still have one, use it as your jogging soundtrack, mull it over during your afternoon tea break or use it as an aid to drift off to sleep. You can rewind should you want to further absorb my dulcet tones, or fast forward past any points you’ve already heard spoken by every London cabbie.

Although it may not be so great for you, because you have to invest half an hour of your day to listen to everything I have to say about London. At least with text you can read the first bit and skim down to get the general gist, or decide you don’t want to read any of the rest and go off and do something more productive. You’ll spend far less time reading something I wrote than I spent writing it, whereas with a podcast the time penalty is identical. Normally I spend hours writing text, cropping photos, checking references and adding links, but absolutely none of that is necessary to create an audio file. Instead, I simply talk for half an hour and Sheila edited and embed the file, which was brilliant.

I hope you enjoy listening to the podcast as much as I’ve enjoyed making it. What I particularly liked was that the podcast only took half an hour to make, well it would have if my laptop hadn’t sounded like a train, necessitating a second recording using my iPhone.

And if that’s not enough of me, the inner workings of my brain (but not my brain’s size) are discussed in detail on the Every Little Thing Podcast.