All posts by Gibson Square

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

Blogger Bonding

quill This blog is six months old today and your humble scribe has been amazed by the number of hits this site has received from you all out there in Cyber Space. Total hits to date wordpress com stats

This list is by way of a thank you to everybody who has commented on my posts, in praise or otherwise, and those linking their site to CabbieBlog. Just think of it as a spot of mutual back scratching.

The Cabbies Capital; Silver Tiger; The Londonist; Crafty People; I Am London; Cabbie Blog; Diamond Geezer; Evening Standard; Channel 4; Europe a la carte; House Price Crash; London Leben; Warm Tea and Sympathy; London Bobby; The Robinsons Music; Jazamatazz; Shenelles Blog; Mellor; Rachel-Catherine; Patrick Hamilton; Dave

If I have omitted any of you out there and you want including please post your site address on the comment button above. Or maybe you’d like to click on a few of these links to see what you’re missing.

Sponsor A Pothole

Now here’s a question for you, and no conferring. How many potholes are there on Britain’s roads? The answer is to be found at the bottom of this post. Oxford City Council has proposed a plan to ‘Sponsor A Pothole’ because it does not have enough funding to cover the cost of maintaining the streets. A spokesman said the scheme would ‘reward’ businesses and local people who paid for pothole repairs with roadside signs ‘in honour’ of their contribution.

[L]ondon’s worst offender has to be The City of London its roads are so bad they have better roads in Iraq. As a cabbie, my arms ache with the vibration travelling up the steering column, when traversing the City’s streets.

It’s amazing isn’t it? One of the wealthiest square miles in the world and the streets that Dick Whittington imagined were paved with gold, now need a 4×4 to negotiate.

So instead of discarded McDonald’s packaging left in the gutter, soon we might have signs proclaiming in no parking yellow ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ stencilled across the tarmac.

Need more information click this link for everything you wanted to know about potholes, but to get you started there are estimated to be more than 1.5 million potholes on Britain’s roads.

The Yellow Peril

Call me a naïve cabbie – something I am often accused – but I thought that the yellow police appeal signs were a sensible way of helping to solve crime and not merely a vulgar way to decorate and bring colour to London’s streets.

But it would appear the bright yellow police signs appealing for witnesses to serious offences will no longer decorate London’s streets.

[I]n an attempt to reduce ‘fear of crime’, the Metropolitan Police has effectively banned the use of the distinctive signs in all but exceptional circumstances. Presumably rape, murder, serious assault and armed robbery don’t constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’, because they were the only ones to gaily bring colour to the pavements of Brixton and Peckham.

Now officers can request their use in exceptional circumstances, but any such requests must be authorised by a ‘specialist crime directorate commander’. So I want you all to go down to your local nick and request to talk to your ‘specialist crime directorate commander’. He’s not to be confused with the odd job crime directorate commander who’s in charge minor crimes like dropping litter and allowing your dog to foul the pavement.

Someone in the higher echelons of the Met has become aware that in crime hotspots several yellow signs were being put up at once and presumably thought it showed the police in a bad light, as if crime was out of control.

As a London cabbie I know that the Met are doing their best at preventing ‘specialist crime’, I see dozens of police in yellow high visibility jackets on the streets every night stopping motorists. But doesn’t that make it look that motoring offences are out of control?

Open All Hours

I am bereft; my little corner hardware shop has closed.  The family-owned  Aladdin’s cave for do-it-yourself has served the community for more than 60 years closed after losing its battle against the recession, rising rent – and gangs of youths. Opened just after the Second World War, this little gem of a store has been passed down through three generations of the same family, and has become something of an icon in our town centre.

[T]he owner, who has worked in the store since he was a 12-year-old, attributes its decline with the loss of nearby Woolworth’s store which has deterred customers from shopping in the area and rent rises.

He has also had to contend with gangs of youths, who loiter outside the shop, frightening away many of his older customers. The boys in groups of up to 14 hang around outside the supermarket next door, getting in the way, swearing at customers, asking customers to buy them drink and cigarettes and abusing them if they don’t.

When I had no idea what I needed for the task in hand, a small description to John or Jim, describing it as: “a square gizmo, you know that one that . . .” and they would patiently find the required item, carefully wrap it (in a brown paper bag naturally) and charge me but a few pence for the item, the advice was gratis.

Now if I want a left-handed thingamajig, I’m going to have to drive two miles to an enormous out of town warehouse, park in their car park with its burger van improving the ambience of the retail park by dispensing food, just in case I feel peckish after my long drive.

Nobody around inside to advise me, if I do stumble across my goal, it will be packed in 50s, my local shop would sell one item if necessary and all the time, reverberating around my head are tannoy announcements “will the ‘ardware managa’ come to the front desk”.

An In-Convenience Truth

Westminster Council who aspires to become the most anti-social borough in London must be fearful that it is in danger of losing its ranking.

For not content with pursuing a regime of traffic enforcement that the Taliban would like to emulate, they now have turned their attention to a more basic function than motoring parking offences, namely reducing its provision of public toilets.

[O]ver the past few years public conveniences have been closing at an alarming rate, so critical has it become, that London Mayor Boris has even suggested that private shops and restaurants open their doors (so to speak) to facilitate the public’s needs.

Then recently under cover of darkness, in a clandestine operation, Westminster Council filled the public conveniences at Oxford Circus with concrete. But never mind they provide a text-based service providing you with all the information you need to find a toilet in their borough (80097 TOILET at a cost of 25p if you’re interested). I was told at 9.20 in the evening that I would have to walk best part of a mile from Oxford Circus to use one of their toilets.

The more charitable among you might presume that the time chosen to fill these toilets with concrete was so that drivers were not inconvenienced (sorry again about that) by the lorries. But I would remind you that Westminster Council now collects more income from parked cars than from taxpayers, so they are hardly car friendly.

The Council plans to provide a £5 million diagonal pedestrian crossing at this intersection modelled on the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, ignoring the fact that, while Japanese assiduously cross a road at the designated points, in London jaywalkers are knocked down on a regular basis in Oxford Street, completely ignoring the correct crossing points.

Westminster City Council’s Cllr Danny Chalkley said while commendably keeping a straight face:

This new crossing, which will transform Oxford Circus and ensure visitors who emerge from the Tube are impressed by what greets them, is part of a whole series of improvements taking place to ensure the West End looks truly world class in time for 2012.

The developers hope to have the new crossing ready in time for the Christmas lights switch-on in November. It is just a pity no-one will be able to have a pee.

As a footnote, in 200 years time when archaeologists are excavating these Edwardian toilets they might be surprised to find mummified corpses down there encased in concrete, caught having their last ‘comfort stop’ before Westminster poured concrete down the staircase.