All posts by Gibson Square

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

Masters of the Universe

I’ve lost count of the number of times “how’s business” has been said to me recently. Who do they think I am Warren Buffet? Well for all of you who have not had the advantage of travelling in my cab. Supporters of these Master of the Universe in banking say that their international telephone number salaries are to attract the Brightest and the Best, well if what has happened this year is from the Brightest and Best, give me Useless and Stupid any day.

[M]argaret Thatcher once proclaimed “you cannot buck the markets” and a light touch regulation was all that was required.

In reality, the governments on both sides of the Atlantic have now had no alternative but to bail out these banks run by the Masters of the Universe, because in an ironic twist of the Keynesian maxim that if you owe the bank £10,000 you’re in trouble, but if you owe them £10 million they’re in trouble. So if these banks are not supported the likely outcome will be not a recession but a full blown depression not seen since the 1930s.

The ramifications of this financial meltdown will be felt by every person in this country for generations. In bailing out these morons the immediate effect is that the government will have to look for savings elsewhere, that that means fewer schools, hospitals, roads, and a cut in real terms in benefits. With large scale redundancies in banking we cabbies will soon feel the pinch.

CabbieBlog takes the view that the government should not succumb to a knee-jerks reaction, maybe a few banks should have been allowed to go to the wall. A full investigation should be launched and radical changes made to the financial sector, the most important being that it should never again be allowed to self-regulate. What the City and hedge fund managers have been doing is the equivalent of going down the bookies and putting £1 to win using our pensions for the stake money and giving themselves enormous bonuses in return. Lehman Brothers for example owed $35 for every $1 it made. You don’t have to be a financial genius to realise that sooner or later the game would be up, even your average Cabbie would have told them, if only they had asked, but they never do.

Whinge for 25 years

This is whinge of the week or should it be called whinge of the next 25 years?

Listened on the radio today and they said there are now over 580 different scheduled road works in London, that’s not including any emergency works that crop up. Thames Water when asked for a date of completion of their much vaulted ‘Replacing London’s Victorian Water Mains’ have said it will be finished in 2035 yes!, you read right, 2035.

[T]he Victorians built the water system quicker than Thames Water are fixing it by inserting plastic sleeves into the existing pipe work. Just one example Cromwell Road the major route out west was started on 10 July and will take 18 weeks.

And do you know, I think these holes are dig by leprechauns, because I never see anyone working on them.

Why don’t they just converge on an area and work three shifts all day and night until the job is done? They say night work is not possible because it disturbs the residents, I would have thought traffic jams day and night outside your bedroom window might be a little irritating.

Are they really trying to stop London’s traffic, the bendy buses on diversion around the Oxford Street hole have jammed up half of the West End?

While apparently the traffic flow in London is now back to pre congestion charge levels. So anyone paying the congestion charge is hardly getting value for money, are they?

Some of these holes are untouched for weeks, is it beyond the wisdom of Thames Water to complete one excavation before they start another?

They can’t even get the signs right; a roadwork’s sign in Hyde Park reads ‘delayes suspected’. Is this a case for Inspector Morse? Should not the Education Secretary, the appropriately named, Ed Balls, be complemented on the rising exam result passes?

Make a cuppa and do the Knowledge

When I started the Knowledge 17 years ago you got yourself a bike, some warm clothes and set off most days to explore London whatever the weather.

One anecdote at the time was of somebody buying a Travel card and attempting to gain that coveted green badge from studying the Knowledge from the top of a double decker bus. Nowadays I suppose the lazy use Google Maps.

[B]ut for most of us it was the humble Honda C90. Along the way you first experienced Cabbies Scrotum a condition caused by sitting down for too long. The verbal exams also would be a challenge to your resolve, I was once asked to describe a journey from two places on opposite sides of the same road. When I queried it with the examiner he said “it’s raining, I’m pregnant and I’ve got a wooden leg so I need a cab”.

Now these clever people at Google have come up with a service which some lazy Knowledge students will want to try, make a cuppa and sit in the warm, call up Google Street View and bingo.

Google has spent almost a year collecting these images, with a fleet of specially modified cars, and the resultant images provide a snapshot of a bygone era before the recession hit the British high street. With many of the pictures were taken last summer, they show stores that have since gone bust, including Woolworths.

As well as the logistical challenges of taking tens of millions of individual pictures along Britain’s roads, Street View has also suffered intense criticism from privacy campaigners since it launched in the US two years ago. An American couple even went as far as to sue Google over invasion of privacy although they subsequently lost the case.

The resolution of Google Street View is amazing and you can examine every recess. Alright you still have go to Knowledge School to revise with other students, and yes, you don’t get some of your senses stimulated, like smelling the urine on the Paddington slip which for some perverse reason is used as a toilet by some cabbies.

But pursuing the Knowledge can be much more interesting than looking at images and studying a map all day, and you need a reasonable intellect to achieve your badge, but it’s a pity you’re not told how boring driving a cab all day it can be.

But how good is Google Street View at locating some obscure ‘points’ like the Texas Legation Memorial. So what will we have soon, a generation of cabbies who have strained their index fingers using a mouse?

I tell you what they’ll miss the smell of the urine!