All posts by Gibson Square

English Baby Boomers

Every now and again it strikes home that I now live in a city where those born here are in a minority, spending summers in Dorset, then returning to drive the cab, one realised amongst my passengers I was the only born Londoner – indeed, often a rarely born Englishman. To prove my assumption I present ten questions which should provide you with a barometer of how old you are, and whether you were London-born. Press on the baby boomer or Not button for find out…

1. Who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary as the first people to successfully climb the summit of Mount Everest in 1953?
Baby Boomer or Not
Tibetan mountaineer Tenzing Norgay joined Hillary as the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the two men reached the summit by late morning on 29th May 1953. After spending about 15 minutes on the peak, they began their descent, and announced it to the British just days before the Coronation.
2. What did you win on Crackerjack? What did you get if you lost?
Baby Boomer or Not
Crackjack pencil (and cheers from audience!) or a cabbage for losers.
3. Name the department store that stood on Piccadilly Circus.
Baby Boomer or Not
Swan & Edgar Ltd was was located at Piccadilly Circus on the western side between Piccadilly and Regent Street established in the early 19th century, it closed in 1982.
4. In 1952, thick smog in London caused the death of how many people?
Baby Boomer or Not
4,000 – A performance of La Traviata at Sadler’s Wells theatre in 1952 had to be abandoned as the audience could not see the stage.
5. Before London’s traffic signs and lines erupted into a riot of red, yellow and green, what was the colour-coding of all London signage?
Baby Boomer or Not
The sign colours were black and white.
6. Who was still performing sand dances in Leicester Square right up until it was pedestrianised?
Baby Boomer or Not
Keppel, Keppel and Betty’s ‘sand dance’ that formed the highlight of their act was a parody of postures from Egyptian tomb paintings, combined with references to Arabic costume. The lithe and extremely lanky Wilson and Keppel wore long moustaches and make-up made them appear almost identical and demonstrated their impressive suppleness in adopting wild gestures and dancing in identical ‘stereo’ movements, while Betty joined their antics. The act included a soft-shoe routine performed on a layer of sand spread on the stage to create a rhythmic scratching with their shuffling feet.
7. Winifred Atwill, Russ Conway and Mrs Mills were all – what?
Baby Boomer or Not
Pianists.
8. What was a Red Rover?
Baby Boomer or Not
Red Rover was a days travel ticket on, well red buses.
9. Picture Book. The Flowerpot Men. The Woodentops. Andy Pandy. Rag, Tagi and Bobtail. Who’s missing?
Baby Boomer or Not
Muffin the Mule with Annette Mills.
10. ‘Stone me – what a life.’ What day of the week is it?
Baby Boomer or Not
Tony Hancock in ‘ancock’s Half Hour, on the Light Programme every Tuesday evening.

Previously Posted: I’ve Got The Hump

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.

I’ve Got The Hump (27.01.09)

Kwik Fit Fitters could be the sponsors for these carbuncles growing on virtually every street in The Capital. Every regular driver in the City knows to their cost these humps inflect on the suspension.

Last week I encountered 127 road humps on a single shift, yes I know I’m an anorak but I derive a perverse pleasure compiling these statistics.

Putting in 50 standard humps on three or four connecting residential streets costs about £150,000 and some of the more upmarket ones are wonderful works of art, worthy of exhibiting in the Tate.

In the Borough of Islington, they have even constructed humps on short cul-de-sacs, now it is proposed to remove them and impose a blanket of 20 mph on all roads in their borough.

Some of my customers even ask me to make detours of up to a mile to avoid these obstructions in Islington and have you noticed the nouveau rich now buy 4x4s just so they can travel over these humps at 40mph, while the rest of us mere mortals, apart from white van man can only go at only half their speed?

Do emergency vehicle drivers have to wear gum protectors to spare their teeth when on a shout?

So here’s my suggestion, if we are to keep vehicle speeds down to a reasonable level, cameras loads of them. Okay I know we have more CCTV cameras in London than we can shake a stick at, and average speed cameras are useless as journey times across the Metropolis are down to Victorian averages. A set of eight average-speed cameras covering four residential streets cost £250,000.

Produce the cheaper normal speed cameras concealed in hanging baskets and stick them on every lamppost, a double whammy, beautiful streets and an income for The Burgers of London.

And you never know Rachel de Thame might be tempted on Gardener’s World to extol the virtues of speed cameras in hanging baskets, or should she appear on Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson.

Don’t get caught speeding, travel by Licensed Black Taxis for your comfort and security. Complementary opinions are available on current affairs, politics and football. Ask any driver for details!

Postcard: London 1963

Today marks the 59th anniversary of my commencing a six-year composing apprenticeship in Clerkenwell, at the time an area populated by Italians behind delicatessen counters, greasy spoon cafes. Opposite the factory was the huge Old Holborn tobacco factory on the corner of Leather Lane market and just down the road the beautiful St. Peter’s Italian Church which was commemorating 100 years of welcoming worshippers.

This wasn’t the Swinging Sixties beloved of writers, but old badly maintained Peabody social housing, wide-boys selling hookey gear from suitcases in the market and huge bomb sites.

This great photograph from Christopher Fowler’s excellent blog via the postcard archives of London, shows Piccadilly Circus in 1963, emerging from the austerity of the fifties, but minus the huge snowfall we endured earlier that year.

What surprises me is the vividity of the circus-like colours (forced, obviously, but still very jolly – click to enlarge). Buses each manned by a clippie, only one person sitting on the Eros steps (I’ve never seen that even at night). I rather liked the bright lime green minivan and notice the majority of adverts were for booze and fags.

The number of cars equalled cabs, you’re not likely to see that today, also the nearest cabs were ancient FX3s and note the absence of nearside doors leaving the driver open to the elements.

But most of all I like how the vehicles look like Dinky Toys.

Lack of cabs

After the murder of Sarah Everard, London’s Mayor vowed to protect women when travelling around the city. At the same time, Sadiq Khan has taken 9,000 perfectly serviceable cabs off the road. By my calculations that means nearly half-a-million fewer available journeys per week. Just saying.

Johnson’s London Dictionary: Shard, The

SHARD, THE (n.) Transparent phallic edifice erected near bridge’s vicinity. Upon proffering a fee one can be conveyed by ascending carriage to the summit to observe London’s panorama

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