Category Archives: A window on My World

International Caps Lock Day

tODAY IS iNTERNATIONAL cAPS lOCK dAY. yOU KNOW…Oh, bugger!

Today is International Caps Lock Day, you know how it is, start typing an important missive and when looking up to admire your prose you’ve depressed the caps lock key.

International Caps Lock Day was the brainchild of Derek Arnold of Iowa who in 2000 decided that he, like so many other internet users, had simply had enough of people using all caps to emphasize themselves on the web. So he created International Caps Lock Day in the interest of poking fun at people who use this abomination of a typing style and to finally bring some sanity to the Internet.

On mechanical typewriters, you would typically hit both lock and shift at the same time. After this, you pressed shift by itself to release the lock. The upper case character was located above the first on each typebar’s face, and the shift key caused the apparatus in its entirety to move, physically shifting the typebars position relative to the ribbon.

The shift lock key maintained the shift operation indefinitely without continual effort. The typebars were mechanically locked in a shifted position, resulting in the upper character being typed when any key was pressed. This reduced lower finger muscle pain caused by repetitive typing because it could be challenging to hold the shift down for more than two or three consecutive strokes before this.

Because the keyboard had assumed a higher position, it was pretty obvious to the typist that the caps lock had been selected. Today this isn’t the case, you just plough merrily along unaware of your error. It should be mandatory for manufacturers to incorporate a spinning red light and Claxton every time the user depressed that pesky key.

Today there are not one but two International Caps Lock Days. The original on 22nd October, and today 28th June, this time to celebrate the anniversary of the death of Billy Mays aka the ‘Infomercial King’ who was famous for speaking in capitals, shouting into the camera about products he promoted.

June’s monthly musings

Cab News

I have a confession, as from this month I’ve become a bit of a fraud. Ever since CabbieBlog has been uploading missives, I’ve boasted about being a London cabbie. This month I surrendered my badge and bill, so I can’t claim that again. This has occurred due to health issues, the difficulty with London’s traffic, but mainly Sadiq Khan removing thousands of cabs from the fleet, resulting in an inability to find a vehicle when you want to work part-time.

What I’m Listening

For anyone who has dreamed of becoming a writer (see the last paragraph of this post) Ed Reardon’s Week, was first broadcast on Radio 4 and available to purchase, and is essential listening. Written semi-naturalistically in the style of a radio drama, it concerns the story of a curmudgeonly middle-aged writer described in the show’s publicity material as an ‘author, pipesmoker, consummate fare-dodger and master of the abusive email’. Victor Meldrew is mild-mannered by comparison.

What I’m Reading

Dr Amir Khan: The Doctor Will See You Now is a powerful story and a rare insider account of what goes on behind those surgery doors written during the Covid-19 crisis – hope and heartbreak and everything in between. I’ll never complain about the NHS again.

What I’m watching

During this Platinum Month, I’ve been immersing myself in our Queen’s Jubilee and watching Netflix’s The Crown. My earliest memory of the Coronation was being given a pen and pencil set both with matching crowns in my first year at primary school, it’s a pity I didn’t keep them.

What else

I was expecting my memoir Everyone Is Entitled To My Opinion to have been published by now. Now delayed due to my Gmail account not always allowing me to contact eBook Versions who are formatting the manuscript. It’s been a long journey from 23rd October 2018 when I agreed to write my autobiography for PenguinRandom House.

Shock! Man blogs, aged 75

Getting to become an old man of 75 got me thinking about whether I should be doing this malarky. I’ve been wondering if there is some kind of upper age limit beyond which blogging becomes inappropriate, like online TikTok performing. Oh, and it also appears that being male is apparently a disadvantage too, as, for some reason, like life, everyone looks past your missives, but with acres of thirty-something female ‘lifestyle’ blogs I think it’s time to redress the balance.

Some might say that age is irrelevant, but if that is the case why should I even mention it or write about it? My age is part of me and who I am, it gives me life experiences that I can impart to readers, not available to younger people.

Of course, I understand that ageism is still very prevalent in many industries, and I know that having been made redundant when I reached 50 and having become self-employed some 20 years ago, I have had the luxury of being protected from this. But, without that burden, I don’t keep my age a secret or shy away from mentioning it, when it suits me to do so – like now.

We can still write when we are older, we don’t lose the ability to communicate just because we are in our 70s, not our 30s, fortunately for the likes of me, I don’t have to contend with anyone telling me I’m too old to do the job, or to fit in with the younger cool kids, and I know that makes me very lucky.

Men can blog too, of course, there will be some subjects that will appeal more to one gender than another, so maybe I should start writing about football and cricket, or the 101 uses of a garden shed. But just by saying that makes me think there could be a post in there somewhere about lawnmowers down the ages.

Maybe blogging really is a female-led world? If you go to Top 100 London Blogs and Websites, the list is taken from thousands of blogs on the web ranked by traffic, social media followers, domain authority and freshness, CabbieBlog is at number 48, even top London blogger, Diamond Geezer only makes it to number 26, and yet 33 out of the 75 listed are lifestyle blogs, all by females, mostly about beauty and fashion.

To be honest, I found that to be a pretty dispiriting exercise. It did leave me wondering if this blogging lark really wasn’t something I should be doing. But then I thought ‘sod it, it’s my time I’m spending on it and people can choose whether or not to read what I write.’

The age and gender of the writer are irrelevant to me: it’s what they have to say which is of interest. Of course, their writing will reflect their life experiences, but why should I feel odd if I choose to read them, simply because I’m older or younger, male, not female? Actually, I don’t – if you have a problem with this then I think you need to take a look at yourself and why you blog. Be honest with yourself, it might just surprise you.

Is reaching the grand old age of 40 some kind of barrier? Is it a milestone, beyond which everything changes? Judging by some of the posts I’ve seen, some in their 40s appear to think their lives are in a downward spiral. But even we poor disadvantaged males have a life expectancy in the UK of double that – people, your race is barely halfway run, and you have much to look forward to.

Maybe we need a Post 70 Bloggers website? Or Post 90, or any other age you care to choose? Age shouldn’t be used in a divisive way – ‘I’m not that age so that can’t be for me’ – but people put others into pigeon holes. It’s a form of prejudice, of discrimination – don’t be ageist, please!

We’re all different and have our own uniqueness – I don’t want to be categorised as part of a ‘target market.’ I choose what I want to read, not what I’m told I should read. I would prefer people to read my posts because they enjoy them, find them interesting, believe them to be a good use of their time, and that is how I approach the blogs I read.

People seem to be taking this a bit too seriously and are losing sight of the enjoyment we can feel from reading or producing a well-written piece. Surely, the pleasure we can derive is reason enough to be involved in blogging, without any other need for justification? Simply by putting something out there, we are offering an insight into ourselves – my blog is me, like it or lump it. I don’t mind what your age or gender is, you’re very welcome here, and I hope you feel that it was worth your time and effort. In saying this, I recognise that there are many reasons why people blog, one of these being commercial: I often have some comments here about monetising a blog, but they feel out of place. Maybe another time . . .

Believe it or not, but I set myself quality standards for what I post, and creating a schedule is the best way I know of maintaining the quality of my output.

Reading some of the posts I’ve seen recently makes me think I should somehow be feeling guilty for being male, older, slightly right-of-centre and regular in my postings. I don’t. And I won’t ever apologise for that.

Maybe there is far fewer male than female bloggers, and maybe older bloggers like me are very much in a minority. But if we choose to be here, what we have to say is just as valid to us as anything said by others with different demographics. Don’t lose sight of that, or us. Who knows, you may even find something to like about us.

May’s monthly musings

Cab News (and for everyone)

Rickshaws are one of the banes of London life, not just for cab drivers but just about everyone other than the rickshaw barons who rent out these death traps. They first started to appear in the late 1980s and contrary to common belief they have never competed with us, any journey undertaken in a rickshaw is invariably only for a few hundred yards and is viewed more like a fairground type thrill than a serious travel option. Fast forward over 30 years and Nickie Aitken, MP for Westminster, brought a Private Members Bill to license rickshaws, the proposals would require DBS checks on riders, difficult for a temporary transient workforce; operator licensing for the rickshaw barons – difficult for many of them; a ban on sound systems and electrical assistance; specific safety standards; and most importantly set fares. Rickshaws do very few rides, paying £75 a day to rent a rickshaw necessitates them charging ludicrous prices to the few passengers they get, a fixed fare will stop the rip-offs and, to many, the only incentive. Now a Rickshaw Bill has been featured in the Queen’s Speech for this session of Parliament. About time, it’s only taken my entire working life as a cabbie to regulate this Third World look for London.

What I’m Listening

For anyone of a certain age, as am I, the moon landing was a seminal time of our life. The BBC World Service celebrated its 50th Anniversary with 13 Minutes To The Moon exploring Apollo 11’s mission and the stories of the people behind its success. The podcast features interviews with the pioneers who made Apollo 11 a success and became the UK’s number one podcast. A nostalgic feast.

What I’m Reading

My daughter took our grandson to the Transport Museum and bought me, from their excellent bookshop, Tube Trivia by Andrew Emmerson, filled with fascinating facts about the Underground, such as Embankment Station once had a gramophone with a compressed air amplifier instructing passengers to stand on the right.

What I’m watching

Or not watching. We have a bird box at the end of our garden, and every May we watch the blue tits tend to their brood and see them fledge at the end of the month.
Fledging dates:
27th May 2021
24th May 2020
May 2019 on holiday so didn’t see them go
26th May 2018
This year none.
We have hardly any breed of bird in our garden, sparrows once we had over 50, now 2 or 3. Is this a trend? Global warming or what?

What else

John Ransley at eBook Versions has been patiently helping with my pedantic requirements, formatting and uploading my book to Amazon, both in ebook and printed versions. The whole process is too complicated for this humble cabbie.

I’m not leaving any time soon

Groucho Marx might not be happy here when he quoted: “I’m leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it’s not raining.” But I’m staying put for the time being for many reasons.

In the early 1970s, I watched a play at The Ambassadors Theatre in West Street, at the time thinking it was pretty prosaic and unlikely to run for much longer. I’m still waiting for The Mousetrap to fold.

I still have £17.14 unused on my Dartford Crossing account, they charge enough without giving them more.

Sadiq Khan hasn’t banned my ageing Volkswagen Golf yet with his ULEZ scam for those of us who don’t want to replace our vehicles every 24 months.

I’m still waiting for Crossrail to open.

I’ve yet to take a thrilling ride on the Emirates Cable Car, it has yet to get a new £36 million sponsor when on 29th June the Emirates deal expires, then it will be renamed, after much thought, The London Cable Car.

I fancy asking a policeman on foot patrol the time. One day when the Met’s chief thinks of returning police to our streets, I can test the urban myth of asking the time, while conspicuously holding my phone.

My postcode might come up on the Postcode Lottery after I move house (I had better buy a ticket first).

I’ve yet to relinquish my license even though 1,551 London cabbies have already stopped working this year.

I have a Freedom Pass (if only we had public transport which went to where I want from near my house).