Category Archives: A window on My World

March’s monthly musings

🚓 What Cab News

Black cab fares are going up by 7.6 per cent next month, and the reason being given is “to ensure there are enough cabs available to help women get home safely”. The argument goes that if cabbies stand to make less money at night, then fewer of them will work those hours, which means there are fewer options for women looking to get home after dark. Maybe, just maybe, if TfL hadn’t done its darndest to create an uneven playing field between cabs and private hire, those undertaking The Knowledge wouldn’t be at their lowest levels in a generation. Just saying.

🎧 What I’m Listening

A weird London podcast returned on Valentine’s Day. Season 6 of Subterraneans began with an episode about the Aberfeldy Estate in Poplar, and lingering spirits, mould and the housing crisis – so romantic. If you haven’t been introduced to Subterraneans yet, download it on your favourite podcast app.

📖 What I’m Reading

The geek in me thoroughly enjoyed John Grindrod’s Concretopia a book about – well, concrete. I’m now reading Iconicon – Wimpey homes; Millennium monuments, riverside flats; wind farms; out-of-town malls, the buildings designed in our lifetimes that encapsulated the dreams and aspirations of our culture. John Grindrod reveals the sobering realities.

📺 What I’m watching

Atlantic Crossing, is the story of Norway’s Crown Princess Märtha, who fought for her country and her marriage during the tragic events in the early years of World War II, with the excellent Sofia Helin in the lead role. The series portrays Märtha’s journey from Norway to the White House where she sought refuge and became close to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Crown Princess tried to convince Roosevelt to save her country and Europe from Nazi Germany at a time when American voters were strongly opposed to being drawn into another world war. Although this production was first broadcast in 2020, the parallels of today’s invasion of Ukraine by Putin can’t be ignored. Amazing engineering.

❓ What else

I’ve taken out a subscription to London in Bits. If you’ve ever read The Big Smoker, which then became the Londonist, these are the people who started these blogs. Unfortunately Londonist, apart from the odd article, is now a giant advertising board. While London in Bits, on the other hand, produces a newsletter writing about both the beautiful and the infuriating parts of the capital. As they say in their blurb ‘something that’s interesting, funny, surprising and worthy of your inbox’. I have to agree.

A blank white space

Every day on my Apple Note app I get to stare at a blank white rectangle. Sometimes a few ideas enter my consciousness, on other days all I see is that white rectangle and wonder how best to fill it.

My SwiftKey app (thank you Bill Gates), offers me the use of 26 letters, plus a plethora of numbers, punctuation, signs and emojis, which I can arrange in a variety of different orders, some of which might even make sense.

Along with the text I could chuck in some web links, I could even throw in some pictures, but the space is all mine to fill in any way I choose.

Today is one of those white rectangle days, I could…

… write something almost original that will be linked to websites around the world (London’s top secret tower)

… write something prosaic about my life that doesn’t even raise one comment (Where Are We?)

… write something that gives me personal blog satisfaction (statistics 2021)

… copy a chunk of witty text off someone else’s site and modify it, in the hope that everyone thinks I wrote it (Metacognition)

… republish something I wrote on here many years ago in the hope that nobody notices it’s a repeat (Previously posted: Weather we care)

… list a lot of other websites that have come up with something much more interesting than anything I could think of (London links)

… write just nine paragraphs that take all evening to compose (A period of inactivity)

… write something with spelling or grammatical mistakes that people will delight in picking me up (Everyone is entitled to my opinion)

… write something controversial that ends up getting lots of derogatory comments (ULEZ Zone)

… write something controversial merely to try to get lots of comments, derogatory or otherwise (ULEZ Zone)

… write something cathartic that gives readers an insight into myself (Why won’t the blog just write itself?)

… write something that will be ignored by everyone on the world wide web (Cabbie’s dead end)

… write something that is not particularly about London, but it fills a slot (Search Me!)

… just fill the space by writing something about writing something – although I’d never do that, of course, because it would be cheap and easy (A blank white space)

A blog is a blank canvas ready and waiting each day to be filled by something – anything. The only limits here are time, imagination and one’s creative ability. The best blogs are those where you know the theme, but never quite know what angle someone’s going to find to post next, but you know that whatever it is, it’s probably worth reading.

They’re the blogs you go back and read time and time again, and as you’ve reached the end of this rather self-indulgent post I suggest you are willing to read and return to this little corner of the cyberverse.

I like writing my blog because I never quite know what’s going to pop up in my thoughts and what I’m going to write next either.

There you go, that’s another daily white rectangle filled. I wonder what I’m going to write tomorrow…

When a blog expires

Last month I mentioned a date when daily uploading to CabbieBlog would cease, and it got me thinking about just how long those regular musings would remain available on the Web.

In short, one day this blog is not going to be here. I don’t just mean I’ll have stopped writing new stuff, but the stuff I have written will have vanished.

When my WordPress subscription expires and the blog is hosted for free on their corporate platform, it’ll eventually slip away, either degrading over time or with the plug pulled in a single extinction event. Even if its content was still languishing on multiple servers somewhere in the world, the means to access it, with the URL transferred elsewhere or just extinguished, would mean the death of CabbieBlog.

Much as we take for granted the internet today, over time millennial online protocols begin to change, much as VHS, floppy disks and 8-track tapes, CabbieBlog’s ultimate published legacy is potentially zero.

So I thought I’d run through some of the larger risks concerning the future existence of this blog, whether I’m around to see them or not, and consider not just where its content might still exist; but whether future archivists will still be able to access or read the posts.

WordPress takes issue with my blog and deletes it

WordPress’ terms and conditions state: ‘We have the right (though not the obligation) to reclaim your username or website’s URL due to prolonged inactivity’. So should I metaphorically cease to put pen to online paper they can delete me from the cyberverse.

Mitigation
I keep an archive of the blog in Word documents, but whether the device or program will be readable in many decades time is doubtful.

I take issue with my blog and delete it

I can’t think why I’d want to, but WordPress does have a self-destruct button. Protocols have to be followed, but not many after a few drinks…

Or a hacker could gain access to the blog and cause havoc.

Mitigation
I once used Last Pass to store my passwords, but after reading recently it had security issues I now don’t use the platform and have increased password security. As for drinking, a laptop and beer make uneasy companions.

WordPress decides to withdraw supporting hobbyists in favour of commercial customers

WordPress has been up and running since May 2003, just three years before I started blogging on a different platform. Over these past two decades countless other websites, services and platforms have fallen by the wayside. When WordPress released Gutenberg it was obvious they were aiming at the commercial customer, rather than hobbyists, so I’ll be looking over my shoulder for the online Grim Reaper.

Mitigation
If I’m still active I could transfer the blog to an alternative platform, Google’s Blogger is the obvious solution, but it’ll take some migrating, with thousands of posts, photos and links to other posts on CabbieBlog, and that’s assuming I’m still in a position to achieve this Herculean task.

Internet protocols degrade

It happens slowly but inexorably, something everyone can read one year becomes something nobody can read several years later. Text, photos, embedded maps, videos and sound clips are subject to being superseded by new wizz-bang coding, not to mention HTML commands that new browsers no longer understand causing a carefully-coded table to fall apart in an unreadable splurge. One day a page is going to fail to load because something on it is no longer understood.

Mitigation
Don’t do too much fancy stuff. As I mentioned before, a lot of additional risks would stem from my death or incapacitation, and many changes to services and protocols can be mitigated if I’m still around to deal with them. But if I’m not here then nothing can be done and those problems would gradually mount up over the years until they are no longer readable in their existing form.

WordPress introduces new features that I cannot understand

WordPress has form on this, occasionally introducing some new way of doing things that I have to find a way to work around, and Gutenberg is an example, many of us can’t get our heads around the new protocols. Most shouldn’t affect already-published posts but some future changes might, for example, if they decided that everyone had to upgrade to a bespoke mobile-friendly template and I wasn’t around to do so. This one is an odds-on favourite to happen one day.

Mitigation
If I’m able, to try to learn new ways of doing stuff, my absence makes the demise of CabbieBlog inevitable.

The hosting servers fail to access CabbieBlog

Looking towards a few decades hence and the means of keeping the blog online will progress to the point when the website is not accessible.

Mitigation
Saving CabbieBlog for posterity, it might be wise to consider devising a Blog Legacy Strategy, poised to kick in after my death, so that this blog stays live for as long as possible. But I’d need to trust this chosen person explicitly who has access to vintage servers. Alternatively, the British Library is archiving everything, as part of its long-term UK Web Archive project. They’ve been taking snapshots of this blog, most recently on 1st February 2022, which should mean you’ll always be able to go back in and read through my archives if you really want to.

In conclusion

What I’m saying is to enjoy flicking through this blog while you still can. The navigation works, the comments exist and all the posts and pictures are still accessible, as indeed they have been for the last 15 years. But one day, whenever that may be, it’s all going to fade away and disappear, much like its author.

My thanks to diamondgeezer for much of the technical jargon here.

February’s monthly musings

🚓 What Cab News

In December a cab driver was pulled over in Aldwych by Met Police officers after he was spotted driving whilst rolling what appeared to be a cannabis joint. The cabby then tested positive for cannabis during a roadside test. With a softly-softly approach to drugs in London, I suppose it was inevitable that some idiot would tarnish the Black Cab trade.

🎧 What I’m Listening

I’m still working my way through the previous Ladies who London podcasts. Sadly one of the presenters, Emily, is leaving. The good news is that Alex Lacey will continue with this amusing and informative podcast.

📖 What I’m Reading

For 10 years I’ve been reading Christopher Fowler’s eclectic London blog, writing about books, films and observations all analysed with his wit and practised prose: “Plastic carrier bags floated around the traffic lights at the end of the Strand like predatory jellyfish.” Advance cancer has now put pay to writing for this consummate wordsmith.

📺 What I’m watching

My favourite London hotel is Claridge’s, which for me, has an understated elegance, I just love its Art Deco foyer. A BBC documentary – The Mayfair Hotel Megabuild – follows an extraordinary project to add a five-storey basement, hand-dug by very skilled Irish miners, incorporating two swimming pools and three new floors added to the roof to provide 72 new rooms and luxury suites, all the time keeping the hotel open for guests. Amazing engineering.

❓ What else

Apparently the priciest road in the country is Phillimore Gardens in Kensington & Chelsea, where the average house will set you back £23.8m – or 83 times the national average property price. Just one street outside the capital makes it into the top 20, Titlarks Hill, a private road in Sunningdale, Berkshire, which took 12th place with an average price of £12.3 million.

📆 What date

The Last Post: In 9 years time CabbieBlog will have its last post uploaded. To be precise, on 29th February 2032 at 13.50 GMT. By that date missives about London will have been regularly posted for nearly 24 years. On that leap year day, assuming I’m still alive, I’ll be approaching my 85th birthday, and old enough to take retirement from all this cyberverse malarkey.

Statistics 2022

I have been thinking lately about the purpose of CabbieBlog and the answer isn’t easily definable. I could give the BBC’s mantra: to inform, educate and entertain, but really it’s about what interests me in London, rather than a crusade to inform, although health issues and the publication of my memoir have made this a struggle at times.

Anyone who regularly peruses this corner of cyberspace would realise that I like order, now I’m posting 7 days a week, and every day has a specific subject allocated to it, and not only that, posts are always available at 13.50 London time. To break with this – some might say obsession – I’ve started Unblogged London on Substack a fairly new platform on which I aim to write long-form essays at irregular intervals, and not always at the same time of day. However, breaking with regularity I’m finding it challenging.

What sets CabbieBlog apart from the millions of websites and thousands of London blogs? Firstly I like to think that if you’re not interested in reading what some 18th-century poet wrote about the capital you can ignore the Monday post, likewise, Thursday’s whinge by me can, should you wish, be given a miss. The three days I write about London will always be no more than a 5-minute read and, unlike many London websites, somewhere that I’ve visited recently or driven there at one time in a cab.

So with more information than you probably wanted to know about me, here are the annual blogging statistics for 2022. As before, with the data amassed over the last year, I’ve broken it down into bite-sized chunks with comparable figures for the previous year.


Blog visitors and page views

Now everyone has returned to work after laying on the sofa watching Cash In The Attic while waiting for the epidemic to abate, visitors to CabbieBlog have inevitably dropped, in fact by 17 per cent. These figures don’t include those who lazily use an RSS feed to gather posts to peruse. (Average hit rate per visitor: 2021 – 1.6216; 2022 – 1.5461).

2021
Visitors – 31,986
Pageviews – 51,871

2022
Visitors – 27,686
Pageviews – 42,807


CabbieBlog’s readers from abroad

This year has seen a drop in the number of individual countries checking out CabbieBlog. This year we welcomed our first hit from the Åland Islands, apparently, it’s a Swedish-speaking archipelago in the Baltic Sea comprising around 6,700 islands, whoever you are, welcome. The United States leads our curious cousins with 5,623 a drop of 1,523 hits since last year.

2021 – 140 individual countries

2022 – 129 individual countries


Number of comments

The yardstick of a blog must be how many of its readers decided to metaphysically put pen to paper and comment. I’ve said it before, one of the delights of blogging for me – and one of the things that keep me going – is the interaction with others. To all of you, particularly those individuals who post comments daily, yes Pete, I’m talking to you. Again a huge thank you for your encouragement or discouragement. Your comments keep me submitting regular posts for your perusal.

2021 – 592

2022 – 557


Number of ‘Likes’

When you have a super, intelligent and engaging blog that is blessed with visitors that repeatedly like to Like, you are in a favourable position. CabbieBlog now gets three times the Likes that it did two years ago. Thank you for touching the Like button found at the foot of every post.

2021 – 739

2022 – 1,045


Followers of CabbieBlog

For reasons, known only to WordPress, they now only provide me with information on the number who have subscribed to receive post notifications by email. Even so, the number has risen marginally, thanks to all of you for following CabbieBlog, however you receive notifications of postings.

2021 – 1,368

2022 – 1,410


Posts written

Monday’s Quotations obviously are not written by me and therefore are not included in the count. Likewise Previously Posted are not included in these figures as they were, well previously posted. This year’s increase is mainly due to now posting 7 days a week.

2021– 178

2022 – 292


Most viewed and least viewed posts and pages

It has to be said that some subjects take on a life of their own, while others just sit in cyberspace minding their own business. At the bottom lie many posts with only a few views a year, and some I suspect just sit there patiently waiting to be noticed.

2021
Highest post
London’s top-secret tower – 1,303
Lowest Post
Extreme London – 17
Highest page
The Knowledge – 2,846
Lowest page
The small print – 20

2022
Highest post
Who remembers the characters of London? – 1,259
Lowest Post
Shakespeare in Love – 13
Highest page
The Knowledge – 2,482
Lowest page
The small print – 17


Pages written

This year no new pages have appeared on CabbieBlog.

2021 – 0

2022 – 0


Number of words written

The addition of Weekly Whinge and continuing with Johnson’s London curiously haven’t increased this year’s word count, I must be writing shorter posts these days.

2021
Words – 83,468
Characters – 487,420

2022
Words – 72,478
Characters – 425,158


Referrers

If you ignore the search engines, clocking up an impressive 21,100 hits, social media referrers are Twitter at 1,507 and, surprisingly, as I haven’t an account, Facebook at 793. These are the top independent referrers.

2021
Diamond Geezer  – 58
Bloglovin – 46

2022
A London Inheritance -66
Diamond Geezer – 21


In conclusion

Having reached the end of this post, you’re in very rarefied company, in fact, only 26 read this last year, mostly in February with only four viewing this incisive post since last March.