Gordon’s a Post Turtle

Have you looked at Gordon Brown lately? He has the haunted look of a hunted animal, with his authority ebbing away and the Palace of Westminster’s standing with the voters at its lowest point for many years, he reminds me of finding a turtle balancing on a post. You wonder how he got up there, he didn’t get up there by himself; he doesn’t belong up there; and you wonder what dumb ass put him up there to begin with.

[A]fter 12 years of corruption at the Mother of Parliaments the chickens are coming home to roost. They have removed hereditary peers and replaced them with Labour’s yes men, only to find, surprise, they have been taking bribes; top civil servants are now just clerks; and they put a Speaker in the House just to comply with their bidding. Now their little empire is coming to an end.

If they were serious about stopping corruption in the expenses scandal that has engulfed Parliament this week, they would:

  • Reduce the number of MPs to 400, by getting the Boundary Commission to redraw the constituencies;
  • As 70 per cent of legislation is now done by Europe, devise a way to get them to work longer for their constituency, instead of having 13 weeks holiday this summer;
  • Increase their salaries to comparable rates of other professionals (say £100,000 a year);
  • Provide a quality Hall of Residence in London to give them secure accommodation when away from home. The American embassy in Grosvenor Square is to be vacated soon, a perfect location; and
  • Finally, provide them with an Oyster card to get about London during the week, and a first class return ticket from their home.

They won’t amend their ways, it’s been a nice little earner for them for years, and of course what else could they do, most of them have never had a job outside of politics.

Well, CabbieBlog just doesn’t trust them; I think I’ll ask for the fare up front if any politician hails me!

Gormley or gormless

Fourth Plinth

[E]nglish compromise don’t you love it? First we beat the Frenchies at Trafalgar, with Nelson dying on board HMS Victory at the moment of victory then he is brought home to a hero’s funeral in a barrel of rum.

Nelson had already commissioned his coffin in advance, specifying that it was made from salvaged timber from a French ship sunk at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, and giving specific instructions in the event of his death. Clearly as England’s greatest hero he would be buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, but what about a sarcophagus? A 300 year old Italian black marble one was found in Windsor Castle originally made for Cardinal Wolsey, in keeping with Wolsey’s stature at the time. Wolsey later fell out with Henry VIII and the King decided he would like to lie in the sarcophagus for eternity. Unfortunately the King’s memory did not last for an eternity and so the elegant marble vessel lay unused for three centuries but, and as luck would have it, Nelson was a perfect fit.

A fitting monument was now needed for our naval hero, and so Trafalgar Square was built with Nelson 150ft above us on his column. “Let’s surround the column with a vast plaza and place 4 plinths on each corner, each supporting a statute of a military leader”, suggested someone. “We can think of three suitable candidates” suggested another: “Naturally King George IV on a horse, Henry Havelock and don’t let us forget Sir Charles Napier but what about the 4th Plinth? Let’s compromise, we’ve run out of money anyway so we had better leave it empty.”

We are rather proud of our indecision on what to put on the 4th Plinth, so to celebrate that fact, we had been adorning it with various artworks.

Now one of our greatest living artists, Antony Gormley, has come up with the suggestion of giving people their 15 minutes of fame (well, 60 minutes actually), by allowing them to perform on the 4th Plinth. CabbieBlog is considering some performing art, but what shall it be, maybe watch a cabbie whingeing?

Let It Be

Abbey Road As a child of the ‘60s I have seen The Beatles in their heyday.

My first chance to see them was at the BBC Paris Theatre formerly in Lower Regent Street when they came to London and nobody had heard of the Fab Four outside of Liverpool or Germany.

Within weeks they had a No. 1 hit and the rest as they say is history.

[I]n 1969 The Beatles released their final album Abbey Road, with the iconic pedestrian crossing sleeve, photographed by Iain Macmillan, who had but 10 minutes for the shoot on the 8th August 1969. Apparently the man on the pavement in the background was an American tourist who only found out much later that he had been immortalised. On the left of the original picture is a VW Beetle which they had tried to have moved for the shot. The owners lived in the apartment block opposite and later the number plate was stolen as a souvenir. The car was sold at auction in 1986 for $23,000 and is on display at the VW Museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The genesis of this week’s blog was started by a recent fare of mine who lived next door to the studio, who told me that once she saw a Japanese man walking naked across the crossing, being photographed for posterity.  Dozens of near accidents happen here, and all day vehicles are sounding their horns. At least if there is an accident, some evidence could be available as there is a 24 hour live web cam of the crossing.

Now correct me if I am wrong, but can anybody tell me why everyday scores of people, many not even born in 1969 risk injury by being photographed jaywalking across this crossing?

These same people also graffiti the wall of the studios (and their neighbour’s wall), which the clever Abbey Road people have painted white for that very purpose. The wall get so much attention that it has to be repainted white every 6-8 weeks.

Paul McCartney lives nearby and he must be as baffled as the rest of us at this behaviour, especially as most of these people have never heard the Abbey Road album. Well Paul McCartney might not have to wait much longer to sell this album to these young blades. Later this year, after many hours of work in the Abbey Road Studios (who claim incidentally to have the largest purpose built recording studio in the world), the entire back calalogue will be available on a new completely remastered set. Whether downloads, previously unobtainable from i-tunes, will be sold remains to be seen.

Well all of you, buy the CD set but just keep off that bloody crossing when I’m driving past!

Abbey Road picture: http://michaelhughes.wordpress.com

freddie-mercurysAs a footnote to this, the late Freddie Mercury’s Kensington house also suffers the same fate.

In the name of God, go!

Oliver Cromwell At the front of Westminster Hall, the oldest building in the Palace of Westminster stands a statute. The man stands erect and proud in front of the institution he helped to bring into being. It is of course, the Mother of Parliaments and Oliver Cromwell helped bring in much needed reform to allow the common person a voice. Although reviled after his death (his corpse was dug up, hung in chains and beheaded) Parliament has remained a place where honour was foremost in the mind of its elected Members. So it is with some regret that I give you now a speech, as relevant today as it was over 350 years ago, made by Oliver Cromwell on the Dissolution of the Long Parliament given to the House of Commons on 20th April 1653:

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone!
So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!

Keep on the right side

The Savoy overlooking the River Thames and one of London’s best-known hotels since it opened its doors in 1889, where the dry martini is thought by some to have been invented in the American Bar and where a murder took place back in 1923, opens soon after a £100 million refit. Apparently the building with its distinct Art Deco style is to be restored to combine its former glory with modern amenities.

[U]nder the new plans the hotel will be divided into Art Deco and Edwardian areas and the style in each will be distinct. In 1910 the external balconies were enclosed in order to add bathrooms to each room. Many felt the best views in the building were lost, including the view that Claude Monet painted while staying there.

Last year much of the original internal fittings were auctioned including 200 beds, curtains, a large oak parquet dance floor and an early 20th Century mahogany and gilt metal bureau from the Monet suite in addition the signature pink and white Savoy china also went under the hammer. So CabbieBlog will be interested if this is an improvement, or some tacky expensive makeover.

As a footnote Savoy Court, pictured, is the only street in the United Kingdom where vehicles are required to drive on the right, and in addition the small roundabout needs a turning circle of 25 feet, this is still the legally required turning circle for all London cabs. For more than 100 years now vehicles, be they horse drawn or mechanical, have entered and left Savoy Court on the right-hand side of the road.  When approaching and leaving the hotel it is easier to do so while driving on the right-hand side of the road. Savoy Court is privately owned property. It is not a public thoroughfare as it leads only to the hotel itself. Therefore driving on the right-hand side of the road does not contravene British traffic regulations.

Finally, it may be of interest to note that when being chauffeured in a horse-drawn carriage the lady or dignitary would traditionally sit behind the driver. By approaching the hotel on the right-hand side of the road, either the chauffeur or the hotel’s doorman was able to open the door without walking around the car. This would allow the lady to alight from the carriage and walk straight into the hotel.

Taxi Talk Without Tipping

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