Grumpy! That’s a Laugh

London’s taxi drivers have been identified as the country’s grumpiest workers.

A recent survey found that traffic jams, the rising cost of petrol and drunken passengers meant that cabbies rarely managed a chortle all day.

In fact just 0.4% of taxi drivers said they laughed regularly through their working day and those individuals of course have had their licenses revoked.

[L]ive in a big city, and drive a black cab every day, you will soon see why we are morose. From grumpy fellow road users, fanciful detours, to passengers who seem to have left their brain at home that day, driving a cab through the congested heart of a major city can easily become the most irritating of occupations.

Another recent survey of cab users shows that people still judge London cabbies to be the best in the world albeit miserable, but rate Parisian chauffeurs, commonly excoriated for their rudeness, above their counterparts in Berlin, Sydney and Las Vegas. Just how bad must they be in Berlin?

While the Discovery Channel after spending eight months travelling across Britain seeking out the trickiest jobs reported a few years ago that London’s black cab drivers have the most dangerous job in Britain. How exactly you classify driving a black cab as more dangerous than risking your life every day, chained to the deck of a North Sea trawler, working on a North Sea oil rig, being a lumberjack and having trees fall on your head or demolishing an asbestos filled building defeats me.

An Oxford University study said fishermen are 50 times more likely to die at work than any other profession. So based on these facts, how does deep sea fishing in raging seas slip into second place behind driving a comfortable vehicle while listening to Robert Elms on London Radio while saving to purchase your holiday home on Tuscany?

Well here’s my theory. The report ranked each job on the likelihood of serious injury, skill level, working hours plus mental and physical stress. For black cab drivers, these occupational hazards come from the general public whose wrath has been incurred by delays caused by road works, drivers giving their unsolicited opinions and Gordon Brown.

So perhaps this survey has it right. So next time you use the services of a Black London Cabbie spare a thought of our occupational risks.

Six degrees of Separation

Six degrees of Separation (also referred to as the ‘Human Web’) refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth. It was popularised by a play written by John Guare in 1990 and the ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ game that became popular in the late 1990s.

If you shake CabbieBlog by the hand for instance you are but two steps from our Queen.

[L]et’s try a blatantly self-serving experiment. If the principle of ‘six degrees of separation’ is correct, then it should be possible to spread news of CabbieBlog to the entire world simply by word of mouse. If each person who saw this site told even just one other person about it, the chain should eventually reach the entire world. Of course I don’t need or want the whole world to know about this site, just all the English speaking peoples. But if everyone who might enjoy this site found out about it, I could hardly ask for more.

Shall we give it a try? Let your cyber friends know about this site. An easy way is to click this link Email a friend to invite your friends to read this article (with a note of your own, if you wish). Or, feel free to pass along the information some other way. If you want to refer to today’s article in particular, use this URL:

If your friend finds the site interesting, he or she can tell another friend. Can we build a web of interesting people? It would be fun to find out.

Gordon’s Gin

William Hogarth's Gin Lane I have to declare an interest at the beginning of this post. For last week would have been the 62nd birthday of my best friend. He died too young from alcohol consumption. Not by cirrhosis of the liver, but Korsakoff’s syndrome, a little-known form of dementia linked to alcohol, not a death that most people associate with alcohol, but not uncommon. When in 1751 Hogarth drew his cartoon satirising the drinking of cheap gin in the Seven Dials area of London, he did it to bring to the public’s attention the excessive consumption of cheap alcohol by the poor, and promoting the Gin Act, which attempted to reduce the sale of spirits.

[R]oll forward 250 years and we are slowly working our way to a new Gin Lane, but now we call it a Sports Bar. London cabbies now have to weigh up every potential fare after 10 pm. Are they swaying, looking dazed or do they have a can of ale in their hand?

Alcohol consumption has doubled since the 1960s and research published in 2006 showed deaths from liver cirrhosis have increased markedly in Britain while falling in most other European countries since the 1950s.

And alcohol consumption can only increase as the economy goes into decline and more people lose their jobs because of this incompetent Government.

Cheers, Gordon.

Cock-up or Conspiracy

All right I know we have been here before, but I’m back to the old chestnut, road works.

The road works and the planning, or lack of planning, has now in London reached epic proportions.

It is only when you have been stuck in the gridlock that the West End has become of late you start to question the Westminster Council’s ineptitude.

[O]r is it part of a conspiracy by a group of sandal-wearing, tree hugging, muesli munching ‘environmental anarchists’ that have managed to infiltrate councils across London with an agenda to force motorists off the road?

Are they gradually bringing London to a standstill in the hope that people will give up their cars? Why else have they slowed down all traffic lights? Why have they built bus bays that stick out into the road forcing all the other traffic to stop at every bus stop? Why are there speed humps on almost every road, including cul-de-sacs? And why has the one-way system at Aldgate been turned back to its 1960 configuration?

Goodbye Hippodrome

London Hippodrome After over 100 years of providing theatrical entertainment, which has seen some top acts of the day, one of the capital’s most historic theatres closes its doors tomorrow.

The London Hippodrome, to the east of Leicester Square and built in 1900 by Frank Matcham as a hippodrome for circus and variety performances, it gave its first circus show on 15 January 1900.

With a spectacle unheard of in London at the time, you would enter the theatre via a replica of a ship’s saloon with a performance space featuring both a proscenium stage and an arena that sank into a 230ft, 100,000 gallon water tank for aquatic spectacles.

[T]he auditorium could also be flooded, and used for the entry of boats. Shows included equestrian acts, elephants and polar bears, and acrobats who would dive from a minstrel gallery above a sliding roof, in the centre of the proscenium arch. The auditorium featured cantilevered galleries, removing the columns that often obstructed views in London theatres; the whole was covered by a painted glass retractable roof that could be illuminated at night.

In 1909, it was reconstructed by Matcham as a music-hall and variety theatre with 1,340 seats in stalls, mezzanine, gallery, and upper gallery levels. It was here that Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake received its English première by the Russian Ballet in 1910 and Harry Houdini among others appeared.

In 1958 in an act of vandalism the original interior was demolished and the London Hippodrome was converted into the cabaret restaurant, “Talk of the Town”, featuring many of the popular artists of the time, including appearances by Judy Garland, Eartha Kitt, Shirley Bassey, the Temptations and the Seekers’ final concert was recorded for the album “The Seekers: Live at The Talk of the Town” in 1968.

The Hippodrome is to undergo an extensive restoration programme taking it back to Matcham’s original 1909 design but unfortunately it will not reopen as a theatre but as a casino. It will also have yet another Gordon Ramsay restaurant, his 15th in London.

Just why do we need yet another casino in London, we are not Monte Carlo? London is the world’s hub for live theatre with over 100 major venues and numerous fringe theatres, so many in fact that you could go to a different production every night of the year.

If you want more information on the history of theatre go to The Music Hall and Theatre Site dedicated to Arthur Lloyd 1839-1904.

Picture Credit: Jacqueline Banerjee at Victorian Web.

Taxi Talk Without Tipping

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