Tag Archives: blogging

How I Blog

This has to be a question on many of my readers’ lips. Well, to answer that, most of my long-form posts have been written on my iPhone.

This is not so crazy as you might imagine, London author Fiona Mozley, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2017, secretly wrote her debut novel on her phone while commuting on the Tube, that in addition to studying for a PhD at York University about late-medieval towns and ecopolitics.

So coming back to the less academic CabbieBlog and my long-form posts written using Apple’s Notes app on my old iPhone 5S.

Apple in their wisdom updated their operating system which excluded my trusty old phone, this resulted in some of my apps not working correctly, and in addition, my phone had only 16Gb of Rom so it was feeling pretty well stuffed.

In a heady fit of profligate spending, largely predicated upon the fee received from a piece I wrote for This England Annual (more of which later), in May I bought a shiny new iPhone SE with a heady 128Gb of storage from that icon of middle class retailing – John Lewis.

Safe in the knowledge that I was backing up everything to Apple’s excellent iCloud what could possibly go wrong? Well as Bill Gates memorably argued, there are two types of computers: those which have crashed, and those that will crash.

Compared to nearly 7 years of faultless service from my old phone, my all-singing all-dancing new phone barely lasted 7 weeks before it took into its head to scramble the image on the screen.

The helpful customer service person at John Lewis reassuringly told me that I was the second person that day with the same fault on their iPhone SE and briskly re-directed me to Apple’s technical support.

A word of warning here, it’s easier to get an audience with the Pope, than talking to an actual living human being at Apple.

Once eventually being connected, the highly competent service assistant could have been instructing me in ancient Sumerian.

One of the solutions tried was to re-install the operating system, but before starting I had to reassure them that I had backed up my device. No problem iCloud has everything. Wrong!

Some apps back up, others don’t, including my Day One journal that I’ve maintained for a decade.

Ultimately all the experiments proved was the device needed the intervention of an engineer.

The procedures necessary to send a phone to Apple are many and varied: turn off find my phone app; disconnect the phone from Apple device ID list; remove SIM card; fully charge phone; turn off device; enclose in a special bag and tape shut; place in the reinforced cardboard box provided; write addressee’s name on an outer bag, seal and take to the post office; oh yes, back up!

You cannot fault Apple’s service. I dropped my phone off at my local post office (at least they call a desk at the back of a value for money general store the Post Office), on late Friday afternoon. Monday morning I had confirmation of delivery and at 8.32 in the evening was informed it had been repaired and dispatched. Before lunch next day, my repaired phone arrived and was up and running by the evening.

Our mobile phones have become the most important gadget in our lives, the window through which we see and interact with the world; camera, newspaper, retail outlet, record player, diary, and for my typewriter. They allow us to share everything we’re up to, and to receive instant feedback from people we’ve never, or are unlikely to meet. They nudge us relentlessly to that magic rectangle which grabs our attention throughout our waking hours – increasingly the master rather than the servant.

That is when they work.

The End of the Beginning

Journeys. Everyone is always talking about a journey: Life’s journey; journey of a lifetime; a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. To add to that canon of sayings I give you ‘A blog’s journey’.

My on-line journey has taken in being contacted by three BA students, whose courses somehow covered something of the cab trade, to an MA student using CabbieBlog in part for their thesis. While participating in a French travel guide, I had to sign a consent form in French (I suppose it was, not understanding the language). An American website, devoted to England, featured a piece by me about Green Cabbie Shelters and an international credit card company took it on themselves to feature this humble cabbie.

Naturally, most London centric magazines and newspapers have popped into CabbieBlog’s virtual office requesting information or a quote. The national broadcaster once had me sitting at the side of the Thames in my cab asking for my opinion, something I can supply to my customers for free.

Talking of television appearances, I’ve turned down Tony Robinson twice, nothing personal, I just wasn’t available. And surprisingly for the bible of lost cultures, National Geographic wrote a piece about cabbies after interviewing me I suppose they considered the London cabbie is now on the endangered list.

Her Majesty the Queen was given the benefit of my thoughts when I wrote for a book which was presented to her during the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, the wider public has been denied this as my memoir which was due to be published by Michael Joseph will not be seeing the light of day.

CabbieBlog’s journey started with a single step in June 2008 and really has travelled a thousand miles. I’ve turned down as many opportunities as I’ve accepted and my voice has been heard on a podcast produced over 4,000 miles away.

So what is the point of this post, or indeed the reason to blog?

Obviously, vanity, thinking the world wants to know your opinion of London and discover the life of a cabbie. Writing regularly does help you organise your thoughts rather than have random ideas. For me, it has certainly improved my English, although reading this you might wonder how bad it was before I started all those years ago.

The 1 per cent rule

Uploading matter does set you apart from the crowd with the 1 per cent rule. This estimates that only 1 per cent upload new content, while the other 99 per cent merely read or pass it on, this is self-evident on social media sites. Not that this post is all that original much of which regarding CabbieBlog’s history I’ve featured before.

But it does discipline you, here I post three original posts a week and regular posting brings you into the orbit of like-minded souls. You get together, and nerd out about things that only you and a chosen few can get so excited about. You create material and share what you have. You swap stories. It’s also hugely satisfying to introduce people to the culture of sharing and discovering something about London.

The end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

What I get back from these blogger’s relationships goes beyond the affirmation of my written word, or the occasional piece of well-received advice. It’s a gateway to a community that keeps helping me do what I like doing, furnishes me with the tools and know-how, and supports me to get better at it, so obviously it’s the End of the Beginning.

To me, that’s exactly what a hobby is, and should be.

Featured image: End of Story by Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0) Alpha Stock Images

On This Day

Twelve years ago, or to be precise, at 13.50 today CabbieBlog published its first post on WordPress. After tinkering around on different platforms the URL had found its perfect spiritual home.

So apart from this momentous event, what else happened on 23rd February 2009?

It was Feast Day of Saint Polycarp of Smyma, who died in 510AD and Brunei celebrated its National Day.

Australia’s bush fire casualty rose to 210 deaths, and perversely American Express offered a bribe of $300 to a limited number of cardholders to pay off their balances and close their accounts.

Considering I was still a typesetter at the time of this first posting, I’m rather pleased that it coincided with when Johanne Guttenberg first put ink to paper on his bible on 23rd February 1455, and just like this blog he didn’t make any money from his enterprise.

But probably the most important event that happened was on 23rd February 1963. Peter Hicks, who sold his produce in Covent Garden market, attached a mechanism to his car, normally used by farmers to electrify fences, as part of a private vendetta against traffic wardens. Paying £30 a week in fines for parking his Land Rover and 50 lorries he was getting parking tickets almost every day.

He electrified his car initially as an anti-theft device and had not had a parking ticket since he made sure all his lorries also were electrified by being parked bumper to bumper behind his Land Rover.

Adieu 2020

I‘ve had a mental block regarding blogging just lately. It’s nothing unusual, it happens lots of times to lots of bloggers. I’m scratching my head staring at a lone cursor blinking forlornly in the middle of a blank white screen, with my liver-spotted hands poised over the keys. So, I had a look around at the usual what to do when you can’t think what to do websites, looking for motivation, and unsurprisingly they all seem to have the same what to do suggestions.

So, I could bang on about Brexit, now only two days away, though it seems every man and his dog are now counting down.

Uber, given a reprieve, could be examined to see if they are now whiter-than-white. But the reality, with a quiet Christmas out of the way, was there even enough customers to put in a complaint?

I could give my predictions for next year, only to forever having comments uploaded about how wide-off the mark I’d been.

In the end, I’ve sat down and decided to write. What about, I haven’t a clue, but we’ll see what happens.

What On Earth Can I Say?

Having retired, writing is a feeling of catharsis. It costs nothing to put pen to paper and even the most obscure topic will be read by someone in the world who might even reply.

So . . . I have nothing to say, but here I am saying something, and hoping something might just might, turn up.

Coronavirus diary

It’s been an extraordinary year, with Covid-19, something the experts at Public Health England assured us would never reach our shores. Well, without the risk of saying “I told you so” when first reading of this virus in China I started a 1-line diary. Starting on 31st December 2019, every day I recorded how this malevolent form was impacting our lives. If you are minded to, you can read it next month under ‘Coronavirus Journal‘.

As this blog is about London I should mention that this New Year’s fireworks will not be claiming, as in the past: ‘London Is Open’, when clearly it isn’t.

Next year I should decide whether to surrender my ‘Bill’, that’s my licence if you’re not one of a dwindling band of London cabbies speaking the lingo. I haven’t driven for 2 years (could I even find my way from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square?), and to maintain the licence costs over £200 a year.

How many intend to return to the office, all bright and bushy-tailed, next year. Or will London become a ghost town with tumbleweed blowing through the City?

The West End has been decimated, many shows including Phantom of the Opera closed, so no more young Japanese taking selfies outside Her Majesty’s Theatre at 10.15 at the end of the show.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine looks promising, as does the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine but as the Americans say: “You do the Math”, protecting an entire country is going to take over a year, so where does that leave London’s leisure sector, and by extension, the Licensed Black Cabbie?

Happy New Year

There you have it. I had nothing to say and most of what I said amounted to nothing that hasn’t already been said. I’ll leave it at that. I just want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year and may 2021 be Covid-19 free. Thank you to everyone for your continued support during this year.

Three-quarters of a million

BLIMEY! Sometime in the next 24-hours, CabbieBlog will welcome its three-quarters of a millionth reader. Sorry, no prizes whoever you are.

But more accurately it’ll be the 750,000 times that a slightly ropey stats package has registered a unique visit (a more forensic search attributes another 581,048 to the total), which totally isn’t the same thing, but still very much worth celebrating, even if some other London bloggers can lay claim to millions of ‘hits’. Anyhow you can see that impressive total on the ‘On The Meter’ section in the sidebar.

Thousands of cab rides

Three-quarters of a million equate to 107,142 electric taxis full of passengers including the driver, or every resident of The Kingdom of Bhutan (it’s in the Himalayas) having a peek, not that anyone from that well-known destination on the Silk Route has checked out CabbieBlog.

Social media is king

Few wish to read long-form posts these days. Now that social media is king, blogs no longer have a fraction of the traction they enjoyed a decade ago, this is because the ability to drive traffic has shifted away from those who generate their own content towards those who merely digest the content of others.

Some of us carry on writing stuff because we want to, even if it’s harder to be heard above the social media buzz than ever before.

Additionally many arrive unrecorded at CabbieBlog via feed services such as Feedly or The Old Reader (which seems to describe CabbieBlog’s author) or Bloglovin’ where last time I looked CabbieBlog had over 170 followers.

Regular readers

But the vast majority of my readers didn’t click in just from anywhere, they rely on the force of habit. My most regular readers are fellow WordPress bloggers, you lot keep reading, generally without needing a nudge from elsewhere, which is particularly nice.

Regular posts

I’ve hit three-quarters of a million by being reliable rather than clickable, because there’ll almost certainly be a new post to read at 1.50 every Tuesday and Friday, with Quotes on Monday and Trivia to peruse on Sunday afternoon.

Well chuffed

I don’t mind where my three-quarters of a million came from, I’m just well chuffed that you still bother turning up. Thanks to all of you, and here’s to my first millionth visitor arriving sometime in a few years time . . .