Tag Archives: blogging

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 . . .

Shades of Grey

Writing earlier this week about my Mission Statement and blogging in general, it occurred to me that this form of writing and communicating has become a generational malarkey.

But first, let me take you to the halcyon days of blogging when we would get invited to anything from book launches to private viewings to places not normally open to the public.

One such invite (in fact twice to this location) was to the BT Tower. Once to witness the launch of BT’s new home modem. Quite what that had to do with CabbieBlog I’ve never understood.

The other invitation was for bloggers (or influencers in their parlance), to listen to a talk by Leo Hollis author of The Phoenix: The Men Who Made Modern London.

Now, here’s the thing. Having been shot up by lift to the top of the BT Tower, the organiser stepped forward to ask if I was the speaker. I realised later his mistake was due to my age. I was, like Leo Hollis in my 50s, while everyone else was in their 20s.

And this is how blogging has changed. In the nascent years of blogging, much of this fraternity had just left university. Now many good blogs, and plenty of crap ones, by this group have fallen by the wayside, I suppose they now have more important demands on their life.

Today the Millennials don’t want to write long-form posts when a Facebook or Instagram picture is sufficient, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Now many who take the time to respond to my twice-weekly missives are – how shall I put this? – Not in their first flush of youth.

Now, this could be that my sedentary posts appeal to others of my age group. Writing such riveting subjects as ‘Just where was London’s first door number?’ probably wouldn’t appeal to many under 40.

With a little research (checking out the internet) I’ve discovered that 10 years ago, when I was ascending the BT Tower, the average age of bloggers fell in the 21-35 range, uploading over half of all posts. Conversely, those between 51-65 of age accounted for just 7.1 per cent of posts.

Today with a new post uploaded every 0.5 seconds, the same body of researchers found those over 60 now account for 20 per cent of uploads, nearly three times those of 10 years ago.

From which you can extrapolate that somewhere in the world, every 2½ seconds (or 34,560 times a day) someone in carpet slippers, wearing comfortable, sensible clothing, is peering through their bifocals uploading a post.