Tag Archives: manners

New Year’s Resolutions 2019

A Happy New Year to anybody who stumbles across this blog, whether by accident or by design. In keeping with the tradition of making a New Year resolution only to break it within one week, I submit for your consideration a selection, which might if adopted, make travelling in London less odious.

Most are just plain common sense, but in London these days, anything goes:

[T]HE GOOD: Cab drivers are in the main professional, courteous and, well nearly always right. Anyone who drives in London has had a cab stop for no apparent reason in front of him, and if we protest, the cabbie looks done from his eyrie at you in a smug and self-righteous manner. Equally, cabs are prone to make unexpected u-turns holding up the traffic while the driver completes his manoeuvre sometime without a word of thanks to anyone inconvenienced.

Most cab drivers try to be considerate, it makes no sense for us to damage our vehicles, by careless driving, and it’s our business for God’s sake. So my New Year Resolution will be to thank you profusely for letting me stop, start, pull away, reverse or u-turn near you.

THE BAD: 4×4 drivers. Never I repeat, never give the drivers of these contraptions any consideration. They now have halogen lights to mesmerise you in their presence, just like a cobra with its prey. They approach you and expect you to wait for their next move; the newer ones are now fitted with LED running lights and fog lights to warn the rest of us to get out of their way. If you only keep one resolution this year make it this one.

This is for all of you. Give way means pausing at the line in the road, not with your nose sticking out, its bloody frightening on a bike having a car block your passage (it doesn’t do much for that part of your anatomy either). And that line at traffic lights indicates where you stop behind, not the green coloured tarmac section for bikes.

THE SAD: Pedestrians. Why oh why do you migrate like lemmings near Oxford Street oblivious to the traffic and deep in conversation on your mobile phones? Why stand near a pedestrian crossing often on the zigzags blinking and wondering why the cars don’t stop for you? When you do have the inspired logic to use a pedestrian crossing, wait for the approaching vehicles to stop, don’t walk straight off the pavement expecting that bus to have the stopping power of an F1 car. And why do you have to stand by a pedestrian crossing deep in conversation when you have no intention to cross the road? So just use the grey matter between your ears for once, it might just save your life.

THE MAD: Pizza couriers. These motorised push bikes have the road holding ability of a blancmange. Don’t ride as if you have a death wish, if the pizza is 30 seconds late arriving, tough.

Cyclists. These are some of the most competent of road users, but please, please don’t jump red lights, that boy racer in his dad’s BMW M3 hasn’t seen you, all he is interested in seeing is the green light. And one last comment, pedestrians have right of way on pedestrian crossings, the clue is in the title. I know it’s hard to have to stop once in a while, but your foot will have to touch the tarmac once or twice during your journey home.

AND THE UGLY: As ugly as the back of a bus, is never more true than when one of these 18m monsters pulls out as you are making a feeble attempt to pass it. Just because the Highway Code says we have to give way to you, doesn’t give you the absolute right to move out into traffic at a whim, just use your indicators. And one final comment, when you are ahead of the stated time on the timetable don’t drive at 8 mph.

That’s it then, I know most of this will be ignored, but you know, keep just one of these resolutions this year and moving around London might become enjoyable. Just don’t hold your breath for it to happen. Well, that’s it Happy New Year.

A version of this post was published by CabbieBlog on 1st January 2010

Join the queue

Often as I have put the cab up on the Paddington rank, I have watched passengers as they have squabbled about their relative positions in the queue, blithely ignoring the fact that behind me are 100 taxis available for hire.

Observing this I’ve just put it down to ‘Johnny Foreigner’ who doesn’t understand the quaint English courtesy of standing in a line and waiting one’s turn.

[A]pparently though according to a recent survey the English are becoming more impatient; 41 per cent of people refuse to queue longer than two minutes in stores, with two-thirds regularly stomping away in a huff at having to endure a wait for anything. Furthermore, half of us refuse even to enter a shop if there is the sign of a queue.

Six years ago in a previous survey we were prepared to wait patiently for a barely credible five minutes before impatience got the better of us.

I remember visiting Paris in the 50’s and finding a ticket number dispensing machine attached to bus stops, used to establish the order passenger should embark, this at a time when queuing in England was seen as enduring a mild hardship for the common good, if soldiers at Dunkirk could stand in line to board their ship, waiting one’s turn to buy a loaf of bread was what set up apart from those ‘one the other side of the English Channel’.

Well now one company is keeping alive this tradition as I discovered recently when I visited the London Eye. On arrival I noted with smug self-satisfaction, that the queue stretched into infinity for the attraction. Clutching my ‘fast track’ pre-booked confirmation I joined the queue for the Fast Track Tickets kiosk. After 10 minutes of waiting the assistant informed me as she had others before me that I was in the wrong queue and directed me to the ticket office. A crowd of us joined the back of the 80ft long queue marked ‘Pre-booked and Group Bookings’ each holding their fast-track confirmation receipts.

When reaching the desk I have to admit dear reader my stiff upper lip was sorely tested when told again that I was in the wrong queue. At the sound of protestations from my fellow queuers the desk clerk then reluctantly issued that precious official boarding ticket.

It then was only a matter of joining yet another 40ft long queue to enjoy the ‘flight’. Total time flying 40 minutes; total time queuing 40 minutes.

Next time I will join the queue on a foggy day.

Debrett’s for Cabbies

Bertie Wooster awoke with a start from his afternoon nap. The copy of Horse and Hound which previously had been covering his eyes gravitated down his nose to land painfully in his lap. “Yes, Jeeves, what is it?”

Jeeves removed the pain inflicting magazine from his employer’s lap and replaced it with a cutting from that morning’s copy of The Times “I’m sorry to break into your afternoon labours, but one feels that Sir’s attention should be drawn to a recent publication which might provide some assistance to Square”.

“Who the duce is this Square fellow when he’s at home?” Bertie exclaimed.

“Square, you might recall is your chauffeur of some 20 years standing”, replied Jeeves and left His Master to read the following article:

Debrett’s that manual of all things appertaining to manners have tacked the subject of drivers and have come to the conclusion that white van man and cabbies when put behind a steering wheel are, how can I put it politely, downright rude.

It is hard to believe now, but once upon a time going for a drive was seen as something of a treat and in those days motorists would wave to each other and politely nod as other cars gently overtook them.

With road rage on the increase Debrett’s, the authority on etiquette, has published a new 48-page guide to courteous in-car behaviour, entitled Thoroughly Modern Motoring Manners it aims to re-acquaint drivers with the “right and proper way to behave behind the wheel”.

Among the advice for men is to not make clichéd jokes about female drivers (I’ll remember that when a lady is in the back) and respect all women behind the wheel, while both sexes are also advised to avoid too much perfume or cologne.

Debrett’s etiquette adviser Jo Bryant said: “We felt driving is an area where people forget their manners and display aggressive behaviour they wouldn’t show in their everyday lives.”

Among its pearls of wisdom are:

The chivalrous male driver will open the door for a female passenger and close it behind her. ‘He should offer to take her coat, check her seat is adjusted and be sure the temperature’s to her liking.’

Women should not apply make-up or preen themselves in the mirror, but should keep a pair of flats for driving instead of high heels. There’s also a step-by-step guide on how women should exit a vehicle and retain their dignity in a ‘ladylike’ fashion.

Clearly laying down ground rules all too often ignored by today’s celebrities, it advises: ‘Smooth down your skirt. Keeping your knees together, swivel your body and swing your legs outwards. Place one foot down, keeping your knees together. Dip your head and shoulders forward and slide and glide out of the car.’

Debrett’s insist that a true gentleman is never a backseat driver. The guide states: ‘She’s in the driving seat. A chivalrous passenger is as well-behaved and polite in the car as he is when he’s out and about.’

Transporting dogs is another area where etiquette is crucial and Debrett’s lays down strict guidelines for ensuring one’s pets do not impinge on other passengers. The book suggests dogs should be carried on blankets, in the foot wells or in the boot of an estate car. But if a dog is kept on the back seat the book warns: ‘Forcing a non-animal lover into close proximity with a drooling dog is the height of bad manners.’

One piece of advice appertaining to cabbies has to be: In order to be ‘the perfect host’; drivers are encouraged to choose only music that meets their passengers’ approval and are advised to ‘keep conversation light and refreshing’.

The book also makes it clear that courteous drivers will refrain from singing along to their favourite tunes unless they are a ‘karaoke pro.’

And the book warns: ‘“Blowing your horn is just rude. Remember the white van man whose inner gentleman has lost his way.’

The new guide offers advice on a range of topics as diverse as ‘chivalry’; ‘fragrance fundamentals’; ‘forecourt manners’; ‘passenger etiquette’; and finally teaching drivers the ‘right and proper way to behave behind the wheel’.

It encourages a return to the days when chivalry among male drivers was commonplace and provides advice on how to avoid a litany of embarrassing faux pas.

Priced at £5.99 I’ll have to keep a copy in my glove compartment.

New Year’s Resolutions

A Happy New Year to anybody who stumbles across this blog, whether by accident or by design. In keeping with the tradition of making a New Year resolution only to break it within one week, I submit for your consideration a selection, which might if adopted, make travelling in London less odious. With more than a glancing nod at an excellent post by my erstwhile colleague The Cabbies Capital, I give you CabbieBlog’s New Year Resolutions:

[T]HE GOOD: Cab drivers are in the main professional, courteous and, well nearly always right. Anyone who drives in London has had a cab stop for no apparent reason in front of him, and if we protest, the cabbie looks done from his eyrie at you in a smug and self righteous manner. Equally cabs are prone to make unexpected u-turns holding up the traffic while the driver completes his manoeuvre sometime without a word of thanks to anyone inconvenienced.

Most cab drivers try to be considerate, it makes no sense for us to damage our vehicles, by careless driving, and it’s our business for God’s sake. So my New Year Resolution will be to thank you profusely for letting me stop, start, pull away, reverse or u-turn near you.

[T]HE BAD: 4×4 drivers. Never I repeat, never give the drivers of these contraptions any consideration. They now have halogen lights to mesmerise you in their presence, just like a cobra with its prey. They approach you and expect you to wait for their next move; the newer ones are now fitted with LED running lights and fog lights to warn the rest of us to get out of their way. If you only keep one resolution this year make it this one.

This is for all of you. Give way means pausing at the line in the road, not with your nose sticking out, its bloody frightening on a bike having a car block your passage (it doesn’t do much for that part of your anatomy either). And that line at traffic lights indicates where you stop behind, not the green coloured tarmac section for bikes.

[T]HE SAD: Pedestrians. Why oh why do you migrate like lemmings near Oxford Street oblivious to the traffic and deep in conversation on your mobile phones? Why stand near a pedestrian crossing often on the zigzags blinking and wondering why the cars don’t stop for you? When you do have the inspired logic to use a pedestrian crossing, wait for the approaching vehicles to stop, don’t walk straight off the pavement expecting that bus to have the stopping power of an F1 car. And why do you have to stand by a pedestrian crossing deep in conversation when you have no intention to cross the road? So just use the grey matter between your ears for once, it might just save your life.

[T]HE MAD: Pizza couriers. These motorised push bikes have the road holding ability of a blancmange. Don’t ride as if you have a death wish, if the pizza is 30 seconds late arriving, tough.

Cyclists. These are some of the most competent of road users, but please, please don’t jump red lights, that boy racer in his dad’s BMW M3 hasn’t seen you, all he is interested in seeing is the green light. And one last comment, pedestrians have right of way on pedestrian crossings, the clue is in the title. I know it’s hard to have to stop once in a while, but your foot will have to touch the tarmac once or twice during your journey home.

[A]ND THE UGLY: As ugly as the back of a bus, is never more true than when one of these 18m monsters pulls out as you are making a feeble attempt to pass it. Just because the Highway Code says we have to give way to you, doesn’t give you the absolute right to move out into traffic at a whim, just use your indicators. And one final comment, when you are ahead of the stated time on the timetable don’t drive at 8 mph.

That’s it then, I know most of this will be ignored, but you know, keep just one of these resolutions this year and moving around London might become enjoyable. Just don’t hold your breath for it to happen. Well, that’s it Happy New Year.

Rules of Engagement

You know that sinking feeling. You’re at a party and the village bore sidles up and wants to discuss his collection of beer mats.

What do you do? Enter into an earnest conversation on the merits of square versus round or oblong, praise the durability to withstand liquid, and discuss their post-modernist designs.

As I see it your have three options:

  • Engage in an earnest and meaningful conversation, and listen to his discourse for three hours
  • Suggest sex and travel might at this juncture be appropriate in his case
  • Stare over his left shoulder at that cute girl across the room while trying to not let your eyes glaze over

[S]tuck inside your cab you regularly have the village bore, with the maxim ‘the customer’s always right, even if he is a complete prat’ ringing in your ears you have that same dilemma. Well a recent study might have the answer to my problem.

Social researchers have studied the interaction between hairdressers, dentists or cabbies with their clients. They call this ‘The rules of conversational engagements for everyday encounters’, and interestingly it would appear that we have the upper hand in driving the conversation, even though you are employing us.

We have all sat in the dentist’s chair while he conducts a conversation about your holiday while filling your mouth with implements. But it would seem that my customers also know their place when sitting in the back of my cab as much as in the dentist’s chair.

It would appear that the driver starts the conversation choosing the subject, and, sorry about this, drives the conversation forward. You, of course, reply to my discourse not wishing to be confrontational, as you regard conversation with a stranger to be on a different level than, say somebody you met in the pub or a casual acquaintance.

So the next time you are in the back, take this little bit of advice, and know your place.

Thank you for letting me shout at you.