Tesco the ubiquitous retailer has its shops in almost every location. Take the one in Covent Garden it has because its loading bay in a road so small I defy most cabbies to be able to locate New Row. To stock, their store Tesco despatch an articulated lorry the size of a small house, its driver just about managing to manoeuvre his vehicle into the tight space. If that wasn’t enough the geniuses in charge of logistics send their lorry at the height of the evening’s theatre-going public arriving, so the driver has to contend with negotiating the vehicle as hundreds of people try to squeeze past and then try vainly to get into Strand past dozens of parked cars.
The beginning of the year is known as The Kipper Season for reasons that have been lost in the mists of time. Traditionally it is one of the quietest times in London for the cab trade, so with a frustrating time trying to earn living cabbies can tend to be, shall we say, a little tetchy.
Yes, I know the inside of a cab is spacious, but seeing a passenger moving from seat to seat is extremely distracting when negotiating heavy traffic or travelling down a motorway.
McDonald’s go to extraordinary lengths to protect their corporate colours – they are red and yellow in case you haven’t noticed – a cab is black they shouldn’t be confused. Eat in McD’s not in a cab.
It is said the perfect dinner guest avoids religion and politics when engaging in conversion. This is the polar opposite to the perfect punter in a London cab. The merest hint on either of these subjects could unleash a torrent of polemic from the guy up front – discuss at your peril.
One of the greatest inventions towards the end of the last century was the mobile phone. It’s not a novelty anymore. Don’t use it while trying to instruct the cabbie as to your destination or making payment.
And speaking of tendering payment, wait until the vehicle has stopped before thrusting the readies through the partition.
Just when you think you have seen it all and been asked every motoring question imaginable along comes one out of the blue. Filling up at the end of the day a young man asks “how do I fill up my car”. I then have to show him how to select the fuel; unhook the nozzle; insert the said nozzle into the car; pull the trigger; and what to say to the cashier. Oh! And “Don’t forget to lock your doors if you want to come back to your vehicle”.
When I buy my Kingsmill sliced from my local supermarket (£1) I wouldn’t trust it if there was no wrapper even if the shop was pristine. So why is it that on Borough High Street with its constant traffic jams of vehicles churning out diesel fumes while waiting to cross London Bridge one maker or should that be creator, of ‘artisan’ bread, displays his wares on a bench in the street?
I was outside the Howard Hotel, before being demolished in anticipation of the unlamented Garden Bridge. A guy with lots of heavy photographic equipment wanted to be taken just quarter of a mile up the Victoria Embankment to a ship. I help him carry said equipment on board and he tells me a previous cabbie, a woman at that when asked to do the job told him to f**k off. It was good to see courtesy is still alive in our trade.