My next 28 was in the 2nd week of August and here’s what I was asked:
Limehouse Station to Schonfield Square
River Café to Marriott Regents Park
Victoria Station to Arsenal FC
London Zoo to Waterloo Station
The great news about the first run was that I didn’t drop any points. I’d only recently got back from my hols and although I was calling my blue books and doing the daily sheets, I’d only taken my map book with me and checking your lines when you’re moving from page 78 to page 32 then page 19 etc isn’t very conducive with a good line. I’m not making excuses but I reckon I’d not done myself any favours with this and instead of seeing Stamford Hill/Manor Road, I’ve seen Green Lanes/ Lordship Park to get to Lordship Road. I’ve gone as wide as Old Street roundabout to get there, however I’ve been fluent and got no street names wrong – 3/10, I’ve lost 70% for going wide.
When travelling diagonally from SW to NE, NW to SE etc I need to stop thinking about going through the parks and actually look at the line. I’ve got to Silverton Road and headed up Lillie Road/Old Brompton Road so I could get through Hyde Park. I’ve also turned down Elsworthy Road and the only way I could see to get to get to King Henrys Road is L Primrose Hill Rd/ L Adelaide Road/L Harley Road and then into King Henrys. Again, I’ve been fluent, dropped no points and got all my street names right – 2/10.
I’m pretty sure at this stage that I’ve got some serious catching up to do. So the 3rd run, I’ve actually called that or something similar quite a few times and I know that I could pull a pretty good line here. Then like a complete plank, I managed not to call Andrew Borde Street at the top of Charing Cross Road, so I’m deemed to have done an illegal – 0/10.
The last line was no points dropped, decent line, fluent and I’ve scored a highly irrelevant 7/10. My worst score to date, 12/40, but more importantly 1 – 4 down and I’m back to the start of my 28s which is a 5 month knockback.
To be fair to the examiner, he was very sympathetic and I have no doubt that being the bearer of bad news really must be the worst part of their job.
I’ll press on regardless, because I have no Plan B for my pension. I spoke to Ian at Knowledge school and he had a lot of encouraging things to say. I don’t suppose I’d really realised that a big part of his job is to pick people up when they get knocked back.
My next Appearance is towards the end of this week and after scoring 5 on the trot, I’ve managed not to score in the last 4. Really need to turn this around.
It’s not that I’m sulking (well I am a bit) but I haven’t got anything funny to say (no change there then!). I’ve avoided being political on this blog, but I think that the biggest threat to our industry has hit us like a tornado in the last couple of years. So much so, that it has become a big issue in the London Mayoral election. A couple of months back LBC devoted a 2 hour programme to this and some very pertinent points were raised, and if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to give my take on them. I’m going from memory here so I hope I get this right!
The first guest up was Steve McNamara of the LTDA. Now apart from his recent faus pas about cyclists, I think he’s very articulate and knowledgeable. The first point he raised was about granting a Private Hire Operating licence to uber by TfL. The rules state that to get one you must have a land line in London. TfL responded by saying that you only need one on the day you apply!!!
It’s also interesting that uber call themselves a technology company, well so are Microsoft but I’ll put my life on it that they don’t hold a Private Hire Operators licence.
He also stated that uber, a firm worth $50 billion, are domiciled in Holland and pay less tax in this country than a School Teacher or a Fireman, yet their drivers are claiming tax credits as they don’t earn enough to pay their rent.
Next up was one of the top guys in Surface Transport at TfL, I’m sorry I can’t remember his name. Well, I’ve got to suppose that this chap is picking up a 6 figure salary, and I was cringing while listening to the radio. He was asked 3 questions which elicited the same reply. The questions were:
‘How many drivers do uber have in London?’
‘Of the 300 Private Hire driver applications TfL are getting every week, how many are driving for uber?’
‘How many Touting Enforcement Officers do TfL employ?’
His response to all 3 questions was ‘I don’t know.’ Good grief, who did his research – Boris?
There were then a couple of Mayoral candidates on including George Galloway, who can’t wait to run uber out of town. With 25,000 cab drivers and their families, it’s going to get votes.
Going off topic briefly, while I’m talking about Mayoral things and perhaps it’s just me, but I would have considered being the elected Mayor of the biggest city in Western Europe was pretty much a full time job. Likewise being an MP. What an incredible being Boris Johnson is to do both, and still have the energy to cycle home and tell Black Cab drivers to ‘F*@k off and die’. http://metro.co.uk/2015/06/18/why-dont-you-f-off-and-die-boris-johnson-in-tasty-exchange-with-cabbie-over-uber-5251241/
Anyway getting back to LBC with Ian Collins in the chair who kept stating throughout the show that uber had been invited to give their side of things and could even come back at a later date to respond to all that has been said. As far as I’m aware they haven’t taken up the offer.
The next guest was from the United Cabbies Group and, again, I’m sorry I don’t know his name. He sits on the TfL committee for Surface Transport, and stated that he had been told personally by Boris, ‘Dave (Cameron) has said that I have to leave uber alone.’ This is not beyond the realms of possibility. A very good friend of his, Rachel Whetstone has been hired as head of PR at uber to fix its ‘reputational problems’. The whole story is here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3083737/Troubled-taxi-booking-app-Uber-hires-Google-spin-doctor-close-friend-David-Cameron-bid-fix-reputational-problems.html
The last guest was from the National Private Hire Association, the minicabs equivalent of the LTDA I would suppose. Again a very affable and articulate chap. He went on to state that he was baffled that uber had been found to have a driver without the correct insurance and had only been fined £7,500 when the punishment was always to revoke the licence of the operator. (This is not including a number of journalists who have photocopied entirely bogus insurance certificates and had them ok’d by uber.) Here’s an excellent article which would check every Taxi and Minicab entering the congestion Zone for the correct insurance at virtually no cost http://taxi-news.co.uk/letter-to-taxileaks-editor-uber-drivers-without-hire-and-reward-insurance/
In addition to the points mentioned on the show was one about the number of individuals illegally touting for business. This is putting the public at risk as these drivers are not insured and God only knows who you’re getting in a cab with. If every Black Cab Driver paid a levy of £10 per week to TfL this would raise over £250,000 per week. This could put well in excess of 300 Touting Enforcement Officers on the streets, and it would be made known that if you are caught, you will lose your licence for good and be prosecuted.
My last point is that blocking the streets in protest of these issues doesn’t endear us to the public. I think it would be far better to say that everyone who gets in a Black Cab on the protest day between 2 and 3pm, for instance, rides for free.
Food for thought?