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Why don't we swop jobs!

By R&H taxi columnist Sherbet Trotter

Posted October 29, 2015
Running a taxi's a business not a charity.

Running a taxi's a business not a charity.

I know that no one is forced into being a taxi driver, but someone has to do it and it can be the hardest thing to get out of.

Now, at some stage I think everybody needs a taxi and I am afraid you have to pay, and yes, it hurts.

Obviously, back in the old days, petrol was tuppence a gallon and diesel even cheaper.

Taxis could be repaired with a boiled egg (do not try this at home) for a leaking radiator, a broken fan belt was repaired with a pair of tights and if you were lucky enough to own a Citroen it could run on three wheels if you were unfortunate to get a puncture or a wheel fell off.

Now with the cost of fuel on a downward turn (it isn't going to stay that way!), there's maintenance – you have to plug a computer in to change a light bulb; insurance (the less said the better); and the badge, which you need a medical for, a criminal record check and, of course, the fee for the licensing authority to process it.

Plus it is has to be renewed.

And yes, in some areas you have to have a vehicle that can take a wheelchair.

Oh and, of course, some councils insist you complete an NVQ in cab driving.

Anyway, enough of my going on.

The following are two true stories, or should I say 'reactions from the public'?

"How much to go up the other end of town?"

The first was outside a club at 2.30 in the morning.

Up comes a geezer.

We will call him U-Bend.

"How much to go up the other end of town?"

He told me exactly the road.

"About £8.40 [$12.85]."

A giant pause follows...

"Fuckin' hell! Oi, mate, it's only up the road."

"Well, walk it then. It's only about half an hour, but make up your mind, mate. There're other people who want a cab."

In gets U-Bend, muttering to himself: "It's daylight robbery."

About seven minutes later we pull into his turning.

"Over there by the white van."

I look over in the headlights: a plumber's van.

"Is that your van, mate, the plumber's van?"


"Why didn't you tell me you were a plumber? Just give me a fiver."

"You said £8.40 [which happened to be on the meter]."

"I know, but I am going to take your number and when my boiler packs up in the middle of the night, I'll give you call. I only live up the road and you can come and sort my boiler out for a fiver."

U-Bend couldn't get his £8.40 out quick enough and would have beaten Usain Bolt in a sprint to get away from the cab.

"There has to be a minimum charge, even for us on zero hours."

Anyway, punter number two.

Again it's about two in the morning.

Up walks a DJ with his £100 tablet and his 9.99-a-month subscription to Spotify.

Now, I am not bitter but 35 years ago DJs were paying a pound for a 7" single, two pound for a 12" and about a fiver for an album.

You would end up spending at least £20 a week on records and you'd get about £10 a night if you were lucky.

In jumps DJ.

"Just up the road. I can't be bothered to walk."

I had been sitting on the rank for half an hour; within two minutes I was turning into his road.

Now, there has to be a minimum charge, even for us on zero hours.

The meter clicked over once to £4.80.

"You're having a laugh, mate! £4.80 for two minutes' work."

He gives me a fiver and waits for the 20p change.

"I know, mate. By the time I get my next job that will mean I've earned about £2 out of that £4.80 for an hour's work at two o'clock in the morning."

I wanted to have a drawn-out conversation but didn't want to miss out on my next £4.80.

Happy days.

Or should I say nights?

See also Jeeves and the M25, posted 21/9/15.

Sherbet Trotter
is a Newquay, Cornwall-based taxi driver who writes books, films and songs and who gave that Rake bloke a lift the other day. We liked the cut of his jib so we immediately gave him a column.

Top pic: Ignatius Rake.

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