The Anonymous Widower

My Thoughts On Uber

There has been a lot of opposition to the taxi-app called Uber around the world, with London taxi-drivers being particularly vocal.

It probably won’t affect me in London, as I’m not a very heavy user of taxis. Usually, I only use them, when late in the evening, I want to get home from a station and I’m tired.

I wouldn’t use Uber though, as I don’t do apps on my mobile phone. So my only worry is that Uber is so successful, black cabs become a rarity and I can’t find one when I need one.

We should also remember that a lot of people are like me and need to sit down to do anything complicated on a smartphone. Which probably means I’ll avoid apps like the plague.

I also avoid signing up to many companies, as they just fill my inbox with spam. I suspect that if I downloaded an app for a bookmaker, I’d constantly be pestered to have a eit. I’m in control, not the company and anybody who thinks otherwise doesn’t get my custom or business. As an example, if there is an alternative to Virgin Trains, I use it if it’s cheaper or more convenient, as Virgin keep sending me junk mail through my letterbox.

I also think that black cabs should trade on their strengths, like their knowledge, their ranks and their general friendliness and jokes.

They also should make it, that all black cabs take bank and credit cards. Last Saturday, I could have had an embarrassing moment, when I took a taxi back from Waterloo. I thought I didn’t have enough cash and the driver didn’t take cards.  But luckily, I had another note tucked away in my wallet.


June 8, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Welcome To France

The French train from Hendaye may not have been one of their most modern, but everybody was pleasant and the train trundled along the coast to Biarritz, which was my final destination.

There wasn’t any good map at Biarritz station and as it was now dark, I felt I had better take a taxi.

The driver though, wasn’t the surly individual beloved of British comedians, when talking about France for years, but a clean cut individual, who spoke perfect English and charged me what it said on the meter.

So painlessly, I’d arrived at the Radisson Blu hotel.

December 10, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Banning Hands-Free Mobile Phones In Vehicles A Good Idea?

The BBC is reporting that there has been a call to ban hands-free mobile phones in vehicles. they also had a lively phone-in about the subject, with high emotions on both sides of the argument.

As a non-driver, I’m not that bothered, except that I’d like to see the current law enforced, as I constantly see bad or selfish driving, where the driver has his phone clamped to his ear. A couple of times, I’ve been waiting at a zebra crossing and instead of stopping as the Highway Code says, they’ve sped across in front of me, hoping that I can’t see their phone on the opposite side of the car.

But this is a problem that will sort itself out, one way or another.

In the next few years, one country, state or city, will ban the use of hands-free mobile phones whilst driving and we will have some reliable data to enable us to make a sensible decision.

One of the biggest objectors today, are probably professional drivers, who drive hire cars, taxis, trucks and vans.

A few months there was a documentary on the BBC about London’s buses.  The instructions for the driver are relayed by computer, so that if the driver is to change route, it’s all there in front of them on a screen. These sort of systems are obviously designed not to distract the driver and will come increasingly common, reducing the need for the use of mobile phones in vehicles.

It should probably be the law, that all taxis, hire-cars and delivery vehicles should be controlled by such an approved system.

November 18, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Cash Machines Behind Barriers

By now, I’d determined that I needed to get a taxi to my hotel and as luck would have it not only was my phone out of juice, but so was my wallet.

So as I needed money for the taxi, I needed a cash machine and where are both of these found? In a station! But as the picture shows the only ones I could find were behind the ticket barriers.

Cash Machines Behind Barriers

Cash Machines Behind Barriers

Luckily, I was let through and got the money for the taxi. As it was the driver didn’t take credit cards, so I definitely needed that cash.

October 25, 2013 Posted by | Finance, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Lots Of Taxis But No Buses

I felt hungry, so I felt the best thing to do was move on towards Manchester, as there didn’t appear any good coffee or gluten-free snacks. This greeted me as I walked back to Preston station.

Lots Of Taxis But No Buses

Lots Of Taxis But No Buses

Is this the cause of the city’s bus problems at the rail station? Moving the taxi rank to the side would allow buses to call at the station properly. But then rule one in planning traffic around railway stations and city centres is not to annoy the taxi drivers. and as I suspect many taxis are driven by ethnic minorities, rule two is not to annoy ethnic minorities.

But something must be done in Preston to make the city centre more viable. With a proper interchange at the station, it might encourage the use of buses to get to the outlying towns around the city. At present I suspect, that you have no excuse but to drive.

As a coeliac, Preston is a place, I wouldn’t put on a list of places to change trains. the only restaurant I know there, that I’d trust to do gluten-free well is Pizza Express.

The best thing about Preston was the train I took to Huyton.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Food, Travel, World | , , , | 6 Comments

Lib Dems Get It Right On Cars

There has generally been negative reaction to the Lib Dems proposal to ban diesel and petrol cars by 2040. The story was reported here in the Telegraph. This is the first paragraph.

Nick Clegg’s party has unveiled proposals to only allow ultra-low carbon vehicles on UK roads by 2040.

The controversial measures would mean millions of petrol and diesel cars being forbidden.

Only electric vehicles and ultra-efficient hybrid cars would be allowed on UK roads under the Lib Dem plans.

However, petrol and diesel vehicles would still be allowed for freight purposes.

I don’t think they will or should be banned, but by 2040, most vehicles will not use fossil fuel.

I’m not speaking here as a wishful thinking non-driver, but as an engineer, who follows innovations and economics strongly.

Various developments will gradually eat away at the market for conventional vehicles and new ultra low emission vehicles will in the next couple of decades be cheaper to buy and run than anything else.

One thing that will help the transition is in cities like London, where there is a large market to replace the black cabs.  This article in the Guardian describes Nissan’s first attempt. Seeing and using viable and well-liked electric taxis will convince people, that electric cars can work.

However any party that wants to bring in a ban on petrol and diesel cars would be committing political suicide.

All politicians need to do, is provide the infrastructure that ultra-low emission vehicles will need.

August 7, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Are Cyclists Becoming The New Vegetarians?

I’ve nothing against either group, but although I hope one day to be part of the first, I doubt I’ll ever be vegetarian. I couldn’t be that today, as I’ve just had some delicious meat pate.

But in my view, there are a lot of vegetarians, who are overly touchy. I remember once being served a meal in a five-star boutique hotel with organic wholemeal bread and the vegetarian owner couldn’t get it, that wheat was bad for me. As it was organic, surely that wouldn’t cause me any harm, as animals were the problem. So C gave her both barrels as only a barrister could and we never ate in the hotel again.

Change a recipe for a chocolate bar and the veggies will get you, as Mars found out a couple of years ago.

it now appears that cyclists in London can get just as touchy about changing road layouts, as this story shows. The article even has a go at Crossrail, saying that it will bring lots of shoppers into Central London.

I regularly go to that area and it is a nightmare for everybody and especially pedestrians and cyclists. I found this out a few days ago and posted this.

The question i asked in that post is probably the correct one and the sooner we get New Buses for London in those routes around Piccadilly Circus and down the Haymarket the better, as I’m certain they would  get a lot of the pedestrians out of the way. Some pedestrians might even say they’d had enough and see an open platform on a bus and go for it!

What’s the betting though, that in a few months as more and more New Buses for London appear, we will read an article about cyclists complaining about them?

Perhaps to create more road-space in Central London, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put restrictions on taxis. Now taxi-drivers are another group, who act like vegetarians and get touchy at the least provocation.

How about banning rickshaws too?

But the main thing that is needed is some good British design, followed up with a good helping of compromise!

April 25, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Didn’t Miss The Match

After a good drink of proper Aspall Cyder, I got the train to Ipswich for the match against Crystal Palace.

One guy was saying that Town would win 3-0 and his mates were teasing him strongly. I hope he put some money on it, as Town did.

Evening matches at Portman Road can be difficult for me, as if I’m unlucky with the trains, I don’t get in until after midnight.

Yesterday was such a day, and I fell asleep on the rather hot train.

But I got home safely, after using a taxi driven by one of the smallest and oldest drivers I’d ever had.

His driving skills were very much up to scratch, though.

I slept well after a successful day.


April 17, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

They Do Things Big In Swindon

I’ve only ever been to Swindon once and thought it was rather a quiet inoffensive town.  But last night someone or perhaps more, slashed the tyres on 150 cars in the town. The incidents are reported here on the BBC.

In some ways it just reinforces my view, that cars are an unnecessary evil, especially, when you have lots of buses and friendly taxi-drivers.

February 21, 2013 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

A Taxi From Liverpool Street

I don’t often take taxis from Liverpool Street station to home, as there are quite a few convenient buses.  But on Tuesday night, it was very cold and late, so I decided to use one.

Since I last used a taxi from inside Liverpool Street station, they’ve moved the taxi rank to be alongside Platform 10, so the first problem was finding one.

There was only one there, which probably shows how few people coming into the station actually use them.

The driver was very apologetic, as he said he’d have to go round the houses a bit because of traffic restrictions behind the station.

He got me home quickly, talking as ever about football.

And then he refused any tip, because of the delay in getting out of the station.

February 21, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | 1 Comment


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