Monday 7 March:
A gentleman I take occasionally from a town centre pub told me about an RAF officer who met with a Russian spy in the 1960s at this spot in Harlow. I was skeptical about this but Google told me all about it. Intrigue from the cold war period (see newspaper article)
Virtual smoking?During the recording of episode 112 of our Skepticule podcast last week we had our Anonymous Steve on. We talk over Skype so we don't have to be in the same place at the same time. Paul T smokes an e-cig, which doesn't smell at all. However Steve smokes real cigarettes (remember them?) and on one occasion blew the smoke at his video camera. Weirdly, I felt I actually experienced a blast of cigarette smoke being blown in my face, in particular the smell. Obviously it was all psychological but it was so clear I can still remember it now. Explanations for this phenomenon would be appreciated.
Religious infightingA child of a Muslim family I sometimes take to/from school was telling me that his family don't speak to his cousin's family (and vice versa) as his cousin was baptised to get into the local Roman Catholic secondary school. This raises many issues, such as whether it is right to change your religion to get into a decent local school or whether there is something wrong with state-funded faith schools. We don't have Labour and Conservative schools, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United schools, so why are Catholic and Anglican schools okay? I agree with the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association on this matter.
DeathDepressing news this weekend- a man was murdered in Harlow on Saturday and a woman tried to kill herself by jumping from a car park on Sunday. Not good, but many customers are talking about it.
Child safety issue?
I heard today that there is a proposal to build a hotel next to Chuch Langley Primary School, where our kids used to go. A local issue (I know) but surely it wouldn't be acceptable to do this? I can foresee many of the objections.
To charge or not to charge?What to do- I arrive for a job at Bush Fair Post Office, and am told after a minute or so that the customer is making her way down from the flats above. Five minutes later I see her walking very slowly down with very apparent mobility issues. The general rule is that we charge waiting time (30p per minute) after five minutes. It didn't seem right to me to charge someone for their disability so I chose not to. It took her a further five minutes to get to the car, during which I should have charged for 7 minutes. On discussion the customer thought I should charge as I don't work for nothing.
Tuesday 8 March
SmokingI frequently see a select few minicab drivers smoking in their cars whilst waiting for jobs. This is with no smoking signs on the windows. I had to get a cab for my daughter on Friday. I always ask my cab company to send a 'nice' driver (whatever that means). Apparently the driver was very nice but the car stank of smoke, which she found very unpleasant. It does annoy me that smokers think that because they can't smell their cigarette smoke then nobody can.
Thursday 10 March
Hannah Jane Fox
Today I took the lovely Hannah Jane Fox to the station. Having been a lead female in West End musicals for ten years she's now experiencing the other side of auditions. I'm looking forward to hearing how it all goes.
Friday 11 March
Today I got a nod from a black cab driver. Yay!!
There's an offshoot of a Canadian college in Harlow. I can't help but be envious of the students who make the most of their opportunities to take cheap flights all over Europe while they are here. Today I took a group who were going to Barcelona for the weekend, taking in a match at the Nou Camp. stadium. They don't know what to expect from a football match.
A typical problem for minicab drivers- a potential customer wants a lift home but has no mobile to ring and book me. The elderly man was clearly tired and needed to get home quickly. What to do? He wanted to pay but can't make the booking without going back into the pub. If I take him I risk losing my licence but I want him to get home, which was only a few hundred yards away. He wanted to leave some money on the seat 'by mistake'. What would you do?