Friday, December 04, 2015

A Footnote For Marc Turner's Semtex.

 A great report from our friend and colleague Marc Turner. Certainly, there is a genuine amount of heart warmth and sympathy that can reach out to Kizzy, the Uber driver looking to improve his life style, fleeing from the third world poverty of Togo, West Africa.

His desperate attempt to relinquish the psychological chains of the unforgiven slavery trade, are as fresh today as his forefathers would no doubt have experienced all those years ago.
I am a compassionate man. I am a loving family man too. I have a loving wife who is currently quiet ill, and four wonderful adult children, whom both my wife and myself adore.

I have served our country within the Military and our Security Services with exemption. I have lost a  grandfather in the Great War, who gave his life, for the life myself and my family enjoy today. My mother's two Uncles too, perished and were never recovered, somewhere amongst the blood soaked poppies in Flanders Fields. No doubt, there will be many of my London Cab colleagues who can relate to my pain.
For almost twenty years, I have suffered terribly from the crippling effects of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I have been hospitalised four times and receive constant psychiatric help. For those with experience of this serious condition, I need explain nothing more. For those who do not understand it......don't try to. It is harrowing.

However, there are many London Cabbies who have been hit hard with PTSD, either themselves, or from a close loved one. I know personally of five of our colleagues, who are either receiving help for themselves, or on behalf of a seriously affected family member.

When I experienced my worst memories, PTSD wasn't even recognised ! Neither was Counselling ! You were de-briefed and sent back out onto front line Operational Combat, and told not to be a prick ! I have been beaten, stabbed, burnt, and hung up by my feet. I have had car battery acid put in my eyes and mouth. As a young man, it is water off a duck's back of course. It gets you a bit of barrack room street cred ! And then you get older, and you get scared about a pain that has long since healed. 
Or so you thought !

Today, and as we know, the effects of this serious illness is far more recognised, and fortunately, investment and study are being made to assist the huge amount of sufferers.
For the last two weeks, embarrassingly, I have once again been unable to get out of bed. My depression and cynical state of mind have robbed me of even washing or shaving. My eldest daughter has had to move in with us, God willing, only temporary. She isn't only helping my poor wife, her loving Mum, but I am embarrassed to admit, myself too. Usually a cornerstone of strength, both physical and mentally, when the old black dog strikes, I am utterly useless and a milestone around the neck's of my loving family.

I try to fight it. I think positive, like I have been told to do. I think of good things, not bad, just as the experts have advised me. I honestly do try to help myself. 
And yet..........I am paralysed onto the mattress, like a cocooned fly tangled in the web of an approaching spider. 

Of course, I know it makes sense to get out of the bed. I know I have to move on. I know my wife and family need me. I know my dog's have to be trained. I know I am stinking like a tramp. I know I am intolerable. I know this behaviour is unacceptable. And I know I must break the cycle of past experience depression bouts, before it eventually eats me up and kills me. But I cant !  I cant get out the bed !
Which leads me to my point, which is Kizzy, in Marc's interview, our persecuted Uber driving host , and I quote his words :
“The UK is the mother of democracy; everyone wants to be here for its liberty, tolerance and safety. Uber welcomes migrants and refugees with open arms, allowing us to get a foothold – at least so far as work is concerned and where 'good' English isn't a necessity. Most drivers’ partners have other jobs as it is impossible to make a decent living on Uber unless you work around the clock.”
Kizzy, I genuinely appreciate and share your desires. 
But as you can see, the Democracy, Liberty, Tolerance and Safety that you so badly want to be part of and see in our great country, wasn't granted by default my friend. 

It had to be fought for, from committed, steadfast and brave troops, many, like some of my own family, who never did return, from the poppy laden slaughter fields of Northern France and way beyond.  Even today, and probably more than ever, our UK Military, National Security and Police, put themselves in constant grave positions of peril, to protect and retain the very same legacy and protection, that our loved ones in the past fought tirelessly to preserve. Much blood was lost and spilled, to achieve what you see today.
You are right of course that everyone seems to want to be here. The reasons for such are obvious. However, Democracy, Liberty, Tolerance and Safety in the UK, are a priority of UK Nationals, and sadly, we simply cannot accommodate everyone.

Notwithstanding, the legal rights to pick up travelling passengers on London's streets wasn't given to London Taxi Drivers either. The professional accolade to wear our hard earned badge, also required a hard fight and long winded process to gain too.

It takes years to become proficient enough, professionally trained enough and knowledgeable enough to be able to navigate a fully laden cab around the vast network web of London's streets and roads.
As it would be fool hardy and errant to allow the hard fought legacy of the UK's Democracy, Liberty, Tolerance and Safety to be abused by foreign nationals or home bred haters to destroy, it would be equally as unjustifiable, to allow Uber and TFL to systematically dismantle a legitimate and professionally required platinum service like The London Black Cab, to perish.
Uber have absolutely no damn right, to " welcomes migrants and refugees with open arms, allowing us to get a foothold "
This is London ! Uber are from bloody California ! Who gives them the right to "Welcome "  ANYBODY HERE  " with open arms"
Who the eff do Uber think they are then ? 

How have a techno firm from California been able to make it possible for an open arm welcome to migrants coming into the UK ? Is this a joke ? If not, it must be corruption, surely ? Or are Uber so big that they are now in charge of UK Immigration Control ?
And it is to that end, that although I can sympathise with Uber's Kizzy for his ongoing plight and sleeping in his car, my main concerns are to ensure that the only people who put in.........are the only one's who take something out !
The moral of my post of course, should be clear.    Surely, what a person, a club, a nation, a family, a profession, a company, or a team put in............then they should be the only one's allowed by the rules of the take out........shouldn't they ?
On a more positive note, I managed to get out of my stinking pit of self pity, make believe comfort and safety, yesterday. After a shave, a bath, fish and chips and a cup of tea, I feel at last able to take my post as the husband, Dad, advisor, family provider and family Field Marshall I have always enjoyed being.
Until the next time........................
Be lucky all. Stay safe and during these precarious time particularly...... be vigilant.
8829 Semtex


Anonymous said...

During reading your post I could feel your depression lifting being replaced with the passion for the fight most of us who read your stuff know your made of well done chin up and all the best to the Mrs

Anonymous said...

Hello Steve.
Saddened to hear all is not well at Semtex Towers mate. But you know what you gotta do fella, pick yourself up and dust yourself down. You're Mrs needs ya and bloody do do we brother!
All the best mate Lightbulb...

Anonymous said...

Oh how you made me feel your pain throughout your post! Your writing evoked so many emotions; sad for your wife's illness and your distress, sorry (but relieved too) that your daughter moved in to take control of the situation, sad and angry at what you experienced when fighting for our country and the subsequent symptoms of PTSD.

In short, I went through all the emotions with you and can relate to much of what you've written about your struggle with PTSD. Having both personal and professional experience of Mental Ill Health I can empathise with your negative thoughts and feelings. I'm not sure that anyone should be telling you just to 'think positive thoughts'? It's not as easy as that, is it?

My spirits were raised when I read that you were eventually able to get out of bed, which must have been very difficult for you. Depression is torture and I'm happy that your symptoms have alleviated somewhat.

For many years I've delivered Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses for Adults, Adolescents and Armed Forces personnel who have experienced Mental Health either themselves or through friends and family. The aim is to explain MH, teaching people how to spot the signs and symptoms of MH, inform people about the effects of MH and to reduce the stigma surrounding MH.

Perhaps MHFA would benefit some of our cabbies (free of charge, of course) as the trade is going through a really tough time, yet again so I too know many cabbies experiencing problems in their Mental state. Your post will resonate with many cabbies who find it difficult to express their emotions and perhaps in some way, at least they'll know they're not alone and that help is available. So thank you for sharing your heartfelt experiences.

Anonymous said...

You have always spoken from the heart and that is reflected in all your postings - which is why you are respected and loved by all London cab drivers who know you and/or read your postings
This is a very depressing period for our trade brought about by the actions of TfL and the inability of the present Mayor to take and direct pro action as and when required
Our only chance of survival is the sacking of certain individuals within TfL by the new Mayor and the Enforcement of the Law
In the meantime keep well Semtex and best wishes to your wife for a speedy recovery

Anonymous said...

May I just say that I have been choked up today. Thanks a million for your messages of support, and it was fantastic to hear from some of our staunch trade fighters and friends, especially my good mate, Lightbulb ! My phone and e mails have been alight too. It has really pulled me up again !

The problem with my writing is that it wasn't really meant to be a post for self sympathy, or indeed a post about me ! I never read back my work, neither do I write a draft copy first. All rules of writing that you are taught to do from the start ! I just sit down, write and post ! I was trying to put across that as much as I could relate to our Uber driver's plight, what we have in the UK has come as a result of huge cost ! And I used my personal experiences of input, to outline it.
Looking back over my post though, and as a result of the support and good wishes that were coming in, I must admit, it did look like as I had drafted it for sympathy ! I honestly didn't do that, and to be candid, glad that it actually did come out that way now, because the response has pulled me back on my feet again !

The camaraderie in our trade is for me one of the most appealing and unique qualities of the London Cab Trade. I have enjoyed professional unity all of my life, and feel it is an essential part of work place cohesion.

What other profession would you get your mate's asking how you're sick wife is ?
My beautiful wife who has put up with me for over 35 years has had a rotten time. After thyroid cancer took a hold last year, her thyroid was successfully removed. Not long after opening the champagne, we were told the bad news that it had now spread to her eyes. She has lost the sight in her right eye, with her left eye struggling to cope also. The Army have been with us all the way, and I couldn't ask for more, both moral and financially.

The Army have bent over backwards in looking after me, and have given me access to the best treatment available. I didn't want to approach them for help on this occasion as sometimes they take me into a clinic in the Midlands, and I needed to be at home for my wife. F knows what for though ! I wasn't any value to anyone ! You remember when Swampy the Greenpeace geezer wouldn't come down out the tree ? Well I was like him but in the bed ! I really does knock the granny out of me.

What with me acting the goat and being a drama queen as well, our house has been like something out of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest !

Anyway, onwards and upwards ! I'm over my strop and back punching again !

These are perilous times, both with our National Security and not least, our London Taxi Trade. I will be glad to see the back of this poxy year, I really will.

Once again folks, many many thanks again to all of you. I really honestly mean it. I love our trade, I love my mate's in it and I won't sit back without doing something to prevent us going under, however little or much that will take.

God bless all. Be lucky and take every precaution out there, leading up to Christmas.

Thankyou all again. It choked me right up.

8829 Semtex.

Editorial said...

Hi Mike
I've sent your comment direct mate

AndyCabb said...

Hello Semtex,
I absolutely love reading your posts, this one and your subsequent comments above have blown me away however. What you guys in the services put yourselves through for ensuring the safety and well being of all of the rest of us is truly staggering. I know, through reading your posts how much you enjoyed being in the army, being a part of something few of us have ever experienced. And at what cost to yourself, the rest of us don't know the half of it. Your descriptions of your descent when the black dog hits illustrate the sacrifices you make. Some of course make the ultimate sacrifice, others in less obvious ways. I'm glad your back feeling more like your old self and I wish you and your good wife well.
The point you have made relating to our Taxi Trade and the training and dedication we put into becoming a Licensed Taxi Driver in London and relating it to your own experiences in the army honour us and I thank you for seeing things in this way.
We have a massive fight on our hands. And while TFL, the Mayor and Uber continue to behave in the manner that they do, allowing completely untrained, unqualified, un-checked, drivers (whether from the UK or otherwise) to ride roughshod over us and break all known regulations (or circumvent which is just a word used as an excuse to get away with whatever they want to do)then I will continue to join you and everyone else in this fight, using whatever tactics necessary, until it is done.
One thing I have discovered this last year or so is that the camaraderie in this trade is alive and kicking. The Taxi Trade is all I've ever known from the day I was born. I only ever worked in the taxi trade from the day I left school until I embarked on the Knowledge and proudly became a Taxi Driver in London. If Daniels, Johnson, Cameron, Osbourne and their friends think they are going to take that away from me and the rest of us without a fight then they are sadly mistaken. I think next year is going to get very dirty.
Unlike your good self Semtex I always read back and correct any spalling and gremmer mistakes, but in honour of your good self I will resist this time and just press post,
Be Lucky

Anonymous said...

Many thanks indeed Andy. I am humbled by your comments. Stay proud my colleague and friend. It ain't over for us a long shot !
God bless mate and be lucky.