As my mates in the trade will know, I have had some serious problems to cope with this year, not just with myself, but concerning my beautiful wife too.
As a result, my keyboard has gathered dust, as issues of greater importance with my family have been concentrated on.
Despite it all, I have kept a close eye on the trade that I have loved and served for almost thirty years now, and what I see doesn't make life any more optimistic.
However, as a scribe for many years now for various publications, I know how difficult it is to convey passion from the heart, onto paper and the written word.
It's not easy to write down what the heart and mind feels and thinks, but reading our colleague Harry Wall's brilliantly written piece this morning, not only persuaded me to blow the dust off my own keypad, but reminded me that although I have had my own problems, there are many, many others all fighting their own personal battles. Harry's account of his son's brave fight choked me up, and I convey my love and best wishes to Harry and his family.
Our great trade colleagues therefore, do not need me, to point out at the extremely precarious position that we find ourselves in. I know it's annoying when people say it, I know it doesn't makes things any easier either, but how on earth have 25000 men and women allowed this to happen to them? It's ludicrous, isn't it ?
What makes it even more extraordinary is the fact that to complete the world famous knowledge exams, as we have all done, is a massive test of one's heart and tenacity in itself.
So, it is relatively safe to assume that any person who has suffered the ordeal of this strange, long winded, professional ritual, can be counted upon to dig deep and replicate that same act of commitment and passion they demonstrated to gain their badge, would be just as ferocious in protecting it. Right ?
Well actually................for reasons probably only explainable by Sir Richard Attenborough or Dr. Desmond Morris, we lay back, roll over and take it, when anybody, any authority, or any rival dodgy service deem it appropriate to attack us.
In fact, not only do we roll over, we have actually encouraged it and even accelerated our own demise by facilitating the assassin's logistics.
As much as I have tried to understand it and make sense of it, I can't. It's one of the wonders of the world. Many of these wonders though, have a happy scientific or biological explanation to them, but the case of The London Taxi Driver is neither scientific, biological or happy. In fact, we are in grave danger of becoming prehistoric any minute now, and every second of the time spent navigating through ice, rain and snow on a moped to learn our craft, would have been in vain. We are in grave peril of survival, and surrounded.
I don't want to point the finger at individuals, but I have always believed that our trade orgs have a hell of a lot to answer for. 25000 drivers is of course a large membership, but six or seven clubs, unions, associations or whatever, should be able to represent that number with no problem at all. In fact, a well led, well subscribed and well organised organisation with teeth, sincerity, skill and spunk should be able to look after the lot of us on it's own, easily.
But neither of them have, have they ?
Look at the bloody state of us, for Christ sake ! Kicked up the nuts by every Tom, Dick & Harry, bullied to death by a bent, untrustworthy, inept, unprofessional, corrupt licensing gang, who make Ronnie & Reggie look like Ant & Dec, and forced out of business by a shrewd, internet savvy whizz kid, who has learnt how to attract and befriend the above mentioned slags into his well endowed pocket.
When rank and file cab drivers say that the trade orgs should have done more to stop it, they are right.
Of course they bloody should have !
It's insane the danger that we are in to pay our mortgages. Its not all austerity.
How has that happened ?
How have we become victims of all this ?
I will tell you how, shall I ?
The World Famous Knowledge Test for aspiring London Cabbie's is designed by purpose to self select only the most professional, the most honest, the most able, the most fittest and the most trustworthy of candidates to wear the coveted badge representing platinum standards and integrity, around their necks.
It is no wonder then, and no surprise, that people with these decent life qualities were unable to deflect the fatal blows from opponents who are deceitful, dishonest, corrupt, unprofessional, bent, misleading, underhanded unpatriotic snidey bastards...........onto a world class proud trade and infiltrate honest, decent, law abiding professionals. We weren't expecting it, and neither should we have. In these circumstances though and to prevent being bullied, you have to fight fire with fire for the ruck to be equal. Bear that in mind for a moment.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm not sure which, but my remit whilst serving in the Guards equipped me with dealing and spotting the flaws of such untrustworthy international snides, so I had an advantage in seeing it coming to us too. Thus my "Men Are Coming To Kill Us" campaign, some six years ago now.
And that is the reason why I have always screamed that it is absolutely futile trying to fight corruption with democracy.
It will never work.
Having MP's and Government Ministers on board is a waste of time and optimism. Some of the most respected and well judged colleagues I have known in our trade had utter true faith in Tom Watson. Why ?
Why did they ?
I actually almost fell out with a fantastic trade friend over this mug. I told you he would do nothing from he start, and he didn't . Just another Government official pretending to share the worries of our trade on board, because he or she know that we are by virtue of our numbers, worth lying to. Writing to MP's should be effective and provide results, but it doesn't. That's because despite their denial, most MP's want to end up as Prime Ministers and high ranking Ministers, and wouldn't dream of rocking the boat early in their career to assist humble cab drivers.
We are by nature too, a compliant, law abiding profession. That's why for the last 350 years or so, we have been entrusted to safely drive and deliver children to schools, ministers to parliament, gold to bullion dealers, and valuables to banks and safe deposit establishments.
And because we are so trustworthy, accountable and compliant, the hierarchy take the piss out of us. They take politeness for weakness and treat us like shit on their shoes. Could you imagine entrusting Uber to take two unaccompanied five year olds to nursery school, or 100 grands worth of diamonds to Graffs ?
Don't even dream about it. You think David Blayne is good at making things disappear ?
Folks, our battered old profession has been knocked and smashed from arsehole to breakfast. Take absolutely no notice of the deception tricks. Mike Brown's attempt at inviting HALF the trade up to Palestra last week was another insincere, stalling tactic. Whilst on the subject, not only was I immensely saddened to see that the RMT and UCG were uninvited, I was absolutely fuming that ANY of the trade heads accepted the invite at all.
Surely if ALL the representatives are not invited, then it cannot be seen as a bona fide, sincere meeting at all, can it ? Why didn't they decline the meeting from Brown, until ALL LONDON TAXI REPRESENTATION were present and correct ? You don't have to be a criminologist to suss that the groups omitted from the Palestra Tea Party, were the pro-active groups known for spotting insincere bollox a mile away.
I am unsure of what was discussed with the chosen few, but let me cast a few guesses. The statistics about the rapes by licensed mini cabs will eventually come out. But what do you think will happen when it eventually does ?
I will tell you. Nothing.
Why are the trade so excited about this rape figure revelation ?
Even when it's divulged, it wont make paying our mortgages easier. You watch. It's the same as our wishes for a Public Enquiry. Even if we get one, the best we will get is that certain figures in our cross hairs will be named and sacked. All very well, but there are hundreds of others who are queuing to take their places. The bent shysters will be replaced with the same attributes and insincere candidates as their former colleagues. Not only that, all of this bollox takes time, and it is time that the London Cab Trade just cannot afford. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick effing tock folks !
As soon as Brown put his party invites out, I immediately thought that a deflection trick was about to be launched. Let the cab trade think theyr'e important enough for us to talk to, and when they are comfortable up here dipping their custard creams in the Tetley, one of us can meet Travis in Claridges to strike another deal. The tea party was another trade ruse folks. Don't trust them !! You must be mad if you do.
I am always honestly amazed at how some good trade leaders of ours actually believe this bollox that TFL and MP's spout out ! It's a deception, a ploy, a trick, each and every bloody time.
Despite the traffic out there, despite the allegations of rape, despite the evidence, despite the infrastructure meltdown of our Capital, despite the gridlock, TFL continue to issue 600 mini cab licences a week !
Can you believe that ?
Forget the Opium and Cocaine trade, that's for amateurs !
A good printer, impressive offices, some mannerquinns dressed as Enforcement Officers and a personal integrity score of zilch, and your'e made for life !
I bet Richard Branson can't believe he didn't think of it !
Folks, I have operated and worked on the law abiding side of militancy all my life. Candidates in Government and Authority with the required skills are head hunted and offered huge salaries for their ability to talk, spiel, delay and connive. Politicians are trained to reply to questions with answers that confuse and derail what was initially asked. To the cab trade, we know it as "bollox," and be fair, even to the most politically minded of us, we have listened to enough of that to last a lifetime.
Remember me saying earlier that you can only fight fire with fire ? Well, in my opinion that is true. Sucking us into insincere meetings, promising to look into this, investigate that, is merely an age old stalling trick. Going up to tea parties with brief cases will never ever work and we will expire with the Trafalgar Square pigeons if we continue standing for it.
Authorities and Governments HATE direct confrontational challenge. Demonstrations on foot and in vehicles seriously derail London's infrastructure.
Direct Action works because they can't control it. That is why The Brilliant Mayfair Mob and Fantastic Dads Defending Daughters are small forces who achieve more than the so called big boys, ever do or ever will. They don't deal in blah, blah, effing blah, they fully deploy in a heartbeat, they are accurate, active and lethal.
They don't have drawn out meetings three weeks before they do something and then wonder why they are surrounded and blocked in with traffic cones, and neither do they have centrally heated offices. They drive their cabs, see the problem, decide, deploy and attack. That is what Authority hate and that is why the teams behind these tactics such as MM & DDD are so successful.
2016 must surely go down as a very worrying year in our nigh on 400 year legacy. I said the same in 2015 and thought we may take an advantage, but we haven't. How long we can sustain such battering is anyone's guess.
We have done London and Londoners proud in our platinum history. We have always been there, through wars, uncertainty, recessions and bombings.
It is immensely difficult and drawn out to become a London Licensed Taxi Driver. One could have dedicated four years of one's life learning something else to earn our coin. But for 25,000 of us and so many more in the wings, learning the skills of driving the public, royalty, business people, the rich, the famous and sports people around London in safe expertise and pride of knowledge............must have ticked the boxes for completing something so very worthwhile and respected.
That's why we did it.
Unbeknown to us of course, was how viciously and unceremoniously we would be betrayed and shat on. Our legacy and supreme service to London for so many years through such perilous conditions, means nothing to a group of lying, career chasing civil servants and ministers, who would sell their mothers for two bob. Camaraderie, pride, integrity and respect mean nothing to these parasites.
The very same parasites are trading our culture, our heritage our British way of life, our decency and even our faith in a disrespectful treason parade. My Grandad's blood and the blood of two of my uncles drained from their poor bodies into the soil of the poppy fields in the Somme. They would be mortified at how our national pride has been disrespectfully diluted.
Nothing is sacred to these people. Service, loyalty, pride and professionalism are not words they either care about or are interested in.
Brown envelopes, perverted sex, fraudulent claims, inflated dinner expenses and nest feathering is their forte, and as soon as our London Taxi Trade Organisation Representatives realise this, the quicker we might progress.
There's an old saying that if you want something done well, do it yourself. Nevermind politics and trying to fight the Mafia with democracy. Lets start fighting back for our survival. We worked bloody hard to earn our badge. Most of the ponces that want to take my badge were at school when I did my knowledge. And if they want it, they can fight me for it. London's infrastructure are the arteries of London's survival. If they want a scrum let's go down for one. What have we got to lose ?
I know it looks grim. I know we have a mountain to climb, but we simply have to fight back. If we chose the political route, they will kill us. We MUST let them know that we are up for a fight.
Its a big call, but it can be done.
For those of us who are familiar with the Battle of Rorke's Drift, you will be under no illusion of what can happen when a minority are fighting for survival, and have to create a miracle to win. Furthermore, you will be under no illusion either of the part that a good LEADER such as Lieutenant John Chard can play to his men when the chips are down and the odds of survival are stacked against them.
The irony is, one of our very own played an enormously important part in that skirmish in Africa.
Fred Hitch was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in that terribly bloody battle. Fred was from Chiswick and was one of London's finest like us, a London Taxi Driver. He would be sad to see the current state of us, I bet.
In the hour of need, we are going to need some realistic challenge and some very good people to lead this trade to safety.
The hour of need is here.
The hour of need is NOW.
Who is going to lead us ?
Who can be the next Lieutenant John Chard ?
Never has our trade needed a good leader as it does right now. In fact, our trade need him as much now, as they did in Rorke's Drift, 137 years ago. Let's hope we can find him, before we are wiped off the London Map forever.
Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock....................
Be lucky all