Friday, 22 May 2009

Economic Barometers

One of the few plus points of working stupid hours over the last few weeks is getting cabs home [checks to make sure that no-one from The Telegraph reads this]. Not just because it's easier than dealing with the pissed people on the midnight tube, but also to get a view of London's economy from the people who know it best - the cabbies. There's a noticeable difference from the last pitch I worked on back in February, when people were still queueing for cabs at 11pm and the cab drivers' general feeling was that nothing much had changed outside the City since 2008, and now, where a guy who picked me up at 11.30 said he had been on his shift since 10 and I was his first fare. He was lucky: 5 cabs had come past with their lights on while I walked from Zenith's front door to the street.

Theatre kicking-out time in Covent Garden is evidence of this: where 3 months ago an orderly cab rank would form around the time of the end of a performance, there is now a melee of taxis fighting to cut into the entrance to the rank. A couple of people I've had lifts with have seen fights breaking out in cab ranks - in 2009 this is amongst the cabbies fighting over fares rather than punters fighting over cabs.

Anyway, I tend to take cabbie sob stories with a pinch of salt, but although media has been feeling pretty bad this month, there's a lot more people worse off....


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