The last census in 2011 told us there are 465,700 people living in our city. That tells me there are 465,700 stories waiting to be told. So, in the first of another new series on the site, Ian Golda (pictured above on a tour of New York) shares his experiences of living and working in Liverpool. In his own words…..
I left school in the summer of 1987. I’d stayed on at school in 6th form but I’m still not sure why! I wasn’t ready for university or the leaving of Liverpool. My first job was in a carpet factory by Aintree racecourse, it lasted 3 months. We were pulled into an office to be told there were redundancies. Last in First out!
After a few useless courses that appeased the government figures more than me (some things don’t change) I found myself heading off to London. I was a little late getting on that particular gravy train and it wasn’t working out, especially as I was heading back every two weeks to watch my beloved Liverpool FC.
I had a couple of friends on the taxi’s back home and decided to try my luck, and applied to do the knowledge test. I got myself down to the Municipal buildings on Dale Street and never looked back (well I did once and smashed into the back of a 14c bus).
So by September 1991 I was beginning the journey around the streets of our great city. That journey lasted 22 years and 4 months. I often wonder how many miles I racked up around the same old roads and streets.
I have seen so many changes to the city over the years. New houses and estates popped up, The city centre changed shape from a dour somewhat dirty looking place, dragged through the mud of the Thatcher years into a vibrant, cosmopolitan and exciting place to live and be. I noticed how the clientele changed from a very localised custom to one built on tourism, as well as all those lovely local Scouse shoppers and drinkers.
Back in ’91 the hackney trade was given its first tariff rise in quite a few years. I was told I had joined the trade at a dark time. It was good money though to me and an enjoyable experience, however despite the success of the city on the whole, over the following years I would see a steady decline in living standards. Eventually in January 2013 I had to admit defeat and concentrate on my other job as a carer/support worker.
Despite the hardships of taxi driving, looking back at my time both in the Hackney trade and private hire trade, I had a fantastic experience and wouldn’t swap it for the world. I do look back on driving that big black box with fondness. There is something magical about picking up a new visitor from Lime Street station at night and the first thing they see is a well lit up St George’s Hall. The number of times I heard cries of shock as they expected to be pulled onto a dust road and told to take cover on the floor of the cab only to witness this masterpiece in all its glory!
Speke Airport was another place to behold (now known as John Lennon of course). The taxi rank at that place is colourful to say the least, characters galore and enough material to keep John Bishop going for the next 20 years (god forbid)…only kidding John! Passengers who once only came in from the Isle of Man were now flying in from all over Europe to see this wonderful place.
It could have been the eighth wonder of the world to them. Football, The Beatles, Shopping! buildings, stag and hen do’s. You name it and they came for it and still do.
Not so many years ago, there was a play on at the Playhouse Theatre called “Night Collar.”
It was obviously about a taxi drivers experiences through the night. I always remember being told I would enjoy it. I would be sat there without laughing, whilst the audience were rolling. Why? Was it because I was too familiar with the story line? Yes, it was so very true. The show was fantastic but I had seen and heard the stories and experiences so many times before. That sums it up for me, driving ‘Joe Public’ around the city, and the laughs that can come with it.
There were many highlights and a few lows…I enjoyed the footy days. Picking up fans and taking them to Anfield or Goodison. In the case of a Liverpool home game, I would park my cab up by the ground and take my usual place on the famous Spion Kop. I loved taking the old dears with their shopping from TJ Hughes’ on London Road home, or the fellas like my dad who enjoyed a pint in the many “old men” pubs with a bag of excuse, sorry I mean shopping to take home to the Mrs.
I enjoyed the Saturday nights driving from the Mathew Street side of town to Concert Square, or Hardman Street with the revellers. They talk about Magaluf or San Antonio, but I’m telling you put a heat lamp in the sky, and a few ton of Sand on the Albert Dock, and hey presto!!
Of course I also loved doing the odd Beatles Tour. I picked up visitors from all over the world, including Brazil, USA, Japan and Solihull! The looks on their faces, when they were stood outside the Strawberry Fields gates, or the homes of 4 lads who shook the world, or Eleanor Rigby’s statue and gravestone, or when they first walk down the dark steps into the Cavern club were a sight to behold. I loved talking to these people about the great architecture the City has and trying to sound intelligent. The three graces, the “bombed out church,” or the statue exceedingly bare.
I loved sitting on the Albert Dock hoping I never got a job(Joking) so I could just watch the world go by. Fred’s weather map and the building of Everton’s new ground….sorry, the Echo Arena!!
I loved it. At the time I moaned and groaned, but I loved it. It was an absolute pleasure to ferry the visitors and the great people of this city around in my tin can for all those years….I miss it. There! I’ve said it!
One last thing….If you hear a taxi driver say he’s always offered sex as payment, he, or she is a liar! Either that or I’m an ugly bastard!
More About Ian
Ian Golder lives and works in Norris Green, Liverpool. He is 45, and has been married to Dawn since 1994. They have two children, Ashley(son) 22 and Emma Louise 17. He now works at Sedgemoor Care Home with a background in caring for people with dementia.
He describes himself as a big big Liverpool fan and a lover of music, especially ‘Celtic Rock’ band Big Country!
See Ian’s Merseyside Bands Page on Facebook