Time is money

Time is money, or its variant “if the wheels are not turning you're not earning” is one of the clichés which is trotted out when you first become a taxi driver, before the inevitable cynicism sets in and you realise it simply is not possible to be constantly on the move.

There are a number of factors which impact upon this, such as the digging up yet again of the A338 at Grove, after months of delays at the beginning of the year and the installation of temporary traffic lights there, with no apparent end point in sight. Driving between East Hanney and Wantage, which used to be a relatively trouble-free way to earn a livelihood on a mostly straight road, becomes problematic and is fraught with unpredictable delay. It may right itself for a while, before hundreds of new houses being built in the area are occupied.

And further afield, too, at Luton Airport, a customer landing at a few minutes past midnight on Sunday morning did not come through International Arrivals until more than an hour and twenty minutes later – or £14 in car park time - by which time we could have been more than three quarters of the way back to southern Oxfordshire.

Complaining that the bags had not been offloaded until the subsequent flight arrived, my customer and I chatted about our shared love of Cyprus, to where he has travelled ten times, more even than me, “We love it there,” he told me, “but we won’t be travelling via Luton again.”

For at Luton Airport, the charge just to drop off your passengers has recently increased from £3 to £4 and you have thirteen minutes in which to do it, before it increases to punitive levels. In Luton Airport, time is literally money: it costs £14 for an hour’s parking, whereas at Heathrow, it is still free of charge to drop off your passengers and the car park charges – should you need to walk with your passenger to carry their bags to check in, for example - are a much more reasonable £4.20 for half an hour or £7.50 for an hour.

It is hard to see how charges for parking at these levels can be justified at all, other than to increase the profits of the contractors and land owner, but occasionally, someone with a particular interest in a subject will pop up on social media to try to justify it. There was one such encounter this weekend.

Twitter is marvellous for the casual encounters with like-minded souls it engenders, as well as the information which it elicits in an eclectic manner. For the most part, these encounters are informative and educational and even life enhancing.

In nine years and 164,000 tweets, it has been my great good fortune to meet in the real world many of those whom I have first met online. And not once in all that time have I ever been disappointed at such a real world encounter.