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WARD'S WORLD: The wrong pothole

Driving around the area the other day I could not help but notice that some potholes have been repaired or until the said repair disintegrates as it’s seemingly the norm nowadays in some cases apparently.

It’s not that many years ago that roads never seemed to falter as they remained reasonably intact, not a hole or crater to be seen, but in recent times it’s hard to find a stretch of road with an ‘unplanned aperture’ having appeared.

I have heard assorted comments as to possible causes ranging from the ‘heavy traffic’ to ‘they don’t make roads like they used to’ so it’s quite bewildering.

Columnist John Ward. (41356726)
Columnist John Ward. (41356726)

Some years ago my dad rang his local council to point out that there was a big hole or chunk of road missing just across from the family home as a paperboy on his round had ended up going over his handlebars due to finding it, literally, the hard way.

The lady at the council asked him if he was ‘sure’ the paperboy had come off his cycle due to the hole as it might have been ‘because he was being careless’(!).

Dad said the hole caused it plus he also cleaned the boy’s knee up then put a dressing on it, so he felt certain this was the cause plus had seen it happen.

A sustained ‘oooooh, I see’ was heard from the lady before saying she would report it to the relevant department and ‘they would send a man round to look into it’.

Dad replied: ‘He won’t have his work cut out as it’s not dark in it so he won’t need a torch to do so’ although this was met with silence from the lady on the phone. Simple enough then but I gather nowadays it’s a case of who is, or wants to be, responsible for such repairs as they play ‘blame tennis’.

Much to dad’s surprise, a man from the council works dept arrived a week or so later – yes indeed, as swift as that.

Dad went out to him as he was using a tape measure to gauge the distance from the kerb edge and so on, then jotting details down on his clipboard.

He looked up at dad and spoke: ‘It’s a hole’ as dad replied with: ’Nothing gets past you then?’

He then said that he would get a crew out to fix it ‘soon’ as it was a danger.

Dad explained to him about the paperboy incident to which he said he had not been told about that otherwise he would have been out there much sooner.

Dad told him he had served in the army and knew about this process called SA – or ‘Selective Amnesia’ – but was glad to hear it had now been adopted by his local council staff but thought ‘the lads would be pleased’ to know the tradition was still being carried on in ‘civvy street’ as well. The man went off with his clipboard and promised a crew would be there soon.

As good as his word, a crew did appear a couple of days later but dad could not help but keep a sort of timetable of the event, assisted by neighbour Dennis.

The lorry had arrived just before nine o’clock with the first thing being they assembled their little ‘put-up hut’ as by ten o’clock it was ready for habitation. Just past ten o’clock, they stopped for a tea break – inside the little hut.

Eleven o’clock came as they were bursting to get the job done as Dave (their foreman as was leant later) came out the hut and uttered the words of command to his troops: ‘Okay lads – better get this ’ere ’ole sorted or it’ll soon be dinner time’.

The ’ole was eventually sorted by 3.30pm, then the hut dismantled in about five minutes then loaded on their lorry as off they went.

Dad and assorted neighbours gathered afterwards around the now patched road and all agreed they had done a good job.

This state of jubilation soon faded as the crew arrived back two mornings later, jumped out their lorry and then commenced digging the patched ’ole up they had dug and filled in a few days before.

Dad was quite taken aback and wandered across to see what the problem was. They had filled in the wrong hole; dad’s address ended with ‘crescent’ while another similar ended with ‘road,’ both with potholes apparently but due to not fully checking the full address, Dave and his crew had filled in the wrong ’ole.

This was the stuff of ‘Carry On’ type comedy films as dad said surely they would still have to come back to fix that hole anyway.

Dave explained that such things had to done on a ‘chitty’ (works order) basis so the ‘mix’ (the technical jargon for the substance used in the filling of holes dad was told) had to come out as ‘jobs have to be done to a system, worked out by somebody who doesn’t do the job’ otherwise can mess the ‘works progress chart up’, so there.

Neighbour Dennis appeared with his dog as dad explained what was going on. Dave suggested he could ring the council (!) and report it as the hole was in a ‘dangerous state’ as this would be put down as an ‘incomplete job’ and could get itself a new identity with another chitty number.

Dennis started to rant and rave about wasting taxpayers’ money and resources to which Dave stood there quite unperturbed as he replied: ‘This is nothing, mate – if I was to tell you even half of the nonsense that goes on between the bits of paper and us lot who do the real work, you would end up in the ‘funny farm’ .

I must admit it all sounded farcical but both dad and Dennis’ versiontallied and was a standing joke for years in the area.

Local election time came the following year and as the candidates arrived on the doorstep each one was taken over to the by now repaired ’ole by dad as he asked if they could get a preservation order or whatever slapped on it a bit like, say, Stonehenge.

Fate was to deliver a fatal blow as a while later when the entire road was resurfaced and all traces of the ’ole repair were covered up – or until the next time.

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