You think it’s bad out there, eh? You think the roads are hell? Well, all I can say is, just you wait until the thaw. Just wait until the water bursts from those pipes and suddenly the roads will be sprouting orange cones like the crocuses of spring.
No sooner has the snow retreated and the ground defrosted than the landscape will once again be full of men with hi-vis jackets and pneumatic drills, following the ancient British procedure. First they cordon off a stretch of the road. Then they dig a hole. Then they brew a nice cup of tea and contemplate the hole. Then they simply vanish, like the Mayans, leaving the rest of us to wonder what they meant by these baffling excavations, and leaving thousands of road-users to queue in a mounting frenzy of frustration.
I don’t mean just the water companies. I mean the gas, the electricity, the broadband suppliers and all the other umpteen bodies with unlimited rights to dig holes in the public highway and plunge the system into chaos.
We have become one of the most roadwork-afflicted nations in the world, and it is a source of serious economic inefficiency. These endless craters are eroding our air quality with the fumes of stalled traffic. Roadworks are not only driving motorists nuts: they are bad for bus passengers, too, and they are a drain on the finances of public transport, since the delays mean we have to lay on more buses to be sure of a decent service.