Column: We could be on the Road to nowhere

Aaahh, Bitumen, not Bisto, one of the great smells that remind me of days gone by.

By Jeff Beastall, Chad reader
Monday, 1st August 2022, 11:29 am

And no time ever more so when, every few years, we had what was loosely called a ‘street dressing’.

By that, I refer to the application of a hot sticky bituminous goo to the road surface and a big yellow spreader that would follow down the street laying a carpet of fine limestone pebbles


Potholes are not uncommon.

But the best bit was yet to come. No fat lady to sing, but a big fat green three-steel-wheeled road roller, clanking away and crushing the limestone fines into the black carpet leaving a lovely new clean grey surface to the street.

Notwithstanding, as I would discover in the years to come, there would be a levy called Road Tax taken from everyone who had the affront to drive on this new surface.

Nor the fact we once had something called a Highways Department that would oversee the maintenance of this upwardly mobile freeway.

Of course, there would be accumulations of gravel in the gutters thus designed to test the skills of cyclists, who, should they have the misfortune to be caught out by the loose surfaces, could spectacularly fall off their machines.

Columnist Jeff Beastall.

The resultant slide had little respect for neither cloth nor skin and this was in the days long before having your knees on display in torn jeans became a fashionable icon.

Then cometh the ‘progress’.

And, of course, cometh the potholes.

A new sport was born where counting, filming and measuring the size, shape and depth of these holes became a new national pastime and preoccupation.

“Now I know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall” someone once sang way back in May 1967.

A startling prediction if ever there was one.

Streets once of pristine grey are now blessed with multi-coloured shades of black blobs surrounded by yellow circles not a million miles from a pop art deco version of a giraffe’s neck or indeed a work of Andy Warhol.

And if folk are today are capable of ripping Banksy’s off house walls to sell on, then our streets must be truly paved with gold.

Perhaps we should be grateful...