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No-one is in charge

I’m so bored.

I thought about maybe going for Sexy Russian Bride, Anastasia19, who is ‘waiting for me’. It seems an odd name, usually it’s just letters and no numerals. Unless it’s a password, maybe. Anyway, it seemed an attractive proposition, a sexy new bride and free Russian lessons thrown in, romantic sour-cream (is there any other kind?) blinis for breakfast, cosy potato suppers washed down with copious drafts of freezing vodka… visits with the in-laws, conducted via some of the world’s dodgiest airlines… readings from Pushkin and Gogol… Rachmaninov wheezing on the wind-up gramophone… smiling, toothless babushkas dancing the (That’s enough scenes from contemporary Russian life. Ed.)

But then Sex Offender Alerts – Child Predator in Your Area sends a warning chill down my evil, perverted old spine. Is 19 still a child, I wondered? Compared with me, I suppose. Eccentric old blogger, hunchbacked, one-eyed, alopecia, lives alone (apart from a cat with an evil eye and a boy with a trumpet, who claims to be moving out today)… puts the garbage out in his pyjamas… reads books… shouts incoherently at drivers exceeding the 30mph limit… Perfect candidate for a pitchfork lynching by the neighbours.

They’re probably as bored as I am.

And why are we so bored?

Because this morning, we awoke once more to the merry sound of a jackhammer attachment on a rented minidigger, crunching through tarmac, pitiless men with huge anglegrinders and torsos of teak, carving up the road outside, across from my gate, amid choking clouds of dust and four-letter oaths.

Yes, the gang from Welsh Water is here – again.

I say again, because it seems like only last Friday they were here with their little traffic-disruptors, digging up the selfsame bit of road, a pipe-trench they religiously filled-in and tarmacked over before they left for their weekend homes and their Caribbean weekend fishing trips.

And now they’re back, digging that sucker up again, opening her up, ripping her open, crunching and grinding, with arms of mahogany, to lay those pipes.

I could understand it. There’s a new estate across the road of traditional-looking little houses with no chimneys and a block of flats they made from big sections of cardboard. The new owners are impatient to get in, they come most weekends and sit in their little cars parked on the as-yet unmade road and gaze longingly at their new homes while the little children run about laughing, unaware of sex predators in the area. But they can’t get in yet, because for some reason known only to themselves the builders decided to build the houses and flats first, and then put in the underground water supplies, the sewerage, the electricity and phone cables, the ‘service utilitiess’, presumably as an afterthought.

Consequently, the little houses are surrounded by mounds of earth and rubble, blocking the doorways up to window height. While, ominously, around the corner the engineers from British Telecom have the other road up just by the phone distribution box, poised to dig up the main road again after the Welsh Water men have filled-in their trench and departed.

And it has been going on for months, and months, and months and still more months, since the developer moved onto the old brownfield site below the flood plain that was two feet underwater in June two years ago, as if they didn’t notice, where a small hotel had once stood, fond in the memory of the area, and began clearing it of the original piles of earth and rubble, grubbing-out the buddleia and sending the grumpy old watchman packing.

It is possibly like this because there is no main contractor. The entire job is being done by small tradesmen in white vans. Dozens of them are parked all around the sidestreets, taking our spaces, sometimes overnight. Lunchtimes there you see them, sitting in their vans, washing down their sandwiches with Thermoses of sugary tea, perusing The Sun newspaper, if it can be called that, in their yellow hardhats, or snoozing, steel-capped Caterpillar boots resting nonchalantly on the dash, legs of bronze protruding from (That’s enough homoerotic imagery. Ed.).

No-one appears to be in charge of this shambles. Surely a whatever-the-word is, paradigm, de nos jours?


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