Monday, March 2, 2009

I got the power

Plonking around our capital on Ten-Inch Wheels, you get to be very aware of the state of the roads. On a Vespa you feel each and every bump and depression. In the last five years, I have noticed that potholes are getting bigger and deeper and the general state of London's roads is getting very much worse. On my daily commute I negotiate at least four wheel-swallowers, one of which is so deep that a set of ancient cobbles can be seen in the bottom. The daddy of all potholes is the one on the westbound stretch of the Bow Flyover. This is a jagged rut, at least a hundred feet long, several inches deep and about 4 inches wide that stretches from almost the bottom of the flyover to just over the apex where it abruptly terminates with a series of neat repairs. This is the point where the Newham and Tower Hamlets council boundaries meet. Tower Hamlets have fixed their bit of the bridge, Newham haven't. Of course, a major road bridge isn't the reponsibility of one single authority. The idea! Riding over this bridge can be terrifying - especially as only 3%* of drivers in the East End have actually passed a driving test. Being tailgated by a BMW (it's always a BMW) is quite enough without having to avoid a road defect that could have been designed especially to trap scooter wheels.

Ever since I tried to get an ID card when I lived in Munich, I've done all I can to avoid dealing with local government. There, my dour and pessimistic colleagues informed me that if I got patted down by the Polizei and found to be an 'alien' (yes, really) with no identification, I would certainly be sent to Colditz and put in an iron maiden. Securing the card involved stalking endless, echoing corridors of a great many buildings in search of obscure offices where a sour-faced chainsmoking hermit would grudgingly stamp one of my dozens of gaudily coloured forms. This went on for several weeks. At one point I had to get a form from a department in a former mansion in the Bavarian countryside. When i presented myself at the front desk, a visibly amused member of staff informed me that the place had been converted to a hotel a couple of years earlier. I still don't know if that was some sort of German joke at my expense. I gave up after that, and took my chances with the cops.

However, reporting the fault to Newham Council was relatively painless. I spent fully half of the conversation reassuring the bloke on the other end of the line that I really did want to report a fault in Newham, even though i don't actually live in Newham. He said it will be investigated within 48 hours. We'll see.

* probably.

(image from diamond geezer)


Affer said...

What an all-encompassing, swipe-all post! I laughed out loud at the thought of you hunting the ID card....
"I just want an ID card!"
"Ich verstehen, aber first you must prove your identity to me...."!


Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Thanks, Affer. We used to call situations like this The Great Myth Of German Efficency. See also: Buying a telephone card,