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.
(image from diamond geezer)