Thieving

This year seems a good one for Magpies generally, and they seemed particularly evident today – boldly pecking at carrion in the roads; chattering – if you can call it that – with that harsh noise they make at each other in trees.

From seeing them around it was a short mental hop to thieving bastards, and again from that thought to government – national or local. Sometimes I just get sick of the whole cursed lot and all the waste that they represent.

For a cyclist the obvious example is the state of the roads. There are pot holes everyone. A very significant proportion of them are holes in existing patches. The patches are always done badly. They’re not sealed around the edges. The rain gets in; the hole reappears.

One pot hole marked to be filled, the one next to it not.

Here’s a good idea. Let’s pay someone to mark a hole to be filled but leave the one next to it. Then we’ll pay some other people to come and fill one hole but not the other. And then we can do it all again when the second hole gets big enough. Yes, that will be brilliantly efficient.

That’s not some great insight or deduction. It’s not hard to see what’s going on, but we – idiot tax payers – continue to have countless thousands of pounds just thrown away on more useless repairs. The people spending the money either don’t give a damn or are criminally incompetent.

I can’t see any alternatives apart from corruption – that there are back-handers being paid somewhere along the line.

It’s not hard to come up with a corruption conspiracy. After all, those mending the roads are on a job for life. Mend it badly. Get called back to do it again. It’s easier than snatching sweets from kids; easier than fiddling an MP’s expenses. Bung a sweetener to some government wonk somewhere and it all can carry on nicely.

I have no idea if that sort of corruption’s happening. The natural instinct is to hope not, but would it be better if those running this system were just plain incompetent? Or totally uncaring? I don’t know.

There has to be a reason why this thieving continues – for that’s what it boils down to, this constant leeching from the public purse for someone or another’s gain. And if it’s systemic, if ‘the system’ means repairs are always done badly, then those responsible for the system are the guilty ones. Systems don’t just happen.

It is the waste that’s so galling; and against a backdrop of ‘austerity’ that waste is cast in ever sharper relief. And I have a strong dislike of being angry and impotent.

It’s not all bad. I owe some thanks to the friendly and considerate driver of the, I think, vintage Merc at the top of Aston/Remenham Hill coming out of Henley.