Berwickshire Red Light District
Sorry Randy of Reston this is about roads. Specifically the Borders Council's Roads Dept: aka Having the life of Riley. All Autumn and early winter, snug inside the St Boswells HQ, or the Dinger sub office; endless cups of teas, a few hands of cards, wall to wall digital, glued to Al Jazeera and chuckling at all those plaintive appeals from wretched community councils asking them to fix potholes, drain flooding, repair verges. There is no Arabic word for maintenance I was once told by an Oriental scholar and I sometimes wonder if we do not have the same hiatus in Border Council officialese, 'Send them the usual response' yells, Roadsman Billy-'No funds until next financial year' (first used each late July)
Then come late January: the first mild day, financial constraints are tossed aside and the road gangs (not, here, chained together) are dispatched to all corners of the Merse: Operation Red Light. Teams of no more than three workmen (to ensure a maximum job time) two large trucks to carry same, and two traffic light sets per operation. Modus Operandi
:Block half the road width; dig a hole behind red and white barrier and assorted cones and erect lights at either end of the working area whether it is 5 feet or five hundred yards long. The lights are ingenious and are of two main categories: One: the slow changing variety: leaving you staring at a red light for twenty minutes, protecting a small hole and two sandwich boxes with the wide empty road stretching beyond for 1.5 miles. Mark Two: the light that is always green as you approach it from a mile away and suddenly goes Red (No Orangemen to bother about around here) when you are fifty yards away. The twenty minute rule then applies. If you are the second car in the queue you need your acceleration skills to be finely honed. Once the light is green you have 1.8 seconds to get past it before it goes red again and you have to hope that Farmer Stuart Mc Blogg ahead is not dreaming of his next Holiday in the Seychelles and is quick off the mark to give you a decent chance of following him lawfully. There is actually a third specimen-fortunately rare, but spotted around Leithholm, with a long Amber light after the 29 minute Red and just as you let out your clutch it goes Red again.
I went through three of these assault courses to day in a (roundabout)journey of about 12 miles. Should't complain as the pot holes are fearsome, the verges mutilated and the drainage blocked. And it brings some cheer into the drab lives of the roadsmen who can chuckle at the increasing rage and frustration of seething motorists held up on empty roads while old potholes are lingeringly filled and new ones painstakingly excavated. The trick is to keep the good work going until 5 April, shoulder their spades, dismantle their lights and say with some truth. : 'Work well done and that's next years road maintenance allocation
FY2008/9 will be a good one for cards.
(Image is inspired by that famous Road Movie with its theme song: There's a corner of some roadsman's lounge which will be always the B6460)
Labels: Merse, Red light district, Roads