Wednesday 26 May 2010

keep the pavement dry

a drinking fountain in Clevedon

Off I went to Clevedon, to see if my favourite bookshop (Seeley's, on Hill Road) wanted any more books. But no, they didn't. "You can see how quiet it is", said the woman at the desk, waving her hands at the silent shop. I agreed, and had a mooch around the art materials just in case there was a block of the right shade of green I wanted. She told me about her husband, who is retired and now works as a guide on the sightseeing buses that drive around Bristol. I told her that I'd passed one on Observatory Hill in Clifton on my way out of town. It was being freed from the clutches of a tree by chaps with chainsaws. She cheered up immensely.

Here's a Post Office bicycle. Apparently the Post Office are going to withdraw them, because they've decided that cycling is too dangerous for posties.


  1. What! Where's the green motif in all that? Mind you, it's a kind of official acknowledgement that the roads are now simply too dangerous for anyone on two wheels. But I discovered the truth of that, long ago in 1983, in London, when for a month I tried commuting to work from Wimbledon to Victoria via Wandsworth and found how flimsy and vulnerable a biker was, no matter how intrepid and alert.

    It's bad enough getting around in a car. Hence the new high-tech, laser-beaming Volvo, with all its systems to stop you crashing into anything or to mitigate the bad effects if someone else does. And I'm evil-minded enough to have a medieval battering-ram on the back - a stout fixed towbar. Any negligent Ben Hur who rams me up the Khyber will get a pushed-in radiator grille at the very least. Pity it has to be smooth and rounded - something with teeth and horns spitting fire (as when the Orcs attacked the gates of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings 2 - or am I thinking of Minas Tirith?) would look better, and rip out much more.

    I was disappointed that among the many, many accessories you might get for the Volvo, retractable wheel blades to slash the tyres of passing cars that get too close were not listed. Pretty poor, that. Oh, I don't really use them, officer, they're just for show.


  2. Morning Dru -

    I have never seen a postie on a bike but I am still sad to hear that those who do, will soon no longer.

    Our local parks and cemetries are beautifully kept and if the writing career goes bung I am going to retrain to be a council gardener - it looks like the best job in the world. Except for the leaf blowing. Apart from the noise and the lack of greeness - is it me? - what is wrong with a broom? It's quiet. Inexpensive. It's sociable and it's a good work out... like the postie's bike.

    But maybe I am being a bit dewy and bourgeois and out-of-touch. I am prepared to accept that.

    (You can sweep in the rain, too, you can't leaf-blow in the rain...)

    Hope the season is as breathtaking and happy-making for you there as it us for us here...

    Fed x

    ps Just LOVE the drinking fountain.

  3. Our post people have scooter/motor bike things, they ride up the pavement facing the oncoming traffic and the wrong way down one way roads. I have the impression they aren't really in control.

    I have a postbox and walk to the post office and back every morning - much nicer.

    Why do you need to 'keep the pavement dry' I wonder.

  4. Hi Dru
    Just found your blog, I'm Ann from GWUK. Love your illustrations, they are just fantastic, will have to investigate more.

  5. Dru:
    Today I saw our cemetery-keeper-chap leaf-blowing in the rain...
    I waved. Because he wouldn't have heard me say hello.

    I am assuming the fountain is a Temperance thing. I bet there is a book somewhere of Temperance Society fountains/monuments. They litter Australian towns too.

    In a nice way.

    And now I am curious as to what *is* your favourite shade of green?


  6. Oh, it's not that bad, Lucy; I've only had one near-death experience on my bike... I look forward to a cultural shift in the direction of cycling, though every now and then it comes to me with a bump that we've got a long way to go. Say not, though, the struggle naught availeth...

    I hate those leaf-blowers too, Federay. I wonder who came up with the idea in the first place? -they were clever, if not admirable. I remember my first trip to Ireland, when I saw a man (apparently a council employee) digging a ditch using a spade and a wheelbarrow; and somewhere else, another man harvesting hay with a scythe. Except that when I passed the same way later, he was asleep on the grass. It was all very peaceful, and, as I wasn't doing the actual work, nice to watch...

    I am a bit mystifed by the instruction to keep the pavement dry too, Anji. Maybe things were muddier then? -or the horses might have slipped on the wet?

    We have a fountain down by the harbour here that is a memorial to a Temperance campaigner, Federay. He opened a tea shop for sailors, and they used to throw him into the harbour on a regular basis

    my favourite shade of green is pretty much Sap Green- warm and like summer hills

    Hello, Ann! Thanks for calling by, and glad you like the pictures!

  7. I remember first seeing-hearing a leaf-blower across the road back in the '60s and shutting the windows. I earned money to buy books and records by mowing lawns and raking leaves and grass, and here comes the industrial "rake's progress". I no longer use a reel mower (my Snapper, though, sometimes makes me think I'm hearing Sonic Youth), and still don't use a power weed-whacker---though a customer has promised to buy one for my use---or a leaf-blower, though I have always respected the skill some have with them.

    Great photos!

  8. Those "Keep the pavement dry" thingies seem to be everywhere -- see here Burgersdorp is an amazing place | Khanya.

    Does anyone have any idea of where it comes from, and why>

  9. Crikey, that obviously came from the same foundry as loads of ironwork around the Bristol area, including two pissoirs... I did a bit of research on the origins of the term "keep the pavement dry" but got nowhere; maybe my Google-Fu wasn't up to it. I'm just guessing that they meant 'don't make a mess', and perhaps horses risked slipping on wet surfaces...