True Grit

Apologies to readers, and indeed anyone who has been trying to contact me for the last few months. Regrettably due to the wrong type of leaves on the line, hypothyroidism, a plague of boils, economic conditions, a plague of locusts, ennui, political disaffection, World of Warcraft, a plague of boiling locusts, welfare dependency and numerous other reasons that are too tedious to mention, I have had neither the time nor the inclination to write anything. Or indeed do anything. This will now change.

Things that have occurred to me lately include – after a visit to Games Workshop in Bristol – that many men are presumably not aware that antiperspirant deodorant is surprisingly affordable; that whatever else one might say about them, the Germans know a thing or two about confectionary, specifically in the form of the marzipan Stollen; that the man from the AA appears to have to know more about computers than about engines to fix a car; and that despite what the media says, I do not regard Heathrow closing due to snow as a “national embarrassment” and that my personal self esteem is entirely unrelated to the movement of aircraft.

With the new year coming up and the now traditional British winter tradition of a trip to casualty and a broken bone for every family, I thought I’d jot down a quick note about gritting. After the 2009/10 debacle, every council in the country is aware of the requirement to check grit stocks and prepare for freezing temperatures. Certainly around my way, the roads all look pretty clear, and the new residents parking scheme signs are terribly, terribly shiny.

But one might ask, “Is it possible to grit pavements?”. The answer is “Yes”. You can purchase a Cruiser Turbocast 300 for less than £300 ex VAT from the nice chaps at Gritbins, and Brown or White Rock salt for around £23 ex VAT per 25 kilogram bag (0.92p per kilo) from Seton.

So, why aren’t pavements gritted? That is a more difficult question to answer, particularly if one considers how much is paid by British taxpayers to their local councils and to national government. The draft budget for Bristol is no doubt due to surface soon, and in case you’d forgotten, for the current year the plan was to spend £397 million, and the council expects to be £1.1 million over budget, despite dipping into reserves for an extra £2 million.