Town mouse on London pavements

How much time do we spend looking at the ground beneath our feet? In London, it isn’t an exclusively inviting prospect, as the paving stones are patinated by a speckle of chewing-gum roundels. But I’ve found I’ve had to pay more attention recently because of the number of wobbly joints-in the paving, not my legs.

Inertia, together with the a reluctance to join the complaining classes, prevented me from raising the matter with the council, but great was my joy when I saw a workman with an outsized wooden mallet next to our railings this morning. He was fixing the worst of the trouble-spots. I suppose it’s an advantage of our litigious society that councils don’t want to be sued for injuries incurred by ill-fitting stones.

The man of the Irish brogue and weather-beaten countenance said that this has been a bad winter for pavements. The frost gets into the cracks, compounding the effects of subsidence and, apparently, rats.  

Once my attention had been directed downwards, I noticed a cover for some telephone cables, installed in the great age of publicutility design: the words were picked out in Roman lettering. But what has become of the coalhole covers that used to be such a feature of the pavementscape? I’m sure they were there the last time I looked-where did they go?