Town mouse on Thames Water

On a wet night, we drove across Pimlico, saving my wife’s hair if not the environment, to Eccleston Square, only to find we couldn’t park. The streets were full of tall wire cages. My first thought was that these had been erected to contain the unrulier elements from Pimlico Comprehensive, now scheduled to be rebuilt as an academy (£35 million has been budgeted to replace the present 1970 Brutalist bunker, award-winning when new).

But our hosts said no Thames Water is replacing the pipes. We heard a lot about water being lost from leaky pipes during the drought, Thames Water being one of the worst offenders. It became received wisdom that the pipes should be fixed, but when they’re near one’s own home, I confess to mixed feelings.

The engineers are skilful at removing the rusting cast iron in sections the equivalent of keyhole surgery but they take ages to do it. Besides, these pipes were laid by Thomas Cubitt, as part of his masterly mid-19th-century development. I know we won’t be able to see the plastic replacements, but the Victorian ironwork really ought to be listed.