In praise of potholes – thank you Andrew

I’ve struggled this month to find something to say that could be entertaining. Austerity and recession and sustainability and depression and general scandal have made me take to my bed for most of January.

BUT then!  Andrew White (he of ‘so tall his hair goes frizzy when we have  cloud on Abdulskop – and- did you see that picture in last month’s Sentinel where everybody else was standing in a lei water ditch’… oh and that ‘uniform fetish!!’ ) sorry I digress.

Where was I? Ha… yes – Andrew planted the seed, at the Lodge on Burn’s Night (an excellent concert by Steve Newman and Ashish Roshi), when he commented on ‘the irony that – the people filling in the potholes were also the people building speed bumps’

Oh yes – the best speed retardant is a pothole – soooo – it must be cheaper to dig the opposite of speed bumps, that is – a sunk depression (that word again), holes (potholes) – slaggat – literally a sink hole – slow gate. So why are speed bumps called speed bumps when they are actually slow(ing) bumps?

We could save a shed load of backhanders if we paid a contractor to dig new potholes – preferably adjacent to stop-streets and then erected a sign, warning of the said mentioned item. A dip in the road causes just the same damage as rise in the road. Yeh that’s it.. (light bulb moment)  all we have to do is erect signs saying ‘beware potholes‘  adjacent to .. err potholes and accident black spots  and  traffic calming will be the immediate effect. Hang on a mo.’…  I’ve just realised that’s exactly what ‘they’ do and have done for as long as I can remember the slaggats are never mended once the Gevaar Slaggat sign goes up.

When I first came to SA the only Afrikaans words I knew were Slaggat and Slegs only (I often wondered what a sleg was and why traffic lanes were reserved for them). Yes in 1973 there were slaggats everywhere and there were signs for them too and now 40 years on, all ‘they’ seem to have done is replace the signs once they become so bullet riddled to be unreadable. There is a pothole – I mean slaggat, on the M7 near Durban that has been there so long it now has National Heritage status and its own visitor’s centre. They were also going to rename Potchefstroom to Potholechefstroom  before discovering that ‘potholeche’ is something very rude in Zulu. And… did you know that Mthata is the Xhosa word for ‘beware pothole’? AND KwaSlaggatNatal was a close second for Natal’s name in the new South Africa.

Enough of my ramblings – I’m going to cut it short this month and hope that the dawn of this year heralds an end to all the talk of doom and gloom. My New Year resolution is to never again to use the words ‘austerity measures’.  There’s still injustice and corruption and the abuse of power to have a rant about so I won’t be at a loss for conversation topics.

I leave you this month with a picture of the sun rise over the East Riviersonderend range on the morning of the 13th of January. Despite the uplifting nature of the photograph I still see slaggats in those cloud formations so I am going to travel slowly and calmly this year. I will roll with the blows, speak well of the good, debunk pomposity, avoid the bad and drive round slaggats. I Might even write a poem ‘Beware the slaggats of adversity ………’ might even attempt it in Afrikaans… ‘pasop vir die slaggate van benoudheid’

Thank you Andrew.

About brian

engineer; musician; artist; plumber; vine grower; wine maker
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