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PENTHOUSE AND PAVEMENT

30-08-2007

Amesbury Road Moseley

Regular Stirrer readers will know that there a few things that exercise Laurence Inman more than the state of the pavements in Kings Heath and Moseley. Some residents have been blessed with beautiful flagstones. But only some.

Amid scenes of hysterical jubilation and jubilant hysterics last month, the residents of Moseley and Kings Heath celebrated the resurfacing of some of their pavements.

No sooner had the bunting and empty Bollinger bottles been swept away than my telephone rang.

It was The Stirrer himself, his baritone growl bringing me back to the real world like a wayward spaniel having his leash tugged.

'Inman!' he snapped.

'Yes, Boss.'

'This pavement story's got legs. I'll need 800 words by ten o'clock.'

'I'm onto it Sir. Incidentally, have you had time yet to sort out my salary scale ? I hate to bother you, but I really need….'

He'd rung up. He's a busy man.

I knew who I had to talk to in order to rip the guts out of this particular tale: Councillor Reg Mendacity of the Council. But he's a hard man to find. Eventually I ran him to ground in the Rampton Room at the back of The Invisible Elephant, one of Moseley's lesser well-known watering-holes.

He was slumped in a far corner staring glumly at the last inch of Guinness in a pint glass.

'Councillor Mendacity ?' I ventured.

Two bleary eyes looked me up and down.

'Who wants to know ?'

'I just wanted a little chat,' I continued.

'First you've got to be NTR,' he said.

'NTR?'

'Nice To Reggie,' he smiled, holding up the now-empty glass.

Four pints later he was ready to talk.

'It's about the new pavements in Kings Heath,' I said.

His bloodshot eyes narrowed with suspicion.

'Have you been sent by The Stirrer?'

'I might have.'

'Oh yes! I knew he'd be behind this! Well, you can tell him from me: Reggie knows nothing! Less than nothing!'

'My readers just want to know why the pavements east of the Alcester Road have been covered with basic tarmac and then flattened out with those machines that look like big floor-polishers, leaving ridged patterns, rather than having proper flagstones like they have in….'

'In Amesbury Road,' he spluttered. 'When are you people going to let that die ?'

'Well, it's a reasonable point.'

'Look, I'll tell you once and for all about bloody Amesbury Road. First, it's a Regeneration Area. Valentine Road is a Degeneration Area. Second, they're very NTR. Third, I live in Amesbury Road.'

'But no one actually uses the pavements there, whereas the ones in Valentine Road are in constant use, by hundreds of pedestrians a day - children going to school, mothers with prams, old people with zimmer frames - and thousands of motorists smashing up the kerb-stones by parking on them.'

'My point exactly! Look, the Kings Heath pavements needed urgent attention, what with all the compo claims we were getting from idiots tripping down the cracks.

'If you'd wanted specially commissioned Art Deco flags you'd have had to wait months for the Pavement Committee to approve the designs. Then we have to find a proper mason to carve them.

'Then it takes months, years sometimes, to lay then so that the residents are satisfied. The raising of the kerbs alone takes forever. I mean, we can't have the wrong sort of people parking their crappy cars on them, can we?'

'But the tarmac they've put down is crap. You can actually see the contours of old pavement showing through. In places, it's actually coming through!'

'Well there you are then. You've got the best of both worlds.'

'Eh ?'

'You've got a new pavement which reminds you of your old pavement. Look, I'd love to stay and chat but I'm up to my ears with my new job on the Signage Committee.'

'Sounds fun.'

'Oh it is. I'm Chair of the Steps Sub-Committee. Every set of Council steps has to be signaged. But should they be Caution: Steps, Attention: Steps or Danger: Steps?'

I could think of nothing to say.

'Anyway,' he said, 'it's been nice meeting you. I'm relieved you haven't had a moan at me about Park Hill being gated off.'

'Would there be any point?

'Not really. I don't live there any more.'

For previous episodes click here and here

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