THE size of a 10-storey building, Asteroid 2017AG13 narrowly missed the Earth on Tuesday, January 10, and was only spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey the Saturday prior.
Should it have collided with our bluey-green rock, it’d have gone off 35 times more powerful than the atomic bombs which devastated Nagasaki.
But the next one we know of, 1997XF11 skims past in 2028; this one makes 2017AG13 look like a pebble at Stonehenge. It’s due to miss but should it change course and gun for us, it’d hit Earth faster than a butcher’s van on the dual carriageway, at 30,000mph.
It’d be no good asking Bruce Willis for help; it’d wipe out all life on our planet, save Donald Trump who has put a ban on asteroids visiting America. But if it happened near Devizes, would the locals notice?
Face it, there’s not a great deal of life between Potterne Wick and Freith anyway, not a roller-disco in sight. The cataclysmic explosion would be put down to war games on Salisbury Plain, the black cloud blotting out the sun could be seen as another day during April showers, and should we happen to shred our tyres and wreck our exhaust pipe driving into its crater on the A360, we’d just pass it off as another pothole, just slightly smaller than some of the many others.
Yep, it’s that time of year again when birds chirp in the trees, buds grow on the bushes and ice under tarmac melts exposing our roads to damage akin to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Social media went to town to go out of town this week and warned of a despicable dip at the very location aforementioned; one good reason to keep your potty-mouth zipped to remain a member of the Devizes Issue, unless you own a monster truck or Sherman tank. It’s a fighting battle for our council so let’s try to be nice to them okay? I said try.
For some the best they can hope for is that the pothole is not a pothole at all but a porthole, to an alternative universe which has a Devizes without potholes in their roads. For anyone less fortunate or sceptics of the multiverse theory, they can report the roadside cavern to the council.
You can also claim for damages to your vehicle; some people on the Facebook page reckoned their appeal was successful, other not so, in understandably bitter overtones.
Seems the first thing you need do if you hit a pothole, is not call emergency services or an ambulance but take a photo of it, the damage on the car, anyone who may have been a witness, the colour of the sky at the time and a selfie with grumpy expression for good measure.
I despatched a message to the county council Facebook page, Our Wiltshire, quicker than you could say “black dog’s bottomless ditch,” asking them to outline the process for repairing said road irregularities and how they prioritise such jobs.
They replied; “you can find more information on this link,” and sent me to their website which I’d seen anyway. Not exactly the personal response I was hoping for, should have fibbed I was writing for the Gazette; I’ve snapped the comma button off my computer in preparation for their call.
So slightly more filled in than the A360, the site told me they “work hard to repair our roads whenever potholes or defects appear,” and their response to highway defects are stated in a PDF Inspection Manual; ain’t nobody got time for dat, so this professional outfit will gather what it can from observation, if nobody objects?
So what happens when you report a pothole? In my reckoning the report gets filed until the point when a suited councillor can drive out to it, attired in high-vis coat, hard hat, head-torch, Costa coffee cup, steel toecap boots and American football shoulder-pads, and inspects it by rubbing a rubber-tipped pencil on his chin.
Then he returns to the office and files a report. That report gets emailed to another, lesser paid man, who slams it in an overloaded in-tray until such a time the vending machine runs low on KitKat Chunkies and he pops into his van, finds the suspect concavity and spray-paints a square or circle, whatever he’s best at, around the offending item.
He then returns after a sweetie-shop-stop to his office and files a report. That report will be emailed to another department who forward it to an outside contractor and they send a team, bang on rush hour, to repair the pothole, read the Sun and wolf-whistle at any chicks passing by (Really? Are you sure about this, Darren…? Index editor).
However, and this is a direct quote from said website, “due to the priority of statutory and safety works, the time taken for such repairs can be over 12 months.” By which time the ice has returned and is plotting another bought of caverns for your driving displeasure.
Such is life, climate change will probably liquefy tarmac in a few years anyway and we’ll be driving on Toffee Crisp; yay.