The perils of tarmac on hills…

For some inexplicable reason our local council have rewarded the good people of this street that I live in with a new road surface, amazing really since its only about two years since they last resurfaced it and there was nothing wrong with it – maybe they got the address wrong, maybe the Mayor lives on our street, who knows.

Oh, we got some new road lights too, things just keep getting better.

So I spent most of Friday stood at the window watching a procession of amazing machinery crawl up and down the street laying tarmac and shale and all sorts of strange stuff on our steeply sloping road and then I suddenly recalled a conversation that I’d had with an itinerant tarmac-er just a year or so ago.

Its true that our driveway is not in the best of repair, I admit that it needs some attention, I will get around to it, honest, sometime before the next millenia, and it was probably because everyone who walks past the end of the driveway and glances up it will always mumble to themselves “oh dear, that driveway needs some attention at some point before the next millenia” that the itinerant tarmac-er paid me a call one Sunday afternoon.

I’m sure we’ve all had the call, a bang on the door, you go outside, its a young lad covered from head to foot in bitumen, its a real live tar-baby straight from Uncle Remus and his once white Transit van is parked at the end of your driveway with a couple of ne’er-do-wells sat in the front, his accent is unmistakably deep southern Irish…

“Huy mate, we’re working up de street dis week, do yer want us to tarmac yer droive ?” is what he said
“How much ?” is what I said
“We’ll do it fer two grand” he said and I’m sure that he’s already measured the drive, calculated carefully the inherent cost of the raw material, costed his labour and considered the disposal of the waste material, yes I’m sure he’d already done all of that properly and in a considered manner and not just plucked that number out of thin air.

“Thats too much” I said in shock
“Eighteen hundred den”
“No thank you, I don’t have that sort of money”
“Well it needs doin don’t it”
“Undoubtably it needs doing, I just don’t have £1800 to do it”
“OK, if we do it tomorrow den it’ll be £1500, we’ve got some tarmac left over from anudder job yer see…”

And then I played my ace card…

“Anyway” I said, “I don’t think tarmac would be suitable for this driveway, see how it slopes, see the camber on this driveway, if you tarmaced it then on hot days the tarmac would just slip down the driveway wouldn’t it ?”

He looked at me for a long time, I thought I had made a good point, I thought I had tactically out manoeuvred him, my argument was a good one, you often see tarmac driveways where over time the tarmac slumps down the drive don’t you ?

“Oi’ve never heard of tarmac slipping down a driveway before” he said slowly
“Oh I have” I hesitated slightly, he seemed to know what he was talking about whereas I didn’t

“What, loike on de motorway ?” he played the ace card, “you’ve seen de tarmac running down de hill on dee M62 on a hot day ?”

“Harrumph” is all I could muster as a reply

I turned my pockets inside out and shrugged my shoulders as a graphical reminder that I was skint, he bade me a cheery farewell and returned to his off-white van where no doubt he regaled his two workmates with stories of how this stupid Englishman thinks that you can’t lay tarmac on a hill.


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