Wednesday, 10 July 2013
How many workmen does it take to fill a pot hole?
GOVERNMENT plans to radically change the GCSE structure are common knowledge but do Ministers know I have uncovered the answer to an age old GCSE-style question?
Generations of schoolchildren have wracked their brains over “If it takes two men an hour to dig a hole, how long will it take one man?” or a version thereof.
Well, quite by chance, I found the answer in Weymouth to a very similar question, “How many workmen does it take to fill in one pothole?”
The answer seems to owe a lot to pi, the famous mathematical problem of dividing 22 by seven which cannot be solved because calculations go on forever.
Residents told me they became increasingly fascinated watching one pothole being filled in and said they were stunned to see first two, then three, four, five and even six workmen tackle the problem, adding that they never realised the essentially simple task of filling in a hole was so complex.
First there came the briefing. This involved one man without a shovel pointing out the hole to four men with shovels in case they’d missed it.
All five then stood around for a while until a sixth man with a drop-sided lorry turned up at which point the exhausted group took a tea break.
Suitably fortified, repair operations began with the original five pointing out the hole to the driver who promptly shook his head and drove off, presumably concerned in case his vehicle fell into the hole or he was actually asked to do some work.
The remaining five then held a brains trust meeting amid drifting clouds of tobacco smoke after which the gaffer got on his mobile phone and made a call. They all then stood about for ten minutes until the driver came back at which point one man lifted a pick axe off the back of the lorry.
He then attacked the area around the hole with gusto urged on by gestures and comments from his colleagues until he tired and stepped back.
There was then something of a scrum as one, two and even three workmen at a time attempted to dig out and remove the hardcore and earth he’d chopped into the hole.
By now it was nearly lunchtime so, with a small though now very nice oblong hole to show as reward for their labours, everyone knocked off for lunch, taking the lids off suitcase-sized sandwich boxes and unscrewing Thermos flasks.
Residents darted into their kitchens, threw together a bite to eat and hastily boiled a kettle for a cup of tea, keen not to miss the afternoon saga.
This began with the gaffer stretching and then wincing at some lower back pain before urging his troops to one last effort.
A tar patch was slowly raked into position over the next hour or so, three of the men then leaning on their shovels for a much needed fag while another man tamped the patch down.
Ten minutes of careful scrutiny to ensure they couldn’t spin the job out any more and they wearily grabbed their tools, climbed into the lorry and drove off to sarcastic applause from residents.
So teachers, as you prepare your pupils for their GCSE Maths exam, remember that the answer to the workmen question... is that there isn’t an answer! It could take any length of time and involve any amount of workmen.
Wheel meet again...
VETERANS recently poured into Weymouth for the annual Armed Forces Day event and it proved once and for all that you are never too old to misbehave.
One veteran proudly displayed his medals but needed a mobility scooter to help him get around.
Pedestrians were duly respectful, many stopping to ask how he was, and it didn’t take the wily fox long to realise he was on to a winner.
So, as several women came past him he piped up: “Get your rides here! Only 50 pence but you’ve got to sit on the front!”
There was much laughter at this including one wag who began to sing “Wheel meet again, don’t know where...!”
Who would want a holiday in the sun?
THIS gem was broadcast loudly by one couple as they walked along Weymouth Esplanade on a gloomy day with wind gusts blowing sand in their faces.
The man said: “I love it here. We’ve saved a fortune by not going to Tenerife.”
His wife gave him a daggers look and replied: “Yes. I had thought I’d miss sunshine, getting a tan, and being warm... and I do!”
The man then laughed but it didn’t look from his wife’s expression that she’d told a joke!