Friday, October 10, 2014

Small sinkhole in Bath: no-one hurt. Yet

As natural disasters go, it wasn’t much to write home about. But as the local paper of record, The Bath Chronicle was duty bound to record it.

“A small sinkhole has appeared in Bath’s Sydney Gardens,” ran the report. And beyond that no one seemed to know very much.

Councillor David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield, no relation) took to Twitter in his official capacity as deputy leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council.

he twote. Which proves that (a) at least some of our civic leaders have a sense of humour; and (b) the old jokes are the best.

The hole, according to Mr Dixon, is “about a metre wide and three or four feet deep”.

Crikey. Let’s hope he sticks to deputy leading the council, and doesn’t take it into his head to launch any interplanetary space missions.

Because in 1999 the Mars Climate Orbiter plunged to the surface of the red planet after NASA and Lockheed mixed up their metric and imperial measurements.
Mixed measurements: Mars Climate Orbiter before its prang

And in 2002 our bathroom was flooded to the depth of three inches when yours truly fitted a 15mm coupling to a half-inch pipe and turned on the mains without due care and attention.

Go carefully, Councillor Dixon, the next time you do any DIY. Disaster is but a step away, so measure twice, and cut once.

Back to the Bath sinkhole, and now that B&NES has put a fence round it, let us reflect for a moment on how truly pathetic it is. (The sinkhole, that is. The jury’s still out on B&NES.)

For comparison, take the monstrous chasm that opened up earlier this year in Yamal, Siberia. A town you may not have heard of before, and which even the locals call the “end of the world”.

Which is better than “fundament of the universe.” But only just.

The Yamal sinkhole is 30 metres wide and at least 50 metres deep. It may have been caused from within, by methane bubbling up through melted permafrost. Or from without, by a meteor. Or by something else, from somewhere else. But definitely not by fracking. Oh no siree.

Take the Great Blue Hole in Belize. It’s 300 metres wide and 124 metres deep. It’s underwater. And it has its own collection of stalactites and stalagmites. Put that in your pipe, Sydney Gardens Sinkhole. And smoke it.

Heck, even the limestone swallets up on the Mendips are wider and deeper than the burst pimple at the far end of Great Pulteney Street.

If it were a football team, it would be lowly Hartlepool United, currently propping up the bottom of League 2.

If it were a car, it would be a lowly Lada Riva, currently propping up the bottom of a scrapheap in Penge.

And if it were a tourist attraction... Wait! Set up a ticket office and plug in the cash registers. This could be Bath’s very own Wookey Hole!

Just don’t stand too close to the edge – because if you fell in, you could easily sprain your toe.

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