Whether Gus Alexander is writing about the dome, the Cambridge Cattle Market Development or his experiences on small-scale building contracts, he seems to put my thoughts into words nearly every time.
His latest piece about poor road signage in this country (29 October, page 27) again hit the mark. Every time we go to France I envy their clean smart signage. More often than not the road signs are on a single cast aluminium pole, dead upright, with the horizontal sign supported elegantly about two-thirds of the way along at just the right height for the motorist. When you hit a town you are led, without stress, to your destination from one junction to the next.
Compare this with where I live and my heart sinks. Crooked signs seem to be the norm.
Often supported on two steel poles, it is rare to see both poles parallel let alone upright. Having spent a great deal of my working life wandering about building sites eyeing up plaster reveals, frames and such like, checking for vertical, it is something akin to a chef looking at a flat souffle for me to see a bent sign. Added to this is the missing link syndrome – when you arrive at the third roundabout and find that the destination sign that you have been following suddenly disappears.
The fact is that the French do seem to have stolen a march on us with their transport system. I was brought up in a family that scoffed at the French as being disorganised and unreliable. But I think that my father would have been as impressed as I was this summer when, travelling along the Autoroute du Sud under a wide, new sweeping viaduct, I watched two sleek TGVs speed towards each other from either end.
The French people I have spoken to politely explain their superior system away on the need to start again from scratch after the war, but I am not convinced. In any case this does not explain the miserable, muddled signage that we still put up long after there was any danger of the Germans invading us.
Edward Thackray, Soham, Cambridgeshire