The Handbook
The Handbook

Britain has a difficult relationship with puns. For a nation whose primary form of humour is expressed through clever word play we are surprisingly sneery about them. Probably because half the population’s too slow on the gag. But there are a few times when a good pun is arbitrary. When naming fish and chip shops, for example, there’s probably an ancient law that demands you come up with a name like The Codfather, Plaice By The Sea, Fishcoteque and so on. Ditto barbers (Fringe Benefits, Jack The Clipper, Barber Streisand and so on) and, of course, street gritters.

So it was little surprise on Friday when London Deputy Mayor Heidi Alexander announced the name of London’s latest gritting machine: Chris Gritty…

The gritter enters a great British tradition that includes the likes of Gritta Thunberg, Snobi-Gone-Kenobi and Usain Salt.

Now we’ve another entry to groan about.

Storm Darcy hit the UK this weekend. Dubbed, Beast From The East 2, the Baltic conditions have left a foot of snow in many places...

Storm Darcy hit the UK this weekend. Dubbed, Beast From The East 2, the Baltic conditions have left a foot of snow in many places, while London’s streets (largely ungritted, based on my commute today) have become slippery to the point where Torvel & Dean would struggle (nice topical reference there).

Despite a commitment to transition all TFL vehicles to electric by 2025 the Deputy Mayor has decided to go with a diesel tractor.

The new CMO-nodding gritter will specifically be responsible for salting London’s cycleways. The coronavirus pandemic has sparked its own epidemic, this time of London roads being converted to cyclepaths.

Hiding behind spurious green credentials, TFL and the Mayor for London’s deeply unpopular imposition of cyclepaths across the capital has yet to noticeably increase cycling-uptake but empty cycleways have led to complete gridlock of parallel road traffic including busses, ambulances and police cars.

On the bright side, though, the standstill vehicles, pumping out noxious fumes at pushchair level down Balham High Road will at least not require street-gritting themselves, given the average speed has plunged to a walking pace.

If Chris Gritty is even half as effective as his COVID-beating namesake then cycling in London will be a doddle going forward, even if we are in total lockdown and the conditions outside aren’t exactly enticing bike weather.

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