Tuesday, 6 December 2016
People are nothing if not slaves to fashion, the more idiotic the better. I'm not sure when the thing about fastening a padlock onto certain bridges and tossing the key into the river as a token of terminal sentimentality began, but I first noticed it a few years ago, and wondered why so many bikes were getting stolen from such a visible place.
It quickly got out of hand, however. Last year, locks weighing 45 tonnes were removed from the Pont des Arts in Paris. Forty-five tonnes... On just one bridge! The damned things were accumulating like brass and steel barnacles and actually causing structural damage.
We were up by the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol on Sunday, and the padlock plague is clearly spreading. For some reason the railings near the Observatory are favoured. I hope this means none are being attached in any numbers to the bridge itself; I doubt very much that Brunel had factored this in when working out the stresses and strains on the cables.
I noted that, typically (and, frankly, pathetically), it seems starry-eyed couples are now able to buy specially engraved padlocks for the purpose, which further cheapens and commodifies the whole soppy business. In my day, young fools would climb all the way up to the highest accessible point of the Vatican and scratch their names onto the bums of rooftop statues, or descend after midnight into the cellars of ancient colleges equipped with a suitable selection of spray-paints. Or, ah, so I am told.